Friday, August 18, 2006

Peacekeeping problems

After initially supporting Israel in its "war" with Hezbollah in Lebanon, and while still defending Israel's right to defend itself, I came quickly to acknowledge the need for a diplomatic resolution to a conflict that had seemingly escalated out of control with no clear end in sight. But a diplomatic resolution also meant an international peacekeeping force, and that peacekeeping force is already, and predictably, running into problems.

For example:

It is a problem that two countries that do not even recognize Israel as a sovereign state, have pledged troops to the U.N. peacekeeping force.

It is a problem that France, which cozied up to Iran but which offered to lead the peacekeeping force, has thus far pledged only 200 troops. By comparison, Bangladesh has pledged up to 2,000 troops. Italy could send 3,000 troops.

And it is a problem that "the offers [of support] do not necessarily provide the right mix of troops and capabilities needed for the deployment" and that "[a] number of countries are calling for clearer guidance on the exact nature of the mission".

Is it a problem that Israel's two main supporters, the U.S. and the U.K., will only provide logistical support? Perhaps not, given the baggage of Iraq, but a stronger, more visible commitment to peace from these allies would surely lend credibility to the peacekeeping effort.

So many problems, perhaps insurmountable ones. Peace does not come easily.

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