Peacekeepers, shmeacekeepers


Whatever else you might think about the latest conflict in Lebanon, you can’t really blame Israel for being unenthusiastic about the idea of installing a UN peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon. There already is a UN peacekeeping force there – the embarassingly impotent United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon. Despite the optimistic “Interim” in its title, this outfit has been in place since 1978, after the first time Israel invaded its northern neighbor. UNIFIL failed to keep the Palestine Liberation Organization from resuming their rocket attacks on the Jewish state after that offensive, leading to another, much larger scale and longer lasting Israeli invasion in 1982. Clearly, UNIFIL’s track record since hasn’t been any more inspiring.

Nor is this the region’s first experience with pointless peacekeepers. In the leadup to the Six Day War in 1967, Egypt demanded that UN peacekeepers stationed between it and Israel in the Sinai Desert get out of the way so that Egyptian forces could begin massing on Israel’s border. The blue helmets obliged.

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  • Vince Beiser, a former Mother Jones senior editor, has reported from more than 30 countries—on troop training in Iraq, natural disasters in Haiti, and prison conditions in California.