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NATO In Lebanon - Serious possibility or red herring?

by Richard Lyon Mon Jul 24th, 2006 at 03:20:13 PM EST

Israel has proposed a NATO peace keeping force for Southern Lebanon. The proposal was greeted enthusiastically by John Bolton at the UN. It appears however, that this proposal was made without consultation with the European governments that would have to supply the troops.

Israeli bid a surprise to NATO

With NATO straining to fulfill its commitment in Afghanistan and facing new demands from the United Nations to send troops to Sudan, Israel's proposal that NATO provide a buffer zone along the Israeli-Lebanese border surprised members of the alliance Sunday.

Amir Peretz, the Israeli defense minister, told the German foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, that Israel would welcome a NATO force, saying that the Lebanese Army was too weak to do the job.

Diplomats said it was also a clear signal to the UN that its force in the area was of limited importance since it had failed to disarm Hezbollah fighters or protect the border since Israel withdrew from Lebanon in 2000.

At NATO headquarters in Brussels, there was a measured official response to the Israeli request.

"There has been no political discussion about the alliance's role in the crisis," said the NATO spokesman, James Appathurai.

Unofficially, Peretz's request caught NATO by surprise. Its secretary general, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, spoke last week with his UN counterpart, Kofi Annan, about the increasing violence in the Middle East, and there was no mention about what kind of role NATO could play, if any.

"We got the distinct impression that the UN would be prepared to adapt its mandate, making it more robust," said a NATO diplomat who insisted on anonymity because the issue was so sensitive among all 26 member nations. "We wonder why Peretz raised the idea now."

The United States has already responded favorably to the request. John Bolton, the American ambassador to the United Nations, said Israel's request would be taken seriously

It appears that France is getting a bit concerned about NATO mission creep.

France, which historically has had close ties with Lebanon, would oppose NATO assuming a big role in that part of the Middle East, NATO officials said.

France had opposed, but failed to stop, NATO from expanding "out of area" beyond its traditional base of Europe to Afghanistan in 2002, in Sudan, where the alliance is involved in airlift operations, and in Iraq, where it is training military officers.

France sees those developments as turning NATO into a toolbox for the Americans at the expense of preserving some European identity of the alliance.

Hmmmm? Would somebody pass the freedom fries.

Germany of course has its own "special relationship" with Israel.

Germany, too, would be reluctant to join the force because of its special relationship with Israel as a result of the Holocaust.

When asked about Germany joining such a NATO mission, Chancellor Angela Merkel replied: "At the moment, it is not on the agenda."

In an interview with a German public television channel, ZDF, Merkel said it was in Germany's interests to strengthen the government of Lebanon and that meant disarming Hezbollah.

"The government in Beirut needs help," she said.

There have already been protest from Arab/Islamic spokesmen over a NATO presence in Lebanon.

Another issue facing NATO would be its image. According to an alliance official, a NATO-led force would be considered American, not European, even though Bolton said the Bush administration had not considered contributing U.S. troops to such an international force.

It probably would be commanded by a U.S. general, fueling Arab suspicion that it was pro-Israeli.

Here's my theory. Israel and the US probably know that the NATO proposal is a non-starter. By making it they are attempting to put the monkey on the back of the Europeans who are criticizing their invasion.

My view remains that neither the US nor NATO have any credibility as peace-keepers.

If the UN can rustle up the Chinese or the S Americans then a peace-keeping force has a chance. Maybe the indians.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jul 24th, 2006 at 03:35:57 PM EST
I think that a NATO force is the answer to properanswer.
I would like to see a free and democratic Lebanon with NATO forces on the south borde rinstead of Hezbolla. I would like to see a palestinian state on the whole West BAnk, Gaza and East Jerusalem with NATO forces on the ground.

This has always been my best solution. I just hope israel is serious about it.

Now Hezbolla has to accept, of course.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon Jul 24th, 2006 at 04:31:56 PM EST
The fact that Bolton likes the idea should be reason enough to suspect it.

The US is obviously not going to contribute troops. Last time the Marines were in Lebanon they lost over 200 in a single car-bomb action. Hexbollah would love to have a couple thousand of them on their turf.

It is not for Israel to dictate the terms of an international military deployment in Lebanese territory. Until the Lebanese government agrees, the answer should be no. The Lebanese government should ask for a UN force, maybe manned by the same European NATO members, but not under NATO command. Expect Bolton and Olmert reject that idea.

I am sure some probing of Hezbollah's attitude to the proposed force is taking place on the part of the Lebanese government and possibly the Europeans (who would in any case ask Lebanon about it). If Hezbollah is hostile to the idea, we'd be going in to wage guerrilla war on behalf of the IDF. They should be the ones to put the dead bodies.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 24th, 2006 at 04:52:56 PM EST
There should clearly be no question, imo, of either UN or NATO troops being sent in to fight a guerrilla war against Hizbullah (or whatever "insurrectional" movement may follow Hizbullah).
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jul 25th, 2006 at 10:43:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It seems pretty clear that Israel is unwilling to deal with the UN. It's not like they ever got many votes for Miss Congeniality there. I'm sure that the US really likes the notion of outsourcing ground wars to third world nations. It solves the annoying political problem of American casualties. However, Her Majesty's colonial cannon fodder regiments pretty much went out with Queen Victoria. Their descendants are finding better ways to use their time, like importing jobs from the US and Europe.
by Richard Lyon (rllyon@gmail.com) on Mon Jul 24th, 2006 at 05:06:05 PM EST
On the 7.00 pm news here in the UK it was suggested that countries being considered were Turkey and surprisingly, Russia!

Like it or not, we are all adding favour to the same soup!
by abroadwithaview (mailbox@e-mccrimmon.com) on Mon Jul 24th, 2006 at 06:20:13 PM EST
I see in today's news that Israel is now saying that they will establish a three to six mile wide strip in southern Lebanon in which they will shoot anything that moves. Their forces will remain there until a "multi-national" force is deployed. It seems likely that such "multi-national" force will have to conform to their specifications before they will withdraw. I think a stalemate in the matter will serve their purposes well.
by Richard Lyon (rllyon@gmail.com) on Tue Jul 25th, 2006 at 12:48:35 PM EST
The Germans agonize over their role in a possible international military peace force as you can read in this article of "Der Spiegel". Joschka Fischer, former Sec. of State and chief diplomat of Germany, also said in an article he wrote for the "Sueddeutsche Zeitung" that the attacks of Hamas and Hezbollah are proxy wars for Iran and Syria "a war against the existence of Israel". He clearly stated his support for Israel and supported a Near-East Quartett of the US, Russia, NATO and EU, that needs to engage to "deliver political, economical and military guarantees, that are long-lasting and decisive".

I think there is nothing clear yet about Germany's position.

by mimi on Tue Jul 25th, 2006 at 05:56:12 PM EST
Since when is Joschka Fischer a neocon?

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jul 25th, 2006 at 05:57:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
May be you ask him?
by mimi on Tue Jul 25th, 2006 at 09:50:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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