Monday, July 24, 2006

Canadian Forces in Lebanon?

On Sunday, US ambassador to the UN John Bolton spoke about the possibility of deploying NATO troops to Lebanon - including Canadian troops. The US wouldn't participate under the NATO banner, however, because the administration has said its military is stretched too thin in Iraq and Afghanistan. Is that the only reason? The US is currently withdrawing troops from Afghanistan as NATO takes over command of that mission.

Of course, the situation in Iraq is such an absolute mess right now that there is talk about the US having to shelf plans for gradual troop withdrawals this year and sending in even more soldiers due to the 'sectarian violence' (civil war). That won't go over well in November when angry voters who have had it with Bush's Iraq adventure face the stark reality that their sons and daughters will still be there indefinitely.

Regardless, it ought to be obvious to anyone that the US just doesn't want its troops in the middle of the new Israel/Lebanon war. Instead, it's more than willing to risk other country's soldiers lives, once again, as a result of it complete foreign policy failure. Road map? What road map? The current crisis can be blamed on the kidnappings by Hezbollah, but the fact is that the Bush administration has severely neglected its duties the past six years to engage all parties in a workable solution.

So, here we are.

There could be delicate questions, however, over whether the force's mission is to disarm Hezbollah or to support the Lebanese army's efforts to take control in the south of the country.

Those are serious considerations.

The US and Israel have expressed support for the idea of a NATO led force. Bolton has clearly indicated he is not in favour of a UN-led mission (surprise) while Lebanon's prime minister prefers UN involvement. Considering he's basically powerless in all of this, if Israel and the US insist on NATO, they'll get it.

"The questions about what kind of force it is -- what its command structure is, is it a UN force, is it an international force -- those are the discussions that are going on and I think are going to go on over the next few days," Rice said Friday.

However, on Sunday Mohamad Chatah, an advisor to Siniora, said the issue of a multinational force is "not at the centre of the problem."

"What -- you send troops to finish a war that Israel couldn't finish?" he asked on CNN.

"And unless we have a clear solution to these problems and a political framework, a multinational force, whether NATO or a UN force, doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

"We need to agree, quickly, on an end to this and a political solution that makes sense. And then a multinational support (force) can provide a lot of assistance to our own armed forces."

The only issue Israel and the US care about is the destruction of Hezbollah and they'd certainly disregard the wishes of Lebanon's government in order to make that happen.

So, where are Canada's troops headed next? Lebanon? Where the government doesn't want them if there's no political solution offered? We know we can't count on PM Harper to do anything but what Bush wants, so I doubt there will even be a debate on this issue in parliament. There will, however, be one in the public square.

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