No Peacekeeping


It seems that amidst the vast amount of money he’s prepared to budget for defense, the Bush administration couldn’t be bothered to fully fund peacekeeping operations, choosing instead to pick a figure that’s $500 million short of what we’re supposed to pony up. This sort of thing is just incredibly short-sighted.

Traditional peacekeeping missions aren’t very exciting. They involve a situation where two (or more) parties to a conflict reach some kind of conflict-ending agreement and, as part of the agreement, both parties agree to accept the presence of some peacekeepers. After all, two groups of people who were trying to kill each other on Monday probably aren’t going to trust each other on Wednesday, even if they reach a negotiated settlement to the conflict on Tuesday. Missions of this sort have a decent track record of success, and they’re quite cheap. Oftentimes, there’s no real need for peacekeepers to do much of anything. The point is simply that their presence helps resolve a prisoner’s dilemma.

Unfortunately, in the US there’s a strong tendency for discussions of humanitarianism abroad to emphasize very costly and destructive combat operations and totally neglect cheaper, easier, and more effective methods like participating in and funding consensual peacemaking. My guess is that, for example, approximately zero percent of the “liberal hawks” who’ve accused Iraq War opponents of neglecting the humanitarian plight of the Iraqi people will speak up to complain about this aspect of the Bush budget.