Battlepanda: Whose boots?


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Whose boots?

There seems to be a rough-and-ready conventional wisdom emerging that the thing to do is to get some international forces in. This way, Israel can get the hell out of Lebanon without having it look like Hezbollah won. Now the question is, whose boots? Nobody's gonna invite the Turks. The Americans and Brits are already overstretched. The Germans'll go in -- if Hezbollah says it's OK. France just does not think the timing's right. Russia...I don't know. Russia is washing its hair or something. In short, everybody agrees that it would be a Good Thing to have some international forces in Lebanon...

“They only had one small condition — for the force to be made up of soldiers from another country,” Mr. Barnea wrote. “The Germans recommended France; the French recommended Egypt, and so on. It is doubtful whether there is a single country in the West currently volunteering to lay down its soldiers on Hezbollah’s fence.”
This is terrible for Israel, of course. And for the Lebanese too, since getting International forces in seems to be the quickest way of getting the Israeli's off their back. But excuse me if I can't get too worked up about most European countries' lack of enthusiasm for coalition 2.0. Scott of A Fist Full of Euros puts it in rather blunt terms:
Make no mistake -- deploying an international force to Lebanon, or at least any international force likely to have US and Israeli support, is backing Israel. The only grounds under which I would support it would be if it also had a mandate to defend Lebanon against Israel - to bomb Israel if Israeli planes or ground forces cross the border no matter what Hezbollah does. [German soldiers potentially firing at Israelis? Sounds like a PR disaster waiting to happen -- ed.]

There are reports that this attack was planned far in advance, and that the justifications given for it are little more than pretexts. This SF Gate article is making the rounds. Worse still, if true it suggests that no one briefed Bush on it - or at least that’s what his little open mike gaffe suggests. To send in NATO now would turn the alliance into nothing more than an arm of US foreign policy. It would make our nations no different from Britain - America’s lapdogs.[snip]

Considering the deflation of Israel’s stated goals in Lebanon over the last few weeks - from “crush Hezbollah” to “get Lebanon to crush Hezbollah” to“stop Hezbollah from firing rockets into Israel” to the current “reduce Hezbollah’s arsenal by up to 50%” - they’ve clearly bitten off more than they can chew. Ehud Olmert is the first Israeli prime minister in a long time who was never an IDF general. He also appears to have as much sense for military strategy as George W Bush. If Palestinians can be punished for voting for Hamas, I see no reason to spare Israel the consequences of having voted for this fool.
I think he's being unfair to Olmert -- who's to say that Ariel Sharon wouldn't have been just as hasty and foolish? As for European forces, I can see how they might do the situation a power of good. Check out the comment thread associated with this post -- NATO has probably got the best skills-set of any group to deal with the post-war peacekeeping and rebuilding duties. They need not be American lapdogs if they make it clear going in that they're cleaning up Israel's mess, not fighting Israel's war for them.

Having said that, what's in it for all the countries who would be contributing their best boys and girls to the NATO force? I would say, precious little.