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International Peacekeeping

International Peacekeeping ISSN: 1353-3312 (Print) 1743-906X (Online) Journal homepage: <a href= A Return to Realism? The United States and Global Peace Operations since 9/11 Stewart Patrick To cite this article: Stewart Patrick (2008) A Return to Realism? The United States and Global Peace Operations since 9/11, International Peacekeeping, 15:1, 133-148, DOI: 10.1080/13533310701879977 To link to this article: Published online: 05 Mar 2008. Submit your article to this journal Article views: 571 View related articles Full Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at Download by: [Chulalongkorn University] Date: 02 May 2017, At: 01:16 " id="pdf-obj-0-6" src="pdf-obj-0-6.jpg">

ISSN: 1353-3312 (Print) 1743-906X (Online) Journal homepage:

A Return to Realism? The United States and Global Peace Operations since 9/11

Stewart Patrick

To cite this article: Stewart Patrick (2008) A Return to Realism? The United States and Global Peace Operations since 9/11, International Peacekeeping, 15:1, 133-148, DOI:

  • Published online: 05 Mar 2008.

International Peacekeeping ISSN: 1353-3312 (Print) 1743-906X (Online) Journal homepage: <a href= A Return to Realism? The United States and Global Peace Operations since 9/11 Stewart Patrick To cite this article: Stewart Patrick (2008) A Return to Realism? The United States and Global Peace Operations since 9/11, International Peacekeeping, 15:1, 133-148, DOI: 10.1080/13533310701879977 To link to this article: Published online: 05 Mar 2008. Submit your article to this journal Article views: 571 View related articles Full Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at Download by: [Chulalongkorn University] Date: 02 May 2017, At: 01:16 " id="pdf-obj-0-32" src="pdf-obj-0-32.jpg">
  • Article views: 571

International Peacekeeping ISSN: 1353-3312 (Print) 1743-906X (Online) Journal homepage: <a href= A Return to Realism? The United States and Global Peace Operations since 9/11 Stewart Patrick To cite this article: Stewart Patrick (2008) A Return to Realism? The United States and Global Peace Operations since 9/11, International Peacekeeping, 15:1, 133-148, DOI: 10.1080/13533310701879977 To link to this article: Published online: 05 Mar 2008. Submit your article to this journal Article views: 571 View related articles Full Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at Download by: [Chulalongkorn University] Date: 02 May 2017, At: 01:16 " id="pdf-obj-0-43" src="pdf-obj-0-43.jpg">

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A Return to Realism? The United States and Global Peace Operations since 9/11


It is ironic that the administration of George W. Bush, which took office so sceptical of multilateral peace operations, should have presided over the two largest inter- national nation-building exercises since the end of the second world war. As the administration entered its eighth and final year, the effort to stabilize and reconstruct Iraq and Afghanistan continued to dominate America’s global agenda, overshadow- ing many other pressing foreign policy and national security concerns. Through painful experience, the administration belatedly concluded that the United States needed new doctrines, strategies and capabilities to help restore peace and assist recovery in war-torn societies. It had also adapted to a more pragmatic, less ideologi- cal view of the UN, recognizing that the world body is an indispensable (albeit imper- fect) vehicle to address protracted conflicts and peacebuilding challenges that the United States has an interest in resolving but is disinclined to address on its own. The two most recent presidents, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, entered office with diametrically opposed and equally unrealistic views about nation- building, only to converge on a more practical middle ground, reflecting both the inevitability of US involvement in such operations and their inherent difficulty. And yet their motives for US action and preferred multilateral frameworks for nation-building differed. Compared to its predecessor, the Bush administration had been impelled less by humanitarian considerations than by the perceived exi- gencies of the ‘global war on terror’. Moreover, it pursued a distinctive division of labour, preferring ad hoc, US-led ‘coalitions of the willing’ where US troops are engaged, while supporting UN-led operations in less volatile, secondary theatres. This essay explains how these dynamics have played out in US policy towards peace operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Balkans and Africa. It then examines doctrinal and institutional innovations intended to improve US strategy and capa- bilities for stabilization and reconstruction operations. The main impetus for these changes was the fiasco of US post-war (non-) planning for Iraq, and the resultant chaos that erupted in that country. In response to these obvious deficiencies, the Bush administration took some belated, tentative steps to improve the ability of military and civilian agencies to address priority challenges of war-torn environments. This effort was more successful within the Department of Defense (DoD) than the State Department, the US Agency for International Development (USAID), and other civilian agencies. The Pentagon has begun to develop new doctrine and training regimens to conduct this mission. Progress

International Peacekeeping, Vol.15, No.1, February 2008, pp.133–148 ISSN 1353-3312 print/1743-906X online DOI:10.1080/13533310701879977 # 2008 Taylor & Francis



has been much slower on the civilian side, hampered by a lack of high-level leader- ship, an absence of resources, bureaucratic resistance and hidebound institutional cultures. These deficiencies have been particularly notable in the area of transi- tional security. Overcoming these shortcomings will require dramatically increased US investment in the civilian components of peace operations, including new expeditionary capabilities.

Peace Operations: The US Record

Since the end of the cold war, the United States has adopted an ambivalent, selec- tive and often inconsistent position toward UN peace operations. These ‘conflict- ing signals’, as examined by Victoria Holt and Michael MacKinnon in this issue, have included pressure on the Security Council to authorize ambitious mandates to keep peace in troubled corners of the world. The United States also remains the world’s largest funder of UN peace operations, with its assessed contributions covering approximately one-quarter of the total cost. And yet, at the same time, the United States has often withheld critical political support and sometimes financial and other resources that the UN needs to build its capacities and accom- plish these missions, as well as being a source of voluble criticism (particularly from Congress) when things go bad, proving to be a fair-weather friend. In addition, the United States has generally limited its own participation in UN-led peace operations to materiel and logistical support, preferring to engage its troops only in operations run by NATO or by an ad hoc, US-led coalition of the willing, particularly as part of the US-directed ‘war on terrorism’. This div- ision of labour has produced a bifurcation of global peace operations. The United States has tended to take the lead in larger, more difficult operations, including those involving forced entry, whereas the UN has led more modest undertakings in more benign or permissive environments, particularly those that Washington sees as having a more humanitarian – rather than counter- terrorism – focus. 1 In his contribution to this volume, Richard Gowan suggests that a similar division of labour may now be emerging between the United States and its NATO allies, in which the former fights wars while the Europeans (and, in the case of Haiti, Latin Americans) are expected to keep the peace. These oscillations and contradictions in US policy are consistent with a more general US ambivalence toward multilateral cooperation. No nation has done as much to create the institutional infrastructure of world order, including the bedrock institutions dating from the 1940s, such as the UN, the Bretton Woods institutions, and NATO. Yet few countries have been as sensitive to the restrictions on their freedom of action or as jealous in guarding their sovereign prerogatives. This ambivalence, as I have written elsewhere, 2 reflects America’s overwhelming power, its unique political culture and its constitutional traditions. Given its massive weight in the international system, the United States enjoys unparalleled unilateral and bilateral options and – as the ultimate custodian and guarantor of world order – is tempted to claim special exemption from the rules binding on others. It is thus uniquely impatient with restrictions on its policy autonomy. Second, the country’s long-standing tradition of liberal ‘exceptionalism’ inspires



vigilance in protecting domestic sovereignty and institutions from the incursions (real or perceived) of international bodies, including the UN. Finally, the separation of powers enshrined in the Constitution, which gives Congress a critical voice in the ratification of treaties and political and financial support for global institutions, complicates assumption of international obligations. This legislative brake on multilateralism was especially apparent during the mid- to late-1990s, when the Republican-controlled Congress repeatedly withheld payment of assessments for the UN’s regular and peacekeeping budget in a blunt effort to impose reform on the world body and to place limits on US involvement in peace operations. In contrast to its predecessor, the George W. Bush administration came to office intensely sceptical of multilateral ‘nation-building’ exercises. The president and his senior advisers believed that the Clinton administration had elevated third-tier security concerns to the forefront of foreign policy, frittering away resources and lives in unrealistic, open-ended UN interventions that merely bred local dependency. Yet the attacks of 9/11 shattered the Bush adminis- tration’s complacency about the strategic irrelevance of distant, impoverished countries and led to a sweeping reorientation in national security policy. Al-Qaeda, after all, had launched the most devastating foreign attack on American soil from the world’s second poorest nation, Afghanistan. A central lesson, enunciated by the Bush administration in its 2002 National Security Strategy, was that the United States was now more threatened by weak and failing states than it was by conquering ones. 3 In an age of transnational, cata- strophic terrorism, the United States could not allow any place in the world to ‘fall off the map’, as it had in Afghanistan following the Soviet withdrawal. However, the new strategic salience of weak and failing states resulted in neither an embrace of UN-led peace operations nor (at least initially) a commit- ment to multilateral nation-building. Rather, the attacks reinforced the adminis- tration’s unilateral instincts. In waging counter-terrorism, the United States would occasionally turn to international institutions – notably the UN – to achieve its national security objectives. But it insisted that this war be waged on US terms. Moreover, the United States quickly adopted a coalition-based approach that was less a truly multilateral undertaking than a classic ‘hub and spoke’ arrangement founded on bilateral deals between an American ‘sheriff’ and a heterogeneous posse. This flexible arrangement allowed the United States to draw on and deploy others’ assets to respond to immediate US priorities, without straining to reach consensus among numerous parties within formal insti- tutions. Rather than a single coalition that formulated policy in a consensual manner, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld famously told CNN’s Larry King that there would be ‘multiple coalitions’, each organized around a (US- defined) objective. In short, ‘It’s the mission that determines the coalition.’ 4

Afghanistan and Iraq

This attitude coloured the US approach to the invasion and stabilization of Afghanistan, as well as the subsequent invasion and occupation of Iraq. As Bruce Jones recounts in this volume, the administration rebuffed any formal



NATO role in toppling the Taliban and pursuing al-Qaeda, as well as subsequent allied suggestions to create a country-wide multinational force. It also adopted a ‘light-footprint’ approach, insisting on restricting the UN-mandated International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to Kabul and its immediate environs until September 2003, when Washington finally agreed to place ISAF under NATO and to permit its gradual expansion outside Kabul. From the administration’s per- spective, this enhanced NATO role was a mixed blessing, requiring laborious negotiations with resource-strapped and casualty-averse allied governments that found it difficult to generate even modest forces, funds and materiel; that insisted on restrictive rules of engagement; and that placed ‘national caveats’ on the use of troops. Moreover, US policy remained driven by counter-terrorism and counter- insurgency objectives, giving less consideration to the goals of long-term justice and security sector reform, economic rehabilitation, and ‘good governance’. Its narrow concept of ‘security’ – defined as whether or not the Taliban were ‘on the run’ – overlooked and sometimes contradicted the more comprehensive requirements of human security for the Afghan people. 5 In Iraq, the Bush administration sought to circumscribe the role of the UN in the immediate aftermath of the invasion, both to ensure untrammelled US control there and to avoid what administration officials presumed – ironically, in retro- spect – would be a ‘bloated, inefficient’ UN operation. 6 Instead, the adminis- tration handed post-war duties first to the ill-prepared and short-lived Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA), and then to the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), headed by Paul Bremer. At the same time, the administration sought explicit UN endorsement for the coalition’s role, both to win political cover for potential contributors to the US-led effort and to leverage UN capacities in specialized areas like refugees and reconstruction. It thus wel- comed Security Council resolution 1483 of 22 May 2003, which called upon the Secretary-General to appoint a Special Representative to Iraq; strongly sup- ported resolution 1500, which established a UN Mission (UNAMI); and later pushed for resolution 1511, which gave the coalition an explicit UN mandate. At the same time, the administration resisted the transfer to the UN of any signifi- cant authority over Iraq’s political evolution. 7 Despite these obstacles, the UN Special Representative, Sergio Vieira de Mello, made headway in engaging leading Iraqi leaders, including Grand Ayatollah Sistani, on the country’s political future. This ended tragically on 19 August 2003, when de Mello and more than a dozen colleagues were killed in the bombing of the UN compound in Baghdad. The UN mission temporarily withdrew from Iraq. Over the next four years, the Bush administration would return to the UN, grudgingly but repeatedly, in the hopes of sharing some of the military and finan- cial burden and obtaining the modicum of international legitimacy it needed to succeed in Iraq. As initial plans for a gradual political transition in Iraq imploded in late 2003 in the face of a swelling Sunni insurgency and deepening sectarian violence, US officials enlisted the aid of Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi, who skilfully negotiated with Sistani to accept the transfer of Iraqi sovereignty from the CPA to an interim Iraqi government on 30 June 2004. The Security Council ratified this decision and, by resolution 1546, also authorized the



US-led multinational force to ‘take all necessary measures to contribute to the maintenance of security and stability in Iraq’, in concurrence with the new interim government. 8 The UN would subsequently play a pivotal role in organiz- ing Iraq’s first post-Saddam national elections, in January 2005, as well as the preparations and holding of the October constitutional referendum and Decem- ber parliamentary elections of that year. More than four years after the invasion, the UN continues to soldier on, seeking to advance national dialogue and reconciliation in a deteriorating security environment. In late summer 2007, after an intense US campaign to secure an aug- mented UN presence in the country, the Security Council passed a new resolution authorizing the UN, at the request of the Iraqi government, to promote political talks among Iraqi factions and a regional dialogue on issues of border security, energy and the spillover of refugees to neighbouring countries. 9 The new UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, agreed to appoint a new UN envoy for Iraq.


The Bush administration’s growing pragmatism toward peace operations also included support for UN-led ventures outside the main theatres of Iraq and Afghanistan, particularly in Africa. This change of heart reflected the new stra- tegic salience of ‘failing states’ – viewed, particularly within the Pentagon, as potential havens for al-Qaeda and affiliated terrorists – as well as a recognition that the UN and increasingly the African Union (AU) had invaluable roles to play in addressing what the United States saw as second-tier humanitarian or regional concerns that the United States, overstretched in Iraq and Afghanistan, could not address alone. Operating on this logic, by summer 2007 the Bush administration had supported a historic expansion in UN peace operations; taken steps to bolster the capacity of both the UN and the AU to undertake peace- keeping and enforcement; adopted an ambitious, Pentagon-led programme to train and equip foreign military forces in fragile states; and created a new comba- tant command for Africa (AFRICOM), with a special focus on ‘shaping’ the secur- ity environment on the continent through an integrated, ‘whole of government’ approach involving a variety of US government agencies. The ultimate result of these efforts, as A. Sarjoh Bah and Kwesi Aning argue in their article, is a surpris- ing continuity between the Bush administration and Clinton approaches to authorizing UN peace operations and building African capacities. In addition to the humanitarian motives that had guided its predecessor, the Bush administration’s support for peacekeeping and capacity building on the con- tinent was informed by the perceived imperatives of the war on terrorism, includ- ing the danger that Africa’s ‘ungoverned spaces’ posed as possible havens for terrorism and other illicit activity. This line of thinking has been most striking in the Pentagon. The National Defense Strategy (2005) and Quadrennial Defense Review (2006) advanced the construct of the ‘long war’ against global terrorism as the overarching framework to guide defence policy and force struc- ture in the twenty-first century. They advocate a more flexible military posture, with agile forces and assistance tools tailored to a world of asymmetric threats.



Addressing these new threats implies greater attention to building the sovereign capacities of partner governments in the developing world – particularly in Africa – to control their territories and police their terrestrial and maritime borders and airspace. The creation of AFRICOM, which unifies all US military activity in Africa under a single combatant command, was long overdue, as was the Pentagon’s new focus on conflict prevention, and its commitment to government-wide policy planning and implementation. At the same time, the DOD’s apparent desire to use this new military command as the platform to integrate overall US policy towards Africa carries symbolic and practical risks that need to be carefully managed. From a public diplomacy perspective, it could create the damaging impression – or allow US enemies to argue – that the United States has a militar- ized approach to the continent. 10 More substantively, the new command could indeed encourage such militarization, given the enormous asymmetry in the resources available to the Pentagon compared to the State Department, USAID and other civilian agencies. There is a real danger that any ‘shaping’ activities that emerge from AFRICOM will be dominated by defence priorities – such as enhancing the operational capacity of local security forces – while giving short shrift to broader political and developmental considerations. The military is not well equipped to address the structural sources of underde- velopment, alienation and instability in target countries – though it understands this, of course – and that is why the Pentagon is looking for partners. Outside efforts to help ameliorate such weaknesses will require a decades-long approach to governance and development that may or may not be possible within the con- struct of a regional combatant command. It is thus critical that any policy inte- gration that occurs at AFRICOM reflect the firm leadership of the National Security Council (NSC) and a more adequately resourced State Department, supported by USAID, embassies and USAID missions on the ground – with the military playing a supporting role.

Nation-building Embraced?

As students of organizational change are well aware, significant institutional inno- vations most often occur in the aftermath of demonstrable policy failure. The belated embrace of ‘nation-building’ by the administration of George W. Bush provides a case in point.

Evolving Doctrine, Capabilities and Practice

Despite the interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq, there was no immediate doc- trinal innovation in policy for multidimensional peace operations. Change began during 2004 –05, however, as the disastrous failure to stabilize post-war Iraq became impossible to ignore. As numerous analysts have noted, the United States went to war in Iraq without a plan to win the peace. 11 On taking office, the Bush administration had abandoned the sophisticated political-military plan- ning process of PDD–56, which had assigned agency roles and responsibilities in complex contingency operations. In the case of Iraq, the administration gave sole



responsibility for the post-war phase to the DoD, even though the Pentagon had not led such efforts since the days when Gen. Lucius Clay was American military governor of occupied Germany. Critics have excoriated DoD officials for failing to plan for the post-conflict stabilization phase (‘Phase IV’ in military parlance), blaming Rumsfeld in particular for dismissing the efforts of the State Depart- ment-led working Group on the Future of Iraq, for waiting until the eleventh hour to establish the ORHA, and for ignoring a decade’s worth of lessons learned about the requirements for successful armed interventions and peace operations. But the lack of civilian capabilities within the State Department and USAID to address critical dimensions of stabilization and reconstruction was also to blame, cementing White House determination to assign post-conflict leadership to the DoD. The ensuing chaos in Iraq drove home the price of failing to develop a doctrine and resources to help consolidate peace and advance recovery in war-torn societies. The Iraq experience made painfully clear the need for both civilian and military standing capacity to respond to these contingencies.

What Sorts of Capabilities?

There is, of course, no one-size-fits-all template for building peace and promoting recovery in war-torn societies. Each post-conflict setting presents a unique con- stellation of challenges, shaped by the nature of the preceding conflict and its res- olution, the number of formerly warring parties and their commitment to the peace process, the scale of devastation, and the nature and resilience of existing formal and informal institutions, among other factors. And yet, as James Dobbins makes clear in this volume, there is also a general consensus within the policy and scholarly community that those who seek to (re)build nations fol- lowing large-scale violence are likely to encounter common categories of tasks. These include sponsoring a constitutive process that lays the foundations for the new political order; providing interim security, through a combination of external troops and civilian police; (re)establishing mechanisms of justice and accountability; stabilizing the economy and ensuring fiscal sustainability; and providing infrastructure and essential services to the population. Dobbins’ conceptual framework of essential post-conflict activities provides a useful survey of the range of issue areas that must be covered in any stabilization and reconstruction effort and the types of military and civilian capabilities in which the United States must invest if it is to develop a professional approach to nation-building. In addition, Dobbins counsels that would-be interveners must be prepared to set strategic priorities, engage in comprehensive civilian – military planning, seize the fleeting moment (or ‘golden hour’) to set the trajectory of subsequent events, and mobilize sufficient political will and adequate resources to stay the course over what will inevitably be a multiyear undertaking. Such mapping exercises provide an indispensable overview of common post-conflict tasks. At the same time, Dobbins understands the complexities of nation-building and the inherent limitations of such checklists as a guide for policymakers. As lists of common ingredients rather than specific recipes, they do not address the diffi- cult and often context-specific question of how such interventions should be



sequenced, nor the potential trade-offs among these various components of external action. A more fundamental limitation of ‘checklist’ approaches is that they tend to focus overwhelmingly on the strategies, roles, coordination mechan- isms and resources of external actors. As such, they risk exaggerating the role of outside players to transform the complex societies that they are (in effect) merely visiting, as well as encouraging donor-driven interventions that do not create local ownership and indigenous capacity so much as replace it with what former Afghan Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani has termed the ‘parallel international public sector’. 12

The Civilian Dimension: Innovations and Obstacles

Notwithstanding these caveats, by the spring of 2004 a rare (and perhaps fleeting) bipartisan consensus had taken hold in Washington: in a world of failed states and terrorist threats, reconstruction and stabilization were no longer optional, periph- eral undertakings but rather unavoidable, core missions of foreign and national security policy. 13 To meet this challenge, the United States would need a robust standing capacity to conduct and manage post-conflict operations, including both civilian and military components. Essential ingredients of this approach would include new coordination mechanisms with clear lines of authority and accountability, a robust process for contingency planning, and a deployable civi- lian capability to permit rapid, effective responses. To fill this gap, the NSC agreed in April 2004 that the State Department should coordinate interagency responses to future post-conflict operations, including the development of a civilian surge capacity that could be deployed quickly to crisis countries. The State Department responded to this call in August 2004 by creating an Office of the Coordinator of Reconstruction and Stabilization (S/CRS). The new office was given impressive authorities – at least on paper. A new National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD) 14 assigned to the Secretary of State (and through her to S/CRS) responsibility to prepare for, plan, coordinate and implement reconstruction and stabilization operations in a wide range of contingencies, ranging from complex emergencies to ‘failing and failed states’ and war-torn societies. However, S/CRS has continued to suffer from three fun- damental weaknesses that undermine its ostensible leadership in post-conflict operations. First, bureaucratic resistance within the State Department itself, intra-agency rivalries and jockeying for power, and the decision not to have the office take part in the two main reconstruction efforts of Afghanistan or Iraq, left S/CRS with inadequate authority or respect within the executive branch. Second, since it was created, S/CRS has been attempting to fulfil a mandate that is both massive and – in the absence of clear White House support – unrealistic. The office’s broad agenda would be unwieldy even under the best of circumstances, implying that S/CRS would not only organize, train, and equip the interagency for stabilization and reconstruction efforts, but also lead planning, deployment, and execution of those operations. Third, and a related weakness, S/CRS has been chronically underfunded, as the administration and Congress have declined to invest even modest resources in this issue area.


A New Military Mission


While the State Department has made only halting progress toward defining and fulfilling its new post-conflict mission, the DoD has undergone a sweeping reor- ientation of its long-standing doctrine, even as actual practice continues to develop independently in field operations. As outlined in William Flavin’s contri- bution to this volume, the military emerged from the Vietnam experience dis- tinctly unenthusiastic about extensive involvement in so-called ‘low-intensity’ conflict. Experiences of the 1990s, including the debacle in Somalia and pro- longed nation-building deployments in the Balkans and elsewhere, accentuated the DoD distaste for ‘operations other than war’, which senior officers regarded as a resource-intensive distraction from their core mission of fighting and winning the nation’s wars. Despite the establishment of an Army Peacekeeping Institute in 1994, few of the lessons learned from these experiences were incorpor- ated into Army or other service doctrines. This attitude began to change as the unfolding disaster in Iraq demonstrated the military’s shortcomings in restoring stability in the aftermath of ‘major combat operations’. 15 Amid growing concerns about a rising insurgency, the Pentagon’s Defense Science Board launched a year-long study in early 2004 on the role of the military in ‘the transition to and from hostilities’. 16 Although some defence intellectuals had suggested that the DoD should create new special- ized divisions dedicated entirely to post-conflict operations, 17 the task force rec- ommended instead that the entire military embrace ‘stability operations’ as a core mission, on a par with war-fighting. In November 2005, the Deputy Sec- retary of Defense, Gordon England, endorsed this approach by signing Directive 3000.05, on ‘Military Support for Stability, Security, Transition and Reconstruc- tion Operations (SSTR)’. The document emphasized that these new responsibil- ities ‘shall be given priority comparable to combat operations and be explicitly addressed and integrated across all DoD activities including doctrine, organiz- ations, training, education, exercises, materiel, leadership, personnel, facilities and planning’. 18 The Pentagon appointed a new Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Stability Operations to supervise implementation of this directive, created a Defense Reconstruction Support Office to sustain these efforts in the field, and assigned a senior director for stability operations to each combatant command. In light of the inadequate Phase IV planning in Iraq, Directive 3000.05 man- dates that each war plan henceforth must include a detailed annexe explaining how stabilization and reconstruction will occur. While acknowledging that many relevant tasks are more appropriately carried out by civilians, the directive notes that this may not always be possible in insecure environments or where such civilian capabilities do not yet exist. Accordingly, troops must be prepared to carry out a wide range of activities, from rebuilding physical infrastructure to training police to reviving market activity to developing institutions of represen- tative government. Pursuant to this new mission, the Army and joint military forces began to revise their overarching and operational doctrine. Publications included a new



counter-insurgency manual jointly produced by the Army and Marine Corps in December 2006 and a new joint manual on peace operations. As Flavin notes, ‘the emerging new doctrine breaks new ground by establishing Peace Building as a key component of peace operations’, and by recognizing that the activities of the military in these non-traditional spheres must be integrated with those of civilian agencies. However, the relationship between the SSTR mission (as outlined in Directive 3000.05) and the counter-insurgency mission remains ambiguous. Reconciling them may prove challenging to field commanders. Also ambiguous is how the DoD’s new stability operations doctrine relates to emerging civilian capabilities. At first glance, NSPD-44 would appear to give the State Department authority to coordinate all government agencies, including the DOD, in stabilization and reconstruction operations. In fact, the question of lea- dership is far from settled. There is no formal linkage between Directive 3000.05 and NSPD-44, beyond the declaration that the Pentagon will provide capabilities to help support post-conflict operations by the State Department and other civi- lian agencies, ‘as appropriate’. 19

The Special Challenge of Public Security and the Rule of Law

Among the motivations for creating a stabilization and reconstruction capability, the most powerful was the Bush administration’s desire to address the public security vacuum that arises after the end of hostilities in war-torn countries. The object lesson here was the massive looting and criminality that arose follow- ing the fall of Baghdad. Despite many precedents for a post-invasion breakdown in public order, the Bush administration naively assumed that Iraqi security insti- tutions would continue to provide physical security and, in any event, that a grate- ful Iraqi public would remain quiescent. The military’s failure to respond promptly to mounting chaos and human insecurity proved calamitous for US plans to stabilize Iraq, causing immense social and economic disruption, punctur- ing an aura of US invincibility, and providing momentum for a gathering insurgency. Chastened by this experience, in late 2003 White House officials, including the Deputy National Security Adviser, Stephen Hadley, began exploring the notion of a deployable civilian reserve that could help ensure post-war public order, civilian security and the rule of law (including the provision of policing, corrections, and judicial services) pending the reconstitution of indigenous capacities. 20 Beyond relieving some of the burden on US war-fighters, such civilian capabilities would provide the necessary security environment for improvements in market activity and social welfare. Four years later, as Robert M. Perito points out in this volume, the United States still lacks a deployable capability to conduct the full spectrum of police and rule-of-law functions needed to restore security and justice in post-conflict environments, including dealing with criminals and extremist elements. These gaps in the repertoire are especially obvious when it comes to tasks that fall awk- wardly between traditional peacekeeping operations and community policing, such as the ability to crack down on politically motivated violence and organized crime, respond to civil disorder, and protect high-value targets and installations. 21



The United States is the only country in the world that sends personnel for international police service who are not part of a national police force but are rather hired as individual subcontractors. From the Balkans to Afghanistan, this model, which includes only minimal screening and pre-deployment training, has been plagued by poor performance, limited accountability and occasional cases of gross misconduct. As Perito has written elsewhere, ‘The provision of uni- formed, armed police with executive powers and the authority to use deadly force is an inherent function of government.’ 22 It is not one that should be left to the private sector. As the Iraq experience underscores, the United States needs to develop standing capabilities to respond to the full spectrum of transitional security and rule-of-law challenges. This includes the capacity to mobilize and deploy not only constabulary forces (including ‘formed police units’ that train and operate together) and police (patrol officers and criminal investigators) but also judges, prosecutors, attorneys, court staff and corrections officers. As in Iraq, the uneven record of promoting public security and the rule of law in Afghanistan suggests other valuable lessons. There, the coalition adopted a fragmented, ‘lead donor’ approach that apportioned responsibility for disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) to Japan; for counter-narcotics, to the UK; for training rank-and-file Afghan National Police (ANP) and Afghan National Army (ANA) recruits, to the United States; for training the ANP officer corps, to Germany; for training ANA offi- cers, to France; and for reforming the justice sector, to Italy. The uneven results of this patchwork framework reaffirmed the need for a holistic and inte- grated approach to security and justice sector reform, to ensure that progress in each of these spheres works in coherent, parallel, and mutually reinforcing ways. Like Iraq, the Afghan experience provides a cautionary lesson about the risks of a monomaniacal focus on generating ‘warm bodies’ to fill oper- ational roles and a concomitant lack of attention to the long-term institution building, professionalism and democratic accountability that are critical to ensuring that the provision of order by security services occurs in the context of the rule of law and justice. As the United States improves its own ability to conduct policing and rule-of- law operations, it must also consider how these national initiatives should fit into a larger multilateral picture. Following the High-Level Summit of September 2005, the UN took tentative steps to create a new Standing Police Capacity, as well as a Rule of Law division within the Department of Peacekeeping Oper- ations. And yet the UN still scrounges to recruit qualified police and rule-of-law experts from member states to staff each new operation. The United States might wish to take a page from one of its closest allies, Australia, which has created an innovative and efficient mechanism – the International Deployment Group – to make police available for multinational peace operations.

Room for Improvement

This review of recent trends suggests several areas where the United States needs to take remedial steps in its approach to – and preparation for – peace operations.



Improve Planning. The experiences of Afghanistan and Iraq revealed severe deficiencies in the capacity of the government to plan for post-conflict stabiliz- ation and reconstruction operations, as well as the need for integrated mechan- isms for joint planning between civilian agencies and the military. Making these changes will require overcoming some differences in institutional culture. Within the State Department, for example, most of the ‘planning’ that now occurs is ad hoc and conceptual, intended to develop a common understanding of the objective itself rather than provide a road map detailing how to get there. Similarly, while USAID possesses pockets of experience in supervising the implementation of programmes and projects, that agency has largely devolved into a ‘contracting shop’ that lacks strong technical expertise and planning capa- bilities. By contrast, a culture of operational planning permeates the military, focusing on how to meld overall strategy, doctrine, resources, and logistics into a coherent effort to get the job done. Achieving greater policy coherence requires bridging these civilian and military planning cultures, so that the strategic deter- mination of overall objectives, informed by a sophisticated understanding of local political and cultural environments, is accompanied by a rigorous operational planning ethos, including regular testing, honing and correction of plans through gaming, training and exercises. The government must also become com- mitted to regular, joint civilian –military planning whenever there is a prospect that forces may be deployed in armed intervention, complex emergencies or peace operations. Under standard practice, civilian agency input to military plan- ning (where it has been provided) has been limited to the post-conflict stage. This has proved problematic, as decisions in the run-up to and conduct of military operations invariably shape the subsequent realization of post-war political, econ- omic, and other objectives in the affected country. Henceforth, the United States should incorporate civilian agency inputs into all phases of its war planning. Along these lines, the S/CRS office is working with the military’s Joint Forces Command (JFCOM) to develop a common doctrine for civilian –military plan- ning and conduct of stabilization and reconstruction operations, as well as on pro- cedures to deploy civilian agency representatives to the relevant regional combatant command in anticipation of such operations. Clarify Interagency Roles. Ensuring more coherent policies towards war-torn states will require the NSC to become far more assertive in coordinating intera- gency involvement in peace operations and post-conflict reconstruction. The S/ CRS experience confirms that it is difficult if not impossible to coordinate the entire government from a single agency, even one that draws staff from multiple departments. It is even more challenging when the office has not been empowered within its own department, much less provided with the financial resources needed to command respect within the government as a credible leader capable of getting things done. The weak interagency position of S/CRS was reinforced by the decision in March 2007 to designate the S/CRS coordinator as the State Department’s Deputy Director of Foreign Assistance. While that step usefully associated the office with aid resources, it paradoxically weakened its claim to coordinate interagency policymaking on stabilization and reconstruction oper- ations. The result has been a vacuum of interagency authority that can be filled



only by the NSC, the sole entity with clear presidential authority to direct and coordinate all executive branch departments. Besides leading interagency task forces with S/CRS, the NSC should help that office develop a doctrine that defines roles and responsibilities across agencies, military and civilian alike, as well as the objectives in any prospective post-conflict effort. Improve Coherence in the Field. Clearer leadership in Washington must be complemented by clear roles and responsibilities for agencies in the field. In peace- time, the structure of authority is fairly straightforward. All personnel fall under the jurisdiction of the ambassador in his capacity as the head of the ‘country team’. Things get more complicated during military operations, however, as mili- tary commanders in the affected state report back through the National Command Authority outside the ambassadorial chain of command. Where dis- agreements arise, there is no clear means to adjudicate their differences. The executive branch, with support from Congress, must refine interagency doctrine, clarifying lines and phases of military and civilian authority in the immediate aftermath of major combat operations. Budget for the Mission Set. Although the Bush administration declared ‘failed and failing states’ to be a primary strategic challenge and embraced post-conflict operations as a key element of the country’s global engagement, it has failed to put its money where its mouth was. Despite a significant increase in total foreign aid during the past several years, the federal budget remains heavily skewed toward military expenditure, short-changing critical civilian investment in nation- building. This misalignment in resources has potentially pernicious implications for global engagement and the US ability to address the structural sources of weakness in fragile, failed, and war-torn states. Beyond exaggerating the Pentagon’s position in the nation’s national security architecture, it deprives civilian agencies of the resources they need to build up their own technical exper- tise, respond to unforeseen contingencies, and provide critical aid to such states. A clear case in point is the inability of the S/CRS office, over several years, to secure from Congress a modest US$100 million conflict response fund. Budgetary allocations in 2007 left the United States well resourced to fight wars, but not to address the root causes of political instability and state failure in the developing world, as well as leading to an over-reliance on soldiers to conduct post-conflict activities, from policing to infrastructure, that should more appropriately be done by civilian agencies and actors. 23 Since 9/11, the Pentagon has emerged as an enormous provider of economic, humanitarian, security and counter- terrorism assistance, not only in Iraq and Afghanistan but also in dozens of African countries. The massive capabilities of the Pentagon exercise a constant gravitational pull, tugging away at civilian leadership of foreign policy. Develop Civilian Surge Capabilities. Despite the pressing needs demonstrated in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States has made only meagre progress in developing a supply of qualified civilian personnel who can be deployed rapidly to conflict and post-conflict settings in sufficient numbers and with relevant skills to make a tangible difference on the ground. In 2005, the State Department envisaged creating a 100-person Active Response Corps (ARC), available for immediate deployment, backed by a 500-person reserve available within several



months. But the slow pace at which these capabilities have been created – with only 33 members of the ARC budgeted for fiscal year 2008 (FY08) and the full reserve not formed until 2011 at the very earliest – raises fundamental questions about whether the diplomatic corps can rise to the operational challenges of post- conflict reconstruction. Despite the rhetoric of ‘transformational diplomacy’, the State Department has struggled to staff more than a modest number of civilian slots in provincial reconstruction teams in Iraq and Afghanistan. Such a gap is likely to be filled only if the incentive structures of career promotion are changed to reward preferentially service in hardship environments and relevant technical skills, as well as joint service across agencies. Finally, the United States has made little headway in developing a Civilian Reserve from the wider citizenry. President Bush mentioned this goal in his State of the Union Address in January 2007, but his FY08 budget did not include any line for this item. Although both houses of Congress subsequently included $50 million for the Civilian Reserve in their mark-up of the 2007 sup- plemental budget for Iraq, the ultimate fate of this provision was uncertain as of November 2007. If this pattern persists, pressure will continue to grow for the Pentagon to build up its own cadre of civilians capable of fulfilling this expeditionary mission.

Reversion to the Mean

Over the past decade and a half, the trajectory of US attitudes to peace operations has fluctuated from naive enthusiasm to unwarranted dismissal to grudging recog- nition that some degree of US involvement in nation-building is unavoidable – and that a more sophisticated approach to preparing, planning, and mobilizing is needed for these missions. In parallel, there is now broad bipartisan recognition that the UN and regional organizations, whatever their defects, have an important, instrumental value in enlarging US policy options and sharing burdens in crises where inaction is intolerable but where the United States has no wish to act – and bear all the costs and risks – on its own. At the same time, the underlying sources of US ambivalence towards multilat- eral cooperation – including the nation’s massive power, its sovereignty-minded political culture, and its fractious and domestically minded legislative branch – remain, suggesting that its attitude toward multinational nation-building efforts will continue to be selective and guarded. In addition, the long and painful with- drawal from Iraq will inevitably reduce the American public’s already minimal appetite for nation-building, placing constraints on the size and ambitions of any future operations. The Bush administration was thus in the ironic position of having embraced a new set of doctrines and institutions, and begun to build new capabilities, for a mission that holds little attraction to the electorate and (increasingly) its political servants in Congress. The new administration, regardless of party, is likely to pay greater rhetorical homage to multilateralism and the UN, while seeking to preserve policy auton- omy, minimize US obligations, and guard against suffering casualties. This will represent not retrenchment so much as a sober and pragmatic multilateralism,



removed from both the self-righteous fantasies of neoconservatism and the utopian dreams of progressive humanitarian interventionists.


  • 1. James Dobbins, ‘America’s Role in Nation-Building from Germany to Iraq’, Survival, Vol.45, No.4, 2003–04, pp.87–109; ‘The UN’s Role in Nation-Building from the Belgian Congo to Iraq’, Survival, Vol.46, No.4, 2004–05, pp.81–102.

  • 2. Stewart Patrick, ‘Multilateralism and Its Discontents: The Causes and Consequences of American Ambivalence’, in Patrick and Shepard Forman (eds), Multilateralism and U.S. Foreign Policy: Ambivalent Engagement, Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2002, pp. 1–44.

  • 3. The White House, National Security Strategy of the United States of America, Sept. 2002.

  • 4. Rumsfeld interview with Larry King, CNN, 5 Dec. 2001 (available at: scripts/2001/t12062001_t1205sd.html); Stewart Patrick, ‘“The Mission Determines the Coalition”: The United States and Multilateral Cooperation after 9/11’, in Shepard Forman and Bruce Jones (eds), Cooperating for Peace and Security: The Evolution of Multilateral Security Institutions since the End of the Cold War, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming

  • 5. Barnett Rubin, ‘Constructing Sovereignty for Security’, Survival, Vol.47, No.4, 2005–06, pp. 93–106.

  • 6. Unidentified administration official, cited in Elizabeth Becker, ‘US Plans to Run Iraq Itself’, New York Times, 25 Mar. 2003.

  • 7. Larry Diamond, ‘What Went Wrong in Iraq’, Foreign Affairs, Vol.83, No.5, Sept./Oct. 2004, pp.34–56.

  • 8. S/Res/1546 (2004) (at:

  • 9. Edith M. Lederer, ‘UN Steps Toward Greater Role in Iraq’, Washington Post, 10 Aug. 2007; Zalmay Khalilzad, ‘Why the United Nations Belongs in Iraq’, New York Times, 10 July 2007.

  • 10. Walter Pincus, ‘U.S. Africa Command Brings New Concerns’, Washington Post, 28 May 2007, p.A13.

  • 11. See, inter alia, James Fallows, ‘Blind into Baghdad’, Atlantic Monthly, Jan.–Feb. 2004; George Packer, The Assassin’s Gate: America in Iraq, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005; Thomas E. Ricks, Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq, New York: Penguin, 2006; and Nora Bensahel, ‘Mission Not Accomplished: What Went Wrong with Iraqi Recon- struction’, Journal of Strategic Studies, Vol.29, No.3, June 2006, pp.453–73.

  • 12. Ashraf Ghani, comments at Center for Strategic and International Studies conference on the pro- posed UN Peacebuilding Commission, March 2005.

  • 13. This section draws on Stewart Patrick and Kaysie Brown, Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts? Assessing ‘Whole of Government’ Approaches to Fragile States, New York: International Peace Academy, 2007, pp.38–41.

  • 14. National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD)-44, Management of Interagency Efforts Con- cerning Reconstruction and Stabilization, 7 Dec. 2005 (at: nspd-44.html).

  • 15. The following paragraphs draw on Stewart Patrick, ‘The U.S. Response to Precarious States: Ten- tative Progress and Remaining Obstacles to Coherence’, in Stefani Weiss (ed.), International Responses to Precarious States: A Comparative Analysis of International Strategies with Rec- ommendations for Action by European Institutions and European Member States, Gu¨ tersloh, Germany: Bertelsmann Foundation, forthcoming 2008.

  • 16. ‘Defense Science Board 2004 Summer Study on Transition to and from Hostilities’, Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisitions, Technology and Logistics, Department of Defense, Dec. 2004 (at:

  • 17. Hans Binnendijk and Stuart E. Johnson (eds), Transforming for Stabilization and Reconstruction Operations, Washington, DC: National Defense University, 2004.

  • 18. Department of Defense, DoD Directive 3000.05, ‘Military Support for Stability, Security, Tran- sition, and Reconstruction (SSTR) Operations’, 28 Nov. 2005 (at: corres/pdf/300005p.pdf).

  • 19. Ibid.

  • 20. Personal communications with NSC officials, 2003. A major impetus behind NSC thinking was the work of Robert M. Perito and his colleagues at the United States Institute of Peace.



  • 21. Robert M. Perito, Where Is the Lone Ranger Now That We Need Him? America’s Search for a Post-Conflict Stability Force, Washington, DC: US Institute of Peace, 2004, especially ‘Brcˇ ko: SFOR vs. Rent-a-Mob’, pp.9–32.

  • 22. See Perito, ‘Building Civilian Capacity for U.S. Stability Operations: The Rule of Law Com- ponent’, Special Report 118, Washington, DC: US Institute of Peace, April 2004, pp.1–16 (at:

  • 23. Miriam Pemberton and Lawrence Korb (eds), Report of the Task Force on a Unified Security Budget for the United States, FY2008, Washington, DC: Foreign Policy in Focus/Institute for Policy Studies, 2007 (at: