On his first trip to the Middle East last month, President Donald Trump had one overriding theme: it’s time to get tough on Iran and its proxies throughout the region. No doubt, Tehran’s behavior in the region is deeply destabilizing; the question is how best to contain malign Iranian actions like support for terrorist groups. Trump appears to want unrealistic swift and easy military solutions. Ironically, that focus on hard power is leading the administration to undermine the elements of statecraft that the United States will need to succeed.
Nowhere is this more clear than in Lebanon, where Trump’s rhetoric and proposed budget cuts portend less U.S. support for the Lebanese institutions most directly confronting Hezbollah—Iran’s local proxy and a source of Iran-backed forces fighting for Bashar al-Assad against the United States and its allies in Syria. The impulse to get tougher on Hezbollah is directly contradicted by Trump’s budget, which ends foreign military financing for the Lebanese Armed Forces and other investments in Lebanon.This article was originally published in The National Interest.