Are more blue helmets the answer?

Things are deteriorating pretty rapidly in Lebanon with the latest horrible incident of civilian casualties:

The UN secretary general has called on Security Council members to take urgent action after 54 Lebanese civilians were killed in an Israeli attack on Sunday.

Kofi Annan asked council members to put aside differences and call for an immediate ceasefire, opposed by the US.

More than 30 children died in the Qana attack – the deadliest Israeli raid since hostilities began on 12 July when two Israeli soldiers were seized.

Israel is suspending air strikes for 48 hours, according to a US official. [Link]

Whatever tactical advantage Israel is hoping to gain with these airstrikes, it is losing strategic and diplomatic points by the day. The best way forward being discussed seems to be to a plan to deploy U.N. soldiers who are well-armed and provided with rules of engagement that would allow them to fight Hizbollah in order to control Lebanon’s southern border. Israel has said they would be okay with this as long as the U.N. soldiers would actively enforce instead of simply monitor. It is well known and openly derided that the U.N. has a very poor track record when it comes to enforcement duties. Nobody seems to want to put their soldiers into this hornet’s nest although they all agree that it’s a good idea in theory. Where do the U.N.’s Blue Helmets typically come from? It may surprise some of you:

The UN Charter stipulates that to assist in maintaining peace and security around the world, all member states of the UN should make available to the Security Council necessary armed forces and facilities. Since 1948, close to 130 nations have contributed military and civilian police personnel to peace operations. While detailed records of all personnel who have served in peacekeeping missions since 1948 are not available, it is estimated that up to one million soldiers, police officers and civilians have served under the UN flag in the last 56 years. As of November 2005, 107 countries were contributing a total of more than 70,000 uniformed personnel–the highest number since 1995.

Despite the large number of contributors, the greatest burden continues to be borne by a core group of developing countries. The 10 main troop-contributing countries to UN peacekeeping operations as of February 2006 were Bangladesh (10,172), Pakistan (9,630), India (8,996), Jordan, Nepal, Ethiopia, Uruguay, Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa.

About 4.5% of the troops and civilian police deployed in UN peacekeeping missions come from the European Union and less than one per cent from the United States (USA). [Link]

Slate’s Explainer series lays out the required qualifications if you want to be an American Peacekeeper:

[Peacekeepers are] soldiers, police officers, and military observers from the United Nations’ member countries. Nations are expected to volunteer the members of their armed forces when asked–in general, the developing world does most of the volunteering. As of last month, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and India each had almost 10,000 troops in blue helmets, while American soldiers accounted for just 12…

Most of the Americans who take part in peacekeeping serve as civilian police officers rather than soldiers. (As of last month, 314 Americans were employed in such positions.) The State Department recruits volunteers for “CivPol” jobs through several private firms–DynCorp International, Civilian Police International, and PAE-HSC. These companies invite cops and recent ex-cops to apply online for yearlong stints overseas.

Aspiring peacekeepers must be U.S. citizens with five years of experience in professional law enforcement. (DynCorp won’t take anyone under the age of 26.) Eligible candidates must pass a physical agility test that includes the “low hurdle,” the “12-foot tunnel run,” the “dummy drag,” and the “ladder climb with shotgun.”

Those who make it through peacekeeper training get sent to the United Nations for international deployment. [Link]

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p>Right now the U.N. soldiers are sitting ducks. A report earlier this week claimed that one of the four U.N. soldiers that died last week had previously reported that Hizbollah was launching rockets from almost on top of U.N. positions in order to trick the IDF into bombing these positions and killing U.N. soldiers. The Indian peacekeepers continue to be in harms way as well:

Two Indian UN peacekeepers were wounded yesterday when an Israeli airstrike hit near their border post in southern Lebanon, a spokesman said.

The two soldiers from the Indian battalion of the United Nations interim force in Lebanon were “moderately wounded as a result of the impact of an aerial bomb that hit in the vicinity” of their position in the border village of Adaisseh, UNIFIL Spokesman Milos Strugar said. [Link]

83 thoughts on “Are more blue helmets the answer?

  1. I wonder what kind of terrain a blue combat helmet and vest is supposed to blend in with. Sky ? Must be be a French design…

  2. Abhi,

    Way back in 1950s, my mamaji (mother’s brother) was a blue helmet in IndoChina. He was a military doctor.

    In practise, blue helmets have been a failure because of the way their role, duties, and limitations are setup.

    Right now, India also has a contingent in Congo of blue helmets.

  3. WARNING: This post is not desi-specific, but I’ve become increasingly depressed over the events of the past 24 hours. I’ve not been one to write long posts as a commenter as I never feel qualified to talk about the topics covered on this blog. That’s not to say that I’m qualified to talk about this one, but I feel the need to rant at this point. I’m also violating my own code of conduct by writing under a pseudonym b/c I don’t want anyone coming after me.

    My basic question is:

    What is the end game?

    I think at this point the wiser people in the Arab population need to realize that they need to accept the fact that Israel WILL exist, contrary to the views of many influential people. At this point, Israel and the U.S. need to realize that Arabs WILL, and should get upset over the killing of innocent civilians. Does either side see an ultimate, peaceful solution?

    I mean really, I say Tim Russert this morning and the Israeli ambassador to the UN said something to the effect of (I’m trying to be as accurate as possible as a paraphrase), we are holding back, if we wanted we could have wiped out Hezbollah, but that would have led to many more civilian deaths. This is crazy, but not. As far as the U.S. is concerned, the last war that I would say we out and out “won” was WWII. In that war, we LEVELED the Axis countries and totally broke their spines as countries. Is that what it will take to “win” this “war of ideology.” If so, is it worth it? More importantly, is it even a possible strategy given that we are talking about opponents that have nuclear weapons.

    Likewise, if you are Iran, or Syria, what do you expect? If you are funding Hezbollah, do you honestly believe that you have the power to wipe Israel of the map? I would think not. Israel, and the U.S., will not let that happen and they have more than enough military power to make sure that it doesn’t happen. So, if you are a leader of one of these groups, then why take such an unrealistic position? Is it purely an issue of trying to establish a hedgemony in the region? I just don’t understand. The Davids of history rarely beat their respective Goliaths.

    So, should I just chalk this up to millinia of animosity between races/religions? That’s the only thing I can come up with. And if that is the case, what hope do we have for any peace in the future, because there is no end game.

  4. The 10 main troop-contributing countries to UN peacekeeping operations as of February 2006 were Bangladesh (10,172), Pakistan (9,630), India (8,996), Jordan,…

    I came across this on Wikipedia the other week trying to collect points for the case of why India can demand UN veto status (as opposed to reasons why India feels it should be given that status). But then, there it was – Bangladesh and Pakistan beat India to it.

    Grand conclusion – there’s no way as of now that the 5 veto powers can be made to give India veto status.

  5. Concerned Global Citizen,

    I am with you on that. All I can think about is the average person trying to live his/her life, who wants not part of this, and was unfortunate enough to be born in that part of the world.

    I think there was an interview with this Iraqi dissident in the film ‘control room’, where the guy talks about the death of the rational middle ground in the middle-east, because of the Iraq war. In the face of such cruelty, there is no room for dissidence in these countries anymore. I can second this from another perspective, because this summer I am working for a literary nonprofit that actively fights for dissident writers in countries where there are stringent free speech limitations and writers are routinely jailed for writings against their nation, religion etc. This deathly silence of the rational voice in these countries is by far the most serious consequence of this senseless war on terror–without strategy, without a vision and most definitely without regard for the lives of the innocent. What’s disgusting, but fully expected, is the powerlessness of all the Annans of the world, Amnesty, HRW…worthless.

    Two films I highly recommend that deal specifically with the issue of suicide bombings are: ‘Paradise now’ and ‘The Cult of the Suicide Bomber’.

    On another note, I have grown to absolutely loathe Condi and Clarence Thomas(he’s been on the list a long time). One never expects much from the Bush clan anyway.

    As for Lebanon, Israel is not any safer today than it was when this campaign started, probably worse off. But, our lovely president still thinks that this is an “opportunity” for sweeping change in the Mid-east. America and Americans are probably going to pay for their unqualified, unjustified support of Israel.

    A friend of mine just returned from the Hebrew university in Israel and said that he was amazed by how the overwhelming majority of people there, are in agreement about their govt’s actions, and are convinced about how they are “right”. I am waiting to hear about his trip to the West Bank to see an old friend.

    I recently heard that the owner of Starbucks actively funds the IDF. Any info. on it anyone?

  6. Abhi – with so much going on in this world, how can you post about something like this Lebanon issue? Have you no heart?

    Anna-animus coward

  7. So, should I just chalk this up to millinia of animosity between races/religions? That’s the only thing I can come up with. And if that is the case, what hope do we have for any peace in the future, because there is no end game.

    Because humans are a violent and technologically adept primate. Peace is always a temporary condition, a time of rest. If Fate is on your side, you will live in a place and a time not violently convulsed, because low-level violence, tyranny, ethnic nepotism are very much natural to us – just look around, and not just in the developing world, everywhere. I remember a few years ago somone declared the end of history…oops.

  8. michael totten’s blog is a really good read right now. as most of you might know totten was/is a “hawk,” with a strong “neocon” following from the days of the iraq war. but he lived in lebanon recently so he is taking a more “conciliatory” approach than most of his readership is used too…so there always fireworks and no possibility of an “amen corner!” that is common on most left or right blogs.

  9. Maybe the high proportion of third world troops has something to do with the fact that these nations get paid in dollars for these peace missions?

  10. Maybe the high proportion of third world troops has something to do with the fact that these nations get paid in dollars for these peace missions?

    i recall reading this. i believe that bangladeshi peacekeepers were among the last to get out of rwanda. seems like the brown nations get to ‘patrol’ some of the most disturbing situations in the world (my gf recalled a BBC interview with pakistani peacekeepers in the democratic republic of congo who could barely repeat what they’d witnessed).

  11. Whatever tactical advantage Israel is hoping to gain with these airstrikes, it is losing strategic and diplomatic points by the day.

    Whatever tactical advantage Israel is ostensibly pursuing pales in comparison to the WAR CRIMES Israel is committing on the helpless Lebanese civilian population. I am still waiting on the American Liberals to start speaking up against this out of control settlement planting, land grabbing, war crimes committing, zionist apartheid state.

    On the other hand, Hizbullah’s popularity is rising in the Arab world in direct proportion to the degree of damage inflicted by Hizbullah rockets on Israeli civilians. As Friedman stated to Russert ‘The Arabs hate the Israelis more than they love their own children’.

    Maybe they both deserve each other after all.

  12. but he lived in lebanon recently so he is taking a more “conciliatory” approach than most of his readership is used too

    Yes, but the neo-con wargasm has been soured by the 48 hour stop on bombing announced by the Israelis. How cruel!

  13. Thomas Friedman had a great read on the whole situation on Meet the Press this morning. You can read the transcript starting near the bottom of this page.

  14. As Friedman stated to Russert ‘The Arabs hate the Israelis more than they love their own children’. this comment was not made by Friedman, but by the Israeli Representative to the UN. His exact words were: “There will not be peace until the terrorists learn to love their children more than they hate us.”

  15. Abhi, I did see the show. Though I was alternating with ‘This Week’ and da man Fareed ready to lay the smackdown as always on George Will. You need someone to keep George Will and his history references in check and Fareed Bhai does a terrific job at that. I also love how Fareed reprimands Israel in his back handed way of ‘Bombs on Lebanese children are bad for Israel’. Some of the best sparring on ‘This week’ is between Fareed Bhai (history major at Yale) and Mr Historian himself George Will. I do think that Fareed Bhai gets the better of Will usually but my objectivity might be compromised by my ethnocentrism.

    Ok sorry about trying to hijack the thread.

    I was wondering whether someone here can read Friedman’s mind on:

    Could it be because the richest man in India is a Muslim software entrepreneur? Who would that be?

    Could it be because the leading female movie star in India is a Muslim woman? Who would that be? Is he referring to the Khans but then they would be male movie stars and not female movie stars!

  16. Could it be because the richest man in India is a Muslim software entrepreneur? Who would that be? Could it be because the leading female movie star in India is a Muslim woman?

    I was thinking the same thing! I think for the second one he meant Muslim man (SRK).

  17. kzar: I was referring to this: MR. FRIEDMAN: You know, these are people who, who hate others more than they love their own kids, more than they love their own future.

    I didnt watch Gillerman and his caveman tripe. This is a man who told the UN:

    “From this stage, I would like to send out a clear message to that glass building behind you. Let us finish the job! You know better than anyone else that what we are doing is doing your own work: fighting terror.And to those countries who claim we are using disproportionate force, I have only this to say: you’re damn right we are! “

    Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Dan Gillerman

  18. azim premji, founder of wipro, was the richest man in india. but, he is an bohra ismaili, yes, muslims, but as representative of islam as mormonism is of christianity :) (ok, a little more mainstream than mormons, but nonetheless….)

  19. Could it be because the richest man in India is a Muslim software entrepreneur? Who would that be?

    Azim Premji from Wipro.

  20. btw, my friend aziz poonwalla is a bohra. ismailis are a good example that not all muslims need to nutcases (though the famous ‘assassins’ were ismaili, so they too were once nutz). but, ismailis are also not typical of muslims in many ways (in india the bohra’s basically exist as an endogamous caste).

    p.s. muhammad ali jinnah was from an ismaili family, though he converted (nominally) to sunnism in adulthood.

  21. kzar and AMFD: Yes, both Gillerman and Friedman used the “more than they love their children” line in each of their interviews. I just watched the rerun on msnbc.

    I was also wondering about Friedman’s line about “India’s leading female movie star is a muslim”. I don’t know who he’s referring to; maybe he meant male.

    You know SM has taken over your life when you catch a tiny India-reference on TV and think that you should send the tip into SM :) , and then find that they’re already talking about it :) .

  22. I recently heard that the owner of Starbucks actively funds the IDF. Any info. on it anyone?

    Is this what you are talking about?. Google churned up some other sites too but the language seemed quite inflammatory on some of them.

  23. As far as a leading Indian actress being a Muslim, I believe Friedman was referring to Shabhana Azmi, who also holds a seat in the Rajya Sabha. The leading Indian actress is still Ms. Rai.

  24. I want to add that when the Tsunami struck, The American Jewish World Service was one of the first agencies that started accepting funds for performing relief activities in India. This was because they already had some good machinery laid down in South India for it. The LA Times recommended this org. along with the likes of Direct Relief International and American Red Cross as one of the best ways for us to get help to India/Indonesia/Sri Lanka. This is quite tangential since the distinction between ‘Jews’ and ‘Israel’ is quite clear to everyone here.

    Btw, that letter in the link I posted above, doesn’t sound real. Grammar and style are simply not smooth enough for a big corporation like that. Seems like a false rumor to me. The award might be true, but not the letter…

  25. Ultimately it appears that demographics will decide the long term future of the region. Once majority christian, its only a matter of time (a decade?) before lebanon is dominated by the shias/hezbollah. Its notable that muslim theocrats in Iran, Lebanon, Palestine, and Pakistan all agree on one thing. The destruction of Israel. Its very difficult to be optimistic about this, especially given the way kids are “educated” in their hate. Its interesting that Friedman mentioned that in his meeting with a cross-section of writers in Syria, several had opinions that Israel had no right to exist. This is a crosssection of the educated elite! Sooner or later Hezbollah and the like will get their hands on more sophisticated arms and will be able to assert their power even more emphatically. The next time it should be a lot bloodier.. at least by an order of magnitude.

  26. I think Premji is a Khoja not Bhora.

    Regardless as ‘razib the atheist’ pointed out, Bhoras and Khojas are really not representative of Indian muslims, so Tom Friedman’s example doesn’t say much about the marginalization of the muslims in India.

    Memons (who tend to be hanafi) are a better example of a successful Indian muslim group, as their beliefs are more representative of avg. muslim. They also have more connections with the politically influential Utter Pradesh muslims unlike the Bhoras and Khojas who are mainly gujarati/sindhi Shias with no connections to Utter Pradesh’s muslim community.

  27. Razib and Superbrown: You guys probably know more about this than I. As I vaguley remember, growing up back home with some of my friends who were Bohras or Vohras as they were known in Ahmedabad, that they were originally Brahmins and other Hindus who were converted by force or other means in “Sindh” which is now in Pakistan. Not thatit matters but for history buffs more can be found at: http://www.gujaratinformation.net/places/places/html#castes

  28. with some of my friends who were Bohras or Vohras as they were known in Ahmedabad, that they were originally Brahmins and other Hindus who were converted by force or other means in “Sindh” which is now in Pakistan

    Bohra businesses took it badly during the Godhra aftermath. Some just wiped out. These guys are good traders even among Gujuratis, which is saying something.

  29. Lack of troop contribution to the U.N. peace keeping mission is compensated by the money dropped into the bottomless U.N coffers. So, Annan and co can live it up in style.

    Btw, more than a thousand children have been sired and abandoned by U.N. peace keepers in African hotspots. Imagine the outrage, If this was done by American troops in Iraq or Indians in Kashmir?

  30. The best way forward being discussed seems to be to a plan to deploy U.N. soldiers who are well-armed and provided with rules of engagement that would allow them to fight Hizbollah in order to control LebanonÂ’s southern border…It is well known and openly derided that the U.N. has a very poor track record when it comes to enforcement duties.

    The UN’s bureaucracy is nototrious for being passive and slow when making decisions about troops serving under their mandate. Such troops are put in a lose-lose situation. South Asian countries have always contributed Soldiers to the UN in great quantities. The nations get paid well(relatively speaking) and it raises whatever profile they have.

    Military commanders go nuts over the fact that they’re not allowed to be proactive in enforcing the peace. The killing of 24 Pakistani Soldiers in Somalia is what led to the eventual deployment of Task Force Ranger. It is sad that when the UN has needed enforcement abilities, individual nations(United States primarily)or NATO has had to step in. At the first sign of the Israeli-Hizbollah conflict, it is the responsibility of UN commanders to withdraw their troops. They aren’t allowed to fight back, move (static positions, as reported, are being taken advantage by Hizbollah for ‘cover’), or withdraw. Sitting in the middle of two fighting factions and putting a blue helmet on does not stop war. It’s dumb and stupid.

    I was reading a book called “Eyes over Mogadishu“, written by a member of a US Special Forces B team, above his experiences in Somalia. It is over a longer time frame than the Mark Bowden’s Black Hawk Down book. The book is available on Amazon, but it’s more expensive. It was interesting to read how different each nation approached their UN duties, even within the same forces. Documented was one Pakistani unit that did everything to stay out of the line of fire, while another Pakistani unit (who had an Afghan commander) that really enforced rules in his area of responsibility. Plenty of other UN units from other nations simply watched. The book isn’t a Pulitzer Prize winner or anything, but I’d recommend it for those looking for more information to get a ‘feel’ of how things worked; Beginning with deployment of troops, daily activities, conflicts while stationed there, and coming back all from a first person perspective.

    Civilian leadership of the UN doesn’t give a rats ass to what THEIR responsibility is towards these Soldiers is.

  31. NavratanKurma,

    You are right, that letter is a spoof. But yeah, he did get that award.

    Still trying to get more info. on it, though it seems a bit pointless, because numerous US organizations and CEO’s have links with the IDF.

  32. Ismaili here – more specifically Nizari Ismaili (followers of the Aga Khan)

    We weren’t converted by force. A look into the ginan’s (hymns) used by Pirs to convert the Hindus would give a fair idea of how it was done – by drawing upon Hindu allegory, and even going as far as to state in one case that the Shia imam was the final reincarnation of Vishnu. Plus, there were no Ismaili military expeditions in Gujrat and Sindh (that I can recall) that would lead to forced conversion. In addition, an examination of Ismaili practices would show that we didn’t abandon various Hindu traditions, hence the notion of force is out of the question.

    Yes, we’re not really representative of Muslims, since we’re not considered Muslim by mainstream muslims. Just a couple of years ago, the MMA tried to have us declared non-Muslims a la Ahmedis, because Musharraf asked the Aga Khan Development Network to develop Pakistan’s education system by establishing an independant examination board.

    As for Premji, he’s Bohra according to wikipedia and other sources that I’ve come across.

  33. Alybaba: Thanks for further elaboration. If you revisit my post I said, “by force or other means“. Now we know, as you say, it was not by force. Vohras always seemed to me relatively “milder” and more “benign”. However, this thread is for other topic, but thanks anyway.

  34. India’s peacekeeping forces in Korea (1950s) and Israel/Gaza (56-1967) were quite involved in the action. In fact, the commander of Indian forces in Israel-Egypt wrote a scathing (and very famous) book [See Rikhye, Indar Jit (1980). The Sinai Blunder. London: Routledge. ISBN 0714631361]

  35. There are two ways to solve Islamic terrorism:

    1. The Indian way : Don’t do anything & let them attack you when they like
    2. The American-Israeli way : Attack them and try to take the war to them

    The Islamists WILL attack and kill based on an ideology of hate weather you attack them or not. Both the above are not the best solutions but at least with the second point you give them something else to worry about. Remember, the Islamists will ALWAYS hate the Infidels and they have done through time.

    Remember when 9/11 happened Bush was not in Iraq or anywhere. In fact he was playing golf.

  36. Actually the Russians also fit into the 2nd way – the American way.

    Just to add that there is a THIRD WAY.

    1. The Euro-Left way : Allow them to have their way in the hope that they don’t attack you

    All three ways have failed.

  37. All three ways have failed.

    That is because neither (US, Europe) has addressed this fight as a true insurgency.

    Lets seperate the fat from the milk here for a second.

    Israel is/has been at total war since its existence. Israel is NOT fighting an insurgency. Guerilla tactics are used, but by and large, Arab populations have supported any war on Israel. These populations have already been coopted by the vision of a destroyed Isreal.

    How can Arabs ask for peace when they have NEVER recognized Israel. At first it was its creation, then it was the occupation of lands ARABS LOST in wars with Israel. Israel made a strategic mistake of settling on these occupied lands which they’re paying for dearly, but taking those areas as buffer zones from conventional Arab forces made sense then. Hizbollah, designed to push Israel out of Lebanon, achieved its goals earlier. Why is it still around? Because the neighbors will do everything to undermine the existence of Israel. Egypt and Jordan have peace deals which means the buffer zones of Gaza and West Bank don’t make any strategic sense. Digging their heels in on these areas there has made Israel static.

    On to how to fight this the American/Israeli way, well, it isn’t the same. The US (and everybody else really) is primarily facing a global salafist insurgency. Salafists have been looking to coopt their own populations in order to establish a Caliphate. They failed miserably (Egypt the prime example). So, they turned their focus after the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan on the USA and other ‘infidel’ popuplations.

    To fight this insurgency, military might is needed. But not the Israeli way for rest of the world. Economic and political muscle as well as military muscle is needed.

    I personally think Israel in its position is doing what it needs to secure its population/nations survival. Effective truth is Arabs have only waited in the shadows for another opportunity to attack it repeatedly. Hence [Isrealis] are prone to pre-emptive action. I don’t see Arabs giving in to accepting the existence of Israel anytime soon.

    The United States, India, Russia, and western Europe have more space to manuever and plenty tools available to fight this as an Insurgency. It could spiral into a massive war like WWII (how Nazis coopted their population to kill jews, poles, gypsies) etc, but it isn’t there yet.

    A civil war exists in the Islamic community and the infidels are used as pawns, fuel, and rationale by salafists for their dream of a caliphate. The answer isn’t peace nor only war. It is dynamic with a heavy dose of psychological operations, education (of our and others), economic investment/trade, decisive military action, some nation building, etc.

    Conflict will exist and one needs to use the approrpiate tool to deal with it. In Israel’s case, theyv’e always been left with little room other than all out fights. Like I said, they could have helped themselves if they didn’t settle occupied territories, but they did. Arabs have used Palestinians as pawns because they couldn’t finish off Israel via conventional means rather than actually help fellow arabs create better lives for themselves, they pump them with rhetoric, weapons, and rage.

    Salafists are meeting a tough enemy in the United States. They are dying. Others are stepping in. It will be a long fight that will require different moves. The problem with GWB is that he has relied far too heavily on the military as a tool of war without engaging other tools concurrently. Clinton was the opposite. He preferred other tools but was hestitant in using the correct form of military action. GWB hasn’t made good use of propoganda, ecomomics, diplomacy, etc to maneuver the right pieces to ensure the salafists don’t have breathing room. Everyone bears a little responsibility for this: People who crticize Bush for being bush but not offer any constructive criticism, The neo-con cartel who forgot pragamatism, Europeans lazy and insecure with Americans looming large…

    I’ve said this to people before: Salafists are gaining despite American Hedgemony, not because of it. We’ve made some good and bad tactical/strategic decisions, however, the “art of war” stuff is as valid today as in the past. Can’t ignore the fundamentals of warfare or the truth that these men (Salafists) will stop and shake hands with us. They won’t.

    The UN as a forum for security enforcement has largely been ineffective. It isn’t a holier than thou organization being undermined by the US. It is being undermined by everyone because when it comes to security, it is impossible for the UN to speak in one voice. Pragmatically, it isn’t possible. Too many countries and different agendas.

  38. Abhi

    Thanks for this post.

    Let me begin by saying I am NOT anti-semetic (unless any sort of criticism against Zionism is to be anti-semetic, any criticism of the Hindutva brigade is to be anti Hindu/Indian etc etc). I feel that in the past few decades Israel has been carrying on a systematic media/information campaign that seeks to deliberately misinform/brainwash about the horrifying extent to which the Palestinians are being discriminated against. Israel in some ways is a cult — far from a democracy, it is closer to North Korea in that there is a systematic brainwashing/image-creating campaign that all especially the younger generation including Jewish kids in the US (free camps, visits, goodies) are being put through. This in itself is not bad i.e. creating pride about ‘your people’ — the problem is that so much of this pride is hand-in-glove with a parallel creation and fostering of a hate of and justification for ill-treatment of Palestinians, Lebanese etc.

    What is the death toll in Lebanon now…way above 600 of mostly civilians. What an absolutely horrifying situation, and we continue to hear justification of this!!!

  39. I mean, Israel is technically a democracy, but the democratic principles seem to fly out of the window when it comes to non-Jewish people.

  40. Israel is the same as North Korea, Ms Fink-Nottle? Sorry, but that’s insane. Completely, insane.

    Well, don’t worry, my dears. Pretty soon Iran will have the bomb and then, well…….problem solved for loads of you, eh?

  41. I mean, Israel is technically a democracy, but the democratic principles seem to fly out of the window when it comes to non-Jewish people.

    I learned a nifty word for this: herrenvolk. I learned it from a book called Wages of Whiteness, which talked about the United STates as a “herrenvolk Republic”–a Republic for Whites, but not for Blacks–in the pre-Civil war era. It makes a lot of sense.

    How can Arabs ask for peace when they have NEVER recognized Israel. At first it was its creation, then it was the occupation of lands ARABS LOST in wars with Israel. Israel made a strategic mistake of settling on these occupied lands which they’re paying for dearly, but taking those areas as buffer zones from conventional Arab forces made sense then. Hizbollah, designed to push Israel out of Lebanon, achieved its goals earlier. Why is it still around? Because the neighbors will do everything to undermine the existence of Israel. Egypt and Jordan have peace deals which means the buffer zones of Gaza and West Bank don’t make any strategic sense. Digging their heels in on these areas there has made Israel static.

    The level of generalization here is astounding. What Arabs are you talking about? Presumably not the same ones that led the governments of Jordan and Egypt to make peace with Israel. Apparently you agree with Golda Meir that Palestinians don’t exist as a separate group? Or are they not Arabs? And the government of Syria represents the will of its people? Also, Hizbollah is funded by Iran, and they’re not Arab at all, but they are Muslim. Though the Palestinians are Arab and a mix of many religions (as are the Lebanese).

    Many books and articles have been written since 1948. Even wikipedia entries!

  42. Oh, and for the reading impaired, the previous comment was a joke. A sick, sad joke, but really, that’s what one side wants.

    The UN can’t keep the peace because one side sees any ceasefire as a break in the war, a chance to re-arm via Iran and Syria. It’s never a ceasefire, as Gujudude says.

  43. My Dear Gujudude,

    The notion that Israel has been at “total” war since its inception is not quite true, but I understand what you mean. The notion that Arab populations have supported any war on Israel is also going a little far, but I understand what you mean….Actually, hold on. Just what are you on, mate? Where to begin?

    Take, for example, the South of Lebanon between 1948 and 1982. The largely Shia population did not support war on Israel. Most were too poor to care about anything other than getting through to the next day or chafed at Palestinian refugees who started competing for limited resources with them.

    As for the recognition of Israel, The Arab Republic of Egypt recognizes Israel. The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan also recognizes Israel. Morocco, Qatar and Oman all their dealings with Israel in the 90s. In other words, a process had been under way. That you would choose to cap the word “never” speaks volumes about your biases.

    The further use of caps to describe “Arab” in describing the occupied lands lost in war with Israel is a clever way of not acknowledging the Palestinian identity or existence. Do you recognize the Palestinian people?

    Hezbollah has developed into a major political voice in Lebanon through bloody hard grass roots work. Hezbollah is around because Lebanese citizens regular vote for them in local and national elections. Do you recongize Lebanese democracy? It remains a Lebanese irregular military force because Israel maintained their occupation of the Lebanese Sheba Farms. And in case you didn’t notice, Israel transgressed the Lebanese border over 1,200 times since 2000. These are UN observer figures. The Finns, The Irish…you know the usual Israel haters.

    And there you go again with another grand conflation. A local Lebanese entity fighting to preserve it’s villages and identity is somehow linked with this Osama bin Laden character and his rantings abouts Caliphates and Gardens of Cordoba. DO ME A FAVOUR! How did you work that out?

    And again today, while waiting for a meeting in a New York office block, I overheard some water cooler chat where folks talked about Hezbollah maybe having some of Saddam’s weapons of Mass Destruction.

    The mind boggles, doesn’t it Gujudude?

    Farouk

  44. Israel is the same as North Korea, Ms Fink-Nottle? Sorry, but that’s insane. Completely, insane.

    I was making a point there: both countries are seriously committed to creating monolithic histories and images that seek to brainwash teach their citizens an official version of what the country is about.

  45. Well, your point is a major stretch. North Korea is a Stalinist death camp. Israel is a flawed democracy.