Military Intervention and Peacekeeping at Different Phases Essay

Pages: 8 (2584 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Military

Military Intervention and Peacekeeping

At different phases of a conflict the multiple strategies of conflict management respond to barriers in the process in different ways: Conflict Prevention is an approach that seeks to resolve disputes before violence breaks out; Peacemaking transforms the conflict from violent to spoken, and further, toward the definition of a common peaceful solution; Peacekeeping missions are often required to halt violence and preserve peace once it is obtained. If successful, those missions can strengthen the opportunity for post-conflict Peacebuilding, which should function to prevent the recurrence of violence by addressing the root causes of conflict and creating a stable and durable peace. Finally, Statebuilding is the process of reconstructing weak or collapsed infrastructure and institutions of a society - political, economic and civil - in order for civil society and politics to begin to function normally (the Conflict Management Toolkit).

During 2008 the UN fielded 18 multinational conflict management missions utilizing more than 112,000 troops, police, and civilians, with a total budget of more than $7 billion. These operations ranged from providing support to political processes in places such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Haiti, and Lebanon to supplying comprehensive support to efforts to demilitarize conflict areas and reestablish judicial, police, security, and good governance capabilities in war-torn areas (United Nations ).

The concept of conflict management among nations is complicated enough on a unilateral basis as we can see by the several levels of management and peacekeeping necessary. but, when the multi-national tag is applied to these efforts, of course the coordination, cooperation, and effectivity all may be impacted. Nonetheless, we will forge ahead with our debate.

The U.S. Should Participate

Referring to conflict management and peacekeeping efforts in various regions of the world, General Wesley Clark, former NATO Allied Supreme Commander, has said, "If you want to exercise political leadership and you're the political leader, you pretty much have to engage in the leadership on the ground. You can't ask other nations to take risks that you won't take yourself" and "If the United States doesn't participate, the United States can't lead" (Washington Post).

The Peace Through Law Education Fund interviewed over 30 top U.S. And Allied military leaders about their views on the participation of the U.S. military in conflict management and peace operations. The overwhelming majority of our most seasoned military leaders totally agreed with General Clark. They believe that engagement in multinational peace operations is in our national interests and will be a key ingredient in the war against terrorism (Washington Post).

The key question is how important is it for the U.S. To continue to be involved in conflict management operations in the future. Those same senior U.S. And Allied military commanders interviewed about peace operations gave an answer that was loud and clear. These experienced military leaders report that multi-national conflict management operations are a key element of our larger strategy of engagement, and that participation of the U.S. military serves U.S. interests.

"Interestingly, our military leaders also report that participation in multinational conflict management operations actually increases the morale, retention and combat readiness of U.S. Marines and soldiers," says Colonel Richard W. Roan, a senior fellow with the Peace Through Law Education Fund. He added that all of the military leaders feel that the skills learned while serving in peace operations, especially by junior NCOs and officers, are the very skills our military will need in the multidimensional war on terrorism. Peace and conflict management operations are highly effective 'leadership laboratories' for our troops (Washington Post).

Another reason the U.S. should be involved in this process is that conflict management operations are a good investment in future security. Unstable nations are breeding grounds for terrorism and other forms of lawlessness. Even if the initial cost of stationing troops in a war zone is high, the potential long-term benefits might far outweigh the initial costs (Debate: U.N. Peacekeepers and the U.S.A.).

Involvement in international peacekeeping efforts also softens America's image abroad. America has developed an increasingly negative image abroad as a result of unilateral actions in Iraq and U.S.-led NATO actions in the Balkans. In other contexts, America has developed a reputation for intervening only in situations where its immediate political or economic interests are threatened. AU.S. commitment to an international peacekeeping regime, without demands for unilateral or dominant control, improves America's image as a fair and cooperative player on the world stage (Debate: U.N. Peacekeepers and the U.S.A.).

US technology and logistical expertise is uniquely valuable to these operations. For example, without the mobility given by transport planes, helicopters, troop transporters, armored vehicles, etc., the African Union force in Sudan would be unable to do an effective job.

There are a number of myths about U.S. involvement in multinational conflict management (peacekeeping) operations that need to be answered, including the following (Wilson):

Myth: Peacekeeping puts too much strain on the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps.

Reality: The U.S. portion of the highly successful allied peacekeeping force in Bosnia and Herzegovina consisted of 3,116 men and women, according to Pentagon figures. Of the Bosnia total, 3,100 were U.S. Army. This is only about six-tenths of 1% of the Army's active duty strength of 481,000. U.S. peacekeepers in Kosovo totaled 5,679, with all but four of them Army. These soldiers in Kosovo represented just a little more than I percent of the service's active duty force.

Myth: Multinational conflict management costs too much.

Reality: The Pentagon calculates peacekeeping operations in "incremental" costs -- the extra money it spends on a troops patrolling neighborhoods in Bosnia and Kosovo over the amount it would normally spend on that trooper at his or her home base. Those annual peacekeeping costs approximate the price of one $2 billion B-2 bomber. Right now, the U.S. is spending about $1.8 billion a week in Iraq (Wilson).

Myth: Troopers lose their fighting skills when turned into peacekeepers.

Reality: We have discussed this previously in this paper, and 30 top military leaders disagree.

The U.S. Should Not Participate

Many multinational conflict management efforts are, generally speaking, not successful in the long-term. While there has been some success in keeping warring parties apart from one another, many of the commitments have continued for decades, making the presence of these forces almost perpetual. This ties the U.S. military's hands and costs become prohibitive.

Next, it is feasible that United States soldiers might face prosecution by the International Criminal Court for actions taken during conflict management operations. Theoretically, this could happen under any scenario where U.S. peacekeepers are engaged, if the country where they were based has signed up to the ICC. The greatest danger could come if U.S. soldiers were removed from their own accountable command-and-control systems, and put under the authority of some other force, with a different military culture and less concern for human rights (Debate: U.N. Peacekeepers and the U.S.A.).

Third, multinational conflict management/peacekeeping is simply too expensive for the U.S. Critics argue that the U.S. is already assessed too much just for UN peacekeeping, let alone all the costs involved with other multinational conflict management situations. Legislation prevents the U.S.A. from paying more than 25% of the peacekeeping budget, though it is currently assessed 31%.

Yet another concern is that while it is theoretically true that involvement in multinational conflict management doesn't necessarily infringe on America's national sovereignty, it places soldiers in the awkward position of potentially ignoring one chain of command for another. It dilutes their loyalty to the U.S. flag and their Commander-in-Chief (Debate: U.N. Peacekeepers and the U.S.A.).

Though it may seem an odd reason, U.S. soldiers are not properly trained for peacekeeping. U.S. soldiers are trained to win, and they are taught a doctrine that emphasizes the use of overwhelming force. This training is incompatible with the nature of peacekeeping. While the U.S. military has done more to train peacekeepers in recent years, there is probably still insufficient preparation -- particularly in the face of other serious ongoing U.S. commitments -- to operate effectively in a peacekeeping capacity.

Next, instead of demanding that the United States comes to bail them out of trouble, other countries should invest more in their own military capacity, especially in technology to improve mobility and command-and-control systems. This is especially true of other developed nations such as Canada and many European countries (Debate: U.N. Peacekeepers and the U.S.A.).

Others see four more reasons why the United States is not suited to this mission. They are: political decision-making, super power status, training, and expectations.

Political decision makers in the United States are pragmatic, results orientated individuals who are weak in the historical aspects of problems. Consequently, they tend to make decisions looking for concrete results in a short time period. That's not always how multinational conflict management or peacekeeping missions turn out (the United States and Peacekeeping: Can it Work?).

The United States super power status dictates that peacekeeping deployments it is involved with must succeed. They must succeed because of the tremendous… [END OF PREVIEW]

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