By Trying to Restrain Israel, the White House Is Sending the Wrong Message to Iran

Two years ago yesterday, an American missile ended the life of Qassem Suleimani, the Iranian generalissimo who directed the expeditionary arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and coordinated the activities of a formidable network of militias and terrorist groups throughout the Middle East. While the strike on Suleimani was a response to a series of attacks on U.S. troops and U.S. allies in the previous year, Suleimani had been fighting the American military in Iraq, and terrorizing the country’s civilians, since 2003. Eli Lake considers some of the repercussions of his death:

After the Suleimani strike, Iran’s militias continued probing attacks on U.S. positions in Iraq, while Iran’s scientists continued to install more advanced centrifuges in its nuclear facilities. But Iran stopped menacing commercial ships, and U.S. embassies did not face more mobs. And while some of this can be explained by the coronavirus pandemic, President Trump’s show of force was also a factor.

While President Biden has eased economic pressure on Iran and opened negotiations, he also responded to an attack on American positions by Iran-backed guerrillas with a missile strike, showing that he too is not afraid to use force. But, Lake explains, not all his decisions have been so tough-minded:

Most troubling, . . . the U.S. has let it be known that it does not approve of Israeli intelligence operations against Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. Some administration officials doubt the efficacy of Israel’s sabotage and assassinations inside Iran, according to the New York Times, fearing that they provide an incentive for Iran to build back its nuclear program better.

This is the wrong message. Not only does it risk alienating America’s most important ally against Iran, . . . it also risks more provocations from Iran: if the regime’s leaders believe they face only economic consequences for their predations, then they will continue to test America’s resolve.

Read more at Bloomberg

More about: Iran, Iraq, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy

American Aid to Lebanon Is a Gift to Iran

For many years, Lebanon has been a de-facto satellite of Tehran, which exerts control via its local proxy militia, Hizballah. The problem with the U.S. policy toward the country, according to Tony Badran, is that it pretends this is not the case, and continues to support the government in Beirut as if it were a bulwark against, rather than a pawn of, the Islamic Republic:

So obsessed is the Biden administration with the dubious art of using taxpayer dollars to underwrite the Lebanese pseudo-state run by the terrorist group Hizballah that it has spent its two years in office coming up with legally questionable schemes to pay the salaries of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), setting new precedents in the abuse of U.S. foreign security-assistance programs. In January, the administration rolled out its program to provide direct salary payments, in cash, to both the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Internal Security Forces (ISF).

The scale of U.S. financing of Lebanon’s Hizballah-dominated military apparatus cannot be understated: around 100,000 Lebanese are now getting cash stipends courtesy of the American taxpayer to spend in Hizballah-land. . . . This is hardly an accident. For U.S. policymakers, synergy between the LAF/ISF and Hizballah is baked into their policy, which is predicated on fostering and building up a common anti-Israel posture that joins Lebanon’s so-called “state institutions” with the country’s dominant terror group.

The implicit meaning of the U.S. bureaucratic mantra that U.S. assistance aims to “undermine Hizballah’s narrative that its weapons are necessary to defend Lebanon” is precisely that the LAF/ISF and the Lebanese terror group are jointly competing to achieve the same goals—namely, defending Lebanon from Israel.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, U.S. Foreign policy