Sunday, July 23, 2006

UN Observers Wouldn't Know a Hizbullah Missile if it Hit Them 

As the world slowly settles into its acceptance of the inevitability of the imposition of international peacekeeping forces between Israel and Lebanon -- or rather, Hizbullah -- it's worth reviewing the performance of the current international peacekeeping force that has already been busy keeping, well, something  these past many years.

This "force" that is supposed to be helping Lebanon enforce sovereignty over its own territory -- so Hizbullah doesn't have to -- is called UNIFIL, which I believe stands for UN Ineffective Force Ignoring Lawlessness, or something like that. What are some of UNIFIL's key accomplishments? What exactly is it that diplomats from Brussels to Turtle Bay think is going to convince Israel that an even larger version wouldn't just result in even more kidnappings and 30 thousand missiles intead of just 10?

Let's see now, there was the time 6 years ago when UNIFIL prevented Hizbullah from cleverly attacking and kidnapping three Israeli soldiers by disguising themselves as UN peacekeepers themselves. Okay, they didn't exactly prevent the kidnapping, but it can't be proved that they actively took part in it either, since the UN destroyed most of the evidence. And just because UN peacekeepers accepted bribes doesn't mean they knew that the disguised Hizbullah gunmen with the bombs and fake vehicles that wanted to sneak up to the border were actually going to do anything. Who knows, maybe they just wanted to install more of those long pointy things that Hizbullah likes to aim at the sky so much -- now what are those things called again?

And all of that earlier practice 'mostly not facilitating attacks' came in really handy last week when UNIFIL almost succeeded in keeping the peace. While it is true that Hizbullah's most recent kidnappings and concurrent rocket attacks into Israeli cities successfully inflamed the border, UNIFIL has so far avoided being accused of having accepted any bribes in the affair, and that's got to count for something.

But the crowning achievement of UNIFIL's tenuous tenure on the border has to be their jaw-dropping success at not having recognized a single Hizbullah missile being smuggled under their noses and installed on Lebanon's "sovereign" border with Israel. And it wasn't easy either, what with Nasrallah's constant bragging about his 10,000 missiles. It takes some serious committment to peace to avoid raising an inconvenient fuss about that many missiles, and possibly getting the guy who used to bribe you angry.

Yes, ignoring kidnapping attempts and cross border raids and massive numbers of long range missiles is a dirty job, but fortunately, the UNIFIL guys are just the guys to do it. In fact, it could be said that these UN observers wouldn't know a Hizbullah missile if it hit them. And now, ironically, via Haaretz, we learn this really is true:

A United Nations observer was seriously wounded in southern Lebanon by Hezbollah fire, a UN spokesman said Sunday. [...]

The observer is the second member of the UN monitoring team injured in 12 days of fighting. Several UN positions on the border have taken hits from Israeli shells, and Israel said earlier this week that a UN post on its side was hit by a Hezbollah missile - though the observer team said it was a stray Israeli shell.
Coudn't have been a Hezbollah missile -- whatever that is -- they would know one of those if they saw one, and trust them, they've never seen one.

The international community is going to have to come up with a better solution than a bigger and better, new and improved force of Keystone Peacekeepers if they expect their proposals to be taken seriously as realistic solutions to Lebanon's problems governing its own border. The present model, UNIFIL, has been nothing but a fig leaf for Hizbullah's naked aggression, conveniently providing cover for the placement of those thousands of missiles.

And a bigger UN force is just a bigger fig leaf, useful only to Hizbullah for covering larger missiles, but useless to Israel. Cease fires that are nothing more than a temporary pause in the onslaught, lasting just long enough for Hizbullah to rearm, won't bring peace.

Even if those cease fires are monitored by the UN. Maybe especially so.

If you really, really liked this -- or even really, really hated it -- there's lots more: