U.N peacekeepers stand behind coffins with the remains of Tanzanian peace keepers who were killed by rebels on Dec. 8, 2017, in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
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The killing in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo last month of 15 Tanzanian United Nations peacekeepers by members of a rebel militia should serve as one more indicator that it is time for the world to give up trying to create order in that country.
There are estimated to be some 16,000 U.N. peacekeeping forces in the DRC. The killing of 15 of them, plus five Congolese soldiers, stationed in the east to try to keep the lid on, is, sadly, standard procedure there. Congolese and foreign militias in the DRC, formerly Zaire, have been killing people who were there to try to enforce peace and security since independence in 1960.
The political context within which the killing of the peacekeepers occurred this time is the 2017 version of the usual melee which prevails in the country.
President Joseph Kabila, who came to power when his father, Laurent Kabila, was assassinated, has completed two constitutional terms as president in 2016. He is now seeking to delay required presidential elections.
Joseph Kabila succeeded his father, without elections, in 2001. He won what appears to have been reasonably fair elections in 2005 and 2011. Now he is dragging his feet. His first argument was that the DRC should have a census before a vote was held. Now he is relying on a claim that preparations for a proper election will take until at least mid-2019.
There are those who would argue that due to the fact that the country is a total shambles in terms of government and infrastructure it will never be possible to hold real elections.
The United States has already mandated the reduction of the size of the peacekeeping force through cutting off some of its money, an estimated $1.14 billion a year. The killing of the Tanzanians in Semuliki in North Kivu on Dec. 7 should be seen as a reason to pull out the rest.
All that the peacekeeping forces are doing now is making it possible for foreign interests to continue to extract the country’s mineral wealth, copper, cobalt, coltan, diamonds, gold, oil, and timber, and its elite, led by Mr. Kabila and his family, continues to take its big cut.
That is not at all the purpose of U.N. peacekeeping forces around the world, nor America’s purpose in financing their activities in places like the DRC. As of now, they are wasting time, money, and lives, to no useful end.
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