The rearming of Hezbollah — to the point that, as Secretary Gates points out, they now have more missiles than most countries – highlights the utter failure of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon. What was a force of slightly less than 2,000 men, before the 2006 war, ballooned in the aftermath of the end of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701 ending that war into more than 11,000 troops – the budget for which, this year, is more than $500 million. Rather than maintain peace or prevent Hezbollah’s rearmament, UNIFIL has become, in effect, the world’s most expensive summer camp.
Not only has UNIFIL failed in its mission, but its continued presence in southern Lebanon has also transformed it into a human shield for Hezbollah. UNIFIL’s deployment has convinced Hezbollah that they can rearm without consequence. Is President Obama really prepared for Hezbollah’s launching rockets from behind 11,000 hostages, even if none of them are American? On the other hand, if the United States and its remaining European allies disbanded UNIFIL, might it convince Syria, Iran, and Lebanon that the time for three-card missile monte is over and they need to reassess their strategies?