Tuesday, July 12, 2005

You can support the U.N., but will it support you?

The United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC ... another winner from the U.N. Department of Inscrutable Acronyms) has issued a press release reporting the murder of more than thirty civilians there by Rwandan Hutu rebels angry at Congolese support for the U.N.

U.N. peacekeepers have in a number of cases proven tragically inept at keeping their charges in one piece. The recent anniversary of the Srebrenica massacres turned the spotlight back on that miserable failure, in which the first declared U.N. "protected enclave" turned out to be nothing more than a way-station for thousands of Muslim boys and men on their way to summary execution by Serbian forces.

To honor the memory of those killed, the U.N. has set up an espresso machine next to a map of Bosnia fashioned out of dirt.

small consolation

How about an exhibit examining the U.N. blundering that cost the lives of 7,000 people? We should remember that these were civilians who had chosen not to take up arms in defense of their community and instead entrusted their safety to the peacekeepers. In a speech at the anniversary ceremony of the massacre, Kofi Annan had this to say:
[W]e made serious errors of judgement, rooted in a philosophy of impartiality and non-violence which, however admirable, was unsuited to the conflict in Bosnia.

Well put, Mr. Secretary General, but what about all the conflicts in the decade since that have proven equally unsuitable for the U.N.'s continuing modus operandi of sticking its head in the sand any time it encounters injustice or evil? What about Rwanda? What about Iraq? What about Darfur? What about Zimbabwe? The U.N. still prefers mush-mouthed "condemnations" to military action or even sanctions. Ritual breast-beating and brewing lots of little cups of coffee is no comfort for those you have failed, and it offers meagre hope for those who expect you to do better in the future.


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