The UN: Unplugged


No matter what happens as a consequence of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Bush’s standing among conservative hawks is stronger than ever if only because the war made an ass of the United Nations. The sight of UN inspectors being transported around Baghdad in armed convoys as if they themselves were prisoners of war is just another way of humiliating the UN—whose inspectors, as it turns out, probably were right all along.

In this poisonous atmosphere, the Hoover Institution’s magazine, Policy Review, proposes turning over UN peacekeeping missions to private companies. Corporate soldiers could be hired by nations or, in a final act of humiliation, by the UN itself. There are more than 100 such firms in existence, including at least one owned by the Fortune 500 company L-3. Such “rapid reaction forces” could provide security for relief operations. After all, more Red Cross workers were killed in action in the 1990s than U.S. Army personnel, says Policy Review. “Thus, while the ability of humanitarian actors to create a consensual environment themselves is severely limited, military provider firms might be able to provide site and convoy protection to aid groups. This would allow much more effective aid actions in areas where the local government has collapsed.” In addition, private combat teams could be inserted into countries when peacekeeping agreements break down.

Policy Review also reports that a consortium of military firms, called the International Peace Operations Association, wants to replace UN peacekeepers in the eastern Congo.

Additional reporting: Phoebe St John and Joanna Khenkine