OK, OK, I've picked on us enough. It is time to get out of the funk of frustration (although, everything that I've been saying for the past week is summarized by the NYTimes' Tom Friedman
today. He is correct that the only thing that will move the sides is being forced to make peace. I only disagree with his last two words: That is the outcome we are heading toward, though, unless the only reality principle left, the United States of America, really intervenes — with its influence, its wisdom and, if necessary, its troops.
There has been some significant talk in the past days about throwing international forces at the problem. Kofi Annan said so much in an interview over the weekend to Israeli Channel 2 and Haaretz
. The thrust is that the sides can't do it themselves (I agree) and that if a foreign force were here they could keep the sides apart.
This is wrong. Don't believe me (although I decided to write this over the weekend before I read this after seeing the Kofi interview), Haaretz's editors
say so. Firstly, it did not work in the 1960's when the UN sent a force to Sinai (following the 1956 War) to separate between Israel and Egypt. The idea was that UNEF ould be in the middle and discourage violence accross the border. In the early 60's, Palestinian "fedayeen" terrorists crossed the border at night. Finally, in May of 1967, just before the Six Day War, Nasser kicked the UN out so that he could go to war with Israel. Then SecGen Burmese U Thant called the boys back without a peep honoring the sovereign rights of Egypt. In the UN, after the war, Abba Eban described the scenerio as being like having an umbrella that got taken away just before it rained.
Additionally, there is a new book, Linda Polman's We Did Nothing: Why the Truth Doesn't Always Come Out When the UN Goes In
which argues (at least in the book review I read in last week's Economist) that sending UN troops to "keep a peace" (note: there is no peace to keep here; a major flaw in the peace-keeping concept) that is not real is often doomed to failure.
Furthermore, what are they meant to stop? A Hamas suicide bomber dressed up like an ultra-orthodox Jew? How? What skills do they have that we don't? To stop the IDF from hunting down terrorists who hide out among civilians? Perhaps, cynically, to make them learn how tough it is to fight terror...
Interestingly, also in today's Haaretz, Gilead Sher
, Barak's chief negotiator argues for an American lead "stabilizing international force" to run the PA. Friedman, months ago argued for NATO to act similarly, almost a British Mandate-like system. It is thoughtful and enticing that someone could come in and force order on chaos. I don't think it will work. I think that the sides must make hard choices and WANT them to work. Maybe they (we) are not ready but throwing forced solutions doesn't seem to me to be the answer. The world has to make us WANT peace. How? I'm not sure.
Ah, yes, another "expert" says what won't work. What good is that? Well, what do you want, reading commentary on the Double-you, Double-you, Double-you. Go do something productive. By the way, happy father's day, Ed.