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Peacekeeping: The Mission Is Likely To Fail
CSC 1993
SUBJECT AREA - Warfighting
                          EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Title:    Peacekeeping:  The Mission is Likely to Fail
Author:   Major Tim Hunter, USMC
Thesis:   The United States is neither prepared for, nor willing
to assume the role of peacekeeper and peace enforcer for the
United Nations.
Background:    The Cold War is over.  A New World Order is
beginning to emerge.  It is characterized, however, by a lack of
order.  The United Nations, in light of recent successes, has
become the chosen instrument for the maintenance of peace.  The
United States is being relied upon to support the United Nations
in peacekeeping missions throughout the world.  These missions
are characterized by deep-seated animosities with historical,
ethnic, religious, and other hatreds of primarily political
concerns that have erupted-into civil violence.  Insertion of
military forces into this environment for the purpose of
establishing or maintaining peace is a complex and poorly
understood endeavor that presents a high likelihood of failure.
Presently, America's forces are not structured or trained for the
types of situations they will face in this role.  These missions
do not meet the post-Vietnam criteria for force insertion
established in the Weinburger Doctrine, and they have not
historically experienced success as evidenced in Beirut.  The
linkage of United States' vital interests to the mission is often
remote and sometimes non-existent.  The American people will not
be willing to tolerate the cost without any perceived gain.
Recommendation:    Alternative solutions to these highly political
situations should be explored and utilized instead of insertion
of military forces.
Thesis:   The United States is neither prepared for, nor willing
to assume the role of peacekeeper and peace enforcer for the
United Nations.
I.   Emergence of a New World Order
     A.   World in disorder
     B.   United Nations as the instrument for peace
     C.   United States' implied role
II.  The missions
     A.   Peacekeeping definition
     B.   Peace-enforcement definition
III. The environment
     A.   Peace or war
     B.   Peacekeeping situation
     C.   Peace-enforcement situation
IV.  The context
     A.   Attitudes and conditions
     B.   The pitfalls
          1.   Peacekeeping problems
          2.   Peace-enforcement problems
     C.   Chance of success
V.   Mission challenge
     A.   Maintain neutrality
     B.   Example in criticality
     C.   Force structure
VI.  Policy and strategy
     A.   Weinburger Doctrine
     B.   Missions don't match the doctrine
VII. Cautions
     A.   General Powell's questions
     B.   American mentalities
     The struggle dividing the world for over two generations has
ended.  The collapse of the Soviet Union ended the Cold War and
brought us into a new era.
     The New World Order, presented by former President George
Bush, "is not a fact; it is an aspiration and opportunity . . .
to build a new international system in accordance with our own
values and ideals, as old patterns and certainties crumble around
us." (9:V)
     It is, however, an uncharted opportunity presenting the
United States with a picture of disorder, and in many regions
chaos.  The old system was predictable and the lines drawn
between the major powers were relatively clear.  The New World
order is characterized by "the precipitous disintegration of an
authoritarian political system and the induced transformation of
once isolated economies [that] are new phenomena whose
consequences are not fully understood." (8:2)
     The war in the Gulf ushered in the evolving post-Cold War
era with an unprecedented military victory for the United States
and its coalition allies.  Perhaps more significantly, the United
Nations revitalized its role in the international community by
orchestrating and sanctioning collective action against
     In light of "the systematic transformation of the United
Nations into the chosen instrument for the maintenance of peace,"
(1:212) the Secretary General of the United Nations issued his
Agenda for Peace.  Within it, the principles of individual and
peoples rights are interwoven with our democratic principles that
governments must rest their rightful authority on the consent of
the governed, and must live in peace with their neighbors.  In
concert with these concepts, the Agenda for Peace suggests an
expanded United Nations role in peacekeeping and peace-
     It is inevitable that the United States will play a major
role in these efforts as General Colin Powell, Chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff states, "Peacekeeping and humanitarian
operations are a given." (6:36)  As current conditions in Bosnia
and in Somalia have demonstrated, the international community has
not developed either the principles or the mechanisms for
establishing basic civil order in instances where it has
collapsed within a sovereign state. (8:1)  "Peacekeeping"
missions will be complex, intractable, and poorly understood by
the American public and by our responsible officials.  The United
States is neither prepared for, nor willing to assume, the role
of peacekeeper and peace enforcer for the United Nations.
     It is imperative that one understand the nature of war
before becoming engaged in one.  It is necessary, therefore, that
the missions of peacekeeping and peace enforcement be adequately
explored.  The term peacekeeping can mean different things to
different people.  For the purpose of this discussion the
definitions contained in Joint Pub 3-07.3, JTTP for Peacekeeping
Operations provide a solid foundation from which to continue.
They are:
     Peacekeeping    Operations using military forces and/or
civilian personnel at the request of the parties to a dispute to
help supervise a cease-fire agreement and/or separate the
     Peace-enforcement   Military operations to forcefully
restore peace between belligerents, who may be engaged in combat.
     It is important to understand that the missions of
peacekeeping and peace enforcing are fundamentally different, and
should not be thought of as similar tasks.  An analysis of the
two missions can be achieved by examining four categories.  The
first is environmental and refers to the characteristics "on the
ground"; the second is contextual, referring to the situation
that would confront the force.  The third category, based on the
first and second, is the mission challenges the force must face,
and the final category is the compatibility of the mission with
current policy and strategy. (7:21-22)
     The environment refers to the conditions that exist at the
time a peacekeeping or peace-enforcement mission is considered.
The obvious question is; are the antagonists at peace or at war?
     The peacekeeping situation demands that peace or at least a
cease-fire has been established and that the task before the
peacekeepers is to maintain that peace.  In contrast, the peace
enforcer experiences a state of actual on-going combat with the
ominous task of causing that combat to cease.
     "In a peace-enforcement situation some, possibly both, or
all of the combatants prefer the continuation of hostilities to
their cessation." (7:22)  If this were not the case, then a
peacekeeping situation would be in effect, and would only require
monitoring.  Peacekeepers enter a situation where the perception
exists that the absence of hostilities is preferable to the
continuation of war.
     These fundamental differences illustrate the contrast
between the problems for the peacekeeper or the peace enforcer.
The environment is capable of mercurial changes and the role of
the peacekeeper can become one of peace enforcer at any time
during the mission.
     The attitudes and conditions of the country where the force
is to be inserted is referred to as the contextual atmosphere of
the mission.  By the very nature of the missions, the contextual
atmosphere will be anything but desirable.  "Normally, they will
reflect deep-seated animosities with historical, ethnic,
religious, and other hatreds that layer upon one another as
countries are torn apart and regenerated." (7:17)  A graphic
illustration of this point is contained within the Long
Commission's report on the Lebanon peacekeeping mission:
     Lebanon, a country approximately the size of
     Connecticut, contains 3 million people, 17 officially
     recognized religious sects, 2 foreign armies of
     occupation, 4 national contingents of a multinational
     force, 7 national contributors to a United Nations
     peacekeeping force, and some two dozen extralegal
     militia.  Over 100,000 people have been killed in
     hostilities over the last eight years, including the
     241 U.S. military personnel that died as a result of
     the terrorist attack on 23 October 1983.  It is country
     beset with virtually every unresolved dispute eliciting
     the peoples of the Middle East.  Lebanon has become a
     battleground where armed Lebanese factions
     simultaneously manipulate and are manipulated by
     foreign forces surrounding them.  If Syrians and Iraqis
     wish to kill one another, they do so in Lebanon.  If
     Israelis and Palestinians wish to fight over the land
     they both claim, they do so in Lebanon.  If terrorists
     of any political persuasion wish to kill and maim
     American citizens, it is convenient for them to do so
     in Lebanon.  In a country where criminals involved in
     indiscriminate killing, armed robbery, extortion, and
     kidnapping issue political manifestos and hold press
     conferences, there has been no shortage of indigenous
     surrogates willing to do the bidding of foreign
     governments seeking to exploit the opportunities
     presented by anarchy in Lebanon. (3:IA)
     Within this contextual setting, the peacekeeping force will
be invited to participate in a "universally" accepted cease-fire,
and will be welcomed by all concerned.  This is a precondition to
the peacekeeping mission, and initially, as it was in Lebanon,
this may be the case.  Frequently, however, the antagonists are
not receptive to the peaceful political settlement of their
differences and the situation will "creep" to one of peace-
     The peace enforcer is placed in the position of neither
being invited, except perhaps by the losing side, nor welcomed in
the country.  In addition, at least one side has no appetite for
peaceful negotiation.  In fact, that side prefers to continue to
pursue the military solution rather than the diplomatic.  The
insertion of a military force is a major intrusion and "runs the
obvious risk of becoming the organizing focus of resistance and
thereby [becoming] self-defeating." (8:4)  The situation is
analogous to the policeman entering the domestic dispute.  It is
not clear, for example, that an introduced force to create a
cease-fire in Bosnia and Herzegovina would be greeted with
anything but Serbian resistance.  If military force is required
to bring the antagonists to the bargaining table, it must be
understood that it is only a stepping stone to the ultimate
political solution.  The insertion of the military force cannot
create the conditions for lasting peace, which involve the
political acceptance of peace as more attractive than war.
     Due to the nature of these problems, it is entirely possible
that the peace-enforcement contingent may be able to establish a
cease-fire for the duration of its stay, however, once it is
removed from the theater, the combatants resume hostilities.
This will create a sense of failure in the mission.
     The environment and context into which the peacemaker or
peace enforcer is introduced will dramatically affect how the
mission will be conducted.  Strict neutrality is an absolute
imperative in peacekeeping, however, maintaining that neutrality
can be extremely difficult.  Again the peacekeeping mission in
Lebanon offers us insight:
     Lebanon may offer an example of perpetual criticality.
     Its location at the center of conflict between nations
     over the centuries, its tortured geography, its bitter
     ethnic, religious, and clan antagonisms, give little
     hope for stability and predictability.  Working within
     the classical strategic framework, however, the United
     States entered the fray in 1982, emplacing Marines to
     bring balance to the situation and separate opposing
     forces.  As the Marine commander remarked:  "We walked
     a razor's edge."  The basic assumption was that the
     United States could be a neutral, stabilizing force.  A
     system in criticality, however, offers no neutral
     ground, no hope of permanent stability.  Once in it,
     you are of it, as we learned after the catastrophe in
     which 241 Marines lost their lives to a terrorist
     bomb." (5:63)
     This passage suggests that in some situations it may be
impossible to maintain neutrality; even in an invited
peacekeeping role.
     Although the peace enforcer realizes that he is not welcome
in the environment, the moralistic tone of the "noble mission"
can create a perception of neutrality in the peace enforcer's
mind that will not be so perceived by those they have come to
"save". The intrusion of the force will necessarily have an
undesirable effect on one or more of the parties involved and any
sense of neutrality will be lost.  Despite the humanitarian
effort in Somalia, the resistance to our efforts is increasing
daily.  The problem stems primarily from the fact that we are
outsiders and this is a "domestic" problem.  There is a faction
that feels that Africans must learn to handle its own affairs
responsibly without help from others. (2:19)  In addition, those
elements making a profit in misery will fight us to the end.
Fundamentally, we must ask ourselves if a military force inserted
into a highly politicized problem and climate is the proper tool
to achieve our purpose.  Historically those missions have
achieved little success.
     The force structure needed to accomplish the roles of
peacekeepers and peace enforcers are quite different.
Peacekeepers have an established model that is already operating
in about a dozen countries.  They are light, defensive in
orientation and require little logistical effort to support.
They are relatively cheap.
     In contrast, peace enforcers will have to be combat troops,
prepared and equipped for the rigors of war.  They will be
larger, offensive in orientation and require more logistical
support than peacekeepers.  They will be expensive and must be
extremely disciplined and politically savvy to ensure that the
offensive nature of their mission is taken only to the degree
required to separate warring factions.  Intelligence,
informational assets, negotiating skills, and language
proficiency will be critically important because any unnecessary
or mistaken action can severely worsen the situation.  They will
inflict and suffer casualties, escalating the risks and
visibility of the mission.  There are presently no military units
in our forces designed to accomplish this mission, and it is not
a mission that we have trained and prepared for.
     Peacekeeping and peace-enforcement do not match well with
historically established criteria for introducing American forces
into a theater.  In the aftermath of Vietnam, Secretary of
Defense Casper Weinburger developed six criteria to be utilized
in committing our forces to war.  They are:  American vital
interests are at stake; we can achieve victory (winning);
political and military objectives will be clearly defined; forces
will be suitable to accomplish the mission; the will of the
American people will be behind the effort; and that force will be
used as a last resort.
     The Weinburger Doctrine implies that the vital interests of
our nation be present before we proceed with any effort.  Today
global television coverage of atrocities can create a public
perception of a vital interest, worth fighting over, on
humanitarian grounds alone.  Given the pressures that seem to
emerge, one can call this temptation the "do something syndrome."
A more discerning and unemotional look will reveal that
sufficiently vital interests will hardly ever be involved to the
degree to justify force.  This is particularly disconcerting in
the peace-enforcement mission where the loss of lives will most
assuredly erode public support.  In addition, the contextual
nature of peace enforcement missions will usually entail
insurgency and counterinsurgency operations that are both
difficult to win and lengthy.  As the sacrifices mount, and the
operation cannot be concluded rapidly, these missions will become
extremely unpopular.  If we are expecting clear cut success in
either mission, we are likely to be disappointed.  The objectives
in both a military and political sense will be elusive and
extremely difficult to define.  In short, the only principle that
can be upheld is to enter this mission as a last resort.
     General Colin Powell recently raised the following questions
when discussing America's use of force:
     "Is the political objective we seek to achieve
     important, clearly defined and understood?  Have all
     other nonviolent policy means failed?  Will military
     force achieve the objective?  At what cost?  Have the
     gains and risks been analyzed?  How might the situation
     that we seek to alter, once it is altered by force,
     develop further, and what light be the consequences?"
     These questions are good ones to ask before America launches
into the role of peacekeeper and peace enforcer for the United
Nations.  It will be extremely difficult to justify these
missions when American interests are not at stake and the risks
in terms of cost, both material and human, can become extremely
     Despite America's heartfelt concern for humanitarian causes,
the nation is not prepared for or willing to assume the
peacekeeping roles without some assurance of real success.  Our
failures in Vietnam and Beirut have indelibly etched the painful
loss of America's sons and daughters into the nation's
conscience.  The people of this country will not tolerate similar
failures, and our government and military must ensure that we
avoid them.  In light of this, alternative solutions to military
intrusion must be established to deal with the inevitable
conflicts that are rising out of the New World Order.
1.   Blodgett, Frank.  "The Future of U.N. Peacekeeping."
          Washington Quarterly, Vol. 14, No. 1, Winter 1991: 212-
2.   Calhoun, Margaret.  "Good Motives Aside, The Mission is
          Likely to Fail."  Christian Science Monitor, December
          1992: 19.
3.   Department of Defense.  Department of Defense Commission on
          Beirut International Airport Terrorist Act, December
4.   Joint Chiefs of Staff.  Joint Publication 1, JTTP for
          Peacekeeping Operations, June 1991.
5.   Mann, Steven R.  "Chaos Theory and Strategic Thought."
          Parmeters. Vol. XXII, No. 3, Carlisle Barracks,
          Pennsylvania:  U.S. Army War College, Autumn 1992: 54-
6.   Powell, Colin L.  "U.S. Forces:  Challenges Ahead."  Foreign
          Affairs, Vol. 71, No. 5, Winter 1992/93.
7.   Snow, Donald M.  Peacekeeping, Peacemaking and Peace-
          Enforcement:  The U.S. Role in the World International
          Order.  Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania:  Strategic
          Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College, February
8.   Steinbruner, John.  "Civil Violence as an International
          Security Problem," Washington, D.C.:  Brookings
          Institute.  November 1992.  Photocopied.
9.   The White House.  National Security Strategy of the United
          States.  August 1991.

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