the UN, a Commando Unit to Quickly Stop Genocide is Proposed, by Sir
Matthew Russell Lee at the U.N.
UNITED NATIONS, June
16 -- To have 12,000 soldiers ready to deploy in 48 hours to zones where
genocide is beginning: that is the proposal made by UN eminence gris Sir
Brian Urquhart and others in a new 100-page book, "A UN Emergency Peace
The cost of the
force is estimated at $2 billion to start, and then $900 million a year. The
personnel would be recruited one-by-one; the proponents envision them drawn from
individuals who might be queasy about serving in a national army, but would
embrace an international force whose interventions would be legitimized by the
UN. But by whom at the UN? The response to this Inner City Press question was
essentially, "the Security Council." But since it was the Security Council, and
in particularly the current hegemon loudly crying for reform, which blocked the
expansion of the UN force in Rwanda in the Spring of 1994, why would having
these UNEPS troops on standby solve the type of sordid real politik that
allowed the Rwandan genocide to accelerate?
proponents, including the book's main author Robert Johansen, posit that
Security Council members opposed expanding the force in Rwanda because they
didn't want their own national troops to go. But how many U.S. troops are part
of the UN's MONUC in DR Congo?
Often the games in
the Security Council go beyond the Black Hawk Down syndrome. One of the
proponents, at Friday's press briefing at the UN Correspondents' Association,
admitted that the force would never go in to stop abuse in Tibet, for example.
Nor, one can surmise, in Chechnya, or Xinjiang, or probably even Uzbekistan,
given its Shanghai Cooperation Organization membership. Myanmar? Who knows.
City Press asked what the proposed force would do for example about arresting
the Lord's Resistance Army's Joseph Kony and Vincent Otti, or about freeing the
seven UN peacekeepers, nationals of Nepal, who have been captives of Peter Karim
in Ituri for 19 days now. The proponents didn't answer.
On the one hand,
the report's main author called UNEPS a "law enforcement unit. On the other
hand, a Bosnian journalist's question about Serbian war criminals still on the
law was answered by a prediction that UNEPS would not get involved where NATO
has not for whatever reason succeeded.
were heading up to the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, to meet with Hedi
Annabi since Jean-Marie Guehenno is in Sudan. Mr. Guehenno's location gives rise
to other questions: when would a UNEPS have gotten involved in Darfar? What
would it do now? These are the questions the proponents should prepare for, and
address with specifics in advance. The recent comments of Tony Blair, reportedly
interested in a high UN post, about the responsibility to protect, are all fine
and good. But the Devil, as well as sleeping in Rwanda as the local wisdom has
it, is also in the details.
allusions to opponents of the idea: as simply two examples, the author David
Rieff, who was not mentioned at the briefing, and Romeo Dallaire, who was.
According to the proponent, Mr. Dallaire does not currently support the idea,
but might be brought around. There's another launch planned for Vancouver;
there'll be discussion there of an inter-related emergency warning system. That
was Inner City Press' finally question: suppose this UNEPS existed, when would
it have gone into Rwanda? When Romeo Dallaire informed UN Headquarters that the
government was distributing machete or studded clubs? Or only after President
Habyarimana's plane had been shot down? Or after the Belgian peacekeepers were
killed? No answer was given, except that having such a force might play a role
in stopping future genocide. A laudable goal, and hence a proposal to watch.
City Press asked Sir Brian Urquhard if he wanted to comment on the John Bolton
and Mark Malloch Brown dust-up. Sir Brian gracefully declined. In his
conclusion he slyly touched on the debate, saying that the failure in the past
to create a standby UN intervention force was a more serious reform than is
currently being so loudly discussed. It's also worth noting that the current
Deputy Secretary General's speech included the relatively lower cost of UN
peacekeeping operations to U.S. incursions as one of the reasons the UN is
needed. More nitty gritty, Sir Brian mentioned that he had not been in the UNCA
Club for twenty five years; he perused what he called the "memorabilia" on the
wall. Asked about the book series on the
intellectual history of the United Nations,
in which he is much quoted, Sir Brian said he planned on reading the books soon.
On his way out he told Inner City Press that he just can't comment on the
dust-up but that one of the arguments for the UNEPS is that the UN has for too
long been portrayed as impotent. "Why not have a first rate force?" Why not,
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