Just before Bush left to play at being benevolent uncle in Africa, his administration cut funding for UN peacekeeping in African countries.
From ABC news:
On the eve of President Bush’s trip to Africa, his administration has decided to drastically cut money for United Nations peacekeeping missions in war-torn countries there.
. . .
In war-torn Liberia, which President Bush will visit on his trip, the White House has proposed spending $56 million less on the U.N. peacekeeping mission there than it did last year. Bush . . . visit(ed) Rwanda, which is still struggling to right itself after a devastating, years-long civil war took the lives of millions. His administration’s budget proposes cutting $5 million (from the UN tribunal in Rwanda.) . . . The administration’s 2009 budget also cuts millions for U.N. peacekeeping efforts in Sudan; Democratic Republic of Congo, where a decade-long war still claims thousands of lives a month; Chad, where rebels attempted a violent overthrow of the government Feb. 2; and Cote d’Ivoire, whose stability the Bush administration says “is a critical element in restoring peace to the entire West African region.”
Obviously peace is way too important to pay to restore it.
Why did Bush cut funding for UN peacekeeping? The Bush administration is still planning on spending rivers of money on “nation building”, “stability operations”, and “peacekeeping”, just not with the UN. The Department of State just issued AFRICAP Program Recompete, looking for contractors to:
. . . undertake a wide range of diverse projects, including setting up operational bases to support peacekeeping operations in hostile environments, military training and to providing a range of technical assistance and equipment for African militaries and peace support operations.
And the mercenaries are salivating at the Bush administration plans to hire more and more mercenaries, private military and security contractors, to accomplish Bush aims in Africa.
In October (2007), leaders in the private military security industry — ArmorGroup, DynCorp, MPRI, and several others — gathered at the Phoenix Park Hotel near the Capitol for the annual three-day summit of their trade group, the International Peace Operations Association. Panel speakers and members of the audience debated the future of nation-building efforts in failed states.
. . .
. . . handing out his business card that day, Army Lt. Col. James Boozell, a branch chief of the Stability Operations/Irregular Warfare Division at the Pentagon, said that the U.S. military was in fact experiencing a “watershed” moment in its 200-plus-year history — nation building was now a core military mission to be led by the Army.
Boozell adds, however, that the Army can’t possibly raise up failed states without . . . of course, private security contractors . . . — boom times for nation building are here to stay.
They may need a lot more states to “fail” in order to keep the PMCs busy with new contracts.
Vijay Prashad and Mahmood Mamdani tell us how the US and the EU previously cut funding for African Union peacekeeping efforts in Sudan and Darfur. The AU was actually having some success in reducing violence. Bush does not want that success. By cutting UN peacekeeping funds now, Bush is trying to prevent an indigenous African force, or an international agency, from succeeding in peacekeeping.
For a time the African Union was able to stabilize the situation, although it did not succeed in crafting a political solution to the problem. The African Union, created in 1999, has neither the financial ability to pay its troops nor the logistical capacity to do its job. The European Union, who paid the troop salaries, began to withhold funds on grounds of accountability, and it gradually killed off the peacekeeping operations. Columbia University Professor Mahmood Mamdani (who is one of the world’s leading experts on contemporary Africa) says of this, “There is a concerted attempt being made to shift the political control of any intervention force inside Darfur from inside Africa to outside Africa.” In other words, the U.S. and Europe are eager to control the dynamic of what happens in Africa and not allow an indigenous, inter-state agency to gain either the experience this would provide or the respect it would gain if it succeeds. The African Union has been undermined so that only the U.S. can appear as the savior of the beleaguered people of Darfur, and elsewhere.
Undermining the UN, and paying mercenaries instead of the UN, does not save money. This is not frugality. Private military contractors, PMCs, are in business to make money, and they are still very much on the Bush agenda.
cost + profit = increased cost
Of course the costs for PMCs can be reduced by using conscripts and child soldiers. And PMC profits can be increased by dealing in contraband. There are plenty of precedents.
I see these possible reasons why the Bush administration has cut UN peacekeeping funding.
- Prevent African or international solutions to African problems.
- Maintain the US as the only ones capable of solving violent unrest in African countries by preventing indigenous or alternative solutions.
- Provide more jobs and contracts for corporate cronies, the private military contractors.
- Prevent oversight, avoid US law and international law that might apply to US activities in African countries.
- Continue an intentionally destructive policy of undermining the UN.
- Incompetence (does not preclude any of the above.)