Next Steps for the U.S.

By Jennifer Dunn, Former Member of Congress (R-WA)

Even though U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701 is still not fully in force, the U.S. must be working with its allies to ensure that the situation will not return to the status quo ante, as Secretary Rice warned since the outbreak of violence between Israel and Hezbollah.

The tenuous situation throughout the region requires substantial leadership on three fronts: providing aid for the reconstruction of Lebanon, clarifying the Resolution’s ambiguous wording to ensure that the international force has the power it needs to end the violence, and forging and holding an international coalition that will truly enforce the much heralded Resolution 1559.

First, rushing aid to Lebanon – and having a Western face deliver it – is one of the most important tasks incumbent upon the U.S. and its Western allies.  This is the prime example of “winning hearts and minds” that is required in any battle, particularly against militant, non-state adversaries.  If the Lebanese civilians whose homes and lives were devastated by this conflict see Hezbollah as their only saviors, then Israel and the West will continue to see an enemy that lives and fights among the population.

Second, it is vital that the international force whose form is still taking shape does not become another UNIFIL, an effectively impotent force whose mission was limited to observer status.  This force – which should be Western-led and have troops from allied nations – must have rules of engagement consistent with a mission to put a stop to the violence, permit Israel to withdraw in safety, and allow the reconstruction to occur.

Finally, this force must be the basis for a strong international coalition of nations, both Western and Arab, that will keep their eyes on Lebanon until Resolution 1559 is fully enforced, leaving the Lebanese government with full control over its territory and Hezbollah without arms.  The United Nations can either give the international force the mandate to disarm Hezbollah, or it must direct that force to protect the Lebanese Army as it does so.  The U.S. must be the lobbyist-in-chief on this effort, ensuring that France will live up to its role as the U.S.’s prime partner, that the EU will lend its support with both troops and attention, and that the Arab states who recognize Hezbollah’s broad-based threat offer both aid to the Lebanese and pressure on the Syrians.

If the U.S. does not play a leading role on each of these fronts its ability to make peace in the region at any point in the near term will diminish even further. 

Explore posts in the same categories: CALME Luminaries, Hezbollah, Israel, Lebanon, Middle East Peace, U.S. Role

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