Waste of UN space

Much good stuff in The Times today on why and how Iran and its client Hezbollah militia can be stopped and it isn’t talking about the UN.

It gives short shrift to the idea of sending in the UN. It is clear to The Times and to many others who have thought it through what a futile waste of time this exercise would be.

It starts by pointing to the obvious. Blair’s talk of a 12-mile exclusion zone in Southern Lebanon would, of course, be super fine, if it had not been made redundant by the fact that Iran is handing out 50 mile missile technology like weapons grade candy.

“It is hard to see how ground troops, presumably under UN auspices, could stop Hezbollah’s Iranian-made rockets, with a range of 50 miles, from sailing overhead. Besides, there is already a 2,000-strong UN mission in the area, where it has been since 1978, although it does not have the power to enforce peace. Any new force, presumably with a stiffer mandate, could take months to form and then mobilise. This may be an honourable idea, but it does not look like a solution.”

David Aaronovitch is of the same mind as the paper’s leader column and gives nil points to the guys with the fashion challenged light blue berets.

“That might then be the role of any international force, if it were to be deployed in southern Lebanon, as Tony Blair desires. It would have to negotiate and help to enforce the disarming of Hezbollah and the integration of its fighters back into society, while quite possibly facilitating the return of Lebanese prisoners held by the Israelis and withdrawal by Israel from the disputed Sheba farms area. It would be UN Resolution 1559, with guns.

“The trouble is that I cannot for a moment see Hezbollah, or its Iranian and Syrian allies, agreeing to it. In which case the force would either fight in the southern suburbs of Beirut, or it would sit impotently, watching the missiles go both ways overhead.”

The Times leader, I think, draws one of the few available conclusions. Having ruled out the use of the UN as a total waste of time, it sees the solution lying in a disarming of Hezbollah by a coalition of the willing. The willing being possibly the only people who could, and would, be allowed to do the job with some degree of credibility.

“And only the permanent spiking of Hezbollah’s guns will lead to sustainable peace. That will require a diplomatic coalition of the willing, which must include Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, to pressure Syria into doing what makes sense for its own future.”

There is a small problem that together these three have no track record of doing anything particularly useful in the region other than the Saudi’s funding terror and the Egyptians and Jordanians being quite practiced at getting their arses kicked across the desert at regular intervals.

But it’s a new day, a different piece of desert, maybe they can step forward and provide an alternative axis in the region. It is badly needed.

Let’s face it. It is strongly in their interests to do so in order to stop the Iranian Shia crescent (plus fellow traveller Syria) becoming the region’s powerbroker.