Leadership: Such Good Frenemies

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February 1, 2010: In Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Somalia, Congo and many other places, peacekeepers, and soldiers in general, are increasingly at odds with the NGO (non-governmental organization) aid community. The NGOs demand that the troops protect NGO activities. Some of those activities include providing food, fuel and medical care for the rebels or bandits the troops are trying to get rid of. The NGOs sometimes accuse the troops of war crimes, or of deliberately interfering with NGO activities, largely because the NGO personnel are ignorant of how military operations play out in a combat zone, and are anti-military to begin with.

All this is a smoke screen, to help protect the NGOs from charges that they aid the bad guys and help prolong the violence the troops are there to deal with. This is becoming a growing problem, as the NGO workers seek to make their own lives easier by getting cozy with whatever warlord is in control where the NGOs are employed. These relief operations are careers for many of the NGO personnel, and an adventure for the shorter term workers. But the NGO staff don't want to get killed doing good works, so there is a growing trend to make a discreet deal with the devil, in order to get some protection in a war zone. The peacekeepers, meanwhile have come to consider many NGOs as frenemies (enemies you have to work with) at best.

 


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