Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
July 17, 2006
WAR: Just Say No To "Peacekeepers"
There is talk, once again, of using international "peacekeeping" forces (including Americans, but restricted by the need to play by "international" rules of engagement) to enter southern Lebanon and get between the Israelis and Hezbollah. This is a terrible idea, for the reasons I have explained before at length here and here - we should not deploy troops without identifying an enemy and taking sides against that enemy.
Remember the golden rule: the function and animating purpose of the military is to defeat the enemy. That is not to say that soldiers are not capable of doing anything but fighting; certainly the U.S. military has proven adept, in Iraq and elsewhere, at the many peaceable tasks that go into nation-building. But in Iraq and Afghanistan, as tough as the job sometimes is, we know whose side we are on, which among other things enables us to go on the offensive (miliarily and otherwise) and not be bound to a purely reactive sitting-ducks stance. No identified enemy, no sides taken, no soldiers. Period.
If the international community wants to fix the problem - i.e., the inability of Lebanon's democratic government to stop Hezbollah from making war from its territory - by asking in an international force to assist the Lebanese in liquidating Hezbollah, I'm all for that. It needs to be done, by someone, and it is better done under the cover of the blue helmet and with some sharing of the burden besides just Israel or the United States. But inserting U.S. troops into Lebanon without a mandate to take the battle to the enemy was Ronald Reagan's worst mistake as president, and cost us 241 Marines, for whose lives Hezbollah has never adequately paid. Let us not repeat that tragic error.
Thankfully, our president seems to understand this.
UPDATE: Ed Morrissey has a similar reaction.
SECOND UPDATE: Of course, there are already UN "peacekeepers" in Southern Lebanon, and have been since 1978. You can tell they are there because of all that peace they've been keeping.