Participating in UN peacekeeping missions made Fiji prone to coups
September 29, 2007 10:32 AM   Subscribe

Without participating in peacekeeping missions overseas, it is unlikely that Fiji's army would ever have become strong enough to seize power. So says the Economist: "When the British left Fiji in 1970, there were only around 200 serving military personnel. UN peacekeeping operations in Lebanon and Sinai generated a tenfold increase by 1986. The next year, Fiji witnessed its first military coup." The series of coups since then haven't stopped Fiji from continuing to participate in UN missions.
posted by jstruan (12 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
posted by Anything at 11:39 AM on September 29, 2007

Yes, interesting. Interesting site here.
posted by philfromhavelock at 11:49 AM on September 29, 2007

Great find. Being a Canadian, I always get sick of hearing pundits complaining about how Canada rarely participated in peacekeeping operations during the 90's, and that poorer countries such as Bangladesh could be counted to contribute more troops than Canada.

What people never seemed to mention was the fact that these tinpot dictatorships who participate in UN missions do so for the cold, hard cash.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:47 PM on September 29, 2007

Typical of the Economist to ignore the underlying environmental problems, exacerbated by ethnic difficulties which are the legacy of British colonization, which are really driving this, and which will only get much, much worse as Global Warming progresses, devastating Fiji's sugar cane industry as well as its tourism, and promising refugee problems of unprecedented severity as neighboring island nations disappear under the waves and into the memories of the displaced and despairing.

Authoritarian regimes backed by a powerful military will be the only salvation from Cambodia and Rwanda-like mass killings, or worse, throughout Oceania.
posted by jamjam at 1:35 PM on September 29, 2007

It's 6 of one, 1/2 dozen of the other, kinda--all countries want to become players on the world stage, and things go along with that--from military to nukes.

We need the UN to have more teeth and power to both reward and oversee troops under their label, i think.
posted by amberglow at 1:45 PM on September 29, 2007

If there wasn't a UN connection to having troops, wouldn't this still happen? Countries all have militaries--for threats internal and external, no?
posted by amberglow at 1:47 PM on September 29, 2007

I think that the Economist has an interesting point there, in that Fiji probably wouldn't have much of a military if it wasn't for the UN peacekeeping missions, but also agree with jamjam in that this wouldn't mean that there would not be violent insurrections. They'd just be less well organised.
posted by Skeptic at 3:07 PM on September 29, 2007

The article doesn't really mention how the UN funds Fiji. Do they get a set amount of aid for helping with peacekeeping? Is it based on how many soldiers they send? Do they get training for their soldiers? This is quite interesting and I would like to learn more.
posted by clockworkjoe at 4:34 PM on September 29, 2007

...exacerbated by ethnic difficulties

I really question this notion that 'ethnic difficulties' are somehow responsible for conflict. In most cases, 'ethnic difficulties' are manufactured by whoever wishes to take power or control a situation in a country. In the case of Fiji, it is almost a racist argument: everything would be fine if the British hadn't brought in those Indian laborers.

People from different communities and cultures are perfectly able to live side by side. We have to look beyond race while recognizing cultural diversity.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:39 PM on September 29, 2007

this is my first comment here. having lived in fiji it is disheartening to me to see political instability and rapidly increasing crime take a toll on the country. it must be added that the u.s. government supplies fiji with approximately 7.6 million dollars in arms and military training each year (mostly weapons and ammunition). many jobless fijians and others living a village life have been seduced my american and european mercenary contractors like custer battle and blackwater. it's not unusual to see deaths in iraq in the fiji times obituaries. on the race topic, every fijian i have ever known from barmen to doctors to village chiefs are intolerant toward the indo-fijians. the indo-fijians, on the other hand, have their lives and ancestry invested in the country and are adept at assimilating fijian custom. at best, however, their lives might be compared to blacks in the deep south of america in the fifties.
posted by kitchenrat at 6:25 PM on September 29, 2007

I knew someone in College that was stuck in Fiji during a military coup when traveling back to the USA. She had a wonderful extended vacation there while everything was shut down, though missed meeting her boyfriend in Hawaii for vacation. I can think of worse places to get stuck during a coup.
posted by Eekacat at 11:38 PM on September 29, 2007

Thanks for taking the time to comment kitchenrat. Interesting stuff.
posted by asok at 6:33 AM on September 30, 2007

« Older Photographs of American Cities   |   Cheese Crust Pizza Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments