What is robust?

Secretary of State Rice said at a news conference a “robust” international force is needed to clean Hezbollah out of southern Lebanon, but declined to speculate about the exact nature of the force:

Look, I think everybody understands that it has to be a force robust enough to do the job: to make sure that the conditions in southern Lebanon are such that the reason for the violence has been dealt with; and that is that southern Lebanon is used as a platform by Hezbollah to attack Israel. That’s going to take a robust force.

The questions about what kind of force it is, what its command structure is, is it a U.N. force, is it an international assistance force — those are the discussions that are going on, and I think are going to go on over the next few days.

So let me speculate. The force must be primarily Arab and must work alongside a native Lebanese force. The force must outnumber Hezbollah by a substantial margin, perhaps five to one. The force must not include Americans, British, Australian or other white English-speaking troops, though the French are certainly welcome to pony up on this one. While the US can certainly provide support in logistics, materiel and humanitarian aid, US troops would be viewed nearly the same as Israelis and would do more harm than good.

If US forces are used, all other bets are off. The only way US forces should enter another Middle East country is alone and with overwhelming force sufficient to cause any existing Lebanese Army to lay down their arms immediately, to utterly destroy Hezbollah and its camp followers and with absolute leadership support to do what it takes to do that job. Another half-hearted, politically correct war with domestic “allies” who shoot our troops in the back is out of the question. If there isn’t a commitment to win and win decisively, not one US soldier should set foot in that country.


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