I continue to be amazed at the amount of time, energy and money expended on the theory and practice of “peacekeeping” in conflict zones on the African continent. Conferences are held to debate the value and role of peacekeeping operations. Academic papers are penned extolling the virtues and successes of peacekeeping operations - truth be told there aren’t any to boast about. Committees are formed to monitor the players in the peacekeeping process. New NGOs spring up to play their new-found role in this on-going, lucrative farce.
Whereas keeping the peace is a very noble idea, does it really work in practise? Do those innocent people who are caught up in the conflict gain anything from the peacekeeping operations? Does fleeing their homes in terror in the middle of the night and becoming refugees something they must supposedly look forward to? Does having their hands and ears hacked off, their wives and daughters raped, their families murdered and so on give them hope? Does watching their crops and meagre possessions being destroyed while the peacekeeping forces look on helplessly, continually switch sides or turn away something they should be happy about? I doubt it.
It appears that the true winners are those who partake in these so-called peacekeeping operations and judging by their results, they really couldn’t care less about “peace” and the civilians they are supposedly there to protect. Poorly-trained and inadequately-led peacekeeping troops lead to more instability. Continued instability and conflict equates to continued income for the peacekeepers and those followers of peacekeeping missions that exploit the conflict situation.
Africa is a dangerous place and it is kept that way by wars, coups, crime and violence – often purposely – and often by very powerful behind-the-scenes players. Some of the players are foreign governments and others are multi-national corporations. But conflicts fuel the arms trade and make resources cheaper to buy. Other avenues for business are also opened up. But, the roles of these behind-the-scenes players are seldom if ever investigated. Instead, their political influence and profit margins continue to grow – as does their influence.
I have made my thoughts known on the utter and dismal failures of the UN’s so-called “peacekeeping” missions in Africa and the misery these missions have brought – and still bring - with them. Angola, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Ivory Coast, Sudan and Somalia are but some of the missions that have simply prolonged the state of conflict. True, at times a stalemate is achieved – but what then? However, more often than not, the rebels or terrorists (as that is what they usually are) continue to maintain the initiative.
But a question no one has ever answered is “how can you keep peace when there is no peace?”
Surely, that is a pretty simple question to answer?
When an internationally recognised government comes under the attack of so-called rebels, guerrillas or a dissatisfied political opponent and the antagonists resort to murder, terrorism, destruction, crime and chaos, what purpose do those who rush to “keep the peace” really serve? Would their noble mission not be better served if they hunted down those who committed the atrocities and brought them to book? If the peacekeeping forces are too useless to do their jobs, then perhaps the UN and those who claim to wish for peace should rather contract PMCs that have a desire – and a track record - to end the conflicts. Besides, elections, democracy and peace remain a pipe-dream as long as there is instability.
All conflicts involve players with their own aims and objectives. If an under-siege government asks for foreign forces to assist it in ending the conflict, isn’t that exactly what should be done? If foreign forces are despatched to help a government achieve some stability, isn’t the logical step to first end the conflict and then to maintain the peace?
Shouldn’t the peacekeeping forces only arrive once there has been a cessation of hostilities and a declaration of peace? Trying to do this about-face is somewhat senseless as one cannot enter a conflict zone and simply claim to be “keeping peace” thinking that it will suddenly end the conflict.
Peacekeeping missions seem to be driven by achieving a “ceasefire”, a method for rebels to simply gain time, re-arm and continue with the conflict. There is nothing noble or humanitarian about this apart from allowing the civilians caught up in the conflict a few days or months respite – and often in total misery.
If the UN is so concerned at keeping peace, why doesn’t it dispatch its “peacekeeping forces” to Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the countless other conflicts and bring with them the peace they boast about? I never saw them rush off to Georgia to “keep peace” during the brief conflict that took place there. Or are these conflicts too dangerous for them?
Unless drastic action is taken to end conflicts, they will simply continue - and “peacekeeping” will continue to remain the profitable farce it is.