Since World War II, U.N. peacekeepers have been dispatched to 69 conflicts — civil wars, border disputes and failed states. But now they are confronting an unsettling new threat: al-Qaeda.
Here in the vast, lawless desert of northwest Africa, their convoys are being torn apart by improvised explosive devices and their compounds blasted by 1,000-pound car bombs. It is a crisis that looks more like the U.S. ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan than the cease-fires traditionally monitored by U.N. missions.
The eagerly-awaited United Nations Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism (PVE) is an ambitious and much-needed shift toward tackling the root causes that lead to radicalization. It is a bold strategy that combines a UN system-wide response with an “all of government approach” to violent extremism.
Last week, Frank-Walter Steinmeier made his last visit to Paris as Germany’s foreign minister (he is about to become president) in order to issue a plea to the French people: “Please do not surrender to the siren song of populism.” His meaning was plain: Do not elect Marine Le Pen, leader of the nativist National Front, in the presidential election this spring. If France falls, Germany, which votes in September, could be next.
In his first two weeks in office, President Donald Trump's "America First" pledge has proven more than an idle slogan. In word and deed, the White House has signaled an aggressive unilateral stance toward the world that's antagonized allies abroad and divided supporters at home.