Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Olmert Confusion

Prime Minister Olmert is now saying that there will be no ceasefire in Lebanon until an international force is deployed in the south of the country.

This statement unfortunately hints at a large degree of naivety in the higher echelons of Israel.

There is very little possibility of nations committing troops to any peacekeeping force in Lebanon without knowing its mandate and the political base on which it will be deployed.

And this will scarcely be possible until there is an agreement with the government of Lebanon and inside Lebanon, and in all probability with Israel as well.

To believe that such an agreement can be hammered out, troops committed and deployed while the bombs and the rockets keep flying and the casualties mount is naïve.

In all probability, it will be the other way around.

There will be a cease-fire either as part of or rapidly followed by a broader political agreement.

From there a mandate for the international force emerges. Then nations have the basis to start to commit forces and for the UN – or whoever – to assemble the force.

Then – and only then – can the deployment of the force begin. And if we are talking about 10 000 to 20 000 men – as some do – then it will take weeks if not months to get the force as a whole properly deployed.

If Prime Minister Olmert believes that he can have his air force and artillery continue to hammer Lebanon during this time it really hints at him not having read the dossier properly.

Sorry to say.