The offensive mandate got results. As for loss of U.N. mediation credibility? Following M23's defeat, ritually peacenik U.N. special representative and former president of Ireland, Mary Robinson, threatened an even more repugnant rebel group, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, with destruction unless it disarmed. Hutu extremists involved in the 1994 Rwandan genocide founded the FDLR.
The CAR, however, is the next dirty war of offensive peacekeeping. Low-information Americans inclined to go ho-hum should wake the hell up. France's U.N.-authorized offense involves U.S. forces. The Obama Administration ordered the USAF to provide the French with logistics support and to fly additional African peacekeepers to the CAR to aid the effort.
The militias currently savaging the CAR capital, Bangui, split along tribal and Muslim-Christian sectarian lines. A Christian militia loyal to the ousted President Francois Bozize triggered the latest round of fighting. However, Muslim militias formerly associated with the Seleka rebel group that toppled Bozize in April have committed verifiable atrocities throughout the country; many of the victims come from Christian tribes. International observers in Bangui report Seleka leader and interim president, Michel Djotodia, no longer commands many of the rebel fighters who put him in power.
To complete this complex mission, France's 1,600-troop contingent is authorized to use "all measures necessary" to help peacekeeping forces currently deployed in the CAR restore order. Teeth? That is peacekeeping with fangs.
Austin Bay is the author of three novels. His third novel, The Wrong Side of Brightness, was published by Putnam/Jove in June 2003. He has also co-authored four non-fiction books, to include A Quick and Dirty Guide to War: Third Edition (with James Dunnigan, Morrow, 1996).
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