Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Is peacekeeping ineffective?

The genocide in Darfur has not only led to the deaths of many, but it has displaced numerous Sudanese. An article from the Washington Post mentions how the refugees in Sudan believe that an African Union peacekeeping mission is not providing protection. It is a problem that peacekeepers in Darfur are only there to monitor the violence and not fight it, similar to the U.N.’s presence in Rwanda. Therefore, many believe the African Union mission has been ineffective in protecting and improving the conditions of the refugees. At one of the refugee camps near Kassab, a health clinic had shut down, so refugees were forced to seek treatment from nearby towns. The female refugees are extremely vulnerable because they are exposed to robbery and rape while having to search for firewood and go to surrounding villages. Other refugees have trouble sleeping at night for fear they will need to flee at any instant.
Fighting between the Sudanese army and rebel groups has been ongoing sine 2003. After 3 years, the people of Sudan are still not safe. Even those seeking refuge are exposed to unsafe conditions. Should forces outside of the African Union be sent to Darfur? Or, should others ignore the situation in Darfur and let the Africans help themselves? Should we be allowed to sit around and let others suffer when the situation is not their fault? How is it that a peacekeeping mission does not provide the protection the Sudanese need? Is peacekeeping altogether ineffective?


thisisnotathens said...

Stacy brings up two important points.

1. "Peacekeeping" without force is useless against the criminals in Sudan. The African Union's Peacekeeping force can only monitor violence, which they in turn report to the world. It is the hopes of Peacekeepers that their observations will incite international outrage which will lead to actual action against the criminals. Unfortunately the outrage has not come, and the refugees have suffered for it. The Structure in place to protect innocent peoples has failed time and time again. It failed in the Former Yugoslavia, it failed in Rwanda, and it is failing in the Sudan.

That brings us to the second point.

2."Should we be allowed to sit around and let others suffer when the situation is not their fault?"

There are many people calling for the end of the genocide in Sudan. There have been protests, and songs, t shirts, and video games, but has any of this moved us any closer to ending the genocide in Darfur and genocide in general? Both the national and international powers do not wish to intervene in what is happening, so what is protesting to ask them to stop genocide going to do. They are already ignoring their pact that was signed in which they are required to stop it.

Perhaps something more is needed than protests and chants. Young people the world round he feel strongly about ending the genocide have a model that could be followed.
In Spain, 1936 thousands of foreign nationals moved to Spain to help the Republic defend democracy from the Fascist Rebels. Young idealists from America risked life and limb to fight for what they believed for. Is this any different. Is fighting against genocide worth it? Is this an option or is it wildly out of the question? Should we just wait to see if the international community does something, or will they be too late?

Ozymandias said...

I once heard a commentator on one of the news channels suggest that if the U.S. really cared about stopping the genocide in the Sudan, they would send in Blackwater Security. Blackwater, for those not in the know, is an international corporation made up of, essentially, ex-Soviet and South African commandos who found their home regimes no longer profitable to work for (as well as some Navy SEALs and Army Rangers who were kicked out for being too violent). They have looser rules of engagement than regular troops and are much better-trained and better-paid. They've done a fair amount of work in Iraq and have come under heavy criticism, but nobody denies that they're very good at what they do. Hiring a few hundred or thousand of them would almost certainly be cheaper, in the long run, than committing U.S. troops to the Sudan, and it's not as if Ma and Pa in Iowa are going to see their son get killed on TV and then lobby to pull the U.S. out.

I've been thinking about this a lot, and I really can't come to any firm conclusion. Is is morally right to hire brutal but effective (and autonomous) mercenaries in service to a greater good? Would doing this do any good, or would it just inflame the situation? Is there any way that the U.S. can get a third party involved in the genocide, as it's pretty much politically impossible to send troops over there?

By the way, thisisnotathens, have you ever read "Homage to Catalonia", Orwell's account of fighting in the Spanish Civil War? It's a remarkable book, and I'd reccomend it to everyone here; you'll rarely read a better story of how idealism tends to collapse in the face of reality.

thisisnotathens said...

Yes I have read Homage to Catalonia, and I have researched the history of the Spanish Civil War and the Spanish Republic. I know that the Republic lost, and that many people in the International Brigades lost their lives, but that does not change the fact that they went and did something that they thought was a moral imperative. Orwell also did not condemn the entire endeavor but was very critical of the Soviet Union's actions in the Civil War. There is no doubt that both sides of the war had their problems, but my recommendation is simply that saying genocide is not to be permitted is not an option anymore when no one will do anything to stop it.

stacy h said...

Do we only protest, chant, and avoid taking action because we are unattached to the situation in Darfur? Because our lives aren't in danger, do we not care to save those who must fear for their lives every day? Instead of addressing the situation here in the US, should we go to Darfur oursevles (meaning the people in the US who are concerned with Darfur) and stop the violence? Could we be effective?

Ozymandias said...

I agree that those who went to fight in Spain believed that they were doing the right thing and should be commended; however, their actions ultimately came to naught. I want to think that a new Abraham Lincoln Brigade would get the world's attention; perhaps it might even do some good. However, their chance of stopping the genocide is essentially nil. Of course, it's unfair for us to expect that of them; if they can save one village from destruction, that would be a truly heroic and important act. I don't want to badmouth the idea because it's a noble one, but we've seen time and time again that untrained amateurs generally aren't the answer when you want to stop a superior fighting force.

thisisnotathens said...

Yes untrained civilians would not fare well against an organized military force, but as we have seen in the Ghost of Rwanda documentary sometimes it only took western people watching to prevent genocide.

Also, the Janjaweed is not Franco's Fascist forces. The Janjaweed is not backed by Nazi Germany or Fascist Italy. They do not have tanks, they do not have planes, and they aren’t even that disciplined. They are simply a militia, perhaps backed by the government of Sudan, but that is it.

Call me naive, but I believe that a force of moderately trained, highly idealistic force could put a stop to the genocide. Perhaps I am wrong, but for anyone who truly believes that what is happening in the Dafur is actually genocide, than something must be done.

Elle said...

This blog and its comments raise some very important issues and questions about the nature of genocide and peacekeeping. I absolutly believe that a peacekeeping force which can not use force is ridiculous. It is foolish to send in troops who cannot protect the innocent civilians, let alone defend themselves. The situation in Sudan reminds me of the situation in Rwanda in the 90s. The similarities are frightening. The film, "The Ghosts of Rwanda" paints a stunning picture of the state of affairs in Rwanda. Under the capable hands of Gen Dellaire, I think that peacekeeping troops could have been successful. The major problem was that countries would not send peacekeeping troops. Perhaps the success of peacekeeping depends on the leader. Perhaps it depends on the circumstances of the country. For example, I think that the Holocaust was so well orchestrated that peacekeeping troops would have failed to stop it. Or maybe, most of all, the success of peacekeeping in the investment of the international community. Without the support of world states, peacekeeping missions lack the resources and manpower to be succuesful.
Peacekeeping missions can be successful. The more countries which contribute to them, the less dammage will be done by the killers. If many countries pledge money and troops, then the genocide can be stopped quickly and few will lose their lives. It is time to stop standing by. We must take action.