Sunday, April 13, 2003

Peacekeepers to Iraq?

I've seen some idle comments on blogs today suggesting that UN peacekeepers should at some stage assist or replace the US/UK forces in reestablishing law and order. While I'm generally in favour of the UN doing this sort of job (and it's certainly preferable to the hash the Americans are making of it ATM), I don't think it's going to happen anytime soon.

There's two big obstacles in the way of the UN sending peacekeepers to Iraq. The first is the utter contempt the US has shown for the UN and world opinion. The second is that the job doesn't look like "peacekeeping", but serving as a de facto army of occupation for the US invasion (which is both a different mission and against the whole spirit of the UN).

UN peacekeeping depends on soldiers being contributed by member-states. But given the above, why should anyone contribute to any "peacekeeping" force in Iraq? There's a feeling in the rest of the world that the Americans made this mess, so we should let them clean it up. Besides, while the US is occupying Iraq, they won't be able to invade anywhere else...

It's a similar problem with humanitarian aid and reconstruction. While UN member states are more likely to want to contribute in these areas (if only to make up for not helping out with peacekeepers), the way the US has talked about reconstruction contracts is turning them off. Do you really expect the rest of the world to cough up for what is effectively a giant corporate-welfare scheme for the President's cronies?

Basically, unless the Americans change their whole approach to postwar political control and reconstruction, other countries are going to be extremely reluctant to help.