May 31, 2006

MERCENARIES FOR DARFUR: Max Boot floats an idea that’s been seen here at InstaPundit before:

If you listen to the bloviators at Turtle Bay, salvation will come from the deployment of a larger corps of blue helmets. If only. What is there in the history of United Nations peacekeepers that gives anyone any confidence that they can stop a determined adversary?

The odds are much greater that U.N. representatives will instead be taken as hostages by bloodthirsty thugs, as happened in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1995 and in Sierra Leone five years later. Or that, rather than protecting the people, the peacekeepers will prey on them — as allegedly has happened in Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Congo, all places where blue helmets have been accused of a horrifying litany of sexual abuses, including pedophilia, rape and prostitution.

Even if these worst-case scenarios don’t come to pass, the U.N. is likely to prove ineffectual in the face of determined opposition. Look at what is happening in East Timor, where, after seven years of U.N. stewardship, the capital has been paralyzed by fighting among armed gangs. The situation is even worse in Haiti, where a Brazilian-led U.N. force has done little to stem growing chaos. It is worse still in Somalia — the most lawless country on Earth — where a U.N. deployment failed in the early 1990s. . . .

But perhaps there is a way to stop the killing even without sending an American or European army. Send a private army. A number of commercial security firms such as Blackwater USA are willing, for the right price, to send their own forces, made up in large part of veterans of Western militaries, to stop the genocide.

We know from experience that such private units would be far more effective than any U.N. peacekeepers. In the 1990s, the South African firm Executive Outcomes and the British firm Sandline made quick work of rebel movements in Angola and Sierra Leone. Critics complain that these mercenaries offered only a temporary respite from the violence, but that was all they were hired to do. Presumably longer-term contracts could create longer-term security, and at a fraction of the cost of a U.N. mission.

Yet this solution is deemed unacceptable by the moral giants who run the United Nations. They claim that it is objectionable to employ — sniff — mercenaries. More objectionable, it seems, than passing empty resolutions, sending ineffectual peacekeeping forces and letting genocide continue.

More likely they fear that if it proves effective, they’ll lose out on a line of business that has proved profitable so far.