History of U.S.-Israeli Aggression Against Lebanon

July 31, 2006

At the end of World War II, the U.S. began to replace France as the dominant colonial power in Lebanon, just as the U.S. replaced Britain as the sponsor of Israeli zionism.

In 1947, Reinhold Neibur, a leading ideologist for U.S. imperialism, described the importance of Lebanon as a base for U.S. domination of the Middle East: "Whoever approaches the Middle East with even a minimum of objectivity has to admit that thus far there is only one vanguard of progress and modernization in the Middle East, and that is the Jewish Palestine. A second factor for progress is Christian Lebanon which, at the moment is artificially subdued by the Pan-Arabists and Pan-Islamists of the Arab League . . . But for these two islands of Western civilization, Jewish Palestine and Christian Lebanon, the Arab-Moslem Middle East presents a hopeless picture from an American viewpoint."

By the mid-1950's, the U.S. had extended its economic and military ties with Lebanon to the point that it had become a regional center for U.S. overt and covert subversion of nationalist Arab governments and movements.

In 1958, when the national democratic movement of the Lebanese people was on the verge of overthrowing the landlord-capitalist government, the U.S., invoking the Eisenhower Doctrine, sent nearly 50,000 troops (including 26 aircraft carriers and warships) to occupy Lebanon. When certain officers in the Lebanese army were hesitant about joining with the U.S. assault force, Robert Murphy, Deputy U.S. Undersecretary of State, "pointing to the supercarrier Saratoga, swinging at anchor on the horizon, . . . [and] quietly explained that just one of its aircraft, armed with nuclear weapons, could obliterate Beirut and its environs from the face of the earth." (quoted from Ropes of Sand by W.C. Eveland, a former CIA operative).

After the suppression of the Lebanese revolution, the flood of U.S. and foreign capital increased as did U.S. military aid to the government. The U.S. also covertly armed various fascist militia, including the Phalange.

As Palestinian refugees came to Lebanon in the 1960's and 1970's, the U.S. government actively mobilized its fascist militia to suppress them. For example, in 1973, 18,000 Lebanese troops, equipped with U.S. jet fighters and tanks, were sent against the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Burj al Barajneh. Although the resistance of the Palestinians rebuffed the fascists, the U.S. continued to sponsor terror raids against the Palestinian and Lebanese national movements in the south of the country.

During the Nixon years, U.S. imperialism began to rely more on a strategy of employing surrogate, regional armies to police its empire. In the Middle East, the U.S. bolstered its support for Israeli zionism and, amongst other things, relied on it for the suppression of Lebanon.

Israeli zionism itself had long had designs on Lebanon. In 1948, Ben-Gurion, Israel's first Prime Minister, said; "we should prepare to go over to the offensive with the aim of smashing Lebanon, Transjordan and Syria . . . The weak point in the Arab coalition is Lebanon [for] the Moslem regime is artificial and easy to undermine. A Christian state should be established, with its southern border on the Litani river." (note: this is well within the borders of Lebanon).

By the 1960's, Israel was also training the Phalangists and other fascist militia and attacking the Palestinian and Lebanese resistance movements in southern Lebanon. Between 1968-74 Israeli military attacks against Lebanon (including air and naval strikes, commando raids and artillery shellings) averaged 1.4 per day. By 1974-75 Israeli violations of Lebanese territory had reached 7/day and during the Lebanese civil war of 1975-76, Israeli incursions reached 20/day.

These raids were part of a "softening up" policy to prepare for the largescale Israeli invasions of 1976 and 1978 which resulted in Israel carving out a "security belt" in southern Lebanon, partially patrolled by its puppet militias.

In 1982, Israeli launched all-out war against Lebanon with the aims of: 1) occupying and eventually annexing southern Lebanon; 2) imposing a U.S.-Israeli satellite regime in the rest of the country; and 3) destroying the revolutionary democratic movements of the Lebanese and Palestinian people.

During the war, Israel deployed 80,000 troops and according to conservative estimates, killed 20,000 Lebanese and Palestinians, mainly civilians. Close to 500,000 people became refugees and fled to Beirut which was then subjected to weeks of saturation bombings by the Israeli air force. During the occupation, Israeli forces, and their fascist militias, were responsible for such enormous crimes as massacring thousands of Palestinians (including women and children) in the Sabra and Chatilla refugee camps.

But the Lebanese people never stopped resisting the aggressors. In 1985, the resistance forced the Israelis to withdraw from most of southern Lebanon. Israel, however continued to occupy a smaller "security belt" in Lebanon until 2000.

During these years, as the Lebanese people unfolded their resistance, the Israeli aggressors repeatedly carried out punishing air assaults and other incursions against Lebanon. Amongst the bigger operations were the 1993 "Operation Accountability," which lasted for a week, and the 1996 "Operation Grapes of Wrath" which lasted 17-days. These attacks included air, artillery and naval blitzkriegs which killed and wounded thousands of Lebanese.

By May 2000, the unconquerable Lebanese resistance forced Israel to withdraw from all of Lebanon except for the small territory of the Shaba'a Farms which is still occupied. During these last 6 years, Israel has also continued its program of periodic air and artillery attacks against Lebanon.