2008: The UN's peacekeeping army of 112,000 troops, is falling apart.
Corruption, casualties and lack of success are discouraging countries from
contributing their troops. The corruption angle is interesting, as it pertains
both to the corruption within the UN bureaucracy, and the corrupt atmosphere
the peacekeepers operate in, and often succumb to. Casualties are expected, but
the contributing countries feel a lot of their troop losses are the result of
restrictive UN rules that limit what peacekeepers can do. This, in turn, is
believed most responsible for a lack of success for the peacekeeping missions.
time, most of the peacekeeping troops have come from India and Pakistan. These
two nations are not happy with the lack of volunteers from other major nations.
The chief reasons for that are the same ones annoying the current peacekeepers
(corruption and restrictive rules of engagement). In addition, the major
military powers (with the exception of China and Russia) feel they already
contribute quite a lot in the form of money to pay the peacekeepers. And the
contributors are also upset at the lack of results.
The UN will
spend about $7 billion on fifteen peacekeeping operations this year. This pays
for a force of over 112,000 troops and support staff. It's actually a pretty
cheap way of keeping some conflicts under control. The causes of the unrest may
not be resolved by peacekeepers, but at least the problem is contained and doesn't bother the rest of the world too
much. This is an increasingly unpopular approach to peacekeeping, except in the
UN bureaucracy. Many UN members would rather send peacekeepers to where they
are not wanted (by the government, usually a bad one, that is often the cause
of the trouble in the first place.)
Most of the
money is going to a few large peacekeeping operations. Three of the largest get
over half the cash. Thus the Congo operations get 17.5 percent of the money,
Darfur (western Sudan) gets 22 percent and southern Sudan gets 12 percent.
Africa has the largest number of "failed states" on the planet and,
as such, is most in need of outside security assistance. The Middle East is
also a source of much unrest. But there the problem isn't a lack of government,
just bad government. Most Middle Eastern nations are run by tyrants, who have
created police states that at least keep anarchy at bay.
complicate matters, religion has become a touchy subject. While Islamic
radicalism is more of a problem to fellow Moslems than it is to infidels
(non-Moslems), most Middle Eastern governments avoid blaming Islam for these
problems. Since it's increasing difficult to pin the blame on
"colonialism" or "crusaders," the Middle Eastern nations
encourage other UN members to just stay away from the religious angle
altogether. This has made it difficult to deal with peacekeeping issues in
Moslem nations, since religion usually plays a part in creating the problem. To
the UN, this is just another diplomatic problem to be dealt with, not very
the troops and money that keep all the peacekeeping going are in danger of
fading away. Frantic diplomacy is underway by the UN to try and makes things
all better, but success is not assured.