The New York Times has two articles in today's paper about the turmoil in the Ituri region in eastern Congo, where more than 50,000 people have died. Currently, about 17,000 UN peacekeepers are stationed there as part of the MONUC mission, in an attempt to restore peace and order to the region.

Helene Cooper's Op-Ed suggests an interesting resolution:

Aside from regime change in Congo, one obvious solution to the mess in the east would be for the international community to feed, arm and equip Congo's own soldiers, who have been so ignored by Mr. Kabila's government that they prey on their own people for food and clothing. These soldiers are far from perfect. But nighttime here is not the time of rest it can be elsewhere in the world, so villagers seek out the Congolese soldiers when the sun goes down, sleeping near their camps, where they feel safer than they do in their own homes.

I am far from certain that funding the Congolese military in Ituri would be beneficial for the region's long-term stability. After reading an article from Human Rights Watch, I became even more opposed to this idea:
In January, President Kabila elevated six senior military leaders from Ituri to the rank of general in the new Congolese army. They included Jérôme Kakwavu, Floribert Kisembo, Bosco Taganda and Germain Katanga, all notorious military leaders who personally ordered, tolerated or participated in the killing of civilians. Thirty-two other militiamen from armed groups responsible for widespread human rights abuses against civilians are soon to become majors and colonels. The message is clear. Carrying out brutalities against civilians will help you to get a promotion in Congo.

I am not sure what distinctions exist in the DRC between the Ituri militias and the Congolese army, but it seems that increased support for the MONUC forces would probably be a better use of international funds. The other NYTimes article talks about how the peacekeepers are having less compunction about using deadly force. While I think this is wonderful, not everyone is happy with this tougher style of peacekeeping:
Justice Plus, a rights group based in Bunia [the capital of Ituri], lamented that when the peacekeepers raided the market near Loga some civilians "paid with their life while the mandate of the United Nations was to protect them."

A related story from USA Today makes an absurd claim:
Justice Plus charged that peacekeepers intentionally chose a busy market day to stage a March 1 assault, ensuring civilians were caught in hours-long crossfire between heavily armed militia and several hundred peacekeepers, the Bunia-based rights group said.

While the fact that up to 60 civilians died in the battle is regrettable, it is probably better for MONUC to be too aggressive and create a few civilian casualties than to be too passive and let atrocities take place. In order to protect the people of Ituri, it is necessary for MONUC to disarm the militias that harrass the population there. A nonviolent disarmament would be preferred, but the goal of stability allows the UN to use force.