Friday, March 17, 2006

Into the heart of darkness

Defense Minister, Radek Sikorski has said that Poland will be sending military police to the Democratic Republic of Congo as part of a multinational EU force, before the nation’s first ever democratic elections. (photo: Polish troops training for Kinshasa traffic cop duty?)

A man's most open actions have a secret side to them.
Jozef Korzienowski (Joseph Conrad)

When the UN – which already has 17,000 troops in one of Africa’s largest and most war torn countries – announced that it needed the EU to come and help stabilize the place before elections this June, the queue of member states lining up to volunteer help was...not very long, really.

The EU only promised to send a tokenistic 1,500 troops, but nobody seemed particularly keen to go to a country where war over the last decade has been estimated to have taken an incredible 4 million lives.

The British said, “Sorry mate, but we are a bit busy in Iraq, Afghanistan...’; Germany, which is apparently head of the special EU battle group (I didn’t even know we had one!) ready to send troops at lightening speed to trouble spots at a ‘moments notice’, has been dragging its feet, claiming that the mission needed ‘better clarity’.

Perhaps they just needed a little bit more notice to be able to move at lightening speed?

The only two countries to initially volunteer troops were Austria (about 30) and Poland. The Polish government initially promised Congo a massive battalion of...ten troops!

Now that's gonna sort out those pesky Africans!

Or perhaps not. How can a force of men not large enough to raise a soccer team, help stabilize a country the size of western Europe and which has 300 rival factions, all positioning for power?

To the rescue have come Spain, France and Sweden, that will, along with Poland and Austria, be sending a massive 500 men. The Germans are going to have to pick up the rest of the tab.

Apart from supporting the US and Europe’s man in the Congo, President Joseph Kabila, why drag the EU into Joseph Conrad’s worst nightmare?

Bush seems to think that the failed African states could be a hotbed of potential terrorists; Congo is a very poor country, but it has massive resources that industrialized countries are desperate to get a piece of; and then there is the real obsession in the EU at the moment – immigration. If only Africa would stabilize then maybe they would all stay in their own countries.

The EU is also desperate for a mission – any mission! – to make it seem relevant.
And out front, fighting for justice is plucky old Poland, its ten brave men, following in the footsteps of Joseph Conrad, into dark hearted EU gesture politics.


DBN said...

Let's hope they don't jump ship when things start to go wrong...


Pan Emigrant said...

Ten Legia meatheads with automatics sent to a half-starved, oil-rich African shanty-state? I think three would have been enough. It's a great opportunity for the lads, who will probably end up in security consultancy jobs after a couple of year. Anyway, what's going on in Congo? Usual post-colonial mess? Surely it should be the French who should sort it - it was one of theirs, right?

DBN said...

I think it was Beligian. But as with french fries, the French get the credit.

beatroot said...

And French kissing!

roman said...

I hope the Polish government does not go the way of the USA. If there is trouble anywhere in the world, the US marines are there at the drop of a hat. Once there, getting out is the problem.
A word to the wise is sufficient.

Pan Emigrant said...

But picture this... Poland launches a unilateral cold war against Russia that lasts 50 years. During this time many minor incidents bring the two countries close to the brink of nuclear war, yet somehow sense at the highest level always prevails. Forced to work overtime to fund new military technology and output, Poland's economy is completely rid of workshy communist cronies and replaced by a motivated, educated tier of scientific managers. Sure, in the process of adapting to the demands of a war economy some Polish scientists develop their own religion, which is based on the fact that a potato gives off a measurable current, but on the whole things go well. Poland's computer industry leads the world, thanks to a combination of technology and underhand monopolistic practices learned from the privatisations of the 1990s. By 2075 Poland counts Brazil and China as its allies and has earned a set among the world's key powers. Russia is no longer synonymous with Vodka, unless you count that brewed with potatoes - it is synonymous with endless centuries of defeat for its people at the hands of callous leaders. The empire is dismantled into smaller sub-states, some of which are completely abandoned due to heating costs.

beatroot said...

And....go on!

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