“But not shiny and sustainable social democratic states”

Interesting angle on the UN’s peacekeeping effort. Richard Gowan blogs a summary of his own report International Peacekeeping in which he says the UN “is being asked to go to too many places at once, including places where peacekeeping stands no chance…” Places he quotes include the Irish and French deployment in Chad, where he has argued elsewhere (in Spanish) the real need is for negotiators, not soldiers.On Darfur he notes:

I pick up on David and Alex’s concept of “intentional systems disruption”, which involves bringing down a complex system by exploiting its most vulnerable points – in the case of Darfur, those vulnerabilities have been (i) the UN’s political reliance on winning consent for its operations, which Sudan has denied and (ii) its shortage of specialized assets like helicopters. My hunch (shared by a lot of UN officials) is that Darfur is a textbook for how to block a UN operation that will be used elsewhere, weakening the whole system’s credibility…

His more general point though is that the world has changed, and the UN has failed to keep pace:

…the idea of large-scale, multi-dimensional UN missions overseeing countries stumbling out of conflict may have run out of road. That’s not only because nasty governments know how disrupt UN ops, but because the UN model for building liberal, democratic and Western-oriented regimes doesn’t make so much sense in a world defined by a fit of Western self-doubt.

So what’s the alternative:

…we have to adjust to an environment in which UN operations can only deliver limited goods: some stability, perhaps, and a limited amount of time to do political deals and maybe get to work on early economic recovery (for guidance on that part, check out the excellent new study by my colleagues at CIC). But not shiny and sustainable social democratic states.