Monday, August 28, 2017

A Feature and Not a Bug

The UN force in southern Lebanon defends itself from accusations it is ineffective. But that is its mission.


The head of U.N. peacekeepers in Lebanon [UNIFIL] is pushing back after U.S. and Israeli criticism of the mission, saying Wednesday that his force has no evidence that weapons are being illegally transferred and stockpiled in the Hezbollah-dominated south.

Despite the lack of evidence in UNIFIL's hands of weapons smuggling, Hezbollah does have quite the arsenal, including perhaps 150,000 (smaller) rockets and some (larger) missiles (heavily weighted to the former, of course).

Hezbollah boasts that it is strong enough to defeat Israel.

And the very existence of the non-state actor Hezbollah occupying the territory of a UN member state is not something that requires much more evidence.*

Our UN representative called out the general "in charge:"

Speaking to reporters, Haley also leveled harsh criticism at Irish Major General Michael Beary, the commander of United Nations forces in Lebanon, accusing him of turning a blind eye to Iran's covert arming of the Hezbollah militant group.

"General Beary says there are no Hezbollah weapons," she said. "That’s an embarrassing lack of understanding on what’s going on around him.”

“Hezbollah openly brags about their weapons. They parade them before TV cameras. The secretary general’s reports have confirmed this. For the UNIFIL commander to deny it ... has any proof, shows that we need to have changes in UNIFIL," Haley said.

But the failure of these UN peacekeepers in southern Lebanon was obvious from the beginning:

But ever hopeful, the international community wants a ceasefire to send a larger and of course far more effective UN force into southern Lebanon. To do what I don't know. I mean other than protect Hizbollah and allow the UN to generate press coverage about doing "something" to preserve peace. I'm sure the stout fellows of this new and improved UN force will take on the killers of Hizbollah and send them packing if they even think of nosing around their old rocket-launching sites.

You scoff at the idea that the international community will stop Hizbollah? You simpleton!

The international community must be angry with Hizbollah. I mean, the UN didn't authorize Hizbollah to attack Israel. So there was no international test, right? Hizbollah launched an illegal war, right?

Given the history and capabilities of the UN, I suggest the new UN force in Lebanon be called UNIFAIL. Or possibly UNIFUTILE.

Or am I being too cynical?

The problem is that there is no peace to keep and peacekeepers are ill-suited to compelling peace.

So a terrorist organization with limited conventional military capabilities and a social services office controls large portions of a sovereign state and has virtual veto power over anything the formal state does.

Thank goodness UNIFAIL has no evidence of anything disturbing going on. Otherwise I'd worry.

*To be fair to the Irish general who sees nothing, he is painfully aware of how weak his forces are compared to Hezbollah. He and his troops are more hostages than anything else; and if he says something Hezbollah doesn't like, he gets to write the letters of condolence for his dead troops who have about as much capacity to take on Hezbollah as a Boy Scout Troop.

UPDATE: Yeah, let's continue this record of success:

Lebanon's foreign minister said on Tuesday he supported renewing the mandate of U.N. peacekeeping forces in the country for another year, U.S. and Israeli criticism that the peacekeepers should do more to stop Hezbollah gaining arms. ...

The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) patrols Lebanon's southern border with Israel.

Its annually renewed mandate was expanded from the original 1978 mission following a 2006 war between Israel and Lebanon's Iran-backed Hezbollah group.

This tasked UNIFIL with making sure southern Lebanon was "free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons" other than those belonging to the Lebanese government or UNIFIL. [emphasis added]

Heckuva job, UNIFIL!

UNIFIL's sole practical function is to shield Hezbollah from Israeli military action. And no UN-approved mandate there will make UNIFIL more effective in its formal role.

UNIFIL should be withdrawn from Lebanon.