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Conundrum in Lebanon

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Conundrum in Lebanon:

How the Military Situation and National Interests Impact Government Planning

By John E. Carey

According to Israel's Dr. Boaz Ganor, the deputy dean of the Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy and the founder of the Institute for Counter Terrorism in Israel, "The range of the Hizbollah's missiles means that the IDF would need to control a strip of land extending more than 100 kilometers north of the border [and into Lebanon]."

The missiles Hezbollah has or might have, seriously alter Israeli planning.

But putting Israeli soldiers that far into Lebanon would expose them to a long and blood bout with Hezbollah - even if we thought all Hezbollah had been neutralized, new fighters will appear just as they have in Iraq and Afghanistan.

So we need peacekeepers as a buffer bewteen Israel and Lebanon after the fighting stops and the adversaies agree to a cease fire.

The trouble here is that the Israeli's no longer trust the UN peacekeepers in place now. And Israel has a valid complaint. After 29 years and 100 million dollars per year spent on Unifil - the UN peacekeepers in Lebanon - the customers aren't at all satisfied with the product.

The current UN peacekeeping force, Unifil, is comprised if Irish, Ghanaian, French and other troops. They are "peacekeepers" and not equipped to intervene between to waring parties. Peacekeepers are only deployed by the UN once the adversaies on the ground agree to a cease fire and agree to the presence of the peacekeepers.

Israel has said it would take NATO troops as "peacekeepers" once the current fighting ends. The best helper to the United States in times like this is usually Britain. But the Brits are already spread thin in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Germany's defense minister, Franz Josef Jung, said that German troops could contribute so long as both Israel and Hezbollah requested German participation and if certain tough conditions were met. These include a cease-fire and the release of the captured Israeli soldiers - and Israel shows no sign of agreeing. Germany also says Hezbollah has to agree.

France already has troops in Lebanon as part of Unifil, so they are probably not candidates to assist again. In fact, the French command Unifil just now.

So, if the peacekeepers are going to come from NATO that means countries like Italy, Belgium, an Spain need to chip in. But Spain has already pulled out of Iraq and the government there is leery of getting involved again.

The people of both Spain and Italy are strongly anti-war, according to recent polls.

So, who can seriously contribute? One might consider Japan. But when Japanese soldiers recently served in Iraq, they only performed humanitarian and building projects. Because Japan has a pacifist constitution (since World War II), the troops aren't even technically an "army," they are a "self defense force."

In Iraq the Japanese didn't even patrol the way Brit and U.S. forces do. Still, Japan is eager to participate more in international actions and could discuss the idea.

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John E. Carey is the former president of International Defense Consultants, Inc.
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