The Trap of Foreign Forces Along the Jordan River

(Global Security) Amitai Etzioni - In the book America and the World, former U.S. national security advisers Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft recognize that Israel has a legitimate concern that if a Palestinian state is established, Iran and Syria will rush to load it with weapons and armies of Jihadists, or that Hamas will extend its policy of seeking to destroy the State of Israel to the West Bank. Brzezinski suggests "an American line along the Jordan River," while Scowcroft favors putting a "NATO peacekeeping force" on the West Bank. Most recently, a Washington Post op-ed by Brzezinski and Stephen Solarz mentioned "a demilitarized Palestinian state with U.S. or NATO troops along the Jordan River." I suggest that this idea is a dangerous trap. Abba Eban once compared a UN force stationed on the Israeli-Egyptian border, which was removed just before Nasser attacked Israel, to an umbrella that is folded when it rains. The new umbrella is not much more reliable. Second, the American troops in Iraq, and the NATO ones in Afghanistan, are unable to stop terrorist bombs and rocket attacks in those parts. There is no reason to hold that they would do better in the West Bank. Third, there are very few precedents for demilitarized states. One second after the Palestinian state is declared, many in the Arab world, Iran, and surely in Europe, not to mention Russia and China, will hold that "obviously" the new free state cannot be prevented from arming itself, whatever it says on some treaty. A strong case for a two-state solution has been made, but it better be based on the Palestinians developing their own effective forces and an Israeli presence on the Jordan River. Neither can rely on the U.S. or casualty-averse NATO to show the staying power for peacekeeping which neither mustered in Kosovo, Bosnia, or Haiti. The writer is a professor of international relations at George Washington University.

2010-04-16 09:08:17

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