Awaiting the 15,000

On the Dianne Rehm show, a frequent UN critic, the American Enterprise Institute’s Joshua Muravchik, admitted that if the Israeli-Hezbollah cease fire holds, the United Nations will have played a useful role in resolving this conflict. At this point, however, the success of the ceasefire is largely beyond the United Nations’ control.The linchpin that will determine the outcome of this weekend’s frantic diplomacy is the deployment of the 15,000 strong international force that the Security Council summoned to beef up Unifil. But as Suzanne Nossel writes in Democracy Arsenal there is reason to believe that these troops might not arrive in the region anytime soon.

Says Nossel, “There is no agreement on when the 15,000-strong international force will be deployed, nor who will lead it. France, Italy, Turkey and others have said they’ll contribute troops. The UN, largely for reasons outside the organization’s direct control, is notoriously slow in getting peacekeepers out into the field. Having witnessed the US’s experience in Lebanon in 1982 and in Iraq, other governments will naturally hesitate.”

Israel has said it will remain in southern Lebanon until international troops arrive. Meanwhile, Hezbollah has pledged to stop its rocket attacks on Israel, but still considers IDF soldiers in Lebanon to be legitimate targets.

This is a recipe for a very tenuous cease-fire. The rapidity with which 15,000 international troops can be deployed to southern Lebanon will likely determine whether or not it holds. And as there is no such thing as a stand-by UN peacekeeping force, this is something that only national governments, not the United Nations as a whole, can make happen.