UN assurances are no substitute for strategic realities

In war, there is no substitute for high ground and strategic depth. Military commanders covet those conditions and once securing them, rarely give them up without a good fight. Of course, armies can still secure victories without these ideal positions – Israel proved that in 1948 and 1967 – but at higher cost in blood.

On June 6th 1967 Israel, in response to Jordanian artillery fire and other hostile military deployments, counterattacked and defeated the Jordanian army, liberating Judea & Samaria (West Bank) in the process. In a matter of days, Israel’s strategic situation was instantly transformed for the better.

It is hard to fathom that prior to the conflict, Israel was nine miles wide at its narrowest point. When former President George Bush was informed of this fact he dryly quipped that there were driveways in Texas that were longer than that. Following the war, Israel increased its width to 44 miles. Moreover, Israel secured the Samarian mountain ranges that overlooked the nation’s vulnerable center where more than half the population and industry are situated. On a clear day, one can see the Azrieli Towers and Ben Gurion Airport from those positions.

Israeli forces ceased offensive operations at the Jordan Rift Valley. Those who have not seen the Jordan Rift Valley firsthand cannot begin to fully appreciate its strategic importance. The Jordan Valley is integral to Israel’s defense needs and forms a formidable barrier to infiltration and invasion from Israel’s eastern neighbors. It rises from an area that is 1,200 feet below sea level to a ridge of some 3,000 feet, creating a natural 4,200 foot wall. With Iraq unraveling, Jordan’s fragile monarchy under pressure from the influx of Syrian and Iraqi refugees and ever increasing Iranian imperialistic designs and meddling, the Jordan Valley takes on added significance and securing it becomes more important than ever.

Israel is now being asked or rather pressured into surrendering the Samarian mountain ranges and the Jordan Valley for vague assurances and treaties signed by Holocaust deniers and outright fabricators. To mollify Israeli anxieties, the United States and EU have raised the possibility of introducing foreign forces to patrol strategic locations.

Israel’s experience with foreign forces has been disappointing at best. Foreign troops have in the past proven themselves to be incapable of meeting even the most marginal requirements.

In 1967 UN forces stationed at strategic points in Sinai, vacated their positions after being ordered to do so by Egypt’s president, Gamal Nasser. Their abandonment of their posts led to a series of subsequent escalations that ultimately culminated in the Six-Day War.

In 1978 in response to a Palestinian terrorist atrocity, Israel invaded South Lebanon to clear out PLO terror nests. The UN demanded Israel’s withdrawal and promised to introduce a force that would act as a buffer, restore Lebanese authority in the region and prevent terrorist rearmament and infiltration. Israel complied but the UN force proved useless and on other occasions, actually collaborated with anti-Israel rejectionist groups.

In 2006 the UN force in South Lebanon was significantly enhanced with a more robust mandate, better equipment and more troops. They were there to enforce UNSC Resolution 1701 and ensure that Hezbollah would not once again turn South Lebanon into an ammunition dump and a forward base for military operations. The mandate proved to be another colossal UN failure and Hezbollah currently operates with impunity in regions ostensibly under UN control.

In 2013 UN forces operating as a buffer between Israel and Syria near the vicinity of the Golan Heights, unraveled in the face of ragtag militias with little military training. Professional Filipino soldiers put up no resistance when attacked by armed gangs. They were abducted, stripped of their weapons and their heavy equipment was commandeered. Croatia and Austria proved that they too had no stomach for fighting and following the Filipino debacle, announced that they would withdraw their forces from the region.

The United Nations’ failures are not solely limited to its Mideast operations. In 1995 Dutch troops under UN command, stationed in the Bosnian city of Srebrenica, presided over the worst post-World War II massacre on European soil. They stood by as 7000 people were systematically massacred by forces commanded by the Serb war criminal, Radko Mladic. Their culpability for their inaction was confirmed when a Dutch court found Holland civilly liable for at least three of those deaths.

Since its inception, Israel has fought eight wars with its belligerent, genocidal neighbors and has won on each occasion without the need of foreign troops. The Israel Defense Forces have proved to be a well-oiled, formidable machine capable of withstanding and reacting to multiple threats at once, be they conventional, unconventional or asymmetrical. Notwithstanding her superb military, Israel should not be asked to compromise its ideal strategic situation and surrender land to duplicitous “peace partners” with nefarious aims. This is especially true at a time when Iran attempts to expand its hegemony, instability reigns in Iraq and uncertainty hovers over Jordan.

About the Author
Ari Lieberman is an attorney and former prosecutor. He has authored several articles covering political and military issues concerning Israel, the United States and the Mideast at large.