Peacekeeping Or Peace-Enforcement: There Is A Difference
CSC 1993
SUBJECT AREA - Strategic Issues
                        EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Title:  Peacekeeping or Peace-Enforcement:  There is a Difference
Author: Major Thomas M. Murray, United States Marine Corps
Thesis: In order to employ United States' forces properly and
to protect them from unacceptable risks, the American people,
politicians, and military leaders must understand peacekeeping,
peace-enforcement, and the environment in which each is
Background: The demise of the Soviet Union creates a world in
which there is less threat of conflict between major powers,
but less control and order among the third world.  The
rejuvenation of the United Nations Security Council allows it
to negotiate agreements and mandate resolutions it has no power
to enforce.  The United States is increasingly looked to as the
world's policeman and will be asked to provide forces to
establish and maintain peace wherever conflict exists.  In the
past, the United States and the United Nations deployed
peacekeeping forces to environments that required
peace-enforcement, placing the peacekeepers at risk and unable
to perform their mission.
Recommendation:  The United States must accept the distinction
between the peacekeeping and peace-enforcement environments
and deploy its forces appropriately in accordance with an
established policy.
Thesis statement: In order to employ United States' forces
properly and to protect them from unacceptable risks, the
American people, politicians, and military leaders must
understand peacekeeping, peace-enforcement, and the environment
in which each is effective.
  I. World environment
     A. Loss of stability
        1. Demise of the USSR
        2. The Third World
     B. The United Nations
        1. Rejuvenated Security Council
        2. Mandating resolutions
     C. The environment
        1. Peacekeeping
        2. Peace-enforcement
 II. Tailored forces
     A. Mission and environment
        1. Identifying the mission
        2. Identifying the environment
     B. Political constraints
        1. Established policy
        2. Changing environment
     C. Beirut, Lebanon
        1. The first mission and return
        2. Mission failure
III. Peacekeeping environment
     A. Suitable environments
        1. Superpower clients
        2. Disputants' best interests
        3. Negotiated settlements
     B. Changing environments
        1. Escalation
        2. Low stability
        3. Temporary solutions
IV.  International and domestic influence
     A. Media presentations
     B. American culture
     C. Neutrality
     D. World policeman
 V.  The United Nations
     A. Security Council effectiveness
        1.  Powers of negotiation
        2.  Powers of implementation
     B. U.S. contributions
        1.  Armed forces
        2.  Leadership
     The demise of the Soviet Union leaves the United States as
the only remaining military superpower.  The influence the
Soviet Union once used to control and draw nation-states into
its sphere is gone.  The loss of the Soviet empire creates a
less threatening but much more unstable world.  As the threat
of conflict between major powers has eased, control and order
among the Third World has lessened.  This lack of stability
presents the world community with a situation in which many
smaller nations, ethnic groups, and former nations seek
autonomy or territorial reconciliation.  The search for
statehood and independence requires the remaining nations to
solve the problem of maintaining peace while justly terminating
disputes among the emerging nations.
     The dissolution of the Soviet Union breathed new life into
the United Nations Security Council.  The council became
empowered to mandate resolutions without the threat of a Soviet
veto.  But the question remains--does the United Nations have
the capability to carry out its resolutions?  United Nations
resolutions or mandates to nations or peoples who do not ask
for such solutions are devoid of meaning or validity.
Intervention by United Nations coalition or independent forces
will not provide or maintain peace unless the disputing parties
accept the founding principles of the action.
     Those who attempt to resolve a dispute must understand
fully the background and causes of the disharmony and what the
peoples involved accept as a legitimate authority.  Unless the
belligerents concerned accept a negotiated rather than an
imposed settlement and the administering parties understand
the nature of the conflict and the cultures involved,
peacekeeping is ineffective and peace-enforcement is necessary.
In order to employ United States' forces properly and to
protect them from unacceptable risks, the American people,
politicians, and military leaders must understand peacekeeping,
peace-enforcement, and the environment in which each is
     Joint Publication 3-07.3, JTTP for Peacekeeping
Operations, provides the United States' definitions of
peacekeeping and peace-enforcement.  Understanding these terms
as they apply to today's changing environment is critical.
Statesmen and the military use the term peacekeeping in
reference to a variety of conflict levels, some of which have
very little relation to keeping peace.
     ... today the word is misleading because it is used to
     describe the whole range of UN-authorized military
     activity.  In reality a second generation of UN military
     operations is already emerging, outside the parameters of
     traditional peacekeeping, to cope with the new commitments
     of a more effective Security Council.  The enlarging span
     of legitimate military tasks can be depicted as a
     continuum: at one end are the lowest intensity operations,
     involving the smallest number of assets and the least risk
     of conflict to UN contingents; at the opposing end
     conflict level is high and involves commensurately larger
     military assets. (2:116-117)
A more accurate definition of peacekeeping is conduct of
operations by military forces or civilian groups to monitor and
supervise cease-fire agreements or to separate two or more
disputing parties. (8:75)  To accomplish their mission,
peacekeepers observe treaty compliance or interpose a force or
group between belligerents.  United Nations' member states
traditionally provide peacekeeping forces when requested by the
disputing parties.  Peacekeepers are effective only when
disputants exhibit a mutual desire for peace and a cease-fire
is in effect.  Peacekeeping forces use weapons only in
self-defense, and must be impartial in order to present no
threat to the disputing parties.
     By contrast, peace-enforcement is military operations by
forces from a single nation or coalition of nations that
directly intervene between warring parties in order to restore
peace. (8:77)  United Nations' member states also traditionally
contribute these forces, who act under the auspices of the
Security Council.  However, peace-enforcers are well armed
combat forces specifically tasked to use military force to
impose a peace on the belligerents.
     Although peacekeeping and peace-enforcement operations are
distinctly different, multiple triggering devices can cause a
rapid escalation from an environment of peacekeeping to one of
peace-enforcement.  Reorganization and rearming by one or more
of the belligerents during a negotiated cease-fire are classic
examples of triggers that may prompt a shift from peacekeeping
to peace-enforcement.  In such cases the line between
peacekeeping and peace-enforcement becomes blurred and the task
of maintaining or enforcing peace becomes complex.
     The United States must ensure that the type of force
assigned to either peacekeeping or peace-enforcement operations
is appropriate, for one force cannot perform the other's
mission.  Peacekeepers should not deploy to, or remain in, an
environment where a stable cease-fire does not exist.  Without
a negotiated settlement agreed to by all disputants, the level
of violence escalates and as the force proves inadequate in
number, equipment, or assignment, the mission becomes futile.
A peacekeeping force may achieve a temporary halt in the
conflict, but the peacekeepers eventually become ineffectual
and vulnerable.  A nation or coalition that intends to provide
forces to establish or maintain peace must ensure a full
understanding of the environment it is entering.  A nation
providing forces must also clearly define why introduction of
forces is necessary, and why introduction of forces will be
     Political constraints must not preclude the replacement of
peacekeepers with peace-enforcers.  If a peacekeeping mission
escalates to a level at which peace-enforcement becomes
necessary, peace-enforces must replace the peacekeepers.  If
diplomats and senior military commanders do not recognize, or
disregard a change in the operating environment, the
peacekeeping force cannot perform its mission and will be put
at risk.
     Operations conducted by Marines in Beirut, Lebanon
exemplify a situation in which a fragile government could not
negotiate a stable peace.  The environment changed from one of
peacekeeping to peace-enforcement, and political considerations
restrained the peacekeeping force from evolving with the
surrounding environment.  From 25 August through 10 September
1982, United States Marines quickly and successfully evacuated
the Palestinian Liberation Organization from Beirut.  Upon
completion of their mission they departed aboard amphibious
shipping for Italy.  Circumstances involving the assassination
of the Lebanese President and the Israeli invasion led to the
rapid return of the Marines on 29 September as members of a
multinational peacekeeping force. (6:22)
     During the 18 months in which Marines were deployed to
     Lebanon, [their] mission was not much changed. As the Long
     Commission later concluded: "The presence mission was not
     interpreted the same by all levels of the chain of
     command...."  It was basically assumed that the Marines
     were going into a permissive environment, and for that
     reason, the mission, rules of engagement, and concept of
     operations, as well as force structure, were designed to
     maintain a balance between political and military
     considerations and requirements. (6:23)
Throughout the Marines' time in Lebanon the situation
deteriorated.  As Lebanese factions aligned and realigned
themselves, and as Israelis, Syrians, and Iranian-backed
terrorists entered and exited, the environment changed, causing
an escalation from peacekeeping to peace-enforcement.  The
perceived need to maintain a non-aggressive posture prevented
the Marines and other members of the Multinational Force from
adapting their mission to the changing environment.  The result
was the death of 220 Marines, 18 sailors, and 3 soldiers in a
terrorist truck bomb attack. (11:1)
     The United States must understand the factors that affect
the employment of a peacekeeping force if peacekeeping
operations are to be successful.  The creation of a suitable
environment for the introduction of peacekeeping forces is
critical and can change rapidly with the surrounding
environment.  Over two dozen peacekeeping operations have been
conducted since the founding of the United Nations.  "These
missions can be broken down into five categories: (1)
Decolonization/Post World War II; (2) Arab-Israeli conflict;
(3) Cold War era; (4) End of the Cold War; and (5) Post-Cold
War." (5:3)  Many of these operations were successful because
of the warring nation's strong ties to one of the opposing
superpowers and dependence on their help for material and
economic support.  Loss of support, threatened by noncompliance
with its superpower's wishes, forced the client state to reach
a negotiated settlement.
     Many of the world's violent conflicts pitted superpower
     allies against one another.  In Angola, El Salvador,
     Nicaragua, and to a lesser degree Namibia, the opposing
     armies were allies of the U.S. and the Soviet Union.  When
     the Cold War ended, the opposing sides realized that the
     economic and military aid from the superpowers would
     decline.  They decided to take the advice of their patrons
     and negotiate settlements. (5:9)
     The realization by the disputants that war no longer
serves their best interests is another reason for successful
peacekeeping operations.  Today, in a less stable environment
and without bipolar influences, a negotiated settlement is more
critical.  These factors also make employment of a peacekeeping
force to maintain a peace that does not truly exist more
likely now than ever before.  Even though the warring parties
may allow or request a peacekeeping force and if the root cause
of the conflict festers, the situation can rapidly turn into
one requiring peace-enforcement.  Without a negotiated
settlement, or the consent of the warring parties to the
presence of the peacekeepers, the mission is peace-enforcement
and not peacekeeping.  A peacekeeping force in this environment
is not materially or psychologically able to escalate with the
belligerents, and is unable to perform its mission.  In today's
environment of low stability the fluctuations between
situations requiring peacekeeping or peace-enforcement are far
more prevalent.  To resolve conflict and maintain peace
politically, all disputants must agree to negotiated terms.
Establishing peace by forceful means is only a temporary
solution to violence.
     The United States present position as the sole superpower
gives it the reputation of being the world's policeman, and as
a powerful force that can dissolve conflict merely by its
     Now, at the cold war's end, Americans again must decide if
     they have any special duties.  Were it up to America's
     allies, there would be no retreat.  In the Middle East,
     where consensus is rare as rain, both Arabs and Jews spent
     last week begging the United States to stay involved.
     Smaller Asian nations ask America to avoid leaving a power
     vacuum for the Chinese and Japanese to fill. (4:10)
This view is prevalent throughout the world community and also
among American statesmen and diplomats.  False perceptions
cause the United States to involve itself in conflicts where it
has no vital interests and without a clear understanding or
definitive policy.
     Media presentations of brutal killings, starvation, human
rights violations, and disorder instill a sense of guilt and
responsibility in the American people and cause them to voice
their feeling that America must take action. (7:191)  These
media images are not true representations of the entire
situation.  They portray only one element of complex
circumstances.  The slanted presentation of events causes the
American people to misinterpret a peace-enforcement mission for
one of peacekeeping.  An example of this situation is the
media's portrayal of the conflict in Bosnia-Hercegovina.  Many
politicians and correspondents declare that the atrocities in
Bosnia must stop.  Because they do not understand the level of
conflict and are unwilling to commit to peace-enforcement, they
suggest the introduction of peacekeeping forces.  But, a
lightly armed peacekeeping force placed between the combatants
cannot resolve the multifaceted conflict in the former
     Furthermore, Americans tend to view conflicts from their
own culture rather than the culture of those involved.  The
United States fails to identify clearly and to structure
appropriately the mission to deal with the causes of conflicts.
The United States tend to deal only with the conflict itself.
Americans attempt to impose their reasoning and viewpoint on
the disputants without addressing or negotiating a settlement
that alleviates the root cause. (1:223-228)  The result is
implementation of peacekeeping operations when
peace-enforcement is necessary.  A peacekeeping force may
achieve a temporary halt in the conflict, but the peacekeepers
eventually become ineffectual and vulnerable.  In Bosnia, the
United Nations and the United States were unable or unwilling
to intercede politically or diplomatically before the conflict
grew to its present state. (9:89)  If the United Nations now
perceives military intervention as the only solution capable of
bringing about an environment in which diplomacy can again be
useful, they must carry it out at the appropriate level. (5:11)
     The peacekeeping force in the Balkans is incapable of
restoring peace because the conflict is at a level where only a
heavily armed combat force can effectively stop the fighting.
A peace-enforcement contingent used properly is the only force
capable of stabilizing such a situation.  If a military force
can create or maintain an environment in which statesmen and
diplomats can work, a lasting solution that addresses the true
nature of the dispute and avoids continued hostilities is in
     Not only does the United States tend to misunderstand the
conflicts in which it involves itself, but it also has a
tendency to side with one of the disputants.  This negates the
most fundamental aspect of peacekeeping--neutrality.  By
siding with either of the combatants a peacekeeping force
becomes embroiled in the conflict and may find itself the
target of one or more of the belligerents.  Whether the loss of
impartiality is actual or perceived is moot. (12:59-80)  In
Lebanon, the Marines appeared partial after supporting the
government's armed forces with naval gunfire.
     The "presence" mission assigned to the USMNF [United
     States Multinational Force] contemplated that the
     contending factions in Lebanon would perceive the USMNF as
     a neutral force, even-handed in its dealings with the
     confessional groups that comprise Lebanese society.  The
     mission statement tasked the USMNF to "establish an
     environment which will permit the Lebanese Armed Forces to
     carry out their responsibilities in the Beirut area."
     When hostilities erupted between the LAF and the Shiite
     and Druse militias, USMNF efforts to support the LAF were
     perceived to be both pro-Phalangist and anti-Muslim.
     Neutrality is lost when peacekeepers participate in an
environment where peace-enforcers are necessary.  If armed
conflict erupts between factions after the introduction of a
peacekeeping force, the peacekeepers may require the use of
force to protect themselves against one or more of the
belligerents.  Although the peacekeepers are only exercising
their rights of self-defense, protracted armed operations will
soon result in the perceived loss of neutrality.
     As in the case with the Marines in Lebanon, compromise of
a peacekeeping force's neutrality may result when the
peacekeeper's mission is to maintain peace between two or more
warring factions of the same country.  A country embroiled in
civil war does not have the power to control disputants. (7:36)
In this situation, the peacekeeper's objective is to support
the legitimate government against several warring factions,
making neutrality virtually impossible.  In yet another
situation, no government structure may remain, and the
disputing parties are made up of clans, religious sects, or
ethnic groups fighting for power and territory.  In this
environment, warring factions require defeat and disarming, a
negotiated settlement, and monitoring by a peacekeeping force.
The peacekeepers must beware, however, for once the mission and
force change from peace-enforcement to peacekeeping, the threat
of renewed conflict exists.
     Because peacekeepers can only monitor and supervise a
cessation in hostilities, they are incapable of enforcing
compliance.  For this reason a true and lasting settlement is
necessary, and the peacekeeping force replacing the
peace-enforcers should not come from that same nation.  The
requirement for the peacekeeping force to be from a separate
nation stems from the lost neutrality caused by the combat,
support, and aid that nation's peace-enforcement contingent
provided.  It is not possible in the eyes of the disputants to
regain neutrality.
     The post-Cold War United Nations is an effective catalyst
for negotiation and agreement between disputants.  Effective
negotiation creates an environment where peacekeepers can
operate as a neutral force.  The United Nations is prepared
through a functional Security Council to provide the auspices
for a coalition or an independent nation to enforce peace.  The
United Nations no longer suffers the handicap caused by
divisions among its members.  In the past, the competing
interests of the Security Council members, in relation to their
client states, prevented agreements from allowing anything more
than the lost benign operations.  Therefore, peacekeeping
missions during this period required only a token force relying
on complete consent of the opposing parties.
     The rejuvenated Security Council can now work on a wider
range of missions that can yield substantial agreements.
However, the United Nations ability to mediate disputes and
draft resolutions to resolve conflicts exceeds its ability to
implement them. (2:113)  Without the ability to introduce a
large cohesive military force, the United Nations can
accomplish no more than it has in the past.  To solve large
scale conflicts, member nation expect the United States to
provide the body of force required to implement the United
Nations mandates.  The United States has often had to provide
not only the forces but also the leadership to encourage the
United Nations to adopt a resolution.  Although the United
States continues providing forces, the United Nations is now
more capable and active in deciding when and where to use these
     The capability and willingness of the United Nations to
negotiate and produce resolutions while unable to provide the
necessary forces, places the United States in the position of
being the only nation that can fulfill this role in
large-scale conflicts.  The world community looks to the United
States for solutions to situations like Somalia, where creation
of a suitable environment must take place before a United
Nations peacekeeping coalition can be effective.  The United
States must ensure, however, that it does not allow the United
Nations to employ its armed forces as peacekeepers in a
peace-enforcement environment.  The United States must retain
the ability to act unilaterally to ensure proper employment of
its armed forces.  More importantly, the United States must not
become reluctant to use its forces when its security interests
are at stake, regardless of United Nations approval. (4:18)
     The changes precipitated by the end of the Cold War and
the new effectiveness of the United Nations Security Council
draws the United States into an ever-increasing role as the
world's policeman.  If the United States is to accept this role
and deploy its armed forces to maintain or impose peace, proper
employment is necessary.  Before the United States commits
armed forces, it must understand the cultural background of the
parties involved and why they are in disagreement.  The forces
employed must have the structure and armament appropriate for
the mission, and employment must be in accordance with
established policy.  A peacekeeping force should only deploy
when there is a negotiated peace that will enable the
peacekeepers to remain neutral.  The United States should
undertake a peace-enforcement mission only when it is willing
to commit a large, well armed force assured of accomplishing
its mission.  The United States must maintain control of when,
where, and for what purpose its peacekeeping and
peace-enforcement assets deploy.  This is paramount to their
safety and the protection of our nation's vital interests.
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