In POLI 1140, we have read an excerpt from Rwanda section of Samantha Power’s prize-winning book, A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, in which Power assesses the reasons for the lack of response by the Clinton administration in the spring of 1994 to the developing genocide in Rwanda. Power makes many points but one of the most trenchant is that despite the apparently early decision by Clinton that he would not send US troops to Rwanda (fearful that another Somalia could ensue), many other actions–short of sending troops-could have been taken by the US government and military. Something as simple as sending planes with the capability to jam radio frequencies may have slowed down the killing and saved countless lives.
Here is a compelling and very informative documentary by PBS’ Frontline series on the events surrounding the Rwandan genocide, paying special attention to the lack of action on the part of the United Nations and the United States. Many of the ideas in Power’s book are addressed here.
In POLI 1140 this week, we’ll look at war and conflict (and strife), which, according to Mingst and Arreguin-Toft, “is generally viewed as the oldest, the most prevalent, and in the long term, the most salient” issue in international relations. Indeed, this attention to war and security is warranted given that without at least a minimal degree of security it is difficult to achieve other, worthy values.
As many of you are well aware, the US military, with its NATO allies, has been at war in Afghanistan since just after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. The Canadian military, of course, stood by its NATO ally from the beginning taking a large number of casualties during its time in Afghanistan. Our last combat troops left Afghanistan last summer. While in Afghanistan, the Canadian military was responsible for securing the Kandahar province, which was, by all accounts, the most dangerous province in that war-torn country:
The military first went into Kandahar in 2005, the beginning of the combat mission. The forces are now into a training mission based in Kabul, where they’re teaching Afghan national security forces.
Kandahar was Afghanistan’s most dangerous province, Defence Minister Peter MacKay said in a statement.
Following Canada’s military withdrawal from Kandahar, the US military took over responsibility for the area. Unfortunately, tragedy struck over the weekend as a US soldier allegedly walked off of his military base in Kandahar and killed at least 16 civilians, 9 of which were children, who were all asleep at the time. Those who are familiar with war and its effects on the psychic health of all involved understand that these types of things do happen in war zones. I have personally interviewed soldiers who described to me similar incidents that they either witnessed or in which they were personally involved.
Based on what you’ve read in Chapter 8 of the textbook, which theory of IR best accounts for the war in Afghanistan and for why NATO troops are still in combat there?
In POLI 1140, we spent part of last session watching major portions of the documentary, The Peacekeepers, which explored the role of the UN is setting up and escalating a peacekeeping mission to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The documentary used a behind-the-scenes approach to analyze the issues faced by the world’s foremost IGO in implementing its mandate to “protect international peace and security”. The focus of the documentary was on the Ituri region in the eastern DRC province of East Kivu.
As of the start of this year, this is the strength of the peacekeeping force in the DRC:
19,070 total uniformed personnel
16,975 military personnel
723 military observers
1,372 police (including formed units)
976 international civilian personnel*
2,868 local civilian staff*
588 United Nations Volunteers
Currently, in 16 DPKO-led peacekeeping operations, there are almost 120,000 personnel (uniformed and civilian) serving from 115 different countries, while approved resources for the 2012 fiscal year are almost $8 billion US.
Mind you, this is only one aspect of the world’s greatest IGO–the United Nations. Remember also that the UN is only as strong and as capable as its members states make it. Thus, when you hear somebody say “the UN did this,” or “the UN didn’t do that”, what you should remind these people is that they should be saying “the member states, which comprise the UN, did (or did not do) this, or that…”
As a video supplement to the Rwanda chapter from Samantha Power’s book on genocide, and the Gourevitch book, we viewed the first part of the PBS Frontline documentary “Ghosts of Rwanda” in class today. Please view the remaining hour or so sometime before next Friday’s class as we will use the first portion of that session to continue our discussion on the international community’s failure to halt the slaughter of more than 800,000 Tutsis by the Hutu-led Rwandan government.Here’s the first part of the documentary. Click on the video to take yourself to Youtube, where you will easily find the remaining parts.
Today in IS 302 we viewed the video “Can the UN Keep the Peace”, which looked at the challenges that face the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Like the pairing of the perfect wine with the right meal, this video was (at least in my opinion) a perfect complement to today’s readings.
Here’s an exhaustive list of the peacekeeping operations established by the UN since its inception.Notice how long some of the operations have lasted (and continue to last). The longest continuing peacekeeping operation is UNMOGIP, which continues to the present and was established in 1949! For the complete list, click here.
United Nations Truce Supervision Organization
United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan
First United Nations Emergency Force
United Nations Observation Group in Lebanon
United Nations Operation in the Congo
United Nations Security Force in West New Guinea
United Nations Yemen Observation Mission
United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus
Mission of the Representative of the Secretary-General in the Dominican Republic
We discussed Tom Weiss’ book–Humanitarian Intervention–in IS 302 today. We spent some time on the changing nature, and number, of peacekeeping operations since the end of the Cold War. Below is a map listing the 16 current UN peacekeeping operations. You can find the source image, which is clickable, here. How many of these operations are proceeding under the auspices of Chapter VII of the UN Charter?
Here is part of the textof the UNSC resolution, authorizing the establishment of MONUSCO in the Democratic Republic of the Congo:
Resolution 1925 (2010)
Adopted by the Security Council at its 6324th meeting, on 28 May 2010
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