The U.S. made strategic new investments in global security while chairing a United Nations peacekeeping summit today. Standing before more than 50 world leaders who had been asked to make their own new commitments to peacekeeping, President Obama announced the U.S. would enhance troop commitments, training, and logistical support, as well as equipment to defend against armed rebel groups in in ungoverned spaces.
These announcements layer onto a promising new partnership with India, announced by Secretary of State John Kerry last week, to jointly train troops in six African countries before they are deployed to peacekeeping missions. The agreement represents a decisive response to a growing need for effective, professional, international peacekeeping in regions of conflict.
The President's decision to devote more troops and logistical support to UN Peacekeeping is a one-two punch: it shows leadership to other nations, applying pressure for them to step up their own peacekeeping commitments; and it is an efficient investment in restoring peace to the most troubled, war-ravaged places on the globe.
Today's peacekeeping operations no longer mean simply observing a cease-fire between two consenting nations. This is exactly why devoting the right tools to make sure peacekeepers are fully equipped to do their jobs will be so important.
These announcements represent tangible contributions to peacekeeping. The U.S. is already the world's largest financial contributor to peacekeeping -- thanks to bipartisan support on Capitol Hill and leadership from the executive branch -- and full payment of our dues remains absolutely critical to the enterprise. However, by expanding our contributions in these new ways, we ensure peacekeeping operations can be more effective and safer for both peacekeepers and civilians.
Right now UN peacekeepers are protecting 200,000 South Sudanese who have fled horrific violence -- action that has unquestionably saved thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of lives. Elsewhere, like the Democratic Republic of the Congo, peacekeepers are countering violent armed militias; in Mali they are confronting the proliferation of improvised explosive devices. The U.S. cannot be expected to resolve these threats on its own. In this fiscal climate, working with the UN is a resoundingly good bargain for us.