Peacekeeping Fiascos of the 1990s: Causes, Solutions, and U.S. Interests.

Author:Dougherty, Kevin
Position::Book Review
 
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By Frederick H. Fleitz, Jr. Westport, Ct.: Praeger, 2002. Maps. Tables. Diagrams. Illustrations. Photographs. Notes. Appendix. Bibliography. Index. Pp. xx, 224. $39.95 ISBN: 0-275-97367-0

In this book Fleitz argues that the evolution of peacekeeping operations from "traditional peacekeeping" to "expanded peacekeeping" has been a disaster. He describes traditional peacekeeping operations as those that require acceptance by the disputants, impartiality, and minimum use of force. A classic example is the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) in the Sinai.

Such a limited role gave way in the 1990s to expanded peacekeeping--a term coined by former UN Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali. Peacekeeping missions require the use of military force against local parties, do not require consent, and often include much broader functions such as nation building. Haiti and Somalia are examples.

As his title unequivocally states, Fleitz considers expanded peacekeeping to be an abject failure. This is not a particularly fresh observation. It is easy to spot shortcomings and difficulties. What makes Fleitz's book useful is his analysis of why expanded peacekeeping--a concept that began with such promise and enthusiasm in the post-Cold War world--collapsed.

Fleitz finds plenty of fault with the UN, an organization he argues is plagued by corruption and ill-suited to command and control expanded peacekeeping forces. Of course, he is not alone in criticizing the UN. What should be of more interest to the military reader is his assertion that "Expanded peacekeeping collapsed because its promoters put their idealistic and political aspirations ahead of operational realities."

The U.S. military in the 1990s fell in line with this dynamic. The end of the Cold War left the U.S. without the obvious Soviet enemy it once had. The military (especially the Army) tried to adapt to the new situation--and remain relevant in the face of drastic downsizing--by expanding its roles and missions to include "operations other than war" (OOTW). As the Army was quick to point out, it had been doing such missions for centuries. The difference now was the scope, domination, and intensity such missions would assume in the 1990s.

Army officers are "can do" people, trained to be subordinate to civilian authority, and conditioned to say "yes" rather than "no." Thus, the Army leadership signed up for OOTW lock, stock, and barrel; going as far as to argue that OOTW required no additional...

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