Unfortunately, the availability of combat power encourages people to try to solve a problem by using it.
Doctrinal training for soldiers emphasizes the aggressive, warrior image that is not normally compatible with peacekeeping. and, finally, the United States soldier is always regarded as primarily under control of Washington, even when supposedly under the command of another nation (the United States and Peacekeeping: Can it Work?).
Also, a U.S. military presence especially in Muslim countries, for instance, is a motivating factor for terrorists to launch attacks against the United States. Bin Laden's main reason for attacking America was the presence of the U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia. America needs to learn from this and not repeat the same experience in Afghanistan (Lindsay and Daalder).
And, finally, the military readiness issue has factored into this discussion about the U.S.
participating in multinational conflict management forces since the mid-1990s. Some in Congress and in the administrations that have occupied the White House feel that this type of "peacekeeping" drains funds from the DOD budget that would otherwise be used to prepare U.S. forces to deal with a threat to U.S. vital interests.
Which Way Should the U.S. Go?
There is little doubt, in my mind, which way the only superpower on earth should go. We need to not only be involved in multinational conflict management forces and efforts, but we should lead them. It is in our vital interests to do so.
President Obama has clearly stated his views on the importance of peacekeepers. He contends, "UN peacekeepers can help prevent and end conflict while enhancing international peace and security." More importantly, he understands the role the U.S. needs to play to make such missions successful. Barack Obama supports renewed U.S. leadership in support of effective United Nations and regional peace operations.
The Clinton and Bush administrations moved to enhance, if not deeply embrace, such missions as an operational tool to serve U.S. interests. Both administrations cited multinational conflict management operations as supporting national security and humanitarian goals, rather than one or the other (Holt and McKinnon).
The United States remains poised between viewing peacekeeping as a humanitarian exercise
(e.g., Darfur, Sudan) and as serving U.S. Or international security interests.
The U.S. boasts the world's most powerful military, advanced and capable beyond the dreams of most worlds' leaders. It is also home to the most powerful economy in the world. This constitutes considerable hard power and provides the U.S. with many options for achieving its policies. The U.S. is also known as the leader of the free world and as an icon of liberties, freedoms and opportunity.
The U.S. will continue to lead the way in addressing global conflicts but it highlights that, "history has shown that only when we do our part will others do theirs." The obvious implication in this is that unilateral U.S. action is not a snub towards multilateralism but rather a drive to force multilateral participation (Valid Reasons for the U.S. To be or Not to be...).
This is the time and place for the U.S. To step up to its international obligations. We cannot be isolationist in this day and age of terrorism, instant world-wide communication, third-world countries who can't feed their children and need help, disease-racked continents that can only turn to the U.S. For relief from HIV, and conflict around the globe.
Those who argue that multilateral conflict management forces cost too much, are ineffective, or are not a fit for our armed forces who are trained to "win," need only look at the successes -- the ones that made our world a safer place -- instead of focusing on the failures.
Most people don't realize just how frequently the multinational conflict management forces (peacekeeping) of the U.N. put themselves between trigger-happy combatants around the globe: Lebanon, Cyprus, the Golan, Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq, Namibia, Angola, El Salvador, Cambodia, Somalia, Mozambique, Rwanda, Georgia, Liberia, Haiti, Tajikistan, the former Yugoslavia, Guatemala, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia and Eritrea, Cote d'Ivoire, the Congo, India and Pakistan and East Timor, just in the last 20 years.
Which ones of these do most people associate with the United Nations? The ones in which U.N. troops failed to prevent disaster: Somalia, Rwanda, Bosnia. That is only because it's the negative stories that make the news, and draw viewers and readers.
And what kind of world would we now live in had it not been for those victories for peace?
19 March 2002. Washington Post. 2 April 2009 .
"Debate: U.N. Peacekeepers and the U.S.A." 22 October 2008. idebate.org. 2 April 2009 .
Holt, Victoria and Michael McKinnon. "The Origins and Evolutions of U.S. Policy Towards Peace Operations." 2008. Stimson.org. 2 April 2009 .
Lindsay, James M. And Ivo H. Daalder. "At Issue: Should U.S. Troops Participate in an International Peacekeeping Force in Afghanistan." 2004. Council on Foreign Relations. 2 April 2009 .
Paul Diehl, Joseph Lepgold. Regional conflict management. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2003.
Serafino, Nina M. "Peacekeeping and Related Stability Operations." 4 October 2004. Federation of American Scientists. 2 April 2009 .
"The Army and Multinational Force Compatibility." 2000. rand. 1 April 2009 .
"The Conflict Management Toolkit." n.d. Johns Hopkins University. 2 April 2009 .
"The United States and Peacekeeping: Can it Work?" 1995. Global security. 2 April 2009 .