Tags: U.N. | Unfit | Lead | Peacekeeping | Says | Critic

U.N. Unfit to Lead Peacekeeping, Says Critic

Sunday, 12 May 2002 12:00 AM

Fleitz points to the unhappy fact that most of the U.N.'s so-called expanded (not having the consent of the warring parties) peacekeeping missions have embarrassingly failed, wasting billions of dollars and making dire situations worse – a history not lost on Israel, which has murmured faint approval for potential "monitors" (led by the U.S.) but consistently eschewed U.N. peacekeepers roaming its sovereign land.

Fleitz, author of "Peacekeeping Fiascoes of the 1990s," to be released this summer and reviewed by NewsMax in a forthcoming issue of NewsMax.com magazine, emphasizes that the views he expresses in his book do not necessarily represent those of the government.

The biggest casualty of the failed U.N. missions, says Fleitz, has been the reputation of the U.N., "which has been pilloried by some for its ineffectiveness and by others for abandoning its neutrality and serving as an arm of Western foreign policy."

Fleitz points to the U.N. setbacks in Somalia, Haiti and Yugoslavia – after which "the West began to pursue less ambitious U.N. missions with smaller numbers of troops."

Fleitz interprets Annan's relish to get a U.N. force working to pacify Israel and Palestine as a vain attempt to return to the halcyon days of U.N. prestige that followed the U.N.-sanctioned Operation Desert Storm.

But, says the author, the U.N. track record has perhaps permanently derailed ambitious U.N. peacekeeping missions. "[W]arring parties are now less likely to to regard U.N. forces as disinterested mediators. This in turn spurred a shortage of peacekeeping troops and funding."

The U.N. failure in the former Yugoslavia may serve as the worst-case scenario for any future peacekeepers dropped into the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Preceding IFOR and SFOR (still in place seven years after the cease-fire) in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina was the ill-fated U.N. Protection Force UNPROFOR. One of the disasters of the failed UNPROFOR operation was the use by Bosnian Muslims of the U.N.'s "safe areas" as staging areas where troops could rest, train and equip themselves, as well as snipe at Serbian positions.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is a student of the Bosnia debacle and has voiced concern that peacekeepers in the Israeli-Palestinian venue would unwittingly provide safe havens to Palestinian terrorists.

Fleitz sees the Bosnia failure as classic and grave. "Armed as traditional peacekeepers, these troops were unable to keep order in Bosnia and were manipulated by disputants. The Bosnian Serbs illustrated the utter folly of the expanded peacekeepers concept when they took 370 U.N. peacekeepers hostage to use as human shields."

Ironically, Jean-Marie Guehenno, undersecretary-general for peacekeeping operations at the U.N. and occasional Annan spokesman, recently used Bosnia as an example of how the use of peacekeepers in the Middle East has evolved to an imperative.

Guehenno said his boss hoped the U.N. Security Council "will keep in mind the experience of Bosnia, where the carnage was allowed to carry on for years before a meaningful international fighting force was put in place."

Last month Guehenno talked about an international force under "a lead nation" that would be "militarily advanced and well-equipped and that can move quickly."

That requirement would seem to translate to a U.S.-led force.

However, after an initial fuzziness on the issue by Secretary of State Colin Powell, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld recently settled the issue by announcing that he and Powell had firmly agreed that no American soldiers would be offered as Middle East peacekeepers.

But some see President Bush’s engineered freeing of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat from his confinement in Ramallah as perhaps just the start of a sweeping U.S.-Saudi peace that might include international "monitors" on the ground.

If so, it would be a dramatic departure from policy. In March 2001, the United States vetoed a U.N. resolution that would have sent unarmed observers to the West Bank and Gaza.

In author Fleitz's view, the only useful peacekeeping tool still viable is the traditional model. The hallmark of the traditional model is consent.

But even in the case of the traditional model, Fleitz warns that the U.S. should only support new peacekeeping missions "if they are on a small scale – until the U.N. reforms itself and demonstrates the capability and competence to operate large-scale peacekeeping missions.

"At present, that day appears to be a long way off."

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Fleitz points to the unhappy fact that most of the U.N.'s so-called expanded (not having the consent of the warring parties) peacekeeping missions have embarrassingly failed, wasting billions of dollars and making dire situations worse - a history not lost on Israel, which...
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Sunday, 12 May 2002 12:00 AM
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