The Los Angeles Times today offers a great story on some of the more unorthodox ways that peacekeepers can help instill a culture of peace. In addition to kung fu, it seems that tae kwon do, tai chi, yoga, and even pizza-making lessons are also effective peacebuilding tactics. UN peacekeepers in Lebanon, LAT‘s Borzou Daragahi reports, are using these activities to bring a level of normality — and even a little fun — to people scarred by years of war. These kind of tasks are not all that the 13,000 blue helmets are doing in Lebanon, though.

The U.N. peacekeepers also offer medical and dental clinics and computer classes, and they have plans to supply more artificial limbs for the people wounded by old land mines and ordnance.

The efforts are all meant to endear the troops to a local population that has violently resisted incursions by Israeli, French, American and Syrian forces over the decades.

“When we do such things, it brings us closer to the people,” said Maj. Rishi Raj Singh of the 800-plus Indian contingent. “The return is immeasurable. We don’t spend a lot of money, and it’s immensely popular.”

These kind of initiatives seem like wise investments, with little risk and huge upside as a “soft power” strategy. Read the whole article here.

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