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Thursday, April 18, 2002
Beirut redux -- or maybe Mogadishu. Either way, a bad idea
In Wednesday's New York Times, Tom Friedman proposed that U.S. or NATO forces police a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. It sounds superficially like a good idea: if they can't live together peacefully, then we'll just make them do it. They really want to live in peace, and if it weren't for their leaders, they'd do so. So we'll just impose it on them, and everyone will live happily ever after.

Not quite. Robert Kagan explains in the Washington Post why that will never work. First of all, the United States is the only third party that Israel would ever trust, which means that the financial and personnel burden would fall entirely on us. And our troops would be targets, just as they were in Lebanon in the 1980s, when an earlier round of homicide-bombers killed 240 Marines. And even if, by some miracle, our troops didn't start as targets, they'd end up that way as soon as they took sides -- just as in Somalia.
Is there another option I'm missing? If not, the proposal for an international peacekeeping force looks less like a real plan than a desperate if noble attempt to solve the insoluble in the Middle East -- a deus ex America summoned to provide a miracle when all roads to peace have reached a dead end. Even Ehud Barak's idea of building a very, very big fence between Israel and the Palestinians looks better. Help us out, Tom.
The problem is, Friedman is so wrapped up in intervention and peace proposals and peace processes, that he just doesn't see that when two parties are at war over a fundamental issue -- like the existence of one of the parties -- the only way to end the war is for one side to win. Or maybe he does see that, but just doesn't want to admit it.

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