bm204 Thomas Milo on UNIFIL

avatar Thomas Milo
avatar Thomas Milo
Live in his Amsterdam Kitchen
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The name UNIFIL doesn’t often appear on page one of the mainstream newspapers. For many it was last summers invasion of southern Lebanon that caused the media to even mention that there was an international force wedged between Israel, Lebanon, Hezbollah, given the task of ensuring that all sides respect a peace agreement.

In Thomas's Kitchen

Thomas Milo had a very unique roll as one of the only Arabic speakers stationed with the Dutch battalion of UNIFIL back in 1979. We sat together in his kitchen in Amsterdam and he explained what it was like to work everyday between rocks and a hard place.

Links:
UNIFIL website
WIKIPEDIA on UNIFIL

We Discuss:
– What is UNIFIL
-What armies were involved
– The Dutch role and controversy of deployment
– His studies and initial involvement with UNIFIL
– Meetings with the PLO
– The First Suicide bomb belts
– The Senegalese zone
– What progress was made?
– Israeli’s lose patience
– Lebanese reaction and approval
– First kids with Stones, the orgins
– Original Improvised Explosive Devices
– Israeli military Tactics
– Lessons for Soldiers in Iraq
– Response to Americans who criticize peacekeepers as ineffective

Thomas in 1979

 

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A Brief BBC Appearance de Moi

Not that I think you should have to hear MORE “me” than you already hear/read/see. But since I still hope to please my mom and make her and dad extra proud, I would just like to announce that I was one of the call-in guests on the BBC worldservice program “World Have Your Say” .. which can be a little crazy as anytime the world has its say… someone inevitably talks over someone. *

I’d like to say it was no big deal and I played it cool, but I was pacing around my room half angry, half nervous, hoping I wouldn’t suddenly contract tourette’s sydrome. (sorry if you’ve got it… ) When my turn came I was determined to leave no spaces in my speech for someone to interrupt. It worked well for about 45 seconds, then – oddly enough – my last words got stepped on by one of the panelists complimenting my statement. Go figure.

Then I think an Israeli guy mistakenly accused me of spreading misinformation. Which would be exciting but I wasn’t the guy he meant to accuse. Ah well.

READ The TEXT, and from there you can hear the recording (I’m around minute 18.30).-

Lastly tonight, and actually something I mentioned on the programme, I’ve been reading up about the history and present situation of the UN peacekeeping operation UNIFIL in southern Lebanon. I had not realized that these 2,000 troops have been there, along the blue line, since the late 70’s. Troops from France, Ireland, Norway, Ghana, India, Nepal, Italy (and more) are part of the mission. The mission, by the way, was to ensure that Israel fully withdrew from the region and enable Lebanon to regain control of the territory. Neither really ever TRUELY occurred. The saddest part, reading all this, is that all the parties involved have repeatedly disrespected the peacekeepers by crossing the line or firing at each other over that line. (over 200 killed) I have to say, I’m not that surprised that Hezbollah disrespects the authority of the UN – they’re not known for embracing international law or peace. But it’s a bit odd that Israel, a signatory of the UN charter, has disrespected, overtaken, and even shot in the direction of this UN mandated peacekeeping force.

In conclusion, and what I didn’t get to finish saying on the BBC, is that this mission must be seriously re-enforced with troops from all continents… especially North America and Europe, to ensure that they are taken seriously, and that neither side dare to cross a well trained, well equipped, and very high profile mission. (see Kosovo, Bosnia, and to a lesser extent – East Timor, for references)

(*Special thanks to Matt for suggesting me for the programme!)

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