Beyond Declaring Victory and Coming Home: The Challenges of Peace and Stability Operations
In addition to maintaining the basic security conditions allowing aid to be distributed, peacekeepers now routinely work alongside a wide range of relief and development agencies to address suffering in war zones and post-conflict environments. Bosnia provides examples of the minimalist approach of separating combatants in addition to more robust engagements in the transition to peace.
Betts would have advocated intervention on behalf of one side or the other in Bosnia, for example, despite the dubious ethics of doing so and the impact this would have on post-war recovery. Saving lives by ending the war is his first priority.
David Rieff agrees in principle, if not means. Rieff argues the failure of the West in Bosnia was that it did not appropriately intervene early enough. Attempts to end the war with an anemic UNPROFOR were reckless, resulting in the deaths of over peacekeepers and the prolongation and intensification of the war. An impartial, professional, aggressive force that would have imposed a peace on all parties was required. Alternatively, Edward Luttwak argues that peacekeeping interventions into civil wars and post-conflict environments are futile since lasting peace is rarely achieved.
No matter how robust or enlightened the peace operation, if the conflict has not run its course, intervention, peacebuilding and development initiatives are futile — and possibly harmful. Moreover, many civil wars have reached a sustainable equilibrium fueled by portable resources and a calculus of greed Stedman , Stedman But their arguments do preface the kind of peacekeeping described by Lilly, Woodhouse and Ramsbotham.
Slim , Pugh , and Lilly would concur that peace operations, where forces provide humanitarian assistance, armed escorts, protection of civilians, demobilization management, information sharing and civil engineering expertise, will characterize post-combat stability missions for the foreseeable future. Military peacebuilding will only occur in the context of this broader engagement, however, to the extent that military personnel recognize how their actions and resources influence the achievement and maintenance of post-war peace.
The maintenance of peace was perceived narrowly, as in ensuring arms agreements and cantonment policies were fulfilled. Few peacekeepers recognized that Bosnians, from the first days of the war have passed from nonchalance to disbelief, exasperation to anger, astonishment to fear, then resignation to submission and powerlessness at being unable, in many circumstances, to control events or even define who they are. Descriptions of this bewilderment, helplessness and distress are below. Examples of challenges to stability operations in these kinds of environments are provided in a subsequent section.
A multi-ethnic gymnastic team in Sarajevo practiced in a dark high school gym to the sounds of shells, heavy caliber weapons and the roaring of the sick lion left in the zoo. Cooking stoves were fueled with the shavings sheared from the stumps and roots of trees that were cut last season in the parks. Whatever could be scavenged was burned with flooring, pieces of gum and the books in libraries — starting with works by Marx and Engels. The war years turned into a convulsion challenging the best imaginations and intentions but amid the ambiguity of diplomats and the spiritless intervention of the United Nations, peace was simply the moment required to reload the rifle.
It is just a matter of turning right rather than left on the street so the sniper can see me.
It is quick and clean and not embarrassing like shrapnel. Food riots, massive movements of traumatized rural residents into urban centers, a numbing sense of betrayal, residents living for seasons in stairways or basements, lunar rockets, sniper fire and shelling designed to maximize psychological and physical damage were the features of daily life for four years in Bosnia Herzegovina.
In the day siege of Sarajevo, many of these effects were magnified. For residents that managed to escape that city and who began to return to it in , the survivors wore t-shirts admonishing them with the question: Constructing a new normalcy has proceeded incrementally with Bosnians describing the time required to feel comfortable that the transition to peace will move inevitably forward, instead of backward, in decades or even generations. This nervousness over transition momentum is no small matter. Quick expressions of concern over force reductions and cuts in development aid reveal how fragile individuals faith in the future remains, even after seven years.
Worry over whether the international community will stay the course with Bosnia until a new post-war normalcy may stand on its own creates a undercurrent of uncertainty that erodes confidence and sustains mistrust ICG The framers of the document acknowledge that the text froze ethnic fault lines and maintained the power bases of those responsible for the war. This was to be the price of peace Holbrooke ; Cohen The United States committed peacekeepers for six months and then an additional eighteen months as part of an implementation force designed primarily to separate ethnic armies.
Military Peacebuilding: Stability Operations and the Strengthening of Peace in War-Torn Societies
But it was dark humor. Choosing an ethnic identity was, in some cases, a life or death decision. Her father is orthodox and my brother is muslim.
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They have a daughter. What about their daughter? She is four years old. Who gets to choose what she is? And what about all those like me who do not practice a religion? And those people not from Croatia or Serbia — I do not want to call them Croats or Serbs because to me that means they are from there. We are all Bosnians but no one says this anymore.
Nobody is just a human being anymore.
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Music, colors, dress, hand gestures, food and social habits have each undergone a painful reassignment of meaning. One micro-enterprise assistance project envisioned giving yarn to groups of women so that they might create items that would then be sold for income. Green was a color that had come to be associated with the Bosniacs.
Red and white had become associated with the banner of separatist Bosnian Croats. The remnants of Serbo-Croatian have been actively re-engineered into distinct languages for each of the former warring parties. Bosnian Croats took guidance from a standing government language committee in Zagreb, Croatia authorized to purify and standardize a true Croatian tongue.
Serbs insisted that their language be attuned to pronunciations more common to Belgrade, Serbia.
How one speaks remains no small matter. Bosnia was, is , a country where most anyone can place the speaker within 20 kilometers of a hometown within the first few sentences of a conversation. Within such a challenging operational environment, stability operations — especially those in identity conflicts — may easily inhibit the reassembling of lives with ill-conceived actions that reinforce wartime categories of identity and aggravate post-war social tensions like those described above.
The episodes of war in Bosnia aggravated other social anxieties in addition to sharpening exclusive ethnic identities. Urban-rural distinctions, understandings of gender roles, the character of faith and the importance of region and wealth were challenged Bringa Generational relationships changed, especially as teenagers working for aid agencies became the breadwinners of extended families. An year-old Bosnian program officer once described how the small income that the International Rescue Committee paid him supported his large family and ten relatives.
Young women had a similar if not more profound experience. They were preferred as assistants, program officers and interpreters for aid organizations in Bosnia. They enjoyed greater freedom of movement than young men, spoke better English, were not prone to be conscripted and were inherently better suited to negotiate access through zones of control and checkpoints. The professionalism of many of these 18 to 23 year olds was outstanding and inspiring. Their work brought them to the most desperate camps for the displaced, to the front lines, into meetings with brutal militia commanders and unpredictable, well-armed paramilitaries.
It brought them to the sites and to the victims of the latest atrocities and into meetings where discussions of how rape was being used as a weapon of war took place. At the end of the day, many would return to traditional homes where they were expected to become children again. The tension between urban and rural cultures in Bosnia was acute.
But they bring their cows and chickens in the apartment building… and they throw their trash out the window and in the stairwells. They make a farm in the park. They do not know how to behave and they are angry. Nearly everyone in Tuzla knew at least one of the casualties. Afterwards, a young local colleague said: Our corpses give others trouble.. It is not heroic now to die and we are not martyrs. We are just heavy, bleeding corpses. This was surrender to a destiny seen as unavoidable and to bewilderment at being so hated for being someone she took little part in becoming.
From the residents of Sarajevo who walked the streets during the siege in their best formal wear, showing they retained dignity in the face of continued shelling, to young women in Kabul who return to reopened schools to restart their education, there is often a desire in post-conflict environments to return to feeling fully human Volkan It is a desire to regain the freedom to choose Sen The challenge of peacebuilding and successful development in Bosnia and elsewhere is to acknowledge this trauma and this determination while refusing to become unwitting accomplices of separatism, dependency and dehumanization.
As one retired U. Armed forces are carefully prepared to fight and win wars but are reluctantly committed to participate in the rehabilitation of war-torn societies. But with the lack of preparation that accompanies the denial that this is a suitable role for the services, military participation in humanitarianism, development and peacebuilding is ad hoc and inconsistent. Military peacebuilding is no substitute for the expertise and capacities of civilian agencies and local organizations. It is an important complement in securing post-war peace, however. Recognition of four basic principles in stability operations will lengthen the fuse in fragile post-conflict environments.
The question is not whether stability operations and development programs have a political impact during and after violent conflicts but what the extent and character of that impact is Anderson Is assistance enhancing the legitimacy of self-appointed leaders or militia commanders? Are peacekeepers or development agencies paying for airtime or public service announcements on a radio or television station that broadcasts hate speech or divisive programming? Is aid getting to those for whom it is intended or is it placed into the hands of someone who then distributes it as patronage?
Are the shops and coffee bars frequented by peacekeepers and aid workers owned by local hardliners, a local criminal or a separatist official?
Each act carries consequences it may take an entire rotation of personnel to overcome. Peacekeeping commanders often learned the hard way that it was important to be consistent when imposing conditionality in negotiations or when providing reconstruction assistance, for example. Uncertainty and variance from one instance to another often created distrust and was a signal for spoilers to exploit an initiative. The same was true among relief and development organizations that were inconsistent in their record of conditioning post-Dayton assistance.
Criteria that precluded assistance to nationalist officials responsible for war crimes and ethnic separatism often lost ground to the unconditioned aid that was available. Hard-line authorities shopped around for assistance on their terms — and they often found it — allowing the results of ethnic cleansing and wartime patronage networks to stand and for war-by-other means to continue unchecked Tanner and Fawcett A number of projects around a divided settlement in central Bosnia illustrate this point.
The delivery of materials to the destroyed portion of town where Bosniacs lived was delayed until local Croat authorities secured assurances from international NGOs that they would receive equal amounts of resources for their less destroyed neighborhoods. This was tacit recognition of illegitimate Croat separatist control over the area and it contributed to a waste of materiel and the strengthening of separatist patronage networks as the unneeded materials were often then distributed among friends and supporters of Croat officials who had brokered such ethnic balance agreements DeMichelis In a similar way, early military contingents and aid organizations often unknowingly repaired infrastructure in a manner that contributed to the isolation of ethnic populations.
The result was a lessening of mutual dependence and interaction between ethnic communities, the reinforcement of ethnic stereotypes, a tacit acknowledgment of the results of ethnic cleansing and a subversion of political process by illegitimate regional power brokers Tanner and Fawcett , DeMichelis The very act of choosing where a peacekeeping contingent places its resources, or whom field representatives of that contingent regularly speak with, is deeply political.
Development initiatives implemented with negligible regard to political impact will often undermine stability and post-war recovery Uvin Peace operations that assist or undertake their own similar initiatives become complicit in impairing the maintenance of peace Lilly Contingents engage in peacebuilding only to the extent they recognize the political context of their actions, manage their resources and measure their behavior to marginalize spoilers and mitigate the divisive undercurrents that are the vestiges of wars.
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Local citizen participation, not elite solicitation, moderates possible negative consequences in local engagement. In Bosnia, local political and military authorities were seldom the best persons to be describing what types of assistance communities required in the two years following Dayton. Many of these individuals were complicit in prosecuting the war and in continued ethnic division. Yet many of the early efforts of peacekeeping contingents focused on fostering cooperation between nationalist military and political leaders.
There was a cost to this approach. The illegitimate authority of many of these officials was reinforced with regular interaction with foreign military representatives. In addition, opportunities to consolidate the security environment and cultivate new sources of information from among local residents were neglected. Many local residents harbored far more willingness and imagination than their leadership to design and take part in rehabilitation and reconciliation projects. Initiatives that brought neighbors together to discuss the rehabilitation of common infrastructure and services and where local citizens identified, contributed to, and maintain projects have ultimately produced some most sustainable results among the many development projects underway in the country USAID This has been a difficult lesson for the military to learn.
Local engagement by military contingents often aims to win hearts and minds by showing that foreign armed forces are present to make a positive difference in the lives of local communities. Unfortunately, the community-level projects that contingents often completed were frequently vetted by civil affairs personnel working in conjunction with self-appointed, local political leaders.
These local authorities often had ownership interest in the structure selected for repair, were less than genuine in their support for the peace process or benefited from kickbacks from the local suppliers who sold material to peacekeepers. The Challenges of Peace and Stability Operations, pp. Applying Public Administration in Development: Guideposts to the Future, pp. Chichester and New York: Building Constituencies for Economic Reform.
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