It is astonishing that no-one in the United Nations (UN) has the moral courage to step forward and admit their shameful behaviour and subsequent failures in Africa. In fact, their lack of contribution to keeping peace in Africa has been nothing but disgraceful. At least some UN generals have opted to rather leave than be tainted with this shambles. Perhaps they knew that if they didn’t jump they would be pushed.
Perhaps the time has come to hold the UN accountable for not only its mismanagement, mis-strategising, misconduct and for completely missing the objectives of peacekeeping but also for the many thousands of lives that their incompetence has caused. But, this will never happen as long as their salaries are paid. They will merely continue to show their complete lack of understanding insofar as conflict-cause, conflict resolution, strategy and conflict-containment is concerned. Coupled to a lack of discipline, poor command and control, inadequate training and little to no intelligence, the state of affairs just gets worse.
The current situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is a perfect example at hand.
The UN boasts that this is its largest peacekeeping mission in the world with in excess of 17 000 men. The costs to maintain this monstrously inept machine are enormous. The results they have achieved thus far hover close to an absolute zero. The fact that they are even allowed to wear military uniforms and travel in military vehicles ought to be a disgrace to any military man with some pride.
Hiding behind the impressive name of MONUC, this force has been unable to enforce or keep any peace whatsoever. Yet, their press releases appear to intimate successes that are invisible to everyone else. Chaos and lives lost are apparently of no consequence to them. Hundreds of thousands of people have been made homeless and continue to flee the conflict area, yet MONUC seems oblivious to all of this. If they really are that keen to do their job, why aren’t they then doing it? Perhaps they too will soon blame “mission creep” for their failures. Or, when the whole world finally sits up and takes note, they will probably state that a peace agreement is “imminent”. Until then, Ban Ki-moon and his cohorts will continue to express their desire to solve problems – and do nothing. Besides, solving the problem could have a negative influence on their “jobs-for-life” mentality.
They give themselves a new name for every mission and loudly proclaim how they are going to make a difference. The truth is that they do make a difference – upon their arrival things rapidly progress from bad to worse. Then, as they steadily entrench the chaos they bring, they quickly blame everyone else for their ineffectiveness. When they are called on to stand their ground, they buckle and leave in a hurry – or even worse, as they did in Angola, they blame the government for wanting to finish off the rebel forces while they in turn ooze sympathy for the rebels.
Indeed, in Angola it was well known to the men of EO that these so-called blue-helmeted soldiers would, once they arrived to keep the peace, snivel in their bases and send back false area intelligence and patrol reports to their headquarters in Luanda. These reports, which the EO signallers intercepted – and which I still have in my possession - showed what true peacekeeping incompetence is. Even worse, they gave the rebels glowing reports while blaming government forces for any cease-fire violations when the opposite was true.
Had that same situation occurred anywhere in Europe or even the USA, the besieged government would have been helped to defeat any rebel movement aimed at overthrowing or destabilising it. But this does not happen in Africa. Here both sides are supported by the UN and some Western governments/multi-nationals and then a decision is made as to who the winner is likely to be and then that side is supported – until they are overwhelmed. The UN is able to switch sides faster than one can throw a light switch. After all, Africa is mainly black with a couple of whites thrown in – so why would they care? At the end of the day, these lives – be it black or white – are just expendable Africans as far as they are concerned.
Just look what the UN actually achieved in Angola: The rebels, defeated on the battlefield, signed the peace accord in Lusaka, the peacekeepers arrived, confined everyone to base, forced the military to disarm while quietly (and knowingly) allowed the rebels to re-arm and then, when the war broke out again, they fled with their tails between their legs, blaming the government for defending itself. Is that peacekeeping or chaos-creation?
They also successfully applied a similar strategy in Sierra Leone, eventually losing so much control that the British and US had to race to the rescue. Before the DRC, this was their largest mission which they eventually hailed as a great triumph to peacekeeping. If one really looks at what happened in Sierra Leone, the UN is solely to blame for massive loss of life and destruction to personal property – to say nothing of the trauma, disillusionment and refugees they left in their wake.
Their record of indulging in criminal acts is also well documented – child prostitution, looting, rape, robbery and even murder are seemingly part of their peacekeeping portfolio. Perhaps the time has come for governments to start speaking out against the UN’s blundering and fuelling of fires. African governments should hold the UN accountable when they fail as dismally as they do.
It would furthermore do African leaders well to contract reliable PMCs to assist them with redefining containment strategies and implementing those strategies. The UN’s peacekeepers can then be expelled from African soil. This will ensure that there is a definite timeline for ending the conflict. Apart from the fact that it will cost a fraction of what it costs the UN – the DRC costs are currently estimated to be US$ 1,2 billion a year - it will also ensure commitment to complete the mission and there will be accountability to the contracting government – something the UN has neither of.
My next posting will take a brief look at the piracy problem off Africa’s east coast.