Courtesy Reuters

Picking Up U.N. Peacekeeping's Pieces: Knowing When to Say When

In This Review

Peacekeeping and Peacemaking: Towards Effective Intervention in Post-Cold War Conflicts

Edited by Tom Woodhouse, Robert Bruce, and Malcolm Dando
St. Martin's Press, 1998
297 pp. $65.00

Policing the New World Disorder: Peace Operations and Public Security

Edited by Robert B. Oakley, Michael J. Dziedzic, and Eliot M
National Defense University Press, 1998
547 pp. $27.00

When ethnic tensions in Kosovo flared into violence between Serbian police and Albanian separatists in March, the United States and the international community were quick to condemn the crackdown. But little besides rhetoric was forthcoming. Despite the lingering presence of a well-rehearsed U.N. sanctions regime in the Balkans, a large NATO-managed international peacekeeping force in Bosnia, and a well-established U.N. peacekeeping mission to Macedonia, no international intervention of any sort was seriously considered. It was as if the global community's bag of intervention tricks was actually smaller in the tragic aftermath of the Rwandas, Bosnias, and Somalias of recent times. NATO had its hands full, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe exists only on paper, and the United Nations was many times bitten and twice shy.

When the United States stood alone against the other 14 members of the U.N. Security Council in opposing a second term for Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali in 1996, it effectively killed a range of ambitious peacekeeping functions with which the United Nations has been experimenting since 1992. Granted, many of the experiments were manifest disasters, and the blue helmets' failure to halt political violence in Somalia, Rwanda, Haiti, and the former Yugoslavia was reinforced by images of peacekeepers held hostage in Bosnia, gunned down in Mogadishu, or butchered in Kigali.

These controversial operations not only failed in gaining the peace but overwhelmed the organization and pushed it deeper into debt. Between 1988 and 1993, U.N. peacekeeping grew from less than 10,000 troops in 5 classic peacekeeping missions to almost 80,000 blue helmets in 18 different operations, including large and heavily armed missions to Cambodia, Somalia, and the former Yugoslavia. The annual peacekeeping budget ballooned from $230 million to $3.6 billion, exceeding the general budget and accelerating the United Nations' chronic insolvency. A U.N. senior official said in 1995 that the organization was seeking a "bear market" for future peacekeeping because of these problems. By 1997 the United Nations had tapered off its military operations to some 15,000 peacekeepers operating in more mundane environments

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