The process by which troops have been recruited to serve in the U.N. peacekeeping force in Lebanon has been a dismaying spectacle for those actually interested in peace. But as much as it may portend the utter futility of that force's activity, it is also highly instructive about the future of other international initiatives aimed at preventing a nuclear Iran.
The United Nation's Lebanon force is something of a farce even before it begins. Though Israel and the United States agreed to terms of the cease-fire in the war with Hezbollah because of European — and specifically, French — promises to deploy troops that would effectively free southern Lebanon of terrorist occupation, those pledges were effectively null and void even before the ink was dry.
It's now clear that the French will send troops; it's equally clear that they'll be of little use in restraining Hezbollah. Indeed, Israel announced that its postwar goal was no longer to see Hezbollah disarmed — since the troops who were supposed to do that job clearly would make no effort to do so. Rather, the Jewish state merely hopes that Hezbollah will be deterred from launching another strike.
All of which leads us to wonder whether this may foreshadow a losing battle to head off a nuclear Iran.
Iran — which not coincidentally has trained, armed and given extensive backing to Hezbollah — remains the greatest threat to both world peace and the life of Israel. Its extremist president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has made everyone aware that he seeks to wipe the Jewish state off the map, even risking grave casualties among his own people to accomplish this goal. The international community is united in opposition to Iran's nuclear ambitions, but the same Europeans who have dithered over Lebanon and opposed serious measures against Hezbollah will be needed to change their appeasement tune if there's to be any chance that Iran can be prevented from joining the nuclear club.
Those analysts who are busy writing obituaries for an aggressive American foreign policy this summer should draw just the opposite conclusion from the Lebanon debacle. If there's any argument to be made for relying on the French, their lukewarm resolve to stop terror has debunked it. Though the final outcome of the Israel-Hezbollah war may yet to be written, it's clear that if the Iranian nuclear program is to be halted, it cannot be accomplished by a dependency on European resolve.