You know what? I'm wrong, or at least three days too late. My post below on Sudan is pretty frustrated, but it stopped being accurate about three days ago. On March 29th, the UN Security Council, acting under Chapter VII (which allows them to use force), passed a pretty powerful resolution implementing much of what I mentioned below. A committee has been formed to identify the ringleaders and, in 30 days, freeze all their assets, end all their travel, and generally twist the screws on them. Of course, in 30 days, the folks who know themselves to be the bad guys can liquidate their foreign holdings and thus escape financial harm, but that's not really the point. This resolution, coming three days before the new one authorizing the use of the ICC, means the Security Council has finally gotten serious on Darfur. The next step is serious sanctions, and then it's a troop deployment. "People who know things", like the ICG, seem to think that the measures just undertaken will work, at least to a degree. I hope so. Because I'm not particularly impressed with the joint UN/AU peacekeeping missions, which rarely seem effective. But if it gets to that, I hope the council will have the spine to deploy.

On that note, wouldn't it be generally helpful if the UN had a large and highly-trained peacekeeping force for these sorts of ventures? I mean hell, they can hire mercenaries for themselves if no countries want to offer troops, but as it is, their deployments are such a joke that they intimidate essentially no one in the African world. As I mentioned in my post below, when they mobilized in Sierra Leone, the rebels they were supposed to calm went ahead and captured 300 of them, spurring Tony Blair to send over 1,000 crack troops who not only liberated the UN peacekeepers, but also stabilized the country. Having a force like that at the UN's disposal would, if only for the intimidation factor, really make the institution's life a lot easier. At any rate, I'll suggest it to John Bolton next time I see him -- I'm sure he'll be quite amused.

While researching the resolutions on Sudan, I basically browsed through everything the UN Security Council has done in 2005. Of the resolutions they've passed, 9 of the 13 have been directed at countries in Africa. Not exactly a ringing endorsement for the continent. Not a ringing endorsement for the rest of us, either. UN resolutions are often scuttled because one or another permanent member has financial or strategic interests in the country, and thus vetoes the resolution before it can ever be implemented. But so few developed countries have major stakes in African nations, at least the troubled ones, that that almost never happens when dealing with African issues. So on the one hand, it gives the UN more freedom to operate, but on the other, it explains, at least partly, why these countries are in such terrible shape.

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