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In a very short period—maybe three months at most—the UN went from a peacekeeping to a warmaking mode in Bosnia, with NATO its enforcer. In what Michael Mandel calls an “emotional defense of unilateral interventionism, using Kosovo as the example of the next intervention,” Annan warned in June 1998 that “all our expressions of determination to never again permit another Bosnia…will be cruelly mocked if we allow Kosovo to become another killing field.”47Seven months later, before the North Atlantic Council in Brussels, Annan expressed the “hope that we,” but “,” in his words, “were beginning to draw the right lessons from the experience in the Bosnian war—about such critical factors as credibility, legitimacy and the morality of intervention and non-intervention.” But “there is only one way in which we can prove that we have done this: by applying those lessons practically and emphatically where horror threatens.”48The “right lessons” were immediately applied by NATO.
But as the United States became the dominant player in these theaters, it pushed the UN’s “peacekeeping” mandate toward “enforcement”—toward becoming a “party to the conflict,” invariably taking sides against the Serbs of Croatia, Bosnia, and Serbia itself.
Even at the time of the crisis in late May 1995, when two hundred UN personnel had been taken hostage by Bosnian Serb forces following NATO air strikes against them, Boutros-Ghali insisted that “UNPROFOR is not a peace-enforcement operation,” and blamed the demands that it act on the “ambiguities” and “confusion” that followed from the frequent reference by Security Council resolutions to Chapter VII of the charter.43But just three months later, when NATO conducted an extensive bombing campaign against the Bosnian Serbs, the distinction was obliterated.
No Security Council resolution has ever condemned these U. wars as contrary to the UN Charter or recognized the rights of the Serbs, Afghans, and Iraqis to resist alien subjugation.
Instead, after each of these “supreme international crimes,” the Security Council simply revised its extant mandates to accommodate the , and instructed the Secretariat to mitigate their inhumanitarian consequences.
Jump to Part: I, III, IV | Glossary | Timeline A striking feature of U. policy since the collapse of the Soviet deterrent is the frequency with which it relies on the Security Council and the Secretariat for its execution—before the fact when it can (Iraq 1990–91), but after the fact when it must (as in the cases of postwar Kosovo and post-invasion Afghanistan and Iraq).
Even though the Security Council never authorized these last three major U. aggressions, in each case the United States secured degrees of council assent and legitimation.
N.’s civilian officials and military commanders to relinquish for a limited period of time their authority to veto air strikes in Bosnia.
In , his memoir of the time he spent as the chief U. negotiator for Bosnia, Richard Holbrooke recounts an episode when Kofi Annan, then the head of UN peacekeeping, “won the job” to succeed Boutros-Ghali some fifteen months before the event.With Boutros-Ghali “unreachable on a commercial aircraft,” Annan “instructed the U.“The logic of peace-keeping flows from political and military premises that are quite distinct from those of enforcement,” the asserted.“To blur the distinction between the two can undermine the viability of the peace-keeping operation….”42The UN struggled to respect this distinction throughout the wars in Croatia and Bosnia.
But this process did not begin with operations Allied Force, Enduring Freedom, or Iraqi Freedom.Long in the making, one root traces back to the Security Council’s earliest responses to Iraq’s August 1990 invasion of Kuwait; the unremitting devastation of Iraq, including the genocidal sanctions regime, has borne the UN’s seal ever since.40 The other traces back to the massive UN involvement in Yugoslavia during the first-half of the 1990s, when the Council fielded the largest number of blue-helmeted troops ever (close to 40,000 at its peak in 1995) in its most costly mission to date ( billion).41Neither UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali’s (January 1995) advocated “humanitarian” war, much less the right to take sides in civil wars; and yet before the end of the decade, “humanitarian” war and the related notion of a “responsibility to protect” had been placed near the top of his successor Kofi Annan’s agenda.