Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Peace and Stability Operations: What the Experts Think

The Better World Campaign and the Henry L. Stimson Center sponsored three expert panelists including William Durch, Gayle Smith and Gordon Adams who each provided insightful commentary on their views regarding peace and stability operation overseas.

William Durch, who is the Senior Associate and co-Director of the Future of Peace Operations at the Stimson Center and has an extensive career in Disarmament and International Affairs, stressed the need for peace to be self regulated. Durch claimed that it is possible for countries currently in conflict (such as the Democratic Republic of Congo) to provide self-regulated peace, however the constant barrier is a lack of peace enforcers. In the eyes of the international community, this is a role UN Peacekeepers should play. However, without the full support of the Security Council and local government, the Peace Keepers are not even able to defend themselves. Such is the case in Darfur, which Durch labeled as a “dangerous place for United States and United Nations Peace Keeping Forces” mainly due to under-staffing and lack of support from the local government. While we can not control the support of the local government, Durch does point out that a large part of the under-staffing is due to lack of funding. The consistently late payments made to the UN have a detrimental affect on its operations. Although some may argue that independent governments (such as the US) can fill in where the UN falls short, the UN has “a broader political legitimacy and greater reach into the private sector” making it the most likely to succeed in peace keeping operations (Durch).

Gordon Adams, Director of the Budgeting for Foreign Affairs and Defense Project at Stimson, agreed with Durch, providing a series of suggestions that he feels the US should implement in order to assist in the international goals to sustain peace. Adams pointed out that the majority of the issues require more than just the US government’s input, and that there is a large network of institutions, both public and private, that the US should be working with. Adams also pointed out that while Darfur and the DRC are current “hot spots” the world should not lose sight of other situations for fear that the US will fall into fighting the “last-post-war” and rely on ad hoc responses, when in reality we need to fight preventatively. Adams also stressed the need for cooperation within the US government, suggesting that the responsibilities of international peace need to be carefully divided between the Department of Defense, USAID, and other governmental departments.

Finally, Gayle Smith, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and Co-Chair of the ENOUGH Project, provided eye-witness analysis of current and past peace issues in Africa based on her extensive journalism experience in the area. Smith stressed that in situations such as the DRC, peace keeping operations are not sufficient, and in Darfur, peace keeping operations are set up to do things and provide support beyond their capacity. Smith criticized the government of being short-sighted, and lacking comprehension regarding the necessities to provide international security. Smith also said that the peace keeping operations need to re-focus on preventing crisis, rather than reacting, managing trends that give rise to crisis, and transitional periods that extend past two years. Finally, Smith offered her theory that security needs to be addressed in three lenses: physical, economic, and human dignity.

Adams and Smith seemed to agree with Durch’s recommendations for the next administration. Durch proclaimed that in order for the US to achieve the kind of security it needs, the incoming administration needs to cooperate with the UN by affirming common goals, offering financial and technological support, military assistance, and peace keeping contributions. Until this is accomplished, the US will continue to fall behind in security, as it is no longer unilaterally achievable.

Sponsor: Better World Campaign and the Henry L. Stimson Center
Date: 7/29/08
Representative: Daria Willis

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