Land of futility

12/30/2012

The recent downing of a United Nations peacekeeping helicopter in South Sudan by that country’s armed forces suggests the futility of military involvement there. Four U.N. troops died.

South Sudan became independent from Sudan last year. Its oil production is in turmoil.

The U.N. helicopter was shot down over an area where the forces of a rebel militia leader are fighting the South Sudanese government. The U.N. mission to South Sudan includes 7,000 troops.

The United States pays more than one-fourth of U.N. peacekeeping costs in South Sudan. America also has provided $248 million in other aid to South Sudan. U.S. military aid has included support of the South Sudanese armed forces that shot down the helicopter.

It is hard to find a rationale for U.S. involvement in South Sudan when money at home is short, and may become even shorter next year. The downing of the helicopter and the deaths of the peacekeepers could become the last straw in U.S. efforts to save South Sudan from largely self-inflicted chaos.