By Ghassan Karam,
Special to Ya Libnan
If we are to assume; and many believe that this is a fact of life; that there is no such thing as an altruistic behavior between individuals then obviously there can be no altruism between states.
This in essence is a restatement of the old economic truism that “there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch” i.e. everything has a price.
The tremendous financial constraints under which the Lebanese government has had to operate for over two decades have pressured it into accepting the role of an international ‘GIFT SEEKER”. Lebanon has been transformed into a country that is totally defendant on gifts and giveaways by other countries in the world; both well meaning and not so well meaning; to conduct many of its state functions. Lebanon depends on the generosity of other states to deposit money in its central bank in order to strengthen its weak domestic currency, it depends on gifts from other nations in order to equip its police force with vehicles, it depends on other countries still to send its armed forces ammunition, it further depends on other countries to equip its army with unarmed helicopters and recently it is the “proud” recipient of 10 MIG 29.
It might not be exceedingly problematic to justify the need for Police cars or even Army helicopters since the quid pro quo from such transactions cannot be very damaging but one needs to think hard about the potential consequences of accepting such large gifts that carry with them an inherent role of dependency. A Lebanese Air Force composed of 10 MIG 29’s will not become operational for years, it will increase exponentially Lebanese dependence on Russian training, radar systems, and maintenance but above all it will help bring Lebanon into the Russian orbit in exchange for war materiel that is ineffective and that Lebanon does not strategically need in the first place. Anyone who has purchased a digital photographic printer for a very low price just to find out that they have become captive consumers for the colored ink and photographic paper of the producer knows exactly what I am talking about. Studies have shown repeatedly that consumers can save money, have better quality photos and maintain their independence by opting to use commercial print services.
At times it is the height of prudence to look a gift horse in the mouth instead of accepting meekly and uncritically the intentions of what is being offered. Many a time the apparent gift is nothing but a mean to entrap the recipient into a relationship of servitude. Obviously the best mechanism to escape from such machinations is to build a strong and healthy society that does not need the generosity of others in order to survive. In this case, however, what is at stake is even more compelling. Lebanon has nothing to gain from allocating its scarce resources in order to cultivate and maintain an Air Force that will not be effective under the most ideal of conditions. Any rational cost benefit analysis will have to conclude that monies, policies and resources spent in an ineffective way are tantamount to gross negligence and are harmful to the welfare of the citizens. Make no mistake about it; the harboring of the illusion that a 10 MIG 29 Lebanese Air Force is worth while is nothing short of a criminal act that can set in motion a scenario of destruction, misery and squalor that Lebanon can ill afford.
Ghassan Karam welcomes your correspondence at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tags: Army, Ghassan Karam, Iran, Lebanese Army, Mig29, Military, Russia, Syria, US, Weapons