PKO - Are "Peace Keeping Operations" even feasible?


Logistics Support (to SF, 160th)
Verified SOF
May 24, 2011
Ok, maybe I am getting way to deep into political science theory, here, but I have recently come across a pressing need to get smart on the concepts of "Peace Keeping Operations." Not being the sharpest knife in the drawer (!!) I am really trying to wrap my mind around how it might be useful to send armed forces into a conflict to maintain the peace until murderous sides "figure it out." Looking at the UN success stories of the past... Cyprus... Somalia... Congo... Rwanda... Haiti... Bosnia... I am having a hard time understanding how the governments of countries like Brazil, Chile, Guatemala, oh wait, and the US MLO in the Sinai can actually expend blood and treasure in this pursuit.

Ok, enough verbal diarrhea. Anyone have any idea for a resource/reference that can help me wrap m'mind around this?

Oh, and Happy New Year, B*tches!
There are obviously failures and in all honesty probably more failures then successes. The Sinai, Korea and Balklands are examples of peace keeping operations that have been fairly successful. I would even rate the first Gulf War to a certain degree almost a peace keeping operation. The second Gulf War is a prime example of how not to do it (that is not a ding on the military in any way shape or form and is a commentary on our national leaderships lack of a understanding of the realities of the situation and there preconceived world views).

I think nation building and peace keeping operation get lumped into the same thing many times and they aren't the same mission. Unfortunately being a super power if we break something it is expected that we will fix it and that gets us into a lot of problems when we use military power as an extension of our foreign policy.

I think they're common factor for each mission that will play big roles in deciding if a particular mission will be successful or not. For example a couple of the biggest factors IMHO are:
1) Having a no BS assessment of the root cause of the conflict. Getting away from the labeling who you think is right or wrong and who you like or dislike. Knowing and understanding everyone's perspective involved in the conflict. Something HW understood about Iraq during the first Gulf War but his son didn't.
2) Going into the situation with enough resources to affect both immediate and long term change. Something we failed at horribly in Iraq. (Again just to be clear is not a military issue but a policy maker issue)
3) Having realistic goals on what can be accomplished and understanding that there is a limited window of opportunity to make changes before the mission sours both at home and abroad. I think the first year is the most critical and if you don't make big positive changes early your window of opportunity shrinks even faster. If the situation isn't stable in the first three years I don't think you will ever get a successful resolution. That doesn't mean everything has to be done in three years but the changes have to be substantial and the local have to buy into the direction.

The why for us doing it, that is a lot harder to explain. For missions like the Sinai, it is in our national interest to keep that shipping lane open for oil and other goods going through the Suez canal. Additionally it helped to end hostilities between Egypt and Israel. Why do we get involved in missions like the Balklands, Somolia and Libya, because we are one of the few countries that have the capabilities to do it so it is expected of us. Imagine if you can your the POTUS and people are dying around the world and the decision is yours alone, can you say no I don't want to help save peoples lives? How do you live with yourself knowing people died and you didn't do everything possible when you had a chance?

You can't save everyone but your also making decisions on who lives and dies. Being the good guys require more times then not that you at least try to make positive change were you can.