Changing Paradigm in International Policing: Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

The lack of action over Rwanda should be the defining scandal of the presidency Bill Clinton. Yet in the slew of articles on the Clinton years that followed Clinton's departure from power, there was barely a mention of the genocide."

The UN, pressured by the British and the U.S., and others, refused to use the word "genocide" during the event, or afterward when it issued its official statement of condemnation of the genocide in Rwanda.

Since that time, Bill Clinton has said that Rwanda is one of his regrets of his presidency, but that he lacked the information to "fully grasp what was going on in Rwanda."

Reports to the UN and its member states, as reported by William Ferroggiaro (1995), online at, were based on reports via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), said that there was a "probability" of certain individuals and groups being responsible for certain actions. The UN, the UK, or the United States, nor other member nation-states can react to probabilities. Information must be factual in order for the UN or its member nation-states to make decisions regarding actions to be taken by deployed UN peacekeeping forces. When former president Clinton said that he did not have enough information to take action, then he is no doubt expressing his most sincere and honest reaction to the situation at that time. Since then, in hindsight, and fully informed on the events, it is reasonable that the former president would consider Rwanda as one of his deepest regrets of his time in office.

If there had been a CivPol component to the UN peacekeeping mission in Rwanda in 1994 (the official UN Police History site states there were 1,600 UN police deployed in 1994, but does not give the deployment locations for this specific year), then its investigative responsibilities and duties in the form of an expanded mission in accordance with the Brahimi report, might have improved the information the Clinton administration received about what was going on in Rwanda.

Few people, as spectators from afar, who read an after-the-fact reports on events of this nature, and, who then, understandably, criticize the actions or, in the case of Rwanda, the inaction of the UN peacekeeping troops, must understand, too, that if the UN peacekeeping forces engage in action with either side in a civil or transnational war event, then it is construed as taking a side in those disputes and negates the UN's strategically powerful position as a negotiator of cease fires, and subsequent peace talks. Therefore, the role of a civil police component in the peacekeeping missions becomes very important because their mission is to train indigenous populations in the role of police and law enforcement.

It was, however, Rwanda, and events like this where the UN peacekeeping mission mandate prohibited deployed troops and personnel from engaging in combat with either side, even in protection of civilian populations, that led to the UN Secretary General, with the support of its member nations, to commission the Brahimi panel.

Most of the Rwandan refugees were women with young children, but many women and children were also unable to escape the genocide. The violence that began in April, 1994, in Rwanda was not an event that the United Nations peacekeeping forces in that country were properly prepared to respond to. As a result, the role of the United Nations, whose peacekeeping forces took no action against the Hutu insurgents either in protection of themselves, or in protection of the Rwandan civilians, were perceived by the public, especially in the UK and in America, as having been complicit in evil.

Out of this event, and others around the world like it, deemed failures by the special panel, led the panel to include amongst its recommendations for reinventing the UN's peacekeeping system and approach:

"United Nations peacekeepers -- troops or police -- who witness violence against civilians should be presumed to be authorized to stop it, within their means, in support of the basic United Nations principles. However, operations given a broad and explicit mandate for civilian protection must be given the specific they need to carry out that mandate."

The contemporary face of war is not represented by civil war alone. It is a transnational event too. While WWI and WWII were modern transnational wars, WWII marked the change in direction of post war assessment. Since
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that time, transnational wars have included the American-Vietnam Conflict (it was never declared a war); the Soviet-Afghanistan War; and the Iran-Iraq War; the 1990-1991 Gulf War (President George Bush); and the 2003 Gulf War (President George W. Bush). What is notable about the American-Vietnam Conflict and the Soviet-Afghanistan War is that, as post WWII events, the Americans and the Soviets were under the watchful eye of the world media.

The American-Vietnam war was served with nightly dinner in American homes. The news of the war was first-hand, reported on the major news networks daily, even hourly. Americans saw first-hand, via live televised footage, the devastation, destruction, and brutal loss of life that manifested not just in individual families mourning the losses of their loved ones, but in national grief and mourning too. No matter how upbeat the American government or the military leadership attempted to portray America's modern military advantage over the North Vietnamese government and military forces, Americans could see that not only were young American soldiers dying every day, but that the Vietnamese people were victims too. The Vietnamese non-combatants that Americans saw on the nightly news were mostly farmers, simple people who lived in thatched roofed villages and who were subsistent in their ways and traditions. Americans began to view the images of the Vietnamese villagers as people whose lives would not be better for an American victory in that country, nor would their lives be greatly changed by an American loss there. The Vietnamese people, whose homes and lives were being destroyed, had no politics, and were, for the most part, concerned only with working their fields each day in order to feed their families. Furthermore, the views that were transmitted into American homes, and around the world, of Vietnam cities where American forces had set up operational headquarters, were seen as having been impacted by the presence of Americans in negative ways because of the proliferation of bars and prostitution that was consistent with the large numbers of Americans present there.

The coverage of live war shocked Americans. Images of American soldiers and dead Vietnamese civilians, especially women and children, gave rise to a growing American sentiment of anger and caused them to distrust the American government. American college students became active in anti-war protests and demonstrations, some of which led to violence and the deaths of young college students.

Kent State is one example where four young students were killed by National Guard troops who were called in to help maintain order during the student protests opened fire on the students.

The pressure brought to bear by students and young Americans was in large part responsible for bringing about an end to the Vietnam Conflict.

While the Soviet-Afghanistan War was not on the radar of most Americans, there was news coverage. The coverage accurately portrayed the Soviet military as a super power that was ill-equipped to contend with the forces of an indigenous force who, like the Vietnamese did against the Americans, took advantage of, and defeated, the Soviet's advanced technological military prowess through their keen understanding of their geological home range and by employing guerrilla warfare tactics.

It was, however, the second Gulf War invasion of Iraq by Americans in 2003 that perhaps reached an all-time unprecedented height of media war coverage when President George W. Bush administration allowed media journalists to be "embedded" with troops during the American invasion of Iraq. Recognizing the drastic change in the way war was being portrayed, and that the mass media was being converted from a reporting instrument to a political tool, which was changing the face of international war and politics, Anthony Dimaggio (2008), in his book, Mass Media, Mass Propaganda: Examining American News in the War on Terror, said:

"To the approval of the Pentagon and the Bush administration, embedding became the preferred method of reporting for establishment journalists in Iraq. Jim Wilkinson, Director of Strategic Communications at U.S. Central Command conveys the psyche of most mainstream American reporters well, stating: 'There are two types of reporters in the world today: those who are embedded and those who wish they were embedded.'"

The impact of media on warfare, international diplomacy, and foreign policy has more recently been dubbed "the CNN Effect."

Livingston (1997) said:

"In recent years, observers of international affairs have raised the concerns that media have expanded their ability to affect the conduct of U.S. diplomacy and foreign policy. Dubbed the "CNN Effect" (or CNN Curve or CNN Factor), the impact of these new global, real-time media is typically regarded as substantial, if…

Sources Used in Documents:


Anderson, D.L. The Columbia Guide to the Vietnam War. Columbia University Press, New York, 2002. p. 232.

Brahimi. L, Report of the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations (2000), found at" target="_blank" REL="NOFOLLOW">, accessed on 09 May 2010.

Demaggio, a.R. Mass Media, Mass Propaganda: Examining American News in the "War on Terror. 2008, p. 236.

Department of Peacekeeping Operations Department of Field Support, United Nations Peacekeeping Operations Principles and Guidelines (2010), found at, accessed on 09 May 2010.

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