Doubts Hang Over Lebanon Peacekeeping Force Many questions remain regarding the nuts and bolts of putting together an effective peacekeeping force for the Israel-Lebanon border. Lebanon and the United Nations have both said they would put 15,000 troops in the area to keep the peace.
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Doubts Hang Over Lebanon Peacekeeping Force

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Doubts Hang Over Lebanon Peacekeeping Force

Doubts Hang Over Lebanon Peacekeeping Force

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Next let's take a closer look at the type of peacekeeping force the United Nations agreed to last week and the chances for its success. We've called Kori Schake, a fellow at the Hoover Institution - a think tank at Stanford University. She is also former director of defense strategy at the National Security Council in the White House during first Bush administration.

Welcome to the program.

Ms. KORI SCHAKE (Fellow, Hoover Institution at Stanford University): Thank you.

INSKEEP: And the basics first. When we talk about a peacekeeping force, what kind of troops will be there and from where?

Ms. SCHAKE: It's not entirely clear yet from the U.N. Security Council resolution. There will be 15,000 troops going in, in support of 15,000 Lebanese troops. And their purpose should be to prevent weapons without the consent of the government of Lebanon, and to insure no authority other than that of the government of Lebanon. The specific tasks include disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon. But it's not at all clear to me that they have the mandate, or will have the ability to enforce that.

INSKEEP: Realistically, how long would it take to get 15,000 troops from several countries, plus 15,000 troops from Lebanon into the southern part of that country?

Ms. SCHAKE: The U.N. special envoy for the Middle East suggests they could begin to deploy within the coming week, but I think that's unrealistic. I'd be surprised, quite honestly, whether the U.N. can get commitments for 15,000 troops for this mission. I would guess probably two months is a more realistic proposition.

INSKEEP: Now, 15,000 outsiders plus 15,000 Lebanese, that is a lot of soldiers. Why would you have doubts about whether they can do what they're supposed to do?

Ms. SCHAKE: Two reasons. First, if the Lebanese had the capacity to do this, they would have been doing it before now. Having outsourced the security of southern Lebanon to Hezbollah, it's not clear to me that the Lebanese forces either have the capacity or the domestic support to be able to carry this out.

A second reason is that it doesn't appear to be a consensus among even the leadership of the U.N. mission as to what it is they're going to do. If the means are purely political, you don't need 30,000 troops to carry it out. And if they're not political, you need a Chapter Seven mandate from the U.N., you need clarity and consensus on the mission by the force contributors. Perhaps most importantly, you need robust rules of engagement that will allow them to enforce what the U.N. says needs doing.

INSKEEP: Chapter Seven mandate - that's basically the United Nations saying to its forces whatever it sends, you can shoot any time you need to.

Ms. SCHAKE: Yeah, that you can use all necessary means to accomplish the mission.

INSKEEP: And that mandate has not been given up to now.

Ms. SCHAKE: Well, it seems to me unclear. The U.N. Security Council resolution that was passed authorizes UNIFIL, the force in Lebanon, to take all necessary action as it deems consistent with its capabilities. But it's not clearly a Chapter Seven mandate, and many of the countries that are being bandied about to contribute forces would not contribute them under a Chapter Seven mandate.

INSKEEP: Can this work without the active participation of the United States military?

Ms. SCHAKE: Yes, I think it can. We're not the only country that has the ability to do difficult military work. The French certainly have that capacity. There are a number of E.U. militaries that have the ability to do this well. The challenge will be piecing together a multi-national force when they haven't trained together. There will be questions about there interoperability. There will be questions about national caveats, restrictions on the uses of the forces and whether people have the rules of engagement and are willing to use robust rules of engagement.

INSKEEP: Can I just ask, if there's so many obstacle to this force succeeding in the form that it appears to taking, why did U.S. and other diplomats - who surely know the same concerns that you are describing - why did they agree to this?

Ms. SCHAKE: It seems to me they likely agreed for a variety of reasons. Israel's achieved its near term objectives of destroying Hezbollah arms and infrastructure, and they sure don't want to occupy southern Lebanon again to prevent the recurrence. Hezbollah gets an end to the Israeli attacks and likely time to rearm behind the protection of an international force. The government of Lebanon gets an end to the damage to the country and assistance in controlling Hezbollah. I think it buys everybody time.

INSKEEP: Meaning that nobody here really thinks that they are nearing an end to this conflict. They're just going to seek a pause, which is imperfect. And that's fine with them, because they'll use it for their own purposes.

Ms. SCHAKE: I think that's right.

INSKEEP: Kori Schake of the Hoover Institution, thanks very much.

Ms. SCHAKE: It's a pleasure.

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