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Soldiers of Diplomacy

Soldiers of Diplomacy: The United Nations, Peacekeeping, and the New World Order

Phyllis Aronoff
Howard Scott
Copyright Date: 1998
Pages: 272
  • Book Info
    Soldiers of Diplomacy
    Book Description:

    A unique, thought-provoking investigation based on visits to nine recent peacekeeping missions and interviews with dozens of soldiers, officers, and peacekeeping officials.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8008-1
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. ix-xii)

    A few years ago, the general public rarely heard about the Blue Helmets. At most, there was an occasional story in the print or electronic media about the soldiers keeping the peace in Cyprus, between the Arab countries and Israel, or in some far-off land that most people had barely heard of. The role of the UN soldiers was simple: to act as a buffer force to keep the peace between two consenting warring parties and promote a peaceful settlement of the conflict. Paradoxically, the concept of peacekeeping was not described specifically in the United Nations Charter. This did not...

  5. Part I: The Rebirth of the United Nations

    • 1 In the Glass Tower
      (pp. 3-17)

      In New York City, on 1st Avenue between 42nd and 44th Streets in the heart of Manhattan, there is a glass tower some forty stories high and, beside it, a smaller edifice crowned with a white dome. The East River flows slowly by behind these buildings, which house the headquarters of the United Nations. In the past forty-five years, this site has become familiar not only to New Yorkers but to television viewers all over the world. It is here, in the forum of the General Assembly or in the tense meetings of the Security Council, that politicians, diplomats, and...

    • 2 A Nobel Prize for Canada
      (pp. 18-28)

      On 2 November 1956, in the General Assembly Hall of the United Nations in New York City, Lester B. Pearson, Canadian Secretary of State for External Affairs, silently watched the international representatives take their turns at the podium. The atmosphere was extremely heavy. For three days, Israeli, French, and British soldiers had been attacking Egypt, trying to take control of the Suez Canal. Despite the opposition of almost the entire international community, it seemed impossible to end the hostilities. Even the United States was unable to convince its Israeli and European allies to stop fighting and withdraw from Egyptian territory....

  6. Part II: The Peacekeeping Missions

    • 3 The Soldier-Diplomat
      (pp. 31-40)

      On the terrace of his house, the mukhtar – the chief – of the village of Ramadiyah in southern Lebanon was entertaining his favourite Blue Helmet, Lieutenant-Colonel Sam Saumatua, commander of the battalion of Fijian soldiers deployed in the region to maintain some semblance of peace. A little old man, stooped but lively, wearing a white keffiyeh with a double black ring, the mukhtar was in a particularly good mood. Just opposite his home, the Fijians were helping a team of local workers rebuild a school that would soon be attended by a hundred students. The building was almost finished,...

    • 4 Cambodia: The Fairies around the Cradle
      (pp. 41-55)

      In the small village of Tuk Meas in southern Cambodia the deputy governor of the province of Kampot had been declaiming for half an hour on the benefits of the current government and the horrors of the previous regime, that of Pol Pot. The date was 15 April 1993. In a little more than a month, Cambodians were to take part in the first truly democratic election in their history, under the supervision of the UN. Standing on the small balcony of a former school, the deputy governor reminded his silent audience that the Khmer Rouge were back and that...

    • 5 Sabotage and Betrayal in Western Sahara
      (pp. 56-70)

      The small Royal Air Maroc ATR-42 set down gently on the runway of the airport in Laayoune, the capital of Western Sahara, in West Africa, where Morocco was involved in a bitter struggle with the Polisario Front independence movement. The airplane taxied for a few moments and came to a stop in front of the terminal, where a long red carpet had been rolled out. An honour guard in full regalia was awaiting the order to salute under the warm late-February sun. Some Sahrawi and Moroccan dignitaries disembarked. They were returning from a visit to Rabat, where Morocco had been...

    • 6 The New Warriors
      (pp. 71-87)

      Somalia is a big country at the eastern edge of the African continent, located in a region that, because of its shape, is called the Horn of Africa. Washed by the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden, its eastern tip seems to be reaching northward toward the Arabian Peninsula. On the west, Somalia borders on Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Kenya. Home to a population of some eight million, it has a huge desert in the south, while the north is greener, with a more hospitable climate. Somalia is one of the poorest countries in the world. Its geographic location on...

    • 7 Murder in Somalia
      (pp. 88-100)

      The column of a hundred Canadian soldiers, bare-chested and bare-headed, advanced jerkily along the road to Belet Uen. The heat was over-whelming. The soldiers were shouting. With each step, they raised huge clouds of fine dust, which clung to their bodies, their hair, and their clothing. The soldiers were exercising before getting on with the day’s tasks; they were anxious to keep in shape even in this distant corner of the Horn of Africa where, at mid-morning, the temperature had already reached 40°C. Along the road, gaunt Somalis wearing brightly coloured robes watched the scene with surprise and amusement. They...

    • 8 The Unhappy Warriors
      (pp. 101-118)

      Bosnia could have been a land of dreams. A small, mountainous country, it is like a Switzerland in the Balkans, except that there are no snow-covered peaks, only mountains worn by time, looming over deep valleys containing little villages dotted with the minarets of mosques or the spires or domes of Catholic or Orthodox churches. Some of these villages are barely visible from the main road, and can only be reached by a steep, narrow path through a field, impassible by car. Sometimes the main road – of gravel and dirt – passes through one of these idyllic villages, so...

    • 9 Obstruction by the Great Powers
      (pp. 119-132)

      On 4 October 1993, the fifteen members of the United Nations Security Council met to adopt a new resolution on the situation in the former Yugoslavia. The ambassadors seated around the table were visibly tired and tense. They had been meeting behind closed doors for a week, discussing the renewal of UNPROFOR’s mandate in Croatia, and had just reached agreement on the wording of the resolution. As usual, there was a long list of diplomatic banalities: the resolution reaffirmed prior resolutions on the conflict, condemned the bad faith of the parties, reiterated the Security Council’s concern about the gravity of...

  7. Part III: An Army for the UN

    • 10 Peacekeeping Takes a Back Seat to Politics
      (pp. 135-144)

      General Lewis MacKenzie, the Canadian officer commanding the Sarajevo Sector of UNPROFOR, was furious. It was Monday, 21 July 1992, and he was trying to reach a peacekeeping operations official at the UN headquarters in New York on the satellite telephone that allowed him to communicate throughout the world from Sarajevo. But no one was answering.

      MacKenzie had barely arrived at the Sarajevo international airport at seven that morning when mortar shells began raining down on the runway and around the main building. After a brief discussion with his aides, he had ordered the airport closed to humanitarian flights until...

    • 11 A Huge Lego Set
      (pp. 145-152)

      At the UN, the problems faced by peacekeeping missions are becoming more and more apparent. Obviously, the UN cannot solve them all. It is difficult to regulate the personal relations and national interests of the participants and remedy organizational and logistical deficiencies. The establishment and deployment of a peacekeeping mission will always be exceptional activities resulting from Security Council decisions which are themselves the result of political and financial compromises. Setting up a headquarters and deploying soldiers from twenty or thirty countries, organizing a communication system, repairing airports and landing strips, clearing roads, transporting material and food – all in...

    • 12 Pressure from the French
      (pp. 153-168)

      Torrential rain was falling on Sihanoukville, the major seaport of Cambodia, on the Gulf of Thailand. It was April (1993), the beginning of the rainy season with its sudden violent storms one after another. Night had fallen. It was impossible to see where the jeep was going in this poor section of the city where there were no street lights. Chief Warrant Officer Jean-Marie Wurtz, the legionnaire at the wheel, seemed to be steering by instinct, sometimes sticking his head out the wide-open window. He came to this part of the city three times a week after work to give...

  8. Epilogue
    (pp. 169-196)

    On 25 May 1994 in front of an audience of journalists at UN headquarters, Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali discussed the civil war ravaging Rwanda. Following the assassination of the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi on 6 April, the country had plunged into anarchy, with the army and government militias massacring their Hutu opponents and members of the Tutsi minority, whom they accused of complicity in the double murder. Observers in the field estimated that at least 200,000 people had already been killed, over a period of seven weeks, at the time the secretary-general addressed the journalists. To Boutros-Ghali’s dismay, the UN...

  9. APPENDIX A: United Nations Peacekeeping Missions to 1 September 1994
    (pp. 197-203)
  10. APPENDIX B: Excerpts from the Charter of the United Nations
    (pp. 204-210)
  11. Notes
    (pp. 211-220)
  12. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 221-224)
  13. Index
    (pp. 225-231)