It makes no sense, right?
Eleven years and $10 billion after MONUSCO set up shop in Goma — and with nothing to show for it — the United Nations has come up with the brilliant idea of upping the military ante and, incomprehensibly, taking sides with a corrupt regime and its incompetent, raping, looting army against one of more than 30 armed groups in the form of M23. (Yes, I know that “and other groups” is included in the mandate, but we all know who the true target is).
This seems insane.
Why would the UN, whose peacekeeping record is mixed at best, adopt such an aggressive, expansive and dangerous-precedent-setting posture?
Why would the UN decide that a bunch of army mutineers who have no interest in persecuting innocent civilians is the one among dozens of armed groups in the Kivus worthy of obliteration at the hands of a dedicated UN battalion? And not the FDLR who terrorize local populations, and have explicit territorial ambitions that threaten neighboring countries as well? Or the myriad Mai Mai groups on a mission to persecute one ethnicity or another, most often Rwandaphone?
And why would the UN torpedo peace talks in the process, removing any incentive for Kinshasa to resolve the issue itself, and forcing M23 to defend itself against what they understandably perceive as a direct existential threat?
It is such a wrong-headed approach it defies comprehension.
But this may help get to the bottom of it.
In the sense that the UN is propping up a corrupt government and an incompetent army via the proposed deployment of the Intervention Brigade, they have effectively take over the role occupied over many decades by France. This shouldn’t be surprising since no-one embodies France-Afrique thinking more than the current UN head of peacekeeping, Herve Ladsous.
Just replace UN with Élysées, and it starts to make sense. History doesn’t repeat, Mark Twain purportedly said, but it rhymes.
The French always, unapologetically, take sides in African conflicts. They did so through direct military intervention at least nineteen times between 1962 and 1994 alone, mainly to protect their client dictators as well as their substantial economic interests on the continent. In the Great Lakes region at least, they reliably sided with the FDLR and their political and ideological antecedents who, let’s not forget, the French generously ushered into the Kivus after they fell just short of eliminating Rwanda’s Tutsi population from the face of the planet.
France is an international power in decline, but through her control of UN peacekeeping operations and anachronistic retention of a permanent UNSC seat, her death throes are sending shockwaves through the Great Lakes region.