Saturday, August 19, 2006

Politics of Peacekeeping

The NYTs has a great piece discussing the pitfalls of peacekeeping in Southern Lebanon. Diplomats throughout the world are currently reviewing the UN's planning document for introducing peacekeeping forces to help Lebanon regain the monopoly of the use of force states are entitled to under international law. Naturally, problems are arising.
Diplomats involved in the negotiations acknowledged that efforts to create a peacekeeping force were lagging in part because of the reluctance of governments to introduce troops into a part of the Middle East with deep, unresolved political and religious conflicts.

But they said there were also hurdles beyond that concern, particularly in France, which surprised diplomats by pledging only 200 soldiers to the new force. About 50 French military engineers arrived in Lebanon on Saturday to prepare for their arrival.

Terrorist attacks drove American and French troops from Lebanon once before, in 1983.

The diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity because deliberations over the force were continuing, said that another issue slowing the formation of the peacekeeping mission was the experience of the failed Balkans effort of the 1990’s, when European and other foreign troops wearing the blue helmet of the United Nations were shackled by an unwieldy chain of command that split responsibilities between national commanders and United Nations officials in New York.
If a peacekeeping force is inserted between Israel and Hezbollah fighters in Southern Lebanon, the interesting thing will be how the "blue helmets" respond if they are fired upon by either party. Will it become another Somalia or Balkans redux?