A persistent problem of politics is the smallness of its vocabulary. Words and phrases conveying different meanings to different people are pressed into service as if they conveyed a common meaning. As they convey nothing of the sort, misunderstanding is the inevitable result. The term "United Nations police force" is one of these. It has been applied indiscriminately to all the forms in which military forces have operated under United Nations auspices. It has thus blanketed three clearly different kinds of operation which must be distinguished in any useful discussion of the subject.
Consider, first, the military personnel participating in United Nations observation commissions. Such detachments are lightly armed, usually small, frequently operating with civilians. Their function is not that of fighting on any scale. They are where they are to observe, to investigate and report upon military or paramilitary activity, usually in order to determine whether a truce or cease-fire is being violated. Commissions of this kind have operated in Korea from 1947 to 1950, in the Middle East since 1949, in Kashmir since about the same time. (The truce observation commissions in Indo-China are of this genre, although not operating under United Nations auspices.)
The continuing employment of United Nations observation commissions since 1947 is evidence of their value as a moderat-