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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

A Forced March to Peace

Yet again those who have promised to bring peace have gone for their swords. United Nations forces, who came to Somalia to save the populace from starvation, spent a week attacking parts of Mogadishu, subjecting the town to air attacks, bombings, and artillery fire. This was done to punish one of the leaders of a local band, whose fighters had attacked U. N. soldiers.


Peacekeeping euphoria, which as recently as one year ago obsessed world leaders, is fading. In coming to grips with new problems after the end of the Cold War- regional and ethnic conflicts, civil strife - the leading countries at first resorted to old measures. They decided to resolve military conflicts using military force, of which they had amassed plenty in the years of confrontation.


It was assumed that countries with strong military power could "force into peace" the warring sides, as a grown-up can stop a fistfight between two children.


Military forces also supported this idea. It was an opportunity to slow, if not to reverse, the inevitable reduction of armed forces. Some politicians saw in these peacekeeping operations the possibility of strengthening their authority, or even of becoming world leaders.


This is why the number of military personnel in the U. N. forces has increased to six times its original size in the space of one year, and now comprises almost 70, 000 troops. But "keeping peace" is possible only where the warring sides have managed to agree on a cease-fire. Then the U. N. forces guarantee the agreement, defend it from possible provocation. Peacekeepers come to a dead end when the warring sides refuse to renounce war as a means of realizing their goals.


At one time it seemed that the problem was the insufficient mandate given to the U. N. forces. If they were allowed to return fire, the thinking went, the situation would change drastically. It seemed that, since they had unquestioned military superiority, they would quickly deal with belligerent leaders, for whom war had become a way of life as well as a profitable business. But it turned out that the army, equipped with super-modern weapons was not capable of disarming quasi-military, bandit groups, for one simple reason: land operations of this nature result in losses. and it is not very easy to explain why soldiers are dying when they are just trying to keep the peace.


As a result a specific type of peacekeeping operation begins. This is "Rambo-style" peacekeeping. Troops begin to use the most modern weaponry against bandits who hide behind a live shield of non-combatants. As a result they punish not only those who deserve it, but those whom they supposedly came to save. and victory in these battles is extremely doubtful. U. N. forces seized the headquarters of General Mohamed Farah Aideed in Mogadishu. But what guarantee is there that the general himself, or one of his henchmen, or another leader will not gather their fleeing forces and begin another attack?


It is time for world organizations to realize the real limits to the effective use of military force. They must consider other peacekeeping options.


Preventing an incident is much simpler than coping with its aftereffects. Preventive diplomacy should become the basis of peacekeeping activity. Such diplomacy requires considerable expense, often requiring the economic or cultural development of one or another region. But this is the only way that we can avoid "Rambo-style" peacekeeping.


Alexander Golz is a political observer for Krasnaya Zvezda.