As the MSM focus is shifting to the possibilities of a ceasefire in the Lebanon, and the idea of setting up an “International Force” is taking hold, I thought it might be an idea to examine the current UN activity in “The Leb”. The UN force was set up in 1978 to confirm the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, restore the international peace and security, and help the Lebanese Government restore its effective authority in the area. Part one of that mission was a success. The Israelis withdrew as they had promised. They had met their side of the bargain. Everything else was a fiasco. The Lebanese never took control of the area and peace and security for the Israelis went home with them and never returned to the area.
UNIFIL was not a success and I have always thought that the UN peacekeeping forces should be allowed to enforce their mandate by force if necessary. As far as I know, this has never really happened. Self defense is OK, but otherwise it is purely a watch and report affair with no real influence. Observe, document and, for heaven´s sake, don’t get involved.
So what of UNIFIL? It was perhaps doomed to failure from the start. Originally a force of 4,000 it was increased to 6,000 and then reduced to the 2,000 troops that we now see on the border. Toothless and with no mandate to stop the building up of the Syrian backed Hizbollah and the PLO, it quickly fell into the simple job of biding its time and consuming its rations. Along the way, some 257 people have died in the service of UNIFIL. Probably of boredom.
All that must have cost a great deal. I went to look for the cost of having this useless dinosaur on the border and was astonished at the lack of information, but I did manage to dig up the current figures for the last twelve months, courtesy of UNIFIL’s webside.
UNIFIL: Location Southern Lebanon.
Duration March 1978 to present.
Major-General Alain Pellegrini (France).
Strength (31 May 2006).
1,990 troops, assisted by some 50 military observers of UNTSO; and supported by 95 international civilian personnel and 304 local civilian staff.
Contributors of Military Personnel:
China, France, Ghana, India, Ireland, Italy, Poland and Ukraine.
2 military observers
2 international civilian staff
4 local staff
Financial Aspects Method of financing:
Assessments in respect of a Special Account:
1 July 2005 – 30 June 2006: $99.23 million (gross)
So the budget for 2,000 men under arms in the Lebanon for the last twelve months has been 99 Million dollars? What were we paying for? Now do the math backwards allowing for inflation, over 28 years, and you have a huge, almost pornographic, amount of money.
Pardon me for asking; Was it worth it?
The current estimates from the Israeli commanders is that the new force would have to be in the area of 10,000 to 20,000 men to secure the border. So you can multiply the money by at least 5, and up to 10, per annum.
I wonder, wouldn’t simply one nuke over Tehran tomorrow be a cheaper and more effective solution? No invasion required. Just decapitation.
I don’t believe that simply removing Hezbollah from Lebanon is going to be a solution that will last for ever. The solution has to be the complete eradication of Hezbollah and its paymasters.
Now that would be value for money.
By the way, I found a UN news site here. Some might find it useful.