The French clean-up crew

THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images European military commanders have formally approved an EU mission to Chad and the Central African Republic. The mission, to protect and aid refugees from Darfur, has a Security Council mandate and, by most accounts, could help stabilize a dangerous situation. But there is a danger that France—and perhaps Europe more broadly—is developing ...

By , a professor at Indiana University’s Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies.
597147_french_05.jpg
597147_french_05.jpg

THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images

European military commanders have formally approved an EU mission to Chad and the Central African Republic. The mission, to protect and aid refugees from Darfur, has a Security Council mandate and, by most accounts, could help stabilize a dangerous situation.

But there is a danger that France—and perhaps Europe more broadly—is developing a perverse specialty: cleaning up after crimes it doesn't have the will to stop. European peacekeepers labored for several hard years protecting humanitarian aid deliveries in Bosnia as ethnic cleansing proceeded around them. And remember that it was the French who sent a military mission to protect refugees after the Rwanda genocide. That mission, Opération Turquoise, saved some lives (including the lives of many who committed the genocide), but was a pale shadow of the rescue mission that should have been launched weeks earlier.

THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images

European military commanders have formally approved an EU mission to Chad and the Central African Republic. The mission, to protect and aid refugees from Darfur, has a Security Council mandate and, by most accounts, could help stabilize a dangerous situation.

But there is a danger that France—and perhaps Europe more broadly—is developing a perverse specialty: cleaning up after crimes it doesn’t have the will to stop. European peacekeepers labored for several hard years protecting humanitarian aid deliveries in Bosnia as ethnic cleansing proceeded around them. And remember that it was the French who sent a military mission to protect refugees after the Rwanda genocide. That mission, Opération Turquoise, saved some lives (including the lives of many who committed the genocide), but was a pale shadow of the rescue mission that should have been launched weeks earlier.

My fear is that the combination of feel-good war crimes prosecutions and post hoc band-aid operations like this new one in Chad have sapped the will to take the needed hard measures.  

David Bosco is a professor at Indiana University’s Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies. He is the author of The Poseidon Project: The Struggle to Govern the World’s Oceans. Twitter: @multilateralist

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