drinking the Rwandan kool-aid

From Texas in Africa Fri Feb 22 2013, 21:12:00

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and businessman and philanthropist Howard Buffett have a column in Foreign Policy this week titled, "Stand with Rwanda." In the piece, they argue that aid cuts to Rwanda in the wake of the UN Group of Experts' revelations that Rwanda is actively supporting the human rights-abusing M23 rebel movement in the DRC should be restored. They ignore the "generally democratic governments don't like to give money to war-mongering states" aspect of this issue, instead focusing on the negative effects of the cuts for Rwanda's population and how indisputably effective aid has been in Rwanda.

Blair and Buffett also argue that the DRC's problems are more-or-less entirely rooted in the DRC's poor-to-barely-existant governance, fragile security, and weak state. They do so via some poorly researched/blatantly wrong claims. To wit:

Then there is the international presence: the largest and most expensive U.N. peacekeeping operation in the world with almost 14,000 troops. At a cost of $1.5 billion each year, Western governments are paying a huge sum of money to maintain a U.N. force that does not have the mandate to actually secure the region. The international community should instead focus its support on African-led solutions to security, ideally through an African Union-led security force similar to AMISOM in Somalia."First, MONUSCO does not have "almost 14,000 troops," it has 17,090, as can easily be learned by searching Google for "MONUSCO troop strength," then choosing the first hit, the most recent UN "MONUSCO Facts and Figures" page. Aside from making an error resulting from poor fact checking, Blair and Buffett are also apparently unaware that the Security Council is likely about to greatly strengthen the MONUSCO mandate to do more to "actually secure the region" by increasing its capacity to fight rebels and to protect civilians. I've said it before and I'll say ...

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