16 February 1999. TTA.

Global Intelligence Update, Red Alert, 16 February 1999

Thinking About Peacekeeping


The decision by President Clinton to deploy U.S. forces in Kosovo if a
peace agreement is reached in Paris, represents a further deepening of
peacekeeping and operations other than war as suitable missions for U.S.
armed forces.  Deriving from older doctrines of collective security,
peacekeeping missions deploy military forces in unanticipated ways.  The
purpose of a military force is to destroy other military forces.  The
use of military forces in peacekeeping has less to do with warfare than

it has to do with using peacekeepers as hostages to guarantee the peace.
The fact is that there is no such thing as a neutral intervention by a
superpower and therefore all peacekeeping operations, such as those in
Beirut and Somalia, can result in combat.  Because the assumption is
made that this is an operation other than war, the normal calculus of
military power is ignored.  Since there is no strategic purpose it is
impossible to know whether 4,000 troops is too much or not enough.  If
this is truly an operation other than war, there is no need to send
troops.  We suggest sending 4,000 Foreign Service Officers and AID
officials instead. Since combat is not contemplated, they would be far
more effective in monitoring the "peace" than would combat troops.


U.S. President Bill Clinton said on Saturday that the United States
would send 4,000 troops to Kosovo as part of a NATO peacekeeping force.
The decision was predicated on the willingness of Serbia and Kosovo
Albanians to reach an agreement and commit themselves to ending the
conflict that has afflicted the region.  Clinton justified the decision
by asserting that "America has a national interest in achieving this
peace.  If the conflict persists, there likely will be a tremendous loss
of life and a massive refugee crisis in the middle of Europe."

The decision to commit U.S. troops to Kosovo is important in and of
itself and should be considered on its own merits.  But there is a more
general issue here, that of the peacekeeping mission and its relation to
national security.  Peacekeeping is part of a broader concept of what
has become prevalent in U.S. strategic and operational thinking called
"operations other than war."  Now, the distinction between war and
operations other than war is not nearly as clear as one might think,
just as the idea of peacekeeping is more than a little ambiguous.  All
of this becomes even more complex when it is embedded, as the President
has done, in the principle of national security.  Therefore, the
decision to move into Kosovo is an opportunity to think through the
general concepts at work here, as well as to consider the utility of
peacekeeping and operations other than war at the dawn of the twenty
first century.

Let's begin with the obvious.  The purpose of an armed force is to wage
war.  War is waged by destroying an enemy's armed forces, rendering an
enemy's government incapable of further resistance.  At that point, one
nation's will can be imposed on another.  Germany's destruction of the
Polish armed forces in 1939 allowed Germany to impose its will on

Poland.  Wars are also waged for more limited ends, where the goal is to
compel a nation to give up some of its territory or to abandon some
activity.  War can have various ends, but it has a singular means: the
use of violence against an enemy's military forces and enabling
infrastructure (transportation, factories, etc).

An Army, properly defined, consists of well-trained, disciplined,
healthy young men and women who are obviously capable of carrying out
missions other than war.  They are a large pool of labor that is used in
some countries to harvest crops, in other countries to aid in national
disasters, in still others as internal police. All of these are
functions that an armed force may be able to carry out, but they are not
the primary purpose of an armed force.  These tasks frequently fall to
the military simply because they are available and under the control of
the state.  Therefore, armed forces are called on to do things that any
large number of personnel could do, simply because they are readily

Operations other than war have become closely linked to another
doctrine: collective security.  The idea of collective security was
divided into two parts.  The first part of the doctrine addressed
systemic threats to peace like Nazi Germany.  The idea was that nations
like Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union represented a threat to everyone
in the international system.  It was, therefore, in everyone's
individual national interest to treat an attack on one nation as an
attack on all.  This notion was, of course, completely compatible with
traditional notions of warfare and even of the national interest.

The second notion of collective security has become increasingly
important.  In this notion, the international community has an interest
in preventing sub-critical threats to peace, both between nations and
within nations.  Under this doctrine, should a conflict break out
between two very minor countries, the international community has an
interest in intervening to stop it.  Moreover, according to this
reasoning, should a conflict occur within a country, an insurrection, a
civil war, a breakdown in authority, the international community has an
interest in ending it.  This was easily extended to the idea that should
famine occur in a country, some natural disaster or other humanitarian
problem, the international community had an interest in dealing with it.
A series of logical steps that began with the assumption that collective
security required a combined response to Nazi Germany or the Soviet
Union, turned into a doctrine that held that hunger in Somalia was a
challenge to the national interest of every nation.

The doctrine of collective security was originally based on the presence
of a major enemy that was a threat to other countries.  At the end of
the Cold War, there was no longer any singular enemy threatening
everyone.  It ought to have followed that the doctrine of collective
security and all of its derivative concepts would have gone away.  The
Bush administration, however, went in the opposite direction, making the
doctrine of collective security an ongoing principle of U.S. foreign

policy as well as an imperative imposed by the world's only superpower
on the rest of the world.  The second notion of collective security
became more important than the first.

We saw this doctrine applied in its purest form in Somalia, where the
ideas of national interest, collective security and peacekeeping
emerged.  Somalia had undergone many years of civil war and unrest.  One
of the consequences of this instability was that much of the country had
been plunged into starvation.  It was impossible for the outside world
to deliver food to the starving because the warring factions would not
permit this.  The result could be a humanitarian calamity.  The only way
to deliver the food was to use armed force to deliver the food.  Bush
ordered U.S. military forces to do so.  This was their only mission.

The assumption behind the intervention was that the alleviation of human
suffering was a fundamental interest of the international community and
that the United States as the leading power in that community had an
ongoing interest to act to alleviate that suffering.  The assumption was
that the United States could intervene to deliver food while remaining
completely neutral in the Somali civil war.  The problem was that the
famine had political origins.  Food wasn't being delivered because it
was in the interests of some of the factions to prevent the delivery.
By sending armed force to deliver the food, the United States had to act
against those factions opposed to food delivery.  What began as a
neutral intervention on behalf of humanity turned into an intervention
on behalf of some factions and against others.  As a result, the United
States got involved in a civil war the outcome of which was irrelevant
to the national interest.  As soon as the United States incurred
casualties, it began to withdraw.

Lurking behind the intervention in Somalia is a strange assumption made
by U.S. policy makers, which is that no rational party would dare attack
U.S. troops on a peacekeeping mission.  This assumption is made in spite
of the glaring and obvious exception, Beirut.  The United States
intervened in Beirut in the midst of the Lebanese Civil War and an
Israeli invasion.  The U.S. mission was as typically vague as
peacekeeping missions are normally.  It was assumed that the presence of
U.S. and other European forces would compel warring factions to reduce
the level of violence.  Instead, U.S. forces became the object of
violence with disastrous results when a car bomb destroyed a Marine

Somalia demonstrated that regardless of intentions, intervention in a
civil war for whatever reason cannot be neutral.  The very act of
intervention is not only perceived to be, but objectively is, an
intervention on behalf of someone.  The mere presence of U.S. forces
shifts the balance of forces.  The result puts U.S. forces in jeopardy.
Beirut gives us a sense of how much jeopardy U.S. forces can be in, but
the death ofU.S. Army Rangers in Somalia is in itself a painful
reminder.  The decision to deliver food was an attack on the interests
of some factions, which had to respond. The process of delivering food

benefited some factions and hurt others.  It effected political
relations and therefore, regardless of intentions, was not neutral.  It
was the use of armed force against the interests of some and for the
interests of others.

Peacekeeping and humanitarian missions are not normally evaluated as
military missions, since they are seen as an operation other than war.
The fundamental assumption is that everyone can see that the intervening
power is neutral and therefore will not attack his armed forces and
further, that no one would dare harm those forces.  Therefore, the
normal calibration of forces required to carry out the mission does not
take place.  The force is either measured in terms of the humanitarian
mission, or is seen as a symbolic presence whose safety is guaranteed by
the inherent unwillingness of warring parties to provoke the United

In a certain real sense, therefore, peacekeeping forces are there as
hostages.  The implicit threat is that whichever side violates the peace
must pass over the bodies of the peacekeepers.  Unlike Fijian or Irish
peacekeepers, the assumption is made that when those peacekeepers are
Americans, no one will violate the peace since the death of American
troops would immediately trigger a massive response by the United
States.  Therefore, U.S. soldiers are there as hostages, guarantors of
massive American intervention in the event that either side violates the
peace.  The problem with this theory, as we have seen in the Somali and
Lebanese cases, is that the assumption is nonsense.  In fact, as we saw
in both countries, the result of inflicting casualties on the United
States is normally withdrawal rather than massive responses.  The
assumption that U.S. forces guarantee adherence to peace accords has
very limited historical basis.

But it does have a massive consequence.  Since the assumption is that
these forces will not be attacked, and since these forces have other,
non-military missions to carry out, the forces committed to the
operation are normally insufficient to the mission, both in numbers,
arms and doctrine.  In many cases the situation is made worse when a
mixed force from several countries are used.  Not only are there serious
questions of interoperability and coordination, but the different
nations might be participating for very different reasons and with very
different ends in mind.  The core assumption that there is a universal
agreement on the mission's purpose frequently turns out not to be the

The assumption behind the new intervention in Kosovo is that there is
general consensus in the international community about the purpose of
the mission, so that deploying French and American troops does not pose
a problem in spite of serious political differences between the two
countries.  Furthermore, the assumption is made that having reached an
accord at NATO's gunpoint, neither the Serbs nor any of the Albanian
factions would find it in their interest to harm the peacekeepers.
Finally, and most important, the assumption is made that since this is
an operation other than war which does not have as its goal the
destruction of an enemy army, using conventional calculations of force

sufficiency is unnecessary.

This last point, at least, is correct.  It is not clear why the
President has chosen 4,000 as the number of troops to commit or why NATO
is being asked to send 20,000.  Since the military mission is completely
unclear, it is not at all obvious how or why these numbers were reached.
Indeed, it is not clear why troops are being sent at all.  Since the
assumption is that no one will attack these troops, and it is assumed
that if the peace breaks down and they are attacked, they will be
immediately withdrawn, and since their humanitarian responsibilities
(delivering food or clothing) do not require military training, why are
troops being sent?   Why not send 4,000 Foreign Service Officers or
congressional aides, for example?

This is not as frivolous as it sounds.  Peacekeeping operations that
begin with the premise that all factions have already agreed to cease
fighting require observers and reporters in place, not warriors.  The
presence of warriors has several negative effects.  First, the
peacekeeper can quickly be seen as a player in the conflict rather than
as the referee of peace.  Second, because soldiers are present, there
are expectations from the factions and from the population of a level of
security that these forces cannot possibly provide.  Finally,
peacekeeping uses armed force in places where they are wholly
inappropriate.  There is no reason why other government employees could
not be used in the place of troops more appropriately.  Indeed, there
are good reasons not to use troops at all if the mission is not to wage

Obviously this will not happen.  The point we are trying to make is that
there is a deep conceptual confusion in both the history and practice of
peacekeeping and operations other than war.  It is frequently an attempt
to achieve goals without the risks and costs of waging war.  It is also
a way to pursue goals without careful analysis of strategies.  It was
never clear why ending hunger in Somalia was in the American national
interest nor is it clear why ending the civil war in Serbia is in that
interest.  There may be reasons, but by being hidden under the rhetoric
of collective security and peacekeeping and pursued by operations other
than war, the claim is merely asserted and not justified.  More
important, since there is no strategic claim, the mission is not
calibrated to achieve any clear end.  It cannot be determined whether
sufficient force has been deployed, since the mission, properly
understood, doesn't even involve the use of force.

The United States cannot carry out a peacekeeping operation because,
almost by definition, the world's leading superpower cannot be neutral.
It is always perceived as having hidden agendas and it usually does.
Just as the intervention in Beirut or Somalia or Haiti was ultimately an
intervention on one side and against some others, the intervention in
Kosovo is an intervention against the Serbs.  Intervention on behalf of
one faction without the pre-commitment of sufficient force to sustain
combat carries with it the real possibility of making things much worse.
It also takes the United States into a conflict that does not have a

clearly defined strategic imperative behind it.  By claiming that this
is an operation other than war, it is possible to evade the obvious,
which is that the deployment of armed forces is by its nature an act of
war and should be considered as such.  Alternatively, if it is an
operation other than war, why not use civilians who are much better
trained in non-military operations, to carry it out.  The reason is
obvious.  Deploying troops to Kosovo, like their deployment to Somalia
or Beirut, is an act of war, with control of the situation not in U.S.
hands, but in the hands of the warring parties.


504 Lavaca, Suite 1100
Austin, TX 78701
Phone: 512-583-5000
Fax: 512-583-5025
Internet: http://www.stratfor.com/
Email: info@stratfor.com