succumbing to peer pressure

Saturday, February 04, 2006

What starts out sounding like good news:
The United Nations Security Council, acknowledging the failure of the current strategy for ending the carnage in Darfur, Sudan, agreed Friday to deploy thousands of peacekeepers to the troubled province.

And even a little impressive for us:
The United States, which holds the Council presidency this month, offered the motion, and it was approved unanimously.

Is, in fact, a totally empty gesture:
The United States has no intention of sending American combat troops, officials said.

Assuming those and other challenges are overcome, the first United Nations troops are not likely to arrive in Darfur for almost a year.

(emphasis mine)

And just in case you're wondering, as of Dec. 31, 2005 we had contributed 387 military observers, police, and troops to UN peacekeeping missions. 387. Bangladesh sent over 9,000. Ethiopia sent over 3,000. Ghana sent over 2,000. Sri Lanka sent over 1,000. Sri Lanka! One year after the tsunami! So, you know, they had other things to worry about! We should be embarrased and ashamed. If we're going to be so half-assed about participating in the UN we should just be honest about it and actually drop out. And before you start in with how we contribute financially, thus making up for our lack of boots on the ground - 1) a country's financial contribution to the UN is based on its share of the global economy, so we should be paying a lot into the pot, 2) we haven't been paying our UN dues lately, and when we do pay, we shortchange them, and 3) we have one of the most feared/respected militaries. just the presence of American men and women carries a lot of psychological currency, something which just isn't the same as funding other missions without contributing person-power.

I know we have other problems right now. I know we're already short on troops for Afghanistan and Iraq and domestic problems, and Darfur and other international (especially peacekeeping) missions really aren't a priority right now. But that's sort of the problem, isn't it?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

So what's your proposed solution?

Pull troops out of Iraq or Afghanistan? Recruit significantly more fresh soldiers? Stop loss more active duty/reservists/national guarders? Wait till we can toss in our own soldiers before the U.S. pushes through this resolution?

I'd argue that you overestimate the psychological currency of Americans being involved (especially since I believe everyone wears U.N. uniforms). The key psychological effect, I feel, is just knowing that the world audience (particularly the first world) is present and watching what the hell is going on (a la Hotel Rwanda).

I'll take the half a loaf of the world community finally getting involved in this obvious case of genocide, even if it is years too late to mitigate much of the damage.


8:29 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

I'm not proposing a solution. I realize in the current reality we can't commit troops. I'm just pointing out yet another negative side effect of our president's terrible foreign policies.

And you're right, something is better than nothing. I'm just growing frustrated with all the negative things I hear about the UN, when I feel like we're the ones repeatedly handicapping their ability to do good work.

10:23 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home