Europe's Responsibility for Middle East

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Europe's Responsibility for Middle East

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As the Middle East crisis continues there are increasing calls for an international force to enter Lebanon to enforce a peace that has not been made. How such a force would conduct itself is far from clear. Would it root out Hezbollah forces? Would it protect Israel?

What is most interesting, in light off certain Bible prophecies, is the call for European troops to be committed to such a force. Timothy Garton Ash has an interesting column that brings up Europes historic role in creating the current crisis.

I don't think any European should speak or write about today's conflict in the Middle East without displaying some consciousness of our own historical responsibility. I'm afraid that some Europeans today do so speak and write; and I don't just mean the German right-wing extremists who marched through the town of Verden in Lower Saxony on Saturday, waving Iranian flags and chanting "Israel - international genocide center." I also mean thinking people on the left.

He goes on to mention the possibility of sending Europen troops to the region.

Does it follow that Europeans have a special obligation to get involved in trying to secure a peace settlement in which the state of Israel can live in secure frontiers next to a viable Palestinian state? I think it does. Even if you don't accept this argument from historical and moral responsibility, Europe's vital interests are plainly at stake: oil, nuclear proliferation and the potential reaction among our alienated Muslim minorities, to name but three.

It's less clear what that involvement should be. One proposal is for European forces to participate in a multinational peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon, but that only makes sense if realistic parameters are established for a clear, feasible and finite mission. Those are not yet in sight. Even a cease-fire is not yet in sight.

Ash does not deny the critical role of America in the process. But we are likely to see more discussion like this.