The Day After Russia Attacks
What War in Ukraine Would Look Like—and How America Should Respond
If conflict in Rhodesia or Viet Nam-or half a dozen other places-should develop in a way that makes a United Nations peacekeeping force desirable and even urgent, what would happen? Could such a force be organized? Would the Soviet Union and France try to block action if the force were created by the General Assembly? Where would the troops come from? Would they be authorized to use their weapons? Who would pay for the undertaking?
In the ten years since the creation of the first United Nations Emergency Force, no better alternative to U. N. peacekeeping operations has been devised for avoiding escalation at two danger points: violent small-power quarrels, and internal disorders of the Congo or Cyprus variety which threaten to draw in powerful outsiders. Regional organizations may offer an alternative in the future, but for today, U. N. peacekeeping seems the most likely method of dealing with potential crises at such points as Kashmir, if a third round ensues; Rhodesia, Angola or Mozambique; South West Africa; Guyana; Aden and South Arabia; any one of a dozen African states that are far from being nations and may have chronic border disputes; or South Africa, where the potential for violence is unlimited. Though without any fundamental consensus on political values, and lacking the firm foundation of community agreement about law and order, the United Nations may once more be expected to act as if it were a form of government. Diplomats gathered in alarm some midnight may once again ask, as Adlai Stevenson said Adam asked when Eve hesitated for a moment after his proposal of marriage, "Is there someone else?"
There will be no one else, but the sad fact is that the most important ingredients of effective peacekeeping-firm political support, a workable directive and consistent revenues-are likely to be missing. Their absence reflects the insufficient sense of community in a divided world, and as long as that situation persists, Dag Hammarskjöld's cautious ground rules for UNEF will remain generally valid. These rules called for at least a tacit agreement among the great powers; for the consent of the "host" government to be obtained, however prostrate the host might be; for the force to be ad hoc in nature; and in general for the primary function of U. N. peacekeeping to be better comprehended by the word "police" than by the word "military."
Some elements of the ground rules have changed in the course of action. In the Congo, unlike Suez, the U. N. eventually reserved the right to decide the force composition without the detailed concurrence of a kaleidoscopically shifting government. Because British forces were already in position in Cyprus, they were absorbed into the U. N. force, without necessarily setting a precedent for great-power participation. In the Congo operation the U. N. developed a "sliding mandate" that in the end authorized the use of limited force.
It remains theoretically possible for a U. N. peacekeeping operation to be launched without the "host's" consent. The domestic jurisdiction barrier of the Charter has been crumbling since racial discrimination in the southern half of Africa began to be accepted by large U. N. majorities as a threat to international peace and security. But without United States financial and logistical support such operations seem remote, as does the possibility that any new U. N. mandate would authorize the initial use of force.
The chief difficulties today have to do with decision-making and financing. We do not know the thought processes that led Khrushchev to go along with U. N. peacekeeping efforts in Suez, Lebanon, the Congo and Cyprus, although undoubtedly one consideration was the generally favorable attitude of the Arab and African states. We can, however, comprehend the Soviet leaders' sense of outrage when in the late summer of 1960 they came to appreciate how damaging to their national purposes in central Africa a determinedly non-partisan U. N. operation could be. Above all, Moscow had not calculated that the U. N. Secretary-General could act as a genuine power factor in world politics, moving events in ways they could not control. Dag Hammarskjöld was thenceforth the target of savage attack and unrelenting opposition, as Moscow pressed for the same rules of control to be applied to the Secretariat as to all other international power structures into which the Soviet Union had entered. Soviet policy culminated in the adamant refusal to pay assessed shares of the cost of mounting the UNEF and Congo enterprises, retrospectively branded as "illegal."
It may be that if Moscow had stood alone its assault on peacekeeping would not have made significant political headway. Coinciding as it did with General de Gaulle's sweeping recul of the French position in all international organizations which smacked of supranationalism, including a refusal to pay France's share of the Congo bill, the Soviet drive was potently reinforced. Isolated doctrinaire rigidity acquired the force of a movement.
Not surprisingly, the United States was also having second thoughts about the decision-making process in the U. N. Washington has increasingly favored the Security Council, where it retains the veto, over the "swirling majorities" of the Assembly, to the point of making unofficial suggestions that the Military Staff Committee be revived for peacekeeping direction. Nevertheless, in view of the cold war and the still-vivid memory of Korea, it reserves the right to mobilize the Assembly, and if Peking should gain entrance, the 1950 Uniting for Peace procedures would probably prove indispensable. The United States has lately reaffirmed the primary responsibility of the Council, while upholding the Assembly's authority to act when the Council is paralyzed.
The American stand on collective financial responsibility for peacekeeping reflected a steadfast posture of support, despite the sobering possibilities of U. N. troops engaged in actual combat, or of a U. N. operation some day running contrary to American wishes. The United States was prepared to support Article 19 and the principle of collective responsibility in spite of the fact that it could not be sure of keeping its "blocking third" vote in the General Assembly. But with a few notable exceptions there was little support either for a showdown on this issue or for the U.N.'s financial needs in general. As the crisis wore on, it became evident that Washington's options were in fact acceptance of a badly fractured world organization or the humiliation of backing down. It chose to back down, but exacted a price in terms of American support. Others had insisted on exemption from financial responsibility for activities anathema to them; henceforth the United States reserved for itself the same option, "if in our view, strong and compelling reasons exist for doing so." The sobering reality was that in one vital sense the United States had accepted the Soviet-French conception of a United Nations in which any member could "opt out" when a majority, however constitutional, set it on a course counter to what that member believed were its fundamental interests.
Even now, after the American retreat, there is total disagreement on how expenses should be apportioned. The Soviet Union insists that legal authority in this area lies only with the Security Council; Ambassador Goldberg assigns exclusive competence to the Assembly and supports apportionment in accordance with capacity to pay, with some kind of weighted influence for those countries that bear the principal load. (U Thant, perhaps because both Paris and Moscow were opposing his needed latitude in observing the Kashmir cease-fire, also strongly reasserted the Secretary-General's role as executive for U. N. peacekeeping-the role of "Secretary-Generalissimo," as some critics saw it in the most trying Congo days.)
Mandatory assessments are not the only way to pay for peacekeeping operations; the Yemen force was paid for by the two parties, the Cyprus force by voluntary contributions. Some proposals have called for centering the financial authority in the Council, as the Soviets and French wish, or for a mixed Council-Assembly decision. Canada has suggested fund-raising conferences such as those used for technical assistance. Other suggestions include special peacekeeping funds, an endowment fund, payment only by those who take part, and-the position favored all along by the Soviets- payment by the "aggressors" in each case.
The most interesting scheme has been generated by Ireland-one of that handful of small countries, predominantly Western, that has carried a disproportionate share of the burden of peacekeeping in terms of manpower, resources and inventiveness. The heart of the proposal is a reliable assessment system based on a special scale. In negotiating for the support of five co-sponsors, Foreign Minister Aiken reluctantly agreed to what became the proposal's most striking feature-the provision that only those of the Big Five who vote for a peacekeeping action need pay for it. In return for that unprecedented concession, they would still pay 70 percent of the bill for a field operation, while the 90-odd economically less- developed members would pay only 5 percent and the handful of developed countries other than the Big Five would divide up the remaining 25 percent. No member could be charged for more than 50 percent of the total.
The United States, consistent with its new position, has accepted this general principal of opting out as an "interim measure" (while reserving decision on the possibility of being assessed more than the one-third ceiling fixed by the Congress). This seems wise, permitting as it does peacekeeping operations that are approved by a substantial majority to be undertaken without precipitating a financial crisis each time.
The Soviet Union with characteristic intransigence has found the whole scheme "completely unacceptable." The majority being unwilling to do battle with Moscow, the Twentieth Assembly adjourned without acting on the Irish initiative (and without any trace of Soviet or French voluntary contributions). It remains to be seen whether the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations, to which the Assembly consigned the proposal before adjourning, will act upon it.
Meanwhile the worsened climate jeopardizes the chances of even modest proposals for non-standing U. N. forces. There is still no reliable supply of units skilled in the techniques of peacekeeping (crowd control, civic action, intelligence observation) and drawn from politically appropriate parts of the world. The U. N. Secretariat does not have a staff adequate to plan the logistics, deployment and support of possible future operations. For the commanders who have to make U. N. peacekeeping operations work, life would be easier with contingency planning, focused on ways of providing a diversified and skilled command, on schedule, wearing the right weight uniforms (and perhaps skins of the right color), equipped with rifles of uniform caliber and with wheels on their vehicles of uniform size.
Often over the years, the Secretary-General has encouraged member states to earmark units within their national forces for ready availability. The list of countries responding to the most recent appeal contains no surprises. Canada, which has supplied virtually all the communications units for U. N. field operations to date, reported that for several years it has had a stand-by battalion specially trained for peacekeeping duties. The Netherlands earlier designated a unit of 600 marines, and subsequently a supply ship with four helicopters, patrol and scout ships, a light armored carrier, an armored infantry battalion, a medical company, a transport plane and three jet helicopters. Iran, Italy and New Zealand have earmarked units. Britain under the Labor Government has taken some steps that perhaps mark the end of its post-Suez sulks in the U. N. Substantial military units have been pledged, though on a highly contingent basis, and there are indications of a willingness to provide significant logistical support. Perhaps most usefully, the British have led the way in contributing to a rescue fund to wipe out the existing deficit.
Consistent with their splendid record for enlightened international behavior, the Scandinavians have gone the furthest to build a more reliable international peacekeeping capacity. The parliaments of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, and Finland as well, have passed bills setting in motion a training program for approximately 1,000 men each, who could operate either jointly or separately. All four states now have officers working full time on technical planning, and their Defense Ministers meet twice a year. The training proceeds along the commonly accepted lines of riot control, communications and related skills (although Denmark does not normally train its soldiers in riot control, due to the persisting unpopularity of the regiment that put down Copenhagen's last riot, in 1895).
Earmarking, training and even organizing for prospective peacekeeping have thus increasingly acquired a do-it-yourself flavor. Initiatives that under different circumstances would be taken at U. N. headquarters have been taken outside the deadlocked U. N. setting. Several private conferences have been held among government and non-government specialists to help thinking and planning develop on an informal basis. The World Veterans Federation, accredited to the U. N. but privately supported, is undertaking to establish a clearing-house in Paris for the various efforts in international peacekeeping research and development.
The United States has not earmarked forces. A group of Republican Congressmen has proposed the creation of a small volunteer unit of 1,000 American servicemen to render "emergency technical support" for U. N. peacekeeping operations on a stand-by basis; it is styled the FIRST brigade (an acronym from "Forces for International Relief on Standby"). This notion of course runs the hazard of inviting an equivalent contribution by the Red Army (or perhaps eventually the Chinese People's Army)-which could end such neutral peacekeeping capacity as the U. N. has been able to muster. Still, it demonstrates a desire to contribute more to peacekeeping.
As the innovators of 1956 sensed, it probably continues to be true that the cause of peace will best be served by a maximum number of smaller, non- white countries that genuinely support the principle of responsible neutral behavior volunteering to supply disciplined, technically-trained personnel. More than any other single development, this can prevent the realization of the nightmare recently conjured up by Prime Minister Wilson: a "Red Army in Blue Berets."
No technical improvements in machinery can accomplish more than the peacekeeping function itself can do, especially in contributing to the resolution of conflict and the process of peaceful change. There is a growing awareness that the capacity to enforce a cease-fire, to suppress outbreaks of violence, to clamp a lid on explosive situations, to buy time, can have a negative effect, too. If no progress is made toward settling the dispute, peacekeeping may generate even more unmanageable conflict later. The lack of workable provisions for peaceful change stands indicted as perhaps the prime cause of major and minor wars in this century. The United Nations Charter recognized the problem but the U. N. has been far from solving it.
There are, of course, some conflicts for which no settlement is possible for an indefinite period. To keep a lid on the Palestine cauldron and thus to "buy time" has doubtless been the highest form of statesmanship. But when war broke out again in the fall of 1965 between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, it threw into vivid relief the direct relationship between continued violence and the paucity of means to achieve change through peaceful settlement. What was whispered of Palestine in 1948 and of Suez in 1956 was heard again: perhaps the fighting had been stopped prematurely.
U Thant in his 1965 Annual Report worried publicly that "the very fact that [these disputes] have become an accepted and semi-permanent part of the way of life in the areas has tended to ... reduce the sense of urgency which might stimulate a search . . . for a basic and peaceful solution . . ." Adlai Stevenson was prophetic-but perhaps excessively hopeful-when he dubbed this "the Age of Cease-Fire and Peaceful Change."
The trouble is that settling disputes is an even more demanding task than pacifying them. One of the prime assumptions of those who believed in international organization was that measures for settling disputes would become habit-forming. No other area of multilateral diplomacy has been the object of such intensive and protracted study, from the League of Nations days to last year's White House Conference on International Coöperation. The concrete proposals to emerge from two generations of research are not terribly revolutionary. By and large they are sensible enough to commend themselves to any rational man. But the sad truth is that virtually none of the recommendations has been put into effect. The sense of progress in peacemaking in fact declines with the passage of time. Obviously something is very wrong, and obviously it is not going to be fixed by one more study of procedures for pacific settlement.
Several explanations account for this monumental shortfall between expectation and reality. Is it possible that the trouble does lie somewhere in the institutional structure and procedures of the U. N. and the World Court? This seems implausible, given the ready availability of the devices mentioned in Chapter VI, the Security Council, the (gradually disappearing) Panel of Mediators, and the plethora of recommendations already made. Perhaps the answer lies in the relative lawlessness of the age, the preference for the unilateral pursuit of remedies. Russia, China, Britain, France and the United States have all contributed at one time or another since 1945 to the idea that for the really important issues a state may use force, and raison d'état over-rides all else. This is a way to account for everyone's sins, including one's own. More to the point, the Communists and nationalist revolutionaries aim to change the status quo and overturn one or another part of the established order-precisely that which law, peacekeeping and cease-fire diplomacy tend to protect. And yet-is this age really any more lawless than those preceding? Hardly.
Perhaps the truest explanation lies in the understandable proclivity of overworked statesmen to focus on the present, to approach cases ad hoc, to concentrate on the demanding crisis of the moment, to apply preventive diplomacy only when violence threatens. For American leaders today, all else is preëmpted by Viet Nam. But last year it was Article 19, the year before that the test ban, the year before that Cuba, and the year before that Berlin. When Quemoy and Matsu were under the gun the United States considered it unthinkable to negotiate a more durable status for them, even while hinting that common sense required it. When the guns fell silent-or relatively so-attention immediately wandered elsewhere. So with the Suez Canal, the Kashmir plebiscite and half a dozen other "dormant" disputes. There is never a good time to plan ahead, always a good time to let sleeping dogs lie. Nothing can be done when the issue is acute; no one wants to do anything when it is quiescent.
Given this human tendency, and our particular pragmatic Anglo-Saxon style that generally discourages purposeful planning, it seems unhelpful to continue to urge other quarreling countries to have recourse to law and third-party procedures before they become subjects for peacekeeping. Some institutional reforms addressed to the central issue of peaceful change might be marginally useful, perhaps creating an equity tribunal, as some have suggested, or arranging to breathe real life into Article 14 of the U. N. Charter. They are at least worth study.
But to get at the core of the difficulty, the leading Western states with pretensions of being "law-abiding" probably would have to make a far more convincing demonstration than heretofore of their own bona fides. Perhaps they could agree to binding arrangements for compulsory arbitration or adjudication of all disputes that arise among themselves, including those affecting "national honor," or those judged unilaterally to be issues of domestic jurisdiction. Such a protocol among the like-minded could create a fragment of genuine international order. Without the responsible nations setting an example of purposive action, it will remain futile to hope that others will act as we would have them act.
All in all, a number of sobering conclusions emerge. First, on the assumption that U. N. peacekeeping will be invoked in the future yet will continue to rest on a fragmented political foundation, common sense favors arrangements that do not put the existence of the organization at stake each time such a task must be undertaken. One means of achieving this decoupling lies in procedures enabling the great powers to stand aside from a given operation, both physically and financially. In some cases, their political resistance may still be formidable, and if one of the superpowers is adamantly opposed the U. N. probably should not be the peacekeeping instrument.
The American reservation of the right not to pay for U. N. activities of which it disapproves was distressing to friends of the United Nations. In fact, however, such explicit decoupling of decision-making and paying of costs may contribute to the salvation of the organization. It could preserve the principle of apportioning expenses while avoiding the adoption of taxing policies enforceable only under a world government. At the same time, the possibility of finding independent sources of revenue for the U. N., through imposts on international mail or trade, or royalties on exploitation of resources beneath the sea or in outer space, should continue to be studied for the future.
The second conclusion is that the price of achieving genuine procedural reforms in U. N. peacekeeping would be to restrict to the Security Council the authority to launch such operations. This trade-off is unacceptable to the United States which, while having shed some unrealistic expectations about majority rule in the Assembly, wants an escape-hatch available in extreme situations, as well as the bonus of deterring the uninhibited use of the veto in the Security Council. So long as the United States supports emergency recourse to the Assembly, the Soviets and some others will also continue to oppose any significant strengthening of the Secretariat's capacity for contingency planning, stockpiling, training or other desirable preparations for peacekeeping.
Efforts outside the organization, limited as they are, should be encouraged. Work done now to assemble data, to encourage countries to earmark and specially train units, to plan the necessary logistics, and even to blueprint force structures and training programs, could one day prove vital for the success of one or another peacekeeping operation. And it cannot be repeated too often that American military assistance to underdeveloped countries might be far better invested if it emphasized the aim, already written into the legislation, of improving the capacity of international organizations to carry out peacekeeping functions. Such a shift in emphasis would strengthen those internal-security and civic-action functions that appear far more useful than the status-symbol types of weapons which with depressing frequency wind up being used against internal rivals or close neighbors.
The third conclusion is that the clear interest of the United States in supporting a U. N. capability for peacekeeping is tempered by the candid expectation that under some foreseeable circumstances we may interpret the action as running contrary to our interests. In the Dominican Republic in the spring of 1965 the United States resisted the Security Council's attempts to assert its competence (while France, with perhaps the merest arriére pensée, assumed the pose of champion of U. N. peacekeeping). Looking ahead, a punitive U. N. expedition aimed at stripping political power from the whites of Rhodesia (or perhaps later, South Africa) may present Americans with a painful dilemma. A theoretical capacity exists now for mobilizing U. N. peacekeeping machinery at the service of a passionate Afro-Asian majority-an eventuality which might overcome Soviet (or later Chinese) aversion to enforcement actions by the General Assembly. And if the ominous General Assembly vote on bases on December 22, 1965, is prophetic, it may be on the basis of a simple rather than two-thirds majority.
The role of the O. A. S. in the 1965 Dominican episode raises a final point that belongs on the agenda. As of today, regional organizations are an inadequate substitute for the U. N. in terms of capacity to mount and execute effective peacekeeping operations. One reason is that such organizations are characteristically incomplete, excluding Israel in the Middle East, the southern part of Africa in the case of the Organization of African Unity, even, one might say, Eastern Europe on the part of NATO. The O. A. S. operates in the shadow of one dominant country. The majority of Latin American states appear to have resisted recent American efforts to make an institution out of the figleaf the O. A. S. spread over American troops in the Dominican Republic. Even overlooking this recent history, collective operations of the sort the United States envisages run against the traditions and beliefs of most Latin American states, evoke fears of American intervention, and smack, whether justly or not, of counter- revolutionary purposes.
In Africa the O. A. U. continues to show itself incapable of replacing the U. N., however much some of its members would wish it to. Even so, several interesting things have been done in its two-year history: three disputes have already been settled under O. A. U. auspices, and in Tanganyika, Nigerian and Ethiopian troops replaced those Britain had earlier sent on request. In time, the so-far meaningless resolutions which the O. A. U. has voted for enforcement action against Portugal and South Africa might really be implemented. As for the Middle East, the Arab League actually did provide a mixed force of 3,000 to replace British units in Kuwait in 1961 (although it did not work any better than most other Arab League collective efforts). In NATO, Harlan Cleveland, the new U. S. Ambassador, called last fall for "new ways of relating the peacekeeping forces on duty within NATO to the flexible call-up system which the United Nations has been developing for peacekeeping duties elsewhere."
All things considered-including the likelihood that most regional organizations would employ such power as they developed against their own intraregional enemies-the wisest policy would be to begin now to work out formulas to encourage regional organizations to act in close coördination with the U. N. in the settlement of disputes, including negotiation, mediation, arbitration, observation, and even small-scale policing. The connection with the U. N. is extremely important both in terms of legitimacy and of vesting ultimate responsibility in the larger body of states neutral to the particular conflict. Yet there are valid reasons to strengthen the regional means, not only because this may be an inevitable development, but also because of the positive desirability of giving more effect to still-sensible provisions of Article 33 of the U. N. Charter, according to which regional agencies are expected to aid in trying to work out disputes before they become formalized as U. N. "cases." Such a division of labor might well contribute to making disputes more manageable.
Security, we were told in 1945, was indivisible. As of the late 1960s, however, our best bet may be to divide security up into smaller pieces in order to keep the larger structure from being overloaded. The 1970s may see a resurgence of regional arrangements whether we favor them or not. The task for the foresighted is to see that they perform constructively, so that peacekeeping may ultimately be synonymous with peacemaking.
In the end, the reasons why the world needs international peacekeeping, global or regional, for secondary and internal explosions, are akin to the reasons for America's policing the peripheries of the Communist heartlands. It is not because the U. N. is ideally equipped to do its job-clearly it is not-any more than American power is an ideal substitute for real collective security. However much their actions are flawed and justly criticized in detail, both fill a void in the absence of an effective world political authority. The price can be heavy in political, moral and human terms, but it is less than the price of uncontrolled violence, unpoliced disorder, unlimited war. On balance, it seems not too great to pay.