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					THE GLOBE AND MAIL through a Gospel Lens
2006 Summer School – Session 5
Headline for Friday, August 25 • for study session August 29, 2006
France boosts Mideast force
Commitment of 2,000 troops for Lebanon bolsters flagging UN peacekeeping
effort
SUSAN SACHS – Special to The Globe and Mail

PARIS – France broke the international deadlock over a peacekeeping force for Lebanon, pledging 2,000
troops yesterday to reinforce the jittery ceasefire, a decision likely to persuade other Western countries to join
in the biggest United Nations deployment in the Middle East in decades.
     The French commitment, along with an offer from Italy to send up to 3,000 soldiers, puts the UN well on
its way to the goal of a 15,000-strong force to help the weak Lebanese government create a weapons-free
buffer zone in southern Lebanon.
     France had been expected to take a lead role in the force, and drew harsh criticism for originally
contributing only 400 troops, saying it was unhappy with the conditions.
     Foreign ministers of the 25-member European Union are to meet today to discuss further pledges of
troops and materiel. Other European countries, including Portugal, Spain, Belgium and Finland, have said they
might send several hundred soldiers each. A number of non-European Muslim countries, including Morocco
and Turkey, have also made provisional pledges to supply troops.
     The French decision was welcomed by Israel and Lebanon, as well as Italy and the United States, and
should kick-start the process of getting multinational troops on the ground in Lebanon. But the UN mission
there is still uncertain and fraught with dangers.
     If peacekeepers attempt to enforce a UN embargo on arms shipments to Lebanon, for example, they could
find themselves facing a second front with Syria. Damascus has warned it won't stand for UN troops on its
border with Lebanon.
     At the same time, questions remain about how the force would deal with ceasefire violations by either
Israel or the Lebanese Hezbollah militia. The peacekeepers' job, according to the UN resolution that brought
about the Aug. 14 ceasefire, is to respond to requests for help from the Lebanese government, which includes
Hezbollah representatives.
     The last time that either France or the UN mounted a muscular mission in Lebanon was in 1982, after that
year's Israeli invasion.
      That deployment lasted less than two years, during which Hezbollah bombed the peacekeepers' barracks,
killing 241 U.S. marines and 58 French soldiers.
    "This is a high-risk mission," French Defence Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie said. "That's why there can
be nothing vague in its implementation."
     French President Jacques Chirac said he was satisfied that the mission of the Lebanon force was clearly
defined and that it would operate with forceful rules of engagement. Those were two of France's preconditions
for sending soldiers into the volatile area.
    Without providing details, the French President said the Lebanese and Israeli governments, as well as UN
Secretary-General Kofi Annan, had assured him that the peacekeepers would be able to move about freely in
Lebanon, take appropriate action in the face of hostilities and answer to a "coherent and reactive" chain of
command.
     Under the UN resolution that brought about the ceasefire, the new peacekeeping force is to be grafted onto
the existing 2,000-man observer force, called UNIFIL, that has been based in southern Lebanon along the
Israeli border since 1978.
     France, like other European countries, has been wary of participating in peacekeeping operations under
UN control ever since the ill-fated effort in war-torn Bosnia. Hamstrung by a vague mandate and clumsy
command structure, the multinational forces ended up as spectators to the Serb massacre of Bosnian Muslims
in the supposed UN safe area of Srebrenica. During the course of the Bosnia mission, 117 peacekeepers, half
of them French, were killed.
      While France said it would put its supplemental troops under UN command in Lebanon, the setup is likely
to be different from the confusion of Bosnia. France now holds the rotating command of the existing UNIFIL
force and its commanders have traditionally acted independently of the UN, answering to the French general
staff in Paris.
    Mr. Annan was said to favour a unified command centre in New York, gathering military officers from
countries contributing to the force to oversee the Lebanon peacekeepers, according to a report by Reuters
News Agency.
     The job of the reconstituted force, according to the resolution, is to help the Lebanese army take up
position in southern Lebanon as Israeli troops withdraw and Hezbollah fighters move out. But the Lebanese
government has exercised neither political nor military control over that part of its territory since the 1960s.
     The resolution also establishes a buffer zone along the Israeli border in southern Lebanon that is supposed
to be weapons-free and establishes an embargo on arms shipments into Lebanon. Again, the Lebanese
government would be responsible for disarming the population, which not only includes Hezbollah fighters but
clans that have owned arsenals for generations.
    The UN force would be available to help in the weapons cleanup and enforcing the embargo, as
envisioned in the peacekeepers' mandate. Many experts are dubious that the formula could work, even with a
beefed-up multinational force.
     "What can an international force do in an environment where people have been smuggling for 200 years?"
said Timor Goksel, a former spokesman for the UNIFIL force in southern Lebanon who lived the Israeli-
Hezbollah conflict for 24 years.


Gospel for Sunday, August 27 • for study session August 29, 2006
John 6:56 [Jesus said] “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the
living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. 58 This is
the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who
eats this bread will live forever.” 59 He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue at
Capernaum. 60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?”
61 But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, “Does this offend you? 62
Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 It is the spirit that gives
life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But among you there are
some who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was
the one that would betray him. 65 And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me
unless it is granted by the Father.” 66 Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went
about with him. 67 So Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” 68 Simon Peter answered him,
“Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and know that you
are the Holy One of God.” NRSV
 Our Fall Study will continue our examination of John’s Gospel using…
         Drawn into the Mystery of Jesus through the Gospel of John by Jean Vanier
                                            and
Mystical Christianity: A Psychological Commentary on the Gospel of John by John A Sanford

          September 19 • Meeting Jesus for the first time (John 1:35-51)
          September 26 • Born in the Spirit (John 3:1-21)
          October 3 • The Truth will set you free (John 8:12-59)
          October 10 • How do we react to love? (John 13:18-30)
          October 17 • Meeting Jesus every day (John 21)

           Registration for Participants continues at $25 for the 5-sessions
                     and covers study materials and travel costs

				
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