The UN is facing the grim
possibility of "pacified" countries blowing up again shortly after
the peacekeepers are withdrawn. It's happened before, especially in Africa.
This has more to do with economics, than anything else. A recent opinion survey
in Liberia revealed that about 30 percent of the former fighters would go back
to their gun toting ways if there were no other way to make a living, or to right
actual or perceived wrongs against their family, tribe or religion. This was
not really surprising, because that sort of thing has already happened.
Moreover, Africa had centuries of interminable tribal wars before the colonial
governments showed up in the 19th century (and then left about a hundred years
later.) The post colonial world of Africa, and the Middle East, has reverted to
its warlike ways. And most of these wars grow out of anger about corruption and
lack of economic opportunity. Those two problems are more resistant to solution
than the violence that peacekeepers deal with.
the UN is currently spending about $7 billion a year on fifteen peacekeeping
operations. This pays for a force of over 100,000 troops and support staff.
It's actually a pretty cheap way of keeping some conflicts under control. The
causes of the unrest may not be resolved by peacekeepers, but at least the
problem is contained and doesn't bother
the rest of the world too much. Even with that, many UN members are not
enthusiastic about all this peacekeeping activity. That's because there's
increasing enthusiasm for sending in peacekeepers where they are not wanted (by
the government, usually a bad one, that is often the cause of the trouble in
the first place.)
Most of the
money is going to a few large peacekeeping operations. Three of the largest get
over half the cash. Thus the Congo operations get 17.5 percent of the money,
Darfur (western Sudan) gets 22 percent and southern Sudan gets 12 percent.
Africa has the largest number of "failed states" on the planet and,
as such, is most in need of outside security assistance. The Middle East is
also a source of much unrest. But there the problem isn't a lack of government,
just bad government. Most Middle Eastern nations are run by tyrants, who have
created police states that at least keep anarchy at bay. To further complicate
matters, religion has become a touchy subject. While Islamic radicalism is more
of a problem to fellow Moslems than it is to infidels (non-Moslems), most
Middle Eastern governments avoid blaming Islam for these problems. Since it's
increasing difficult to pin the blame on "colonialism" or
"crusaders," the Middle Eastern nations encourage other UN members to
just stay away from the religious angle altogether. This has made it difficult
to deal with peacekeeping issues in Moslem nations, since religion usually
plays a part in creating the problem. To the UN, this is just another
diplomatic problem to be dealt with, and not very well.