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Old 10-11-2007   #49
Rex Brynen
Council Member
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Montreal
Posts: 1,600
Default a rather silly paper...

...if you ask me.

The European-led United Nations peacekeeping force in Lebanon known as UNIFIL is proof positive, if any were needed, of why Europe is unlikely to ever be a global superpower.
Despite the somewhat ambiguous content of OP 12 of UNSCR 1701 (2006), no one really thought that UNIFIL + was going to disarm Hizbullah, or stop smuggling across the Syrian border (it is not deployed along most of that border), and it certainly didn't have a mandate or capabilities to somehow stop a potential Lebanese civil war (largely a political issue). Europe also didn't think this was their superpower moment.

The Europeans did think--correctly--that everyone needed a way to climb down from a general war that:

  • Hizbullah started by accident (they clearly hadn't expected such an intense level of Israeli retaliation to the abduction of IDF personnel)
  • Israel escalated without any clear game plan (only FM Livni seems to have even raised the question of an exit strategy)
  • was causing enormous social, economic, human and political damage to post-civil war Lebanon
  • was also radicalizing public opinion throughout the Middle East.

It was the Israelis who increasingly insisted that if UNIFIL+ was going to be the way of everyone backing down from the confrontation, it needed to have forces somewhat more robust than Fijians (ie, Europeans). Washington, once it was clear that no IDF knock-out punch was in the cards, also belatedly agreed (and certainly wasn't about to volunteer US troops).

Quietly the Israelis have been saying for some months now that, far from performing below expectations, UNIFIL's deployment has shifted much of the locus of Hizbullah rearmament efforts north of the Litani River (although given Hizbullahs popular support in the south and ability to cover its tracks well, its anyone's guess what it has actually done in the UNIFIL deployment zone.)

There is a lot one can criticize about UN peacekeeping, but UNIFIL+ has, more or less, performed the limited task that the UNSC and contributing states set it (most importantly, providing a mechanism for ending the 2006 war). It is hardly fair to criticize it for not doing things that no one seriously ever thought it would be able to do.
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