Enforcing the Peace: Learning from the Imperial Past

Enforcing the Peace: Learning from the Imperial Past

by Kimberly Zisk Marten


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Anarchy makes it easy for terrorists to set up shop. Yet the international community has been reluctant to commit the necessary resources to peacekeeping—with devastating results locally and around the globe. This daring new work argues that modern peacekeeping operations and military occupations bear a surprising resemblance to the imperialism practiced by liberal states a century ago. Motivated by a similar combination of self-interested and humanitarian goals, liberal democracies in both eras have wanted to maintain a presence on foreign territory in order to make themselves more secure, while sharing the benefits of their own cultures and societies. Yet both forms of intervention have inevitably been undercut by weak political will, inconsistent policy choices, and their status as a low priority on the agenda of military organizations. In more recent times, these problems are compounded by the need for multilateral cooperation—something even NATO finds difficult to achieve but is now necessary for legitimacy.

Drawing lessons from this provocative comparison, Kimberly Zisk Marten argues that the West's attempts to remake foreign societies in their own image—even with the best of intentions—invariably fail. Focusing on operations in Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo, and East Timor in the mid- to late 1990s, while touching on both post-war Afghanistan and the occupation of Iraq, Enforcing the Peace compares these cases to the colonial activities of Great Britain, France, and the United States at the turn of the twentieth century. The book weaves together examples from these cases, using interviews Marten conducted with military officers and other peacekeeping officials at the UN, NATO, and elsewhere. Rather than trying to control political developments abroad, Marten proposes, a more sensible goal of foreign intervention is to restore basic security to unstable regions threatened by anarchy. The colonial experience shows that military organizations police effectively if political leaders prioritize the task, and the time has come to raise the importance of peacekeeping on the international agenda.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780231129138
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Publication date: 09/29/2004
Pages: 208
Product dimensions: 6.36(w) x 9.28(h) x 0.73(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Kimberly Zisk Marten is a professor of political science at Barnard College, Columbia University. Her previous books include Engaging the Enemy: Organization Theory and Soviet Military Innovation (1993), which won the Marshall Shulman Prize, and Weapons, Culture, and Self-Interest: Soviet Defense Managers in the New Russia. She lives in New York City.

Table of Contents

1. Peace, or Change?
2. Peacekeeping and Control
3. State Interests, Humanitarianism, and Control
4. Political Will and Security
5. Military Tasks and Multilateralism
6. Security as a Step to Peace

What People are Saying About This

David M. Malone

This admirably clear and concise volume examines unsentimentally the new generation of complex international peacekeeping operations, concluding that recent experiences in East Timor and Afghanistan could hold lessons for Iraq, the Ivory Coast and other current crises.

Michael Barnett

Provocative....Others have seen parallels between peacekeeping operations and colonialism, but Marten takes that analogy and develops it to its logical and highly controversial conclusion—that colonialism provides a potential model for success and can rescue complex peacekeeping operations from their steady stream of failures. This is an important and much needed addition to the peacekeeping literature. Although some might view the presumed parallels between colonialism and peacekeeping to be polemical, Marten's coolly reasoned and historically rich arguments should cause even the most dismissive to take a hard look and to wrestle with her policy recommendations.

Leslie Gelb

It used to be that international peacekeeping was simply a matter of policing cease fires. Now, UN peacekeeping is at or near the center of dealing with almost every major conflict, internal or external. Marten's new book should be at the center of our learning and thinking about the facts and the policy process. This is a very important book.

Simon Chesterman

Efforts to maintain international order have long balanced the interests of the powerful against their perceptions of the needs of the powerless. In this sensitive and insightful new book, Kimberly Zisk Marten compares recent nation-building missions with their colonial forebears to argue for modesty in modern efforts at benevolent intervention. Her book is uncomfortable but essential reading for anyone interested in the capacity of external actors to bring peace to troubled lands.

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