Letter to Todd Ensign: Reconsider Citizen Soldier's Call for UN Peacekeepers

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at osu.edu
Sun Jul 20 03:41:05 MDT 2003


I sent the following message to Todd Ensign, Citizen Soldier.

----------------------------------------

Date: Sun, 20 Jul 2003 05:23:47 -0400
From: Yoshie Furuhashi <furuhashi.1 at osu.edu>
Subject: Please Reconsider Citizen Soldier's Call for "UN Peacekeepers"
X-Sender: yfuruhas at pop.service.ohio-state.edu
To: CitizenSoldier1 at aol.com

Dear Mr. Todd Ensign:

Thank you for taking the initiative to start Citizen Soldier's SOS
campaign to Bring Em Home Now.  My name is Yoshie Furuhashi -- I'm
involved in the United for Peace and Justice's Iraq Working Group as
well as a number of local peace and justice organizations in
Columbus, OH.  I encourage all organizations in which I'm involved to
support Citizen Soldier's campaign, as well as the campaign to Bring
the Troops Home that Military Families Speak Out is about to launch.

At the same time, I'd like to ask you to reconsider the call to
"enlist the participation of all our allies in an international
peacekeeping effort controlled by the United Nations" (@
<http://www.citizen-soldier.org/CS03-SOS.html>).

We ought to ask ourselves a crucial question: are there masses of
Iraqis demanding that US/UK troops be replaced by UN peacekeepers in
Iraq?  If not, why call for what Iraqis aren't calling for?

I think that it is possible to work out a position on which almost
everyone can agree: call for UN peacekeepers _only if_ Iraqis
themselves request and welcome their presence.  If all major ethnic
and religious groups of the Iraqi population, for instance, held
demonstrations demanding that US/UK troops be replaced by UN
peacekeepers, we might support them.  On the other hand, UN
peacekeepers would likely end up getting into the same bloody
business of counter-insurgency as US/UK troops' if a significant
section of Iraqis perceived that they, too, were enemies and resisted
them by force.  That, I think, is one lesson of "Operation Restore
Hope" in Somalia.  Another lesson of "Operation Restore Hope" is that
UN peacekeepers do not necessarily behave better than warfighters of
US and other national armed forces:

*****   UN Peacekeepers Criticized
By Declan Walsh Nicola Byrne
The Scotsman
December 22, 2002

...United Nations peacekeeping troops have been involved in a
catalogue of crimes and scandals across the globe. During the UN
peacekeeping mission to Somalia, it was claimed Canadian, Belgian and
Italian soldiers were involved in torture and murder.

An inquiry by the Canadian government of a young Somali man in 1993,
found that he had been murdered by its troops and that a senior
officer had lied in an attempt to cover up the atrocity. Two soldiers
were jailed.

In Belgium, newspapers published photographs of two soldiers holding
a Somali boy over a fire. Three paratroopers were prosecuted, but
were acquitted by a military tribunal. An Italian magazine published
photographs showing soldiers from the country's elite paratroop
regiment apparently torturing a naked Somali with electrodes and
sexually abusing a Somali woman. Two generals who had commanded the
Italian force in Somalia resigned....

<http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/peacekpg/general/2002/1223peace.htm>
*****

Moreover, lessons of Bosnia and Kosovo teach us that reducing a
nation to a UN protectorate for an indefinite period of time does it
no good, even if locals appear to consent to foreign peacekeepers and
UN administration as the lesser of two or more evils.

If Kosovo's any indication, Iraqis can look forward to high
unemployment rates and statistics showing "a slight increase in the
average number of policy decisions per month" once Iraq becomes a UN
protectorate:

*****   Deutsche Presse-Agentur
May 31, 2003, Saturday
02:05 Central European Time
SECTION: Miscellaneous
LENGTH: 600 words
HEADLINE: NEWS FEATURE: After four years Kosovo remains a bottomless pit
DATELINE: Pristina

BODY:
The small electricity generators continue to throb on the streets of
Pristina, four years after an international initiative to revive the
city's infrastructure was put in place.

The city authorities...still have to provide electricity from diesel
and petrol powered generators to cope with daily disruptions.

Even Mr Energy, a German appointed to to solve the problem, has been
unable to change the situation. The 500 million euros in financial
aid that have been earmarked for electricity generation and
distribution appear to be leaking away into a bottomless pit. The
Albanians in Kosovo regard the electricity situation as a symbol of
the failure of the international administration set up under United
Nations auspices to come to grips with the province's problems.

Fewer than half of the customers of the Kosovo electricity company
actually pay their bills.

"That is after all an absolute precondition for more investment in
the technology or to buy electricity across the border," one foreign
electricity worker says.

But the customers retort that they see no reason [to] pay, given the
repeated cuts in supply and unemployment rates running at 57 per cent
or more....   *****

*****   Financial Times (London)
July 3, 2003, Thursday USA Edition 1
SECTION: OBSERVER; Pg. 12
LENGTH: 164 words
HEADLINE: Bean counting OBSERVER COLUMN

BODY: International diplomats struggling with how to measure a
country's political progress now have a powerful new tool - at least
if a United Nations report on Kosovo is any guide.

In what must rank as one of the world's more obtuse evaluation
methods, the report's section on "democratic institutions" focuses on
the important statistic of "policy decisions per month".

"The Government of Kosovo took 27 policy decisions from 1 April to 16
June 2003," it reveals. "This is a slight increase in the average
number of policy decisions per month relative to the first three
months of 2003."

Even more exciting was the finding that there was "a significant
increase in the proportion having legal implications".

Forget hospital beds and unemployment. All a struggling bureaucracy
needs now is to raise its PDPM quota: a few quick cabinet meetings
and the headlines - "government records biggest policy decision per
month tally this decade" - are sure to assuage sceptics.   *****

All of the above concern what we, anti-war/anti-occupation organizers
and activists in the United States, must take into account, as we
seek to do right by not only US soldiers but also Iraqis.

Now, there is another important question that we must consider: are
anti-war/anti-occupation activists in nations -- India, France,
Germany, Russia, etc. -- whose governments received requests from
Washington for troops willing to send them to Iraq to defend the
US-initiated occupation, risking and sacrificing their lives in a
campaign of "pacification"?  Is it a good idea to call for UN
peacekeepers without consulting our counterparts in other nations,
with whom we should be developing a coordinated international
campaign?  I ask you to initiate discussion with
anti-war/anti-occupation activists in other nations about whether or
not they think that their nations' soldiers should participate in the
UN-administered occupation of Iraq.

Lastly, please read the remark by Paul Saunders, director of the
Nixon Center, quoted in the article below:

*****   New York Times   July 19, 2003
U.S. May Be Forced to Go Back to U.N. for Iraq Mandate
By CHRISTOPHER MARQUIS

WASHINGTON, July 18 - The Bush administration, which spurned the
United Nations in its drive to depose Saddam Hussein in Iraq, is
finding itself forced back into the arms of the international body
because other nations are refusing to contribute peacekeeping troops
or reconstruction money without United Nations approval.

With the costs of stabilizing Iraq hovering at $4 billion a month and
with American troops being killed at a steady rate, administration
officials acknowledge that they are rethinking their strategy and may
seek a United Nations resolution for help that would placate other
nations, like India, France and Germany....

"It's increasingly clear there was really some underestimation of the
number of people who would be required after the regime fell, and the
length of time required to stay there," said Paul Saunders, director
of the Nixon Center, a nonpartisan research organization whose
honorary chairman is Henry A. Kissinger.

Mr. Saunders said there were two reasons for the United States to go
back to the United Nations.

"It would be helpful to diffuse responsibility for this massive
undertaking, and share any dissatisfaction with others and not be the
sole target ourselves," he said....

<http://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/19/international/worldspecial/19DIPL.html>
*****

Washington may be able to extract from the UN Security Council a new
resolution that explicitly mandates UN peacekeeping in Iraq.  If
Washington goes back to the UN (and it is likely to do so soon), it
will ask for UN peacekeepers merely "to diffuse responsibility for
this massive undertaking, and share any dissatisfaction with others
and not be the sole target ourselves," as Saunders notes, while
maintaining the controlling position in any ostensibly
UN-administered occupation.  In other words, US troops will remain in
Iraq as the main part of the peacekeeping mission under the UN cover,
with other nations' troops in support capacity to spread human and
financial costs.  Anti-war/anti-occupation activists worldwide
(whatever their respective governments' positions) must be taking
notice of this singularly unattractive offer to have their countrymen
shoulder responsibility, share dissatisfaction, and, worst of all,
become targets of Iraqi guerillas themselves, all only to serve
Washington's purpose.

To conclude, I will support and encourage others to support Citizen
Soldier's endeavor; at the same time, I ask you to reconsider your
call to "enlist the participation of all our allies in an
international peacekeeping effort controlled by the United Nations."
Please take into account the problems that such a call may cause
Iraqis, anti-war/anti-occupation activists in other nations, and UN
peacekeepers -- of whom Washington is sure to make US soldiers a main
part -- who may find themselves in the same counter-insurgency
campaign of "pacification" as what US troops are fighting now.

Thank you very much for hearing me out.

In solidarity,
--
Yoshie

* Calendars of Events in Columbus:
<http://www.osu.edu/students/sif/calendar.html>,
<http://www.freepress.org/calendar.php>, & <http://www.cpanews.org/>
* Student International Forum: <http://www.osu.edu/students/sif/>
* Committee for Justice in Palestine: <http://www.osudivest.org/>
* Al-Awda-Ohio: <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Al-Awda-Ohio>
* Solidarity: <http://solidarity.igc.org/>

----------------------------------------
--
Yoshie

* Calendars of Events in Columbus:
<http://www.osu.edu/students/sif/calendar.html>,
<http://www.freepress.org/calendar.php>, & <http://www.cpanews.org/>
* Student International Forum: <http://www.osu.edu/students/sif/>
* Committee for Justice in Palestine: <http://www.osudivest.org/>
* Al-Awda-Ohio: <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Al-Awda-Ohio>
* Solidarity: <http://solidarity.igc.org/>



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