It appears from the Trump "Skinny Budget" that the U.S. financial contribution to United Nations peacekeeping forces will take a big hit. As Heather Peterson explains in a U.S. News post, this is a bad decision. U.N. Peacekeeping is both effective a good deal for America. The U.N. peacekeeping forces mean U.S. military forces don't have to intervene:
The answer is that U.N. peacekeeping operations are generally successful and much more cost effective than using U.S. forces. Research by RAND found that U.N. peacekeeping operations have a pretty good track record and can be "an effective means of terminating conflicts, insuring against their reoccurrence, and promoting democracy." This conclusion is supported by research by Nicholas Sambanis who found U.N. peacekeeping operations have a "robust positive effect on peacebuilding outcomes … (which is) stronger when peacekeepers remain." In other words, U.N. peacekeepers are good at their jobs, especially if they stick around.
But, what about the cost to the U.S.? It turns out that U.N. peacekeepers are an incredibly good deal when compared to U.S. forces. Let's take a historical example. In 2004, a coup in Haiti created a potential refugee crisis as Haitians attempted to flee the violence in boats bound for U.S. shores. The George W. Bush administration decided to deploy U.S. military forces to Haiti to stop the violence and prevent a potential influx of refugees. After the initial intervention, Haiti was far from stable. In order to maintain stability, a long-term military presence was needed. The U.S. didn't want to keep forces in Haiti and was able to convince the other members of the U.N. Security Council to authorize a peacekeeping mission.
The Government Accountability Office put together a report comparing the actual costs of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti to a hypothetical U.S. force (over a 14 month time period). The GAO determined that if U.S. forces stayed in Haiti, it would have cost the U.S. $876 million. The cost to the U.S. of the actual U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti was $116 million.
Read it all here. My friend Colonel Dave DesRoches (West Point graduate with a PhD) points out thst even these savings estimates are too low. It doesn't include the lifetime medical costs of sending soldiers and Marines in a Malaria infested area.In other words, the deployment of U.N. peacekeeping forces saved the U.S. approximately $760 million in just over a year.