col richard kemp 311.
(photo credit: .)
Richard Kemp served in the British army for 30 years before retiring in 2006
with the rank of colonel. He saw action in most of the trouble spots Her
Majesty’s forces were involved in during that time, from Northern Ireland to
Bosnia and, more significantly for his understanding of Israel’s position, in
Iraq and Afghanistan, where he served as commander of British forces.
was in Afghanistan that Kemp experienced how Islamist groups exploit their
Western enemies’ commitment to international law, fighting from within civilian
populations. It was those experiences that led him to speak out in defense of
the IDF during Operation Cast Lead when in an interview with the BBC he said: “I
don’t think there has ever been a time in the history of warfare when any army
has made more efforts to reduce civilian casualties and deaths of innocent
people than the IDF is doing today in Gaza.”
Kemp was here earlier this
month for a conference on “Israel’s Critical Security Needs for a Viable
organized by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. In an interview
Jerusalem Post, he discussed the implications of a NATO presence in the
Bank, the situation in Afghanistan and Iraq, al- Qaida, homegrown
the UK and the raid on the Mavi Marmara.
A veteran of several
operations, Kemp is skeptical about the possibility of the organization
being able to muster up a peacekeeping force in the event of an
Israeli-Palestinian accord, and even more so about the effectiveness of
force should it actually be deployed.
“I think one of the big
in my mind is where are the NATO forces going to come from,” says Kemp.
has had a real problem in persuading its member nations to make a
contribution to the operation in Afghanistan, and that is an operation
designated as NATO’s priority operation and it is the only big operation
NATO is involved in today. If we can’t generate forces for that
people sharing the burden either in terms of contributing forces or
funding or other assistance, it’s hard to see how easy it’s going to be
persuade NATO member nations to donate forces for a peacekeeping
the West Bank.
“The second question I would have is the
and endurance of a force like that.
What happens when the
on NATO? What happens when NATO forces are attacked? How long would the
electorate in a NATO country allow its forces to remain involved in such
operation if, for example, large numbers of its troops are killed in a
attack? We have seen this before, although not in a NATO operation, but
example in 1983 in Lebanon where the American and French peacekeeping
withdrew in the face of a large number of casualties. Now why would the
thing not happen to a NATO force? If you put a NATO force in that
then withdrew it before the job was done, how much security, safety and
that going to bring to Israelis or Palestinians? “Also, how effective
be in a peacekeeping role in the West Bank? Look at all the national
engagement and the restrictions that NATO forces operate under today in
Afghanistan, at the complexities of the chains of command. In some ways
peacekeeping is more difficult than actually being a combatant in a war.
least to an extent you know where you are when you are a combatant, but
peacekeeping everything is so blurred I can’t see how a NATO force in a
peacekeeping role in the West Bank would be any more effective than a
Nations force, and we’ve seen how effective UN peacekeeping forces are
face of any aggression against them.”How would you see the implications
of an IDF withdrawal from the West Bank and possibly from east Jerusalem
insurgency and terrorism?
On that subject I think every
group, every successful terrorist campaign, has depended heavily on a
haven. You just have to look at Vietnam, look at Northern Ireland,
and today [the Taliban] with its safe havens in Pakistan. By leaving
in the West Bank, you would leave Israel very vulnerable to terrorist
insurgents who could operate from there. I think it could become a sort
trap for Islamist extremists.You
have spoken of how Islamist groups
exploit Western commitment to the rules of war. Can you tell us about
experiences in Afghanistan?
The Taliban in Afghanistan use
population to shelter behind. Even very recently, British troops in
have experienced boys as young as 14 throwing grenades at soldiers,
forced to do
so by the Taliban, a tactic that obviously makes it very dangerous for
troops. British troops were reluctant and in most cases will not open
children, and the Taliban know that, they exploit that.
just the rules of war, but also the humanity of British soldiers – a
they don’t show to their own people. If anyone in the in the areas of
Afghanistan over which the Taliban has control is thought to have
with NATO forces or with the Afghan government, then the penalties for
extremely serious, and whole families can be killed or beaten or burned
their homes. But they know the British troops and other NATO troops
people with such disregard and they exploit that fact. They also have
Afghan civilians to move in front of them after they have attacked NATO
to help them get away. That kind of thing is what I’m talking about and
happens day by day in Afghanistan.The full interview will appear in this week's Magazine.