It has been speculated by some that the military aid President Donald Trump temporarily withheld from Ukraine wasn’t a problem at all, and was merely a useful pretext from which to launch a pre-established plan to oust the president from office. And a recent series of tweets from Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) only serves to lend credence to that theory.
The senator suggested last week that security aid intended for Lebanon that has not yet been delivered “may become the next Ukraine or Kurds,” insinuating that Trump is abandoning the United States’ valuable allies for inappropriate reasons, Breitbart reported.
The problem with Lebanon
In a seven-tweet thread posted on Nov. 26, Murphy wrote:
UPDATE: On my way back from Lebanon. People there are shaking their heads as Trump still refuses to send congressionally mandated security aid. Lebanon may become the next Ukraine or Kurds.
The congressman went on to explain that Congress had passed legislation mandating military aid be provided to the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), aid that has been held up and not yet delivered by the Trump administration.
The senator asserted that failure to deliver the aid was tantamount to abandoning Lebanon to the likes of Hezbollah — a known terrorist organization — as well as Iran and Russia. He concluded:
The bottom line is simple: (1) in a way this is Ukraine again — it’s not legal for Trump to hold funding that Congress authorized; (2) whatever his reason, defunding the Lebanese military does the exact opposite of our policy goals, and signals another abandonment of a key ally.
Terrorists in the Middle East
For its part, Breitbart noted that the withheld aid to Lebanon was first mentioned publicly in a transcript of the closed-door impeachment testimony of State Department official David Hale, who noted that aid to Lebanon was placed on hold at the same time, and for the same reason, as the aid to Ukraine and a host of other nations — all part of a “long overdue” review of all foreign aid provided by U.S. taxpayers.
But unlike in the contrived controversy surrounding Ukraine, there were no requests for investigations by Lebanon. Instead, there is a legitimate concern that U.S. aid to Lebanon could work against other U.S. foreign policies, particularly with respect to fighting terrorism and economically sanctioning the Iranian regime.
Murphy noted in his thread that the aid was intended to help the LAF, which he claimed “have the least influence” imposed on it from Hezbollah and served as a “counterweight” to the Iran-backed terrorist organization.
However, Breitbart noted that Hezbollah does indeed wield influence over the LAF, both directly and via the Lebanese government.
The big picture
Citing the work of Caroline Glick, a former negotiator for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and expert on the situation in the Middle East, Breitbart also pointed out that delivering military aid to Lebanon was really a no-win position for the U.S. in terms of foreign policy. If the aid was withheld, Iran and Russia could step in to fill the economic vacuum — as Murphy had suggested — but if the aid was delivered, it would essentially be supporting a Hezbollah-controlled institution.
While both of those outcomes look bad at first glance, the former is definitely preferable to the latter, given the current situation with Iran and Russia. Neither of those two nations is in the position to effectively increase or maintain military support for Lebanon, and attempting to do so would only worsen their own weakening economic situations.
Indeed, all Murphy did here was make clear that there was nothing particularly unique about Trump’s temporary hold on aid to Ukraine. It’s just further proof that House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry is nothing more than a political scam.