Peacekeeping Fiascoes of the 1990s: Causes, Solutions, and U.S. Interests

Peacekeeping Fiascoes of the 1990s: Causes, Solutions, and U.S. Interests

Peacekeeping Fiascoes of the 1990s: Causes, Solutions, and U.S. Interests

Peacekeeping Fiascoes of the 1990s: Causes, Solutions, and U.S. Interests


Peacekeeping is a useful tool to manage international conflict and maintain truces, but it will only work in a narrow range of circumstances. "Peacekeepers" can order punitive airstrikes, depose elected leaders, destroy infrastructure, and enforce peace accords not drafted by the warring parties. They have overstepped their bounds, and "peacekeeping" is now often a euphemism for any multilateral military action. A CIA analyst who worked closely with Reagan, Bush, and Clinton administration officials on UN issues, Fleitz examines how peacekeeping works, the rash of peacekeeping failures since 1993, and whether peacekeeping can still play a role in U.S. foreign policy. It is a unique realist assessment destined to become the guide to this very important subject for U.S. policymakers, politicians, and students of international relations.


I wrote this book to fill a void in the analysis of UN peacekeeping since 1992. While there have been a plethora of books and articles looking at peacekeeping over the last nine years, most have been optimistic paeans that fail to take an honest look at the historical record of power realities of the post–Cold War world. With the November 2000 election of George W. Bush as president of the United States, I believe America will initiate a comprehensive reassessment of American policy on UN peacekeeping. I am hopeful that this book will aid such an effort.

As a CIA analyst who covered the UN and peacekeeping for the Reagan and (first) Bush* administrations, I had the privilege of working closely with U.S. policymakers as the Cold War ended and the UN gained a new lease on life. I wrote key analyses for senior U.S. policymakers before and during the Persian Gulf War, some of which touched on the legality of the war effort under the UN Charter. In February 1993, I participated in the drafting process of the Clinton administration’s policy on UN peacekeeping, Presidential Decision Directive 25 (PDD-25). This assignment required me to cast a wide net to gather the best evaluations of the potential for UN peacekeeping from academics and think tanks across the United States. This experience gave me unique insights into the origins of peacekeeping, its problems in the 1990s, and how it might be salvaged.

I try to be blunt and dispel numerous rumors and discrepancies that have come to surround UN peacekeeping. For example, readers looking for a

*This book distinguishes between the “first” President Bush, George H. W. Bush, president of the United States from 1989 to 1993, and his son, the “second” President Bush, who was elected President in November 2000 and took office in January 2001.

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