15K Peacekeepers for Lebanon? Howzabout the Chinese?

Sorry for the gap in my posts of late; I was laid low by influenza. It was as if several dozen enraged short people were given leave to pummel me from foot to midsection, while selected members of their furious brethren were equipped with croquet mallets to have at my upper bits. So if this post -- or any future post, for that matter -- seems shaded by delirium, go ahead and blame the flu.

The news this morning is that Israel, Lebanon, and now even Hezbollah, have agreed to a UN cease-fire. 15,000 peacekeepers are to take up station along the border, presumably under an extended UNIFIL or UNTSO mandate.

Israel will have to choke down a whopping big mideast crow should they withdraw according to the resolution. Kadima, the IDF, and even Israeli cosmopolitanism will find themselves at the end of many a pointed finger. Unlike a certain three-letter superpower, Israel does not suffer failure quietly (see 1973 Yom Kippur War, fallout from).

So now the UN is scrambling to cough up these 15,000 volunteers. Not just anyone will do, after all. The US and UK have many, many present-day and historical reasons to keep well away. The Russians are a little too Syrian-friendly. The Germans are queasy at the prospect of pointing their weapons at Jews. Islamic countries are clearly out of the running, as are those with anti-Islamic histories, viz. India. South Americans have never been enthusiastic UN fodder.

This seems to leave France -- time heals even colonial wounds -- and the usual desperate gaggle of African militia as the default option.

But what about the fifth UN permanent member, China? What's not to like? No historical ties to the locals. No official observance of any of the region's religions. A large standing army complete with an assumedly high tolerance for casualties. Trifecta!

Of course, China isn't exactly known for peacekeeping, other than the type it strictly imposes upon its own citizenry. But Chinese soldiers have participated in UN missions before, and the People's Republic even sent a few lonely soldiers to Lebanon earlier this year.

There's just a tiny wrinkle in this scheme. China sending troops in number to Lebanon would be a direct shot across the United States' bow. In effect, the Chinese would be saying to the superpower, "we're here to do the job you can no longer handle." The American neocons would completely spaz. Gwynne Dyer -- in a brilliant talk given in Whitehorse this spring -- twigged me to the notion: the neocons' real agenda is to prevent, or at best forestall, the decline of the American empire in the face of an ascendant China (and/or India).

Then imagine Chinese divisions rolling in to quell the Iraqi civil war just as the Americans retreat from Baghdad, all the while proclaiming "peace with honour." Likely? No. China will stare down the US soon enough though, and then it's a whole 'nuther (ping-pong) ball game.