Article Published in The Wall Street Journal
“Not Much Money, But Plenty of Soldiers”
The Wall Street Journal
October 15, 2003
By Daniel Goure
Alix Freedman focuses mostly on one reason why poorer countries are often the source of peacekeeping troops, that they need the money (“Wealthy Counties in Effect Pay Poor Ones to Handel U.N. Missions,” Oct. 1). The other, more significant, reason is that they have the deployable troops, as Ms. Freedman mentions in passing. The U.S. alone among the so-called wealthy countries maintains a military of a size and character that permits it to readily deploy large formations around the world.
For all their wealth, most of the industrialized nations have been cutting back on both military expenditures and the size of their armed forces since the end of the Cold War. This means they don’t have a lot of forces of the appropriate types to send on peacekeeping missions and those that can be sent are difficult and expensive to sustain. In some instances there are additional restrictions such as German law preventing the deployment of conscripts outside the homeland. In essence, the wealthy nations are increasingly incapable of projecting power, whether for war or peacekeeping.
By way of contrast, many poorer countries tend to have large numbers of relatively simply equipped ground forces that are well suited to standard peacekeeping and stabilization missions. Yes, they are cheap, but more important they are available and easy to sustain.
The fact that the wealthy nations no longer maintain large, deployable armies but that many poorer countries do is having an impact on U.S. alliance policy. America’s traditional alliances are with other wealthy nations, those that do not maintain the necessary forces to project significant amounts of military abroad. Poorer countries such as Turkey, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt do. If Iraq is any indication of the future security environment, the U.S. may want to think about forming new alliances with these poorer states.
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