26 June 2005

Peacekeeping Conditions Delta and Echo

Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures is divided into sections, each descending into a lower level of hell, from the shining idealism of Condition Alpha in 1990 to the total burnout of Condition Echo in 1998. Here are the introductions to Condition Delta and Condition Echo. The interior echoes of psychological collapse in Condition Delta don't lend themselves to easy excerpting, and I just can't bring myself to quote any of the representative passages from Condition Echo, where the peacekeepers themselves are brutal enough, while the young crackhead rebels are as close to diabolical as humans can get.

Bosnia, Rwanda, Haiti, 1994-96
Yugoslavia. At the end of the Cold War, Bosnia, home to Muslims, Serbs, and Croats, ignited. Bosnian Serb forces conducted a campaign of systematic expulsions, rapes, and executions, "ethnically cleansing" Muslims from their midst. UN peacekeepers were on the ground and NATO patrolled the skies, but fearing robust use of air power would endanger UN forces, the international community refused to act. The UN Security Council declared Sarajevo and four other towns in Bosnia "safe areas" for Muslim civilians fleeing Serb paramilitary attacks. In July 1995, Dutch UN peacekeepers watched as Serb forces overran the safe haven of Srebrenica. Serbs executed eight thousand civilian men and boys and bulldozed them into unmarked graves. Passive on the ground, the UN instead became aggressive in court, creating an International Criminal Tribunal--the first since Nuremberg after World War II--to prosecute war crimes throughout the former Yugoslavia.

Rwanda. Throughout the early nineties, Rwandan Tutsi rebels from the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) conducted a series of attacks against the Hutu-dominated Rwandan government from rebel bases along the northern border. On April 6, 1994, one week after U.S. forces withdrew from Somalia, a plane carrying the president of Rwanda was shot down over Kigali and massacres of Tutsis and moderate Hutus began within half an hour. UN peacekeepers withdrew while a radical Hutu militia, the interahamwe, engaged in an orgy of killing over ninety days at a rate three times that of the Holocaust. In the meantime the RPF broke out of Uganda, defeated the Rwandan Army, as well as the interahamwe, and occupied the country. But they were too late to save most Tutsis, and when it was over, 800,000 had been slaughtered. Having failed to intervene in genocide on the ground for the second time in two years, the UN again chose to prosecute it in court instead, creating the second war crimes tribunal since Nuremberg.

Haiti. In September 1994 the U.S. finally sent twenty thousand troops to Haiti in Operation Uphold Democracy, and in October Jean-Bertrand Aristide returned from Washington, reclaiming his presidency. Among the American Troops, twelve hundred U.S. Special Operations Forces operated out of twenty-seven towns and cities to maintain order and suppress paramilitary groups' antidemocratic activity in the run up to parliamentary elections in the summer of 1995.

Somalia. On March 28, 1994, the U.S. withdrew the last troops of Operation Restore Hope from Mogadishu. The UN stayed on but slowly began to dismantle its sprawling presence.
Bosnia, Haiti, and Liberia, 1996-1998
ECOMOG: Liberia is a beautiful country on the West Coast of Africa founded by freed slaves. Bereft of its U.S. patron at the end of the Cold War, it descended into a civil war characterized by total state collapse and a relentless campaign of sadistic, wanton violence. State authority was consigned to marauding rebels, many still in their teens. Still chastened from Somalia, Clinton and the UN refused to commit troops to Liberia. So peacekeeping responsibility was relegated to an African force not under UN command, known as the Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG), led by the regional superpower, Nigeria, and including small contingents from West African countries such as Ghana.
SOURCE: Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures: A True Story from Hell on Earth, by Kenneth Cain, Heidi Postlewait, and Andrew Thomson (Miramax Books, 2004), pp. 195-196, 247

No comments: