In the aftermath of the 2006 Israel-Lebanon war, the UN inserted a peacekeeping force of 11,000 troops from 31 nations. According to the UN resolution authorizing the mission, its purpose was to block the flow of weapons to Hezbollah and keep Hezbollah from operating south of the Litani River, near Israel’s northern border.
We’ve known for some time that rockets have continued to flow into Lebanon from Syria. Hezbollah may now have more than 50,000 of them, far more than it had before the 2006 war. And as Stephen Cohen notes in today’s Wall Street Journal (subscription only), the Israeli military has recently revealed intelligence—detailed maps and aerial photographs—showing that these arms are now being stored in areas adjacent to Israel and supposedly being policed by the UN force.
Cohen says that the “U.N. now faces the test of whether it will do anything to assure the legitimacy of its 2006 resolution.” Indeed, without action, he argues, “the resolution will be revealed as merely a stick with which to beat Israel.” The Israeli display of intelligence, he continues, also puts Arab governments to a “critical test,” and offers them an opportunity to avert another Israel-Lebanon war, thereby “protect[ing] Arab lives instead of blaming Israel after the fact for what can be prevented.”
Cohen is certainly right that the UN and Arab governments should act, and act urgently. But will they? The most likely answer is that they would indeed do so—but only if we lived in a better world. We do not live in such a world.
For a cogent discussion of the very mixed, at best, track record of foreign peacekeeping forces in the region, see Israel’s Maj-Gen.(res.) Yaakov Amidror’s useful essay, “The Risks of Foreign Peacekeeping Forces in the West Bank.”