Who wants to go to Darfur?

Green League leader and Labour Minister Tarja Cronberg wonders (fi) why Finland says it can't send peacekeepers to Darfur because of insufficient resources, but the same argument is not applied when the talk turns to sending more peacekeepers to Afghanistan. Cronberg writes, "The fact that only Afghanistan seems to be a serious alternative strengthens the impression that Finland's decision too have other basis than ending human suffering. The United States pressures Finland to increase its effort in Afghanistan, not in Darfur."

Other government sources are sending mixed signals. When the UN Security Council made the decision on the Darfur operation, Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen (Centre Party) said (fi) that Finnish participation was unlikely. An official from the Ministry of Defense said that taking part would require that the Finnish contingent in some other operation would be reduced. Defense Minister Kari Häkämies (National Coalition Party) has speculated before that the EU's Nordic battle group may be heading Sudan way.

No doubt there's a certain value in completing previous commitments before taking on new ones, but Cronberg has a point when she argues that on humanitarian grounds peacekeepers could do more good in Sudan than Afghanistan. Whether Finnish peacekeepers in specific are needed for the Darfur operation to succeed isn't entirely clear to me, though.

Left Alliance party secretary Sirpa Puhakka has also demanded that Finland take part in the Darfur operation. It's interesting that the Greens and Leftists seem eager to send peacekeepers to Darfur. Traditionally neither party has been overly enthusiastic about foreign interventions.

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