Peacekeeping in East Timor: The Path to Independence

Peacekeeping in East Timor: The Path to Independence

Peacekeeping in East Timor: The Path to Independence

Peacekeeping in East Timor: The Path to Independence


Smith analyzes the successes and failures of the complex UN mission designed to work in partnership with the East Timorese people in guiding the country to independence.


Sergio Vieira de Mello

At the beginning of this study, its author and my friend, Major General Mike Smith, incorporates the standard disclaimer that the study contains nothing but his personal views and, of course, does not constitute policy. Quite right! Nonetheless, it would be foolish of any of us who are interested in international peace operations to discount what is written on these pages, for Major General Smith brings to this book a lifetime of distinguished service in the Australian Army, as well as extensive experience of that strangest of all military hybrids—international peacekeeping and enforcement.

General Mike, when I first met him in New York, was integral in both planning for the International Force in East Timor (INTERFET), the multinational force sent into East Timor to bring order amidst the chaos that was inflicted on the territory in September 1999, and in developing the military component of the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) that took over from interfet in February 2000. And, of course, he served as deputy force commander of the nearly 9,000 Blue Berets from the creation of the peacekeeping force to March 2001. During this time, he repeatedly demonstrated his skills—military, diplomatic, and analytical—in helping to ensure that untaet has been the success that it is. Most important, he was central in helping bring to the people of East Timor that which they had for so long been denied: freedom from fear.

In this study, General Mike provides a comprehensive analysis of the many aspects of untaet in particular and of peacekeeping in general. Throughout, whether you agree with his position or not, he presents cogent arguments and much food for thought in an area that continually requires such stimulus in order to be able to adapt to ever changing circumstances. We continually seek to learn lessons—often painful in the last decade— from our past experiences in peacekeeping. in this work, Major General . . .

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