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Re-Envisioning Peacekeeping: The United Nations and the Mobilization of Ideology

Series: Borderlines
Volume: 13
Copyright Date: 1999
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 300
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  • Book Info
    Re-Envisioning Peacekeeping
    Book Description:

    Time and again the United Nations has deployed peacekeeping missions in trouble spots around the globe: Iraq, Somalia, Bosnia, Rwanda. Has peace ensued? Have these missions, in fact, made any difference in the disorder and destruction they are purported to forestall? Or are they, as François Debrix contends in this critical revisiting of UN interventions, an illusion-more virtual peacekeeping than actual interventions in international affairs?

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8970-5
    Subjects: Law

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. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Introduction: Re-Envisioning the United Nations
    (pp. 1-28)

    In a recent volume entitledInternational Territory: The United Nations, 1945–95,¹ photographer Adam Bartos provides a collection of snapshots that he took inside the United Nations building in New York. Bartos’s arresting pictures, juxtaposed to one of Christopher Hitchens’s short essays, represent different rooms, architectural designs, and still-life forms that seek to convey the “spirit of the UN.” The photos are a realist overview of empty rooms and inert objects that appear to be deprived of any signification. Through Bartos’s photographic eye, the UN (as a modernist architectural and structural design) looks as if it had been frozen in...

  6. 1 Destabilizing Leviathan: Revisiting the Order/Anarchy Debate through a Postmodern(ized) Hobbes
    (pp. 29-60)

    To an international observer, it may appear that the events of the past decade have left humankind in a condition reminiscent of that situation, prior to the creation of the modern state, that Thomas Hobbes described inLeviathan.¹ Some of the most blatantly alarmist depictions of world politics that have emerged over the past years—from John Mearsheimer’s prognosis of a future multipolar chaos in Europe to Robert Kaplan’s prophecy about a “coming anarchy”²—are clear indications that one of Hobbes’s most celebrated constructs, the “state of nature,” has found a contemporary application. Today, human nature, left by itself in...

  7. 2 Space Quest: The UN and the Politics of Panoptic Surveillance
    (pp. 61-96)

    An omnivoyant eye, a power from above, capable of encompassing by its constant gaze all life on earth and of simultaneously controlling and regulating with a most detailed perfection the existence of individuals, animals, plants, machines, institutions placed under its inspection: the myth of an omnivoyant and omnipotent center of surveillance has persisted, from Christian mystics of the late Middle Ages to nineteenth-century liberal utilitarians, from technocratic fictions (Orwell’s1984) to some of the most recent global governance and planetary sustainability utopias (late-twentieth-century environmentalism). Jeremy Bentham first formulated¹ the myth and, later, Michel Foucault theorized it as a panoptic society.²...

  8. 3 From a Hopeless Situation to Operation Restore Hope, and Beyond: Suture, Ideology, and Simulation in Somalia
    (pp. 97-134)

    The United Nations intervention in Somalia from January 1992 to April 1995 offers itself to us as a movie. Reading Somalia as a cinematographic fiction is not only made possible by the explosion of visual media that this post–cold war intervention triggered.¹ It is also influenced by the actors themselves, the level of reality at which their actions take place, and the staged scenarios that they try to follow. In fact, Somalia is one of the first locations where the United Nations has actually been given the opportunity to demonstrate its acting talents. Reinvested by George Bush’s post–Gulf...

  9. 4 Visions of Otherness and Interventionism in Bosnia, or How the West Was Won Again
    (pp. 135-170)

    Through this account of what the author feels is a particularly unarousing striptease scene (a businesslike, antiseptic, medical peepshow that does not fulfill the author’s desires), Miller intends to allegorize the entire Bosnian conflict. For the Western observer/voyeur that Miller claims to represent (during his trip to Bosnia in 1994), Bosnia has no attractive power anymore. Miller’s cultural and libidinaldécalage(gap) with the Bosnian reality is exemplified by his asking the “fatal” question: which nationality does the stripper belong to? A supposedly fatal question because, in Miller’s mind, and despite the overtly nationalistic and ethnic motivations of the Bosnian...

  10. 5 A Taste of Their Own Medicine: Medical Assistance and Humanitarianism as Substitutes for UN Peacekeeping
    (pp. 171-208)

    A United States–sponsored operation to bring relief supplies to the Kurds of Northern Iraq, a UN peacekeeping mission in war-torn Somalia, NGOs in Sudan fighting a famine, “safe havens” in Bosnia, French doctors in Goma, Zaire, trying to eradicate a cholera epidemic among Rwanda’s refugees: humanitarianism is back with a vengeance! The recent resurrection of humanitarian interventionism, freed from the political polemics of the cold war, would probably have remained unnoticed if Western media had not chosen to highlight those new international hotspots. In a post–cold war era, and in the spirit of disciplinary liberalism, medical catastrophes and...

  11. 6 Theorizing the Visual: New Critical Horizons
    (pp. 209-222)

    Techniques and strategies of visual simulation are shaping the contemporary landscape of international politics. Placing the interpretive focus of critical/postmodern international relations theory on the UN and its peacekeeping operations allows one to realize that, in a post–cold war era, techniques such as panopticism, visual suture, clinical witnessing, or photojournalistic displays of the other’s gaze are crucial international mechanisms. It is through such visually and mediatically enhanced strategies that both reality and ideology (and reality as ideology) are accessed. In the current practice of international affairs, the strategy of simulation seeks to “fool the eye” of the international observer,...

    (pp. 223-228)
  13. Notes
    (pp. 229-278)
  14. Index
    (pp. 279-286)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 287-287)