Peacekeeping: The United Nations Prime Directive


February9, 2007: Criticizing the United Nations for not being more "effective" or "forceful" in places like Darfur misses a very important point. The main objective of UN peacekeeping is to keep conflicts from disturbing the major powers, not necessarily the same thing as making peace. Thus we have the spectacle of the UN standing aside as Arab death squads keep killing African Moslems in Darfur. Why? Because the Arab world does not want another Arab government criticized for condoning mass murder. Pretend it isn't happening, and we'll keep the oil flowing.

No one is immune to this sort of thing. When the United States led an invasion of Iraq in 2003, and removed widely reviled tyrant Saddam Hussein from power, it was roundly criticized by the UN, and most countries in the world. What no one wants to admit is the real reason behind this distaste for tyrant removal is the fear that it might start a trend. While the UN does many things, it's main function is to keep its member states intact. The UN charter is pretty emphatic about not attacking other members. This angle was important, from the beginning, to get bad boy rulers to join. In effect, the UN is saying to the tyrants that, join us and talk a bit, and we'll give you some security from foreign invasion.

Thus the United States taking down a tyrant was striking a blow at one of the major pillars holding up the UN. Remember that the UN was founded in the wake of the two World Wars, and the failed "League of Nations." Making all nations safe from invasion is a big thing, but because it protects a lot of bad actors, the UN does not like to dwell on this angle publicly.

While the concept of peacekeeping is popular, the UN community will not allow this to interfere with the sovereignty of member nations. So don't be fooled by UN efforts to introduce peacekeepers into Darfur. That's just a sop to those good people appalled by the evil being done in Darfur. As far as the UN is concerned, the greatest evil is to threaten the government of any member state. That's because so many members look at Sudan government and think, "that could be me."




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