Essay, Research Paper: Multilaterianism


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When President Bill Clinton was inaugurated in 1993, he stressed a new policy
concerning a revived United Nations and the actions that would be taken by the
United States concerning the “New World Order,” a term coined by his
predecessor George Bush depicting the post-Cold War international arena. Clinton
had campaigned on the need for a multilateral organization to share costs and
share risks of any peacekeeping venture. The Clinton Administration had made
multilateralism a campaign issue and put it in the forefront of their foreign
policy agenda. However, with the problems occurred during the initial trial
period of this assertive multilateralism, exemplified by US military blunders in
Somalia, Clinton and his advisors now found themselves questioning their own
policies and preferences in foreign affairs especially in terms of multilateral
peace operations. This case study delves into these issues and how Clinton and
his administration sought answers to this problematic puzzle. The main
operations of the United Nations are humanitarian relief efforts, peacekeeping
by invitation and peace enforcement. The latter entails the most danger and
conflict situations. These are soldiers trained to fight, not make peace. This
is, and always will be, an enigma for those associated with peacekeeping
operations. The same forces that are meant to keep the peace for a UN
peacekeeping mission have been trained all their lives to make war, not peace.
Your warmakers are your peacemakers. This will always cause confusion and
disruption in any relief efforts involving peacekeeping operations. The case
study attempts to explain the problems encountered during multilateral peace
operations. Certain issues must first be addressed. The national interest of the
United States is first and foremost. This is the key to making peace or to
making war. The issue of whom is in command and who is in control is also an
important factor as is the time frame in which the US will remain involved.
Certain issues that became hot topics of debate among Clinton’s advisors were
those of the Rapid Reaction Force and the idea of private UN forces. The latter
fell into ill favor with Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Colin Powell, who did
not like the circumstances of a separate US military entity solely used as a
mechanism of the UN. The benefits of a Rapid Reaction Force were many. They
could be deployed quickly. They would also alternate countries. A database would
be created; therefore the US would not always have to go on the respective
missions called on by the UN. The case study completes while examining the
choices Clinton finally made regarding multilateral peace operations. He used
the advice of his two closest cabinet members to this issue in an attempt to
reach a resolution: Powell and Secretary of State Madeline Albright. Albright
wanted to practice assertive multilateralism and use the UN forces only when it
benefited the US. She said that the US should always try a multilateralist
approach to the respective situation, and if there is no sharing and they
receive no international support but the issue at stake is in it vital national
interest, the US will go on alone. Powell was against the practice as a whole.
He did not look too kindly on the idea of the US engaging in an unknown war, at
an unknown time and under an unknown command. Powell also hesitated to support a
military venture with unknown goals, unknown missions and an unknown in the
controlling offices. The finality of the situation was that the Clinton
Administration was way too optimistic on the idea of world peace. They were not
realistic. Multilateralism can work, but it mustn’t be the centerpiece of a
foreign policy agenda as Clinton had sought it to be. The reasons why Clinton
eventually took this approach were three-fold. The military, exemplified by
Powell’s emphatic stance, were against the entire idea. Congress, after
Somalia, was weary of further intervention, as was the public. This case study
details the problems that can occur within an administration when ideological
differences abound, particularly between military and political players.
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