Peacekeeping: Herding Cats

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February
4, 2007:
The perils of multinational peacekeeping were demonstrated recently in
Afghanistan. The 1,900 Dutch troops there refused to take part in operations to
destroy poppy crops (which are used to produce opium and heroin.) The
government is trying to destroy these crops, but Dutch officials don't agree
with the way the Afghans are going about it and, basically, refuse requests to
help. The Afghans also have problems with some NATO contingents, like the 3,000
German troops, which refuse to fight the Taliban. This is because the German
government does not agree with how the Afghan government is dealing with the
Taliban. Several other national contingents in Afghanistan have their own rules
for how to operate, and the Afghan government has to learn to live with it, as
do the other NATO contingents. This is a common situation in multinational
peacekeeping operations. That's because nations will not give up all control
over their troops. The main reason is nationalism, politics back home, and
media eager to exploit any of this. Commanders of multinational peacekeeping
organizations have to cope, and learn how to "herd cats."

 


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