NO PEACEKEEPING

Ralph Peters argues that sending US troops as peacekeepers in the event of an Israeli-Palestinian settlement is a horrible idea:

That just may be the worst idea raised by any Americans since our public-housing authorities proposed building high-rise ghettoes for the poor. All men and women of common sense and conscience should resist sending our over-stretched forces on a hopeless mission that would butcher our soldiers for nothing.

I’ll leave it to Stephen to decide whether this is more stupidest-assed than Krauthammer’s idea. Peters has an interesting argument, here:

Let’s be straight: There is no peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and there will be nothing beyond brief truces until the Arab terrorist organizations are destroyed – and until Israel dismantles its most offensive settlements in the West Bank and Gaza.

I am a firm supporter of Israel. But, as a retired career soldier, I recognize that American troops are not the answer to every problem in the world. If the Israelis and Palestinians can’t achieve meaningful results between themselves, we can’t force peace upon them – unless we would be content with a phony peace, punctuated by acts of terror, that would require an endless U.S. commitment.

Still, peacekeeping forces are sometimes useful. They have worked quite well in the Sinai Peninsula for a generation now. They make sense in a situation where both sides want peace but fear violence by terrorist groups or small bands of malcontents. But, obviously, there has to first be a peace to keep and Peters is right that there isn’t one now–or in the foreseeable future.

Further, it is reasonable to ask whether US forces make sense even if peacekeepers do. While the Sinai Multinational Force and Observers mission indeed includes a contingenent of US forces, it is primarily international. US forces are the best warfighters in the world; we’re not great peacekeepers for a variety of reasons. It really makes little sense to use the most expensive, high tech military in the world for a low tech mission. Furthermore, US forces are a natural lightning rod because of the preeminent status of the US. Having a UN force, preferably one consisting primarily of forces from less developed countries, would be a more logical approach if a real peace agreement is signed.

FILED UNDER: Military Affairs
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Jem says:

    Something to consider, now that the Israelis are actually taking a step or two toward removing settlements, is that there are extremist rejectionists on the Jewish side, too. They have been able to take it easy for awhile because of the intifada (the Arab extremists are doing the “good” work of preventing peace, so they don’t have to). If we put our troops in the middle, we’d have to watch BOTH sides of the line to stop terrorism.