Today's New York Times story on the horrific gang-rape of an entire Congolese village contains little of the human rights abuse-porn that typifies most American reporting on the Congo conflict. Instead, veteran reporter Jeffrey Gettlman focuses on the country's United Nations peacekeeping force and its chronic inability to protect civilians. With massacres and gang rapes happening within earshot of bases and the world's deadliest conflict since World War II still going strong,
many critics contend that nowhere else in the world has the United Nations invested so much and accomplished so little.
If only that were true. Unfortunately, there are a few more candidates for the title of "costliest, most mismanaged U.N. initiative," starting with UNWRA, which is, in part, an ethnically-based welfare program for Palestinians living in Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan. And then there's the World Food Program boondoggle in Afghanistan, the botched coordination of relief efforts after the Haiti earthquake, and, of course, anything related to the U.N. Human Rights Council. The gap between the U.N.'s potential as a facilitator of meaningful global cooperation and its reality as an inefficient, U.S.-subsidized global civil service is wide. Today's article is a reminder that the consequences of not reforming the U.N. are far more serious than just the occasional wasted billion in U.S. taxpayer dollars.