OPINION

Europe’s weakness in the Middle East

The constant shilly-shallying and vacillations of European nations regarding the formation of a multinational peacekeeping force in Lebanon appear to be something of a political paradox at first. Mainly because the countries of mainland Europe, with France at the helm, had been pushing the Americans to agree to a ceasefire and to the establishment of a peacekeeping force since the first days of the war. And secondly because both the Americans and the British – in view of their grievous experiences in Iraq – have decided not to send additional troops to another minefield in the Middle East, preferring to surrender this advantage to their allies. However, the doubts regarding Europe’s military intervention in the Lebanon crisis have not been nurtured by pacifists and leftists alone but also by the general chiefs of staff of the most powerful European nations, including France and Italy, who opted to undertake the leadership of a peace force. The mobilization of any peacekeeping force generally presupposes its endorsement by both sides of any conflict. However, this has not been the case with the Lebanon crisis. Israel and the USA want this force to be implemented as as soon as possible. But Hezbollah has no reason to back a force whose basic goal is to expel it from southern Lebanon and eventually disarm it. What is worse, any peacekeeping force would have a tough job feeling safe, even with Israel, the country that wants its establishment. During the «34-day war,» four UN observers were killed by Israeli fire. Generally, Europe’s weakness is not military but political, and this arises from the lack of any joint foreign policy as regards the Middle East.