It appears that the French contingent of 1200 troops will be in place as soon as next week:
The French commitment to lead a force of more than 1,000 international troops could become a reality by next week, if the Security Council adopts a resolution authorising France to “take all necessary means” – including the use of force.
“We have been asked to lead a multinational force in Ituri, and France has accepted to lead such a force”, French UN ambassador, Jean Marc de La Sabliere told journalists in New York after briefing the UN Security Council on Thursday on his government’s plans.
Yesterday, I described this as a good first step, and I should probably retract that statement in light of what Gary Farber has written about the issue, in which he states that this woefully inadequate force is worse than doing nothing because people are just happy something is being done:
Because then they, you know, think something good is being done. And relax a bit. When, in this case, nothing whatever good is being done by sending 1,200 infantry troops with only small arms. The “Democratic Republic” of Congo is, according to the CIA Factbook, 2,345,410 sq km. Its land boundaries: total: 10,730 km border countries: Angola 2,511 km (of which 225 km is the boundary of Angola’s discontiguous Cabinda Province), Burundi 233 km, Central African Republic 1,577 km, Republic of the Congo 2,410 km, Rwanda 217 km, Sudan 628 km, Tanzania 459 km, Uganda 765 km, Zambia 1,930 km
So, let’s see, that makes about one trooper for every two thousand square miles. I’m sure they’ll have no trouble each securing that amount of territory. What, exactly, other than guard a single airport, or a few square miles, do you think 1200 troops, from two separate armies, with only small arms, can do in Congo? What is the point of securing a single village, when there are tens of thousands of foreign troops and militia troops running around?
Besides PR. Which appears to be more successful than I would have anticipated.
He is right. The perception that something, anything, is being done may make people complacent, and this force is decidedly inadequate. On a more positive note, both Kaus and Sullivan have now written about the issue, so perhaps this is starting to get some attention.
Speaking on Al Jazeera television, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice dismissed the U.N.