Reader Fredrik Nyman reinforces the skepticism I expressed yesterday regarding an expanded U.N. role in Iraq or Gaza. Mr. Nyman writies:
“Regarding your blog post on getting the UN involved in Iraq and Gaza in order to contribute troops, I agree with your objections.
I would also like to ask a question that nobody seems to ask: WHERE would these 75,000 UN troops come from?
My understanding is that very few countries can contribute soldiers even if they want to. For example, out of some 2 million people in uniform in the EU countries, only 70,000 or so could theoretically be deployed; the rest are conscripts or otherwise unsuitable for overseas deployment.
And out of these 70,000, a fair number is already deployed to the Balkans, Afghanistan, or Iraq, or recently back from a tour of duty, so most likely the EU could only contribute some 10,000 additional troops.
Another question is that of quality. Few armies have as high quality as the US in terms of skills, professionalism, equipment, firepower, mobility, discipline and logistics. What good are additional troops if they can’t get to Iraq without US airlift, need the US to provide them with food, water, and quarters, don’t have their own vehicles/weapons, and may have communication issues (do they have English/Arabic language skills? And do their radios work with the US radio systems)?
I really think it’s a pipe dream to think that the UN can make a meaningful contribution to the Iraq reconstruction effort; even if all the political issues could be resolved (hah!), the quesions of ability that I asked above remain.”
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