Just the other day, I came across a line in one of the dailies here in Beirut where it said that the Lebanese government had rejected a Russian offer for advanced air defense system worth $4 billion US dollars, to be paid over a period of 20 years. I’m not in a position to be able to verify the credibility of this, but one would think that such news would be the perfect opportunity for the opposition to attack the already under fire majority led government. But maybe we should think again.
It is to my understanding that our policy makers in both camps, whoever they may be affiliated to, the so called March 8 or March 14 (also known as February 14), do not really want a strong Lebanese Army. I still have to hear or read a clear statement by either that calls for such a military, even though once in a while we hear few words from here and there but words and not clear statements, are all we have had so far, at least for the past 24 or so years.
Each of our parties or movements (as some are called nowadays), have their own reasons to keep the military weak. They all fear that a strong military would one day undermine their importance in the Lebanese society and weaken their political position. If we had a strong military, it will be obvious that people would feel more secure and would give less importance to our present leaders “patriotic” speeches.
Some think that Hezbollah is really interested in a strong army and its calls for a “National Defense Strategy” is just the right invitation for one. On the contrary, Hezbollah is quite amused by the current state of our under-equipped army, which only supports the existence of the resistance. I can’t remember an instance where the Party of God has made the modernization of our armed forces a priority or a subject of discussion. Why would they if it will undermine their very own existence?
On the other hand, the majority is also doubtful of the idea. There have been reports in the past few years that they were trying to create armed groups (sometimes extremists) to counter Hezbollah’s arms and influence in Lebanon. Even though they strongly and constantly denied having any links or have played any role, some experts blamed the Fath el-Islam movement’s presence which challenged the army in May 2007, on some forces inside the majority. If these reports were true, then the pro government majority will also be cautious of a stronger and more capable army.
Many think that Israel is a major obstacle in the face of modernization of our army. If so, why would they not lobby against the defense spending of their major enemy, Syria? Let’s be honest with ourselves and stop blaming others for our mismanagements. As long as our policy makers stay divided on the domestic front but seem to be in agreement and harmony to keep the military the way it is, those obsolete T-55 tanks will still be seen in service for many years to come.
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It appears on blog A only but in multiple categories.
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