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TACTICAL DOCTRINE: The United Nations’ record on Peacekeeping

If you read the 23 September issue of USA Today, you’d think the Bush Administration was completely incompetent, not having the slightest idea on how to proceed in Iraq after successfully invading that country and toppling Saddam’s regime. All they can do, Barbara Slavin suggests, is to stumble and bumble their way to eventually letting the United Nations take over for U.S. troops, and the sooner the better.

Why is the United Nations considered the best choice to take over for the United States military? Perhaps a look at the United Nations’ history of so-called “peacekeeping” missions is in order:

AirBattleForce.com Skybird: Dale Brown’s Cameo Shot The UN’s first mission was in 1948: the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), set up to monitor the cease-fire agreement between Israel and the Arab nations following the Arab-Israeli conflict. UNTSO is still in operation. The UN’s second operation, United Nations Military Observation Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), set up to monitor the India-Pakistan conflict in the disputed Kashmir region, is also still in operation.

The first United Nations-led military action, the United Nations Emergency Force, was established in November of 1956 when Egypt took over the Suez Canal. UNEF was no match for the Egypt-Syria-Jordan-Iraq Arab Alliance under Gamal Abdel-Nasser, and was finally expelled from the Sinai Desert just before the Six Day War erupted. A second UNEF was set up in 1973 and remained in place for six years.

Another observation group, the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force, was set up in 1974 to monitor Syrian cross-border raids into Israel from the occupied Golan Heights following the 1973 Arab-Israel War. Although UNDOF is still in place, the raids continue. Another monitoring group, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, was set up to monitor the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon after the Palestinian Liberation Organization staged raids into Israel from Lebanon in 1978. UNIFIL is also still in operation.

The 1980s saw monitoring groups formed in Afghanistan and Pakistan to monitor the Soviet Union’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, the aftermath of the Iran-Iraq War, Angola, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Namibia.

But the real explosion in United Nations operations happened in the 1990s, with THIRTY-FIVE United Nations operations undertaken and NINE United Nations-sponsored observer groups established that are STILL in operation: Kuwait-Iraq, Western Sahara, Bosnia, Republic of Georgia, Sierra Leone, Chad-Libya, Kosovo, East Timor, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. That makes thirteen monitoring groups that are still in operation around the world since their implementation since 1948, mostly in the Middle East, Central Asia, Africa, and the Balkans.

The question: is the United Nations an effective peacekeeping force? Israel certainly would say “no”—its borders come under almost daily assault, with lots of U.N. observers looking on. Are things safer in Kashmir or Kosovo with U.N. “peacekeepers” standing by? I believe one of the world’s most dangerous flashpoints, Kashmir, could erupt into a nuclear exchange at any time—and the United Nations peacekeepers would be the first to die.

The bottom line: the world is not a safer place because we have United Nations peacekeepers in place. Does anyone even know or realize that so many United Nations “peacekeepers” are in place in hot spots around the world—and do we know, or care, that these places are still “hot spots” even with U.N. blue-helmets around? The United Nations is simply not equipped to deal with a major crisis situation.

We should not be lulled into thinking that all we need to do is let the United Nations take over and everything will be fine in Iraq. The United Nations does fairly well with humanitarian missions, but not so well with monitoring missions and an utter failure with peacekeeping missions.

To be fair and honest, the United States hasn’t done that well with peacekeeping missions either. The common denominator in peacekeeping actions since World War Two is our response when confronted by unexpected and severe losses. In any conflict in which U.S. forces enter the battle and remain—Japan, Western Europe, Israel, Korea, Bosnia, Kosovo, Haiti, Grenada, Panama, Kuwait, Afghanistan, and so far in Iraq—we have managed to exert a certain level of control and stabilization, although in many areas our level of control is tenuous, sometimes we were able to fight only to a stalemate, and our human, financial, and political commitment is tremendous.

But look at any situation in which U.S. forces have cut and run after encountering deadly resistance. The abortive Bay of Pigs mission left Cuba in Fidel Castro’s hands still to this day; our withdrawal from Vietnam was ignoble at best; after the 1983 Marine barracks bombing in Beirut, we left Lebanon in the hands of the Syrian military and terrorist groups that continue to harass Israel and create havoc in the entire region; and the “Black Hawk Down” incident in Mogadishu, Somalia, and the deaths of eighteen soldiers there, spelled the quick end of American “peacekeeping” operations there, even though Somalia and the Red Sea-Gulf of Aden region are important strategic centers for American anti-terrorist and free maritime operations.

The lesson here: we need to stay the course and not let setbacks and disasters, no matter how brutal, deter us from our mission.

Most importantly, we should not let politics dictate foreign affairs. When Senator John Kerry votes for a war resolution against Iraq and then decries the war just weeks later, that’s petty politics. I give credit to politicians like Governor Howard Dean who opposed the war from the outset and continue to oppose it today, and to Senator Joseph Lieberman for voting for the war resolution and continuing to show support for an American presence in Iraq, even though he is a member of the opposition party.

As of this writing, it appears that the resolution drafted by the United States for an eventual U.N. takeover of the peacekeeping mission in Iraq will not go to the Security Council for a vote. The war in Iraq will remain just that: a war, an occupation.

Remind me again why there is a United Nations? The United States sacrificed hundreds of lives and expended billions of dollars to drive a brutal dictator out of power. When Saddam was in power, he violated over a dozen U.N. resolutions and erected roadblocks to peace at every opportunity. Now we have the opportunity to establish a new government in Iraq and start rebuilding that country, all under the protection of American military forces, and the Security Council appeared ready to veto the plan.

Is the United Nations really saying that Iraq was better off before the invasion? Are they saying that the United States was the aggressor and Saddam was the victim? Somebody PLEASE explain this to me.

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Air Battle Force (MAY 2003)

Maverick Pilot Patrick McLanahan Takes aerial warfare into unknown territory in a heart racing new adventure.

Still smarting from recent losses, the brilliant but unpredictable former USAF Major General is accepted back into the fold and assigned a simple task: devise and build the air combat unit of the future. McLanahan's answer: the Air Battle Force - a rapid-response team of elite commandos protected by state-of-the-art body armour and supported by an armada of anmanned planes.

His idea is soon put to the test when the oil rich Republic of Turkmenistan becomes a battleground between Taliban insurgents, former Soviet overlords, Iranian opportunists and American oil companies and politicians. But can a handful of commandos half a world away, aided by an unproven force of robot warplanes, fight and win a war in which semingly everyone - even 'friendly' forces at home - want them to fail?

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