Essay on US Involvement in Peacekeeping Operations

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Carnegie Mellon University
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After the Cold War of the early 1990s, the United Nations has enormously expanded its peacekeeping responsibility as well as peacemaking operations. However, there has been both strengths and weakness in all its operations. Renowned international politicians have remarked that: while dwelling on the United Nations strengths of impartiality and morality in peacekeeping, one also need to consider the weaknesses, including expertise in many of its operations.

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The US Army defines peacekeeping in terms of consent, and peace enforcement in terms of coercion. It is reported that the US Army, though the rest of the European Nations make progress, has remained uncomfortable with transitioning from peacekeeping to peace enforcement. When assessing the involvement of the US in International Peace Operations, the question is not whether it does the peacekeeping operations in multilateral or unilateral manner. This is because the US has never taken peace operations on its own. The assessment is therefore done in the light of, to what extent has the US effectively participated in peacekeeping operations.

The USA commitment to peace keeping has always fluctuated from the onset of the time it was absorbed into the UN Security organ. During the cold war, USA offered great assistance to the UN operations by providing financial, political and military factors. The nation paid the highest single share to the United Nations Security Council. While America initially involved itself in merely logistical and transportation support, the first Bush administration tried to put more weight on the matter. This enthusiasm made the UN increase its operations around the globe. It all turned out that the rapid growth of UN peace operations became more problematic since the US peacekeeping doctrine did not match well with the traditional peace operations.

The Clintons administration worked even harder to increase Americas UN involvement in peacekeeping operations. Several US soldiers were deployed in Somalia to help curb the Al-Shabaab terror activities. It was at this time that the US Army base was ambushed, leaving 18 of them dead. A public outcry followed, leading to bipartisan opposition and review of the former policies. This amendment limited the Americas involvement in peacekeeping operations.

By the year 2000, there were about 15 UN peace operations around the globe. During this time, the participation of the US was unchanged, constituting only 1.6% of the total personnel requirements. In 2001, President Bush discussed with the National Guard and Reservists the significance of US troops in international peace operations. In the roundtable meeting, an agreement was made that America would carefully and judiciously use its troops abroad. Bush statements in the meeting suggested that the USA would not abandon peacekeeping operations at once, but further involvements would be unlikely. Effectively, US troops were reduced to 3100 from 3600 in the same year.

A significant turn in the US involvement in the UN activities was made in the event of September 11, 2001. While Bush had championed for their participation in the international operations, the US stand did not change. It was observed that their involvement only served their self-interested multilateralism. It can, therefore, be effectively argued that the US commitment to peacekeeping is diminishing and are still hesitant towards the same but only interested in serving the national interests of multilateralism.


Durch, William. J. Ed. UN Peacekeeping, American Politics, and the Uncivil Wars of the 1990s. New York: St. Matins Press, 1996

Bush, George. The National Security Strategy of the United States of America. Morgan James Pub, 2009.

President's Remarks in a Roundtable Discussion with Employers of National Guard Personnel and Reservists in Charleston, 37 WEEKLY COMP. PRES. Doc. 7 (Feb. 14, 2001).

Frederick H. Flerr-Z, Jr., Peacekeeping Fiascoes of The 1990s: Causes, Solutions, And U.S. Interests 104 (2002).

Callanan, James. Covert Action in the Cold War: US Policy, Intelligence, and CIA Operations. London: I.B. Tauris, 2010.

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