The War in Ukraine Demonstrates the Necessity of American Power Rather Than the Potential for European Unity

Sept. 16 2022

During the past year, Jürgen Habermas—sometimes considered Germany’s leading political philosopher, and the only surviving member of the influential “Frankfurt school” of leftist thinkers—has come out as a vocal supporter of the Ukrainian cause. To Habermas, the war symbolizes a great moment for the European Union’s project. Nevertheless, writes Wayne Hsieh, the philosopher

defended German caution and suspicion of military power. In Habermas’s view, the crisis in Ukraine simply reinforced his belief that the EU needed its own independent militarily capabilities, separate and apart from the unreliable Americans. In a significant sign of Franco-German comity, the philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy had also rhapsodically declared Volodymyr Zelensky “a new, young, and magnificent founding father” of a “Europe of principles” and that the “free world” itself was at stake in Ukraine.

In Hsieh’s view, the realities of the conflict don’t so much point toward an imagined European-led a future, but to the continuation of the American-led past:

Much to the chagrin of a figure like Habermas, if there is one obvious outcome of the current war in Ukraine, it is to impress upon the world the superiority of American conventional military power. When combined with the competence and fighting spirit of Ukrainian military forces, an influx of mostly American infantry-borne anti-tank weapons, tube artillery, and rocket systems has forced the “near-peer” Russian military into a grinding stalemate.

The military side of the American effort to aid Ukraine has proved to be fearsomely effective while barely breaking a sweat, even as the sanctions regime so laboriously built by the Biden administration’s careful diplomacy may end up backfiring if it triggers an economic crisis in NATO countries (including the United States itself). Indeed, American policymakers may soon regret their unwillingness to accelerate deliveries of heavy weapons earlier this spring. . . . [A] Kyiv-controlled Ukraine as a viable state will survive with or without a formal NATO security guarantee, just as the Federal Republic of Germany and the Republic of Korea both prospered under an American-led security umbrella.

From Israel’s perspective, this may be good news. After all, the U.S. has long been its greatest friend and protector, and the European Union a source of incessant self-righteous criticism—and of funding and succor for Israel’s enemies.

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Read more at Newlines

More about: Bernard-Henri Levy, European Union, U.S. Foreign policy, War in Ukraine

UN Peacekeepers in Lebanon Risk Their Lives, but Still May Do More Harm Than Good

Jan. 27 2023

Last month an Irish member of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was killed by Hizballah guerrillas who opened fire on his vehicle. To David Schenker, it is likely the peacekeeper was “assassinated” to send “a clear message of Hizballah’s growing hostility toward UNIFIL.” The peacekeeping force has had a presence in south Lebanon since 1978, serving first to maintain calm between Israel and the PLO, and later between Israel and Hizballah. But, Schenker explains, it seems to be accomplishing little in that regard:

In its biannual reports to the Security Council, UNIFIL openly concedes its failure to interdict weapons destined for Hizballah. While the contingent acknowledges allegations of “arms transfers to non-state actors” in Lebanon, i.e., Hizballah, UNIFIL says it’s “not in a position to substantiate” them. Given how ubiquitous UN peacekeepers are in the Hizballah heartland, this perennial failure to observe—let alone appropriate—even a single weapons delivery is a fair measure of the utter failure of UNIFIL’s mission. Regardless, Washington continues to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into this failed enterprise, and its local partner, the Lebanese Armed Forces.

Since 2006, UNIFIL patrols have periodically been subjected to Hizballah roadside bombs in what quickly proved to be a successful effort to discourage the organization proactively from executing its charge. In recent years, though, UN peacekeepers have increasingly been targeted by the terror organization that runs Lebanon, and which tightly controls the region that UNIFIL was set up to secure. The latest UN reports tell a harrowing story of a spike in the pattern of harassment and assaults on the force. . . .

Four decades on, UNIFIL’s mission has clearly become untenable. Not only is the organization ineffective, its deployment serves as a key driver of the economy in south Lebanon, employing and sustaining Hizballah’s supporters and constituents. At $500 million a year—$125 million of which is paid by Washington—the deployment is also expensive. Already, the force is in harm’s way, and during the inevitable next war between Israel and Hizballah, this 10,000-strong contingent will provide the militia with an impressive human shield.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Lebanon, Peacekeepers, U.S. Foreign policy