Briefly... some news from the UN Peacekeeping Operations department, but why, if you noticed is it filed under "Private Military Companies"? First the headline UN troops flee Ivory Coast town:
Bangladeshi United Nations peacekeepers have pulled out of a camp in western Ivory Coast after clashing with supporters of President Laurent Gbagbo...
At least 300 peacekeepers have been evacuated from Guiglo after troops opened fire following an attempted break-in by protesters in the early hours.
France's army chief of staff Gen Henri Bentegeat has gone further calling for UN sanctions and saying the international community was losing patience.
I have written previously on the blurred distinction between former-Third World (are they now "non-integrating gap subcontractors"?) and private military forces. The purpose was to further refine the accountability question that so many hold dear to preventing or chastising the private military / security industries. This situation seems to be further evidence of the perils of subcontracting (UN terminology) peacekeeping operations to these less than top of the line fighting or peacekeeping or policing forces.
International support for “complex peacekeeping” falters when states realize their troops may come home in body bags, sometimes referred to as the “Dover Test” in the United States, causing some states to “subcontract” the mission to other states. The long standing practice of subcontracting enhances the multinational aspect of peacekeeping forces (PKF), as demonstrated here. The effectiveness of the PKF is diminished when the force is unable to enforce its or the international community's will.
Is Pakistan (13% of total military and civilian police manpower), Bangladesh (12%), India (7%), Ethiopia (5%), and Ghana (5%) more altruistic than the US, Germany, France, China, or Japan (pick a Security Council member or wannabe member) because they volunteered over forty percent of the total military and civilian police staffing of these complex missions? The prevalence of these troops in PKFs does not stem from a higher concern about global society but because their governments receive compensation for their participation. These countries are paid to provide troops, blurring the distinction between private and public military forces, between corporate services and participation in the global economy or society.
Would a professional force of soldiers and police, trained in modern techniques and equipped with superior firepower (lethal and non-lethal) provide a better security situation? Not by themselves, but they would at least be a firmer piece of the puzzle in "nation-building". Strong military forces are not a panacea, but then perhaps the security situation would improve and the NGOs could move, the domestic population would feel out more options, and "warlords" (what a silly name for some of these guys) would find less opportunities to create and further havoc for selfish ends. The reality is the international community needs to really step up and get involved. Former colonial powers can't always (ever?) do the job (reinforced by an attack by Côte d’Ivoire's Belarus mercenary airforce back in 2004?). Perhaps if a professional force is used, private or public, something can really get done instead of stories like this.