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Not Charity: UN Peacekeeping Protects America From Threats Abroad

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Not Charity: UN Peacekeeping Protects America From Threats Abroad


Reprinted with permission from UN Dispatch

Slashing funding to UNICEF is just cruel. But you can also make the case that preventing children in poor countries from needlessly dying is also in American interests. That argument is a bit of a bank shot though: extreme poverty can lead to instability, foster the spread of disease, and give rise to extremism that could one day haunt the US.

Imposing extreme cuts to UN Peacekeeping, though, is a far more direct way to imperil American national security in the here and now.

There are about 100,000 peacekeepers around the world that serve in 16 missions. Only 68 of these peacekeepers are Americans. But each and everyone one of those missions was approved by the United States because the US has a permanent seat on the Security Council —  and only the Security Council can approve missions, their mandates and set troop sizes. While the USA puts very few boots on the ground, it does foot a good portion of the bill–28% to be exact. The US bill comes to over $2 billion. The rest of the world picks up the other 72% of the cost, or about $8 billion.

For this contribution the USA gets to deploy foreign boots to protect American security interests in places where the US is neither willing nor able to deploy troops on its own. The country of Mali in west Africa is a good example of this dynamic. The country was nearly overrun by Al Qaeda linked extremists three years ago. A European led intervention backed by UN Peacekeepers defeated that group. European armies have largely left, but a large (and dangerous) UN Peacekeeping mission remains on the ground, actively fighting extremists while helping to protect besieged populations rebuild their country. If the UN leaves, the country could once again be a haven for extremists. At that point, would the US opt to deploy marines to fight Jihadis in Timbuktu? Would it let Mali fall to that group and become a haven for extremists?

That’s just one mission. There is also UNIFIL, in which troops patrol southern Lebanon to prevent Hezbollah from launching rocket attacks on Israel.

To be sure, other missions serve in places more ancillary to core American national security interests. The mission in Central African Republic helped prevent a genocide; the mission in Congo is keeping a lid on conflict in mineral producing regions there; and in South Sudan peacekeepers are providing protection to thousands of civilians huddled in and around peacekeeping bases in the midst of a civil war. But if not for these missions, we could expect larger scale instability in these countries that could spread throughout the region, and even the world.

(Side note: one country in this region that is already accepting large number of refugees from these conflicts is Uganda. Should peacekeeping missions be significantly reduced, Uganda could expect millions more refugees. Uganda, meanwhile, sends thousands of troops to Somalia as part of UN-backed mission to fight terrorist groups there. If Uganda destabilizes and those troops are pulled from Somalia, will the USA let Somalia fall to Al Shebaab? Will it once again send American troops to Mogadishu?)

The point is, UN Peacekeeping is not some charity.  It’s a system that advances US national security interests at relatively little cost to American taxpayers. For the $2 billion the US contributes to the peacekeeping, the US gets to deploy foreign troops to places that it — as a veto wielding member of the Security Council — decides is a worthy place to send foreign troops to protect American and global interests.  Viewing peacekeeping as a charity the US confers to the rest of the world, rather than a tool to protect America and Americans from global threats is profoundly dangerous.




  1. ORAXX March 29, 2017

    Donald Trump would reduce America’s military and foreign policies to a protection racket.

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    2. FireBaron March 30, 2017

      Why not? That’s the type of system he grew up with. I am sure that Fred Trump Senior had to pay someone other than the police and fire departments to keep his buildings intact during construction. Maybe this is the only way he knows how to do things?

  2. Just A Citizen March 30, 2017

    Good grief. You have an author on an established “left wing” web site rationalizing US military intervention in the world using Neo Con arguments of “national security”, and the monkeys are already screaming at Trump.

    Is this the “New Left” or “Modern Liberal”??? War is Sin, unless the other side opposes it, or unless our side thinks of it first. Where are all these solid principles I hear about from the self righteous “liberals”???

    1. Phil Christensen March 30, 2017

      They won’t stop until we’re actually in a shooting war with Russia. Incredulous.

      1. Totally get you man, that’s why you have to spend every minute here downplaying all the treason Trump & co did.

        Sure you’ll be forever remembered as a bootlicking coward, but it’s a small price to pay for Mother Russia.

    2. You reek of desperation, traitor.

  3. Phil Christensen March 30, 2017

    A rapist wearing a blue helmet is still a rapist.

    1. Aaron_of_Portsmouth March 30, 2017

      Not all UN peace-keepers are rapists, just like Trump isn’t a serial groper—or is he?

    2. OK thanks for that. I’m sure you thought it communicated something or other.

  4. Aaron_of_Portsmouth March 30, 2017

    The USA conservatives in general have been quite the troglodytes for the past few decades alone re: the importance of an admittedly flawed entity called the United Nations. By showing at best a limited notion of the importance of world security through a united effort, many in the US would have us adopt an inward-looking approach when it comes to world solidarity.The 1st Gulf War alone should have been convincing even for dullards to understand the critical role a united front against Saddam played.
    What better way to present a successful deterrent, minus posturing and bluster, than to present a show of unity that would cause any would-be aggressor to think twice before making any untoward advances to a neighboring country, or threaten missile strikes. For now, the likes of Russia, China, Iran, N. Korea, and Trump, can be lulled into thinking that a further military adventure would go uncontested because America and other nations have failed to understand the necessity of consensus, without clinging to the now childish notion of national sovereignty—an infatuation with wanting to live in the past.

  5. Aaron_of_Portsmouth March 30, 2017

    On the subject and security, which the UN offers even though it needs redefinition, we should consider the bigger picture of security and armaments from a historical perspective.
    In the mid-19th Century, the following exhortations were delivered to the rulers and leaders of that era by a prisoner of the Ottoman Empire, named Baha’u’llah. A partial segment of His summons is as follows:

    “O rulers of the earth! Be reconciled among yourselves, that ye may need no more armaments save in a measure to safeguard your territories and dominions. –” Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 254.

    “The enormous energy dissipated and wasted on war, whether economic or political, will be consecrated to such ends as will extend the range of human inventions and technical development, to the increase of the productivity of mankind, to the extermination of disease, to the extension of scientific research, to the raising of the standard of physical health, to the sharpening and refinement of the human brain, to the exploitation of the unused and unsuspected resources of the planet, to the prolongation of human life, and to the furtherance of any other agency that can stimulate the intellectual, the moral, and spiritual life of the entire human race”. – Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha’u’llah, p. 202.

    ‘Baha’u’llah, in his groundbreaking nineteenth-century letters to the kings and political and religious leaders of the world, repeatedly asked those rulers to reduce their spending on arms, and to stop laying the fiscal burden of such expenditures on their populations:’ (NOT MY REMARK)

    “Compose your differences, and reduce your armaments, that the burden of your expenditures may be lightened, and that your minds and hearts may be tranquillized. Heal the dissensions that divide you, and ye will no longer be in need of any armaments except what the protection of your cities and territories demandeth. Fear ye God, and take heed not to outstrip the bounds of moderation, and be numbered among the extravagant.

    We have learned that you are increasing your outlay every year, and are laying the burden thereof on your subjects. This, verily, is more than they can bear, and is a grievous injustice. Decide justly between men, and be ye the emblems of justice amongst them. This, if ye judge fairly, is the thing that behoveth you, and beseemeth your station.” – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, pp. 250-251.


    Russia, China, America, Iran, Israel, and others today would do well to heed the admonitions ignored by the leaders in the 19th Century. A heedlessness on their part which eventually led to the world having to endure 2 major wars, and numerous “minor” conflicts, relatively speaking, since then.


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