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This house would create a UN standing army
This house would create a UN standing army
A standing army is a permanent military force, entirely under the command of a single authority. This is almost always a national government, although in the past European colonial companies sometimes maintained their own private military forces, as did feudal barons and warlords (for example, in China in the 1920s). At present the UN has no military force of its own to send on peacekeeping or peace enforcement missions. Instead, it has to gather together troops and equipment volunteered by member states on an ad hoc basis for each individual crisis.
Moreover, the army would only act at the behest of the Security Council. It would only act in peacekeeping capacities , in order to stay overtly aligned to the neutrality and civilian focus of the United Nations as a whole.
A UN standing army would be under the control of the UNSC; if individual states could pull troops out of it when they chose to (for example because they disagreed with the objective of a particular mission), then it would not fulfil the true definition of a standing army. There are significant practical Issues to be considered: how large the force would be? What military capabilities it would have (e.g. would it have air and sea power?)? How it would be recruited? How it would be funded and where it might be based.? To what extent it would add to or replace the existing methods of raising troops should also be considered? Long term peacekeeping missions (for example, in Cyprus or Bosnia) might still be undertaken by detachments volunteered by individual states, while the UN Standing Army might be deployed to deal with short-term crises.
|Points For||Points Against|
|A UN Standing Army would solve the problem of American military hegemony.||A UN standing army would not be cost-effective.|
|A UN standing army would be ideally suited to respond to contemporary crises.||A UN standing army is simply impossible to form.|
|A UN standing army would be more effective in operations themselves.||There are better alternatives to solving the problems of contemporary warfare.|
|A U.N. standing army renders the United Nations a de facto state, but without a territory or a population.|
|A UN standing army is unnecessary.|
Remember to choose a winning argument!
A UN Standing Army would solve the problem of American military hegemony.
A strong, effective and impartial United Nations standing army would deny powerful military states the right to bully and blackmail rivals into submission with the threat of military force. A UN army would be able to balance that threat with their own willingness to come to the aid of states under military duress. The United States, unwilling to risk a protracted conflict against a respected, well-trained multi-national force would have to fall back. To use an example, American military intervention in Vietnam, against the wishes of the majority of the population, could have been prevented had a U.N. standing army existed to respond to the wishes of the Vietnamese people and stand against the United States’ intervention. The existence of such a military rival would therefore force the United States to increase its investment in its State Department and diplomatic solutions to political crises. Ultimately, peace would be more effectively maintained.Improve this
A UN standing army would not solve 'the problem of American military hegemony', even if there is such a problem. It is perhaps unlikely that the US would fund such an army. Nor would other major military spenders like the United Kingdom be likely to since they already send troops to NATO, possibly in the near future to an EU army, and having its own army it would be significantly overstretched. This United Nations could not raise sufficient funds to create such a force. To establish military parity with the US would require a large nuclear arsenal and an enormous military infrastructure. States will not ever finance such a force at the expense of building up their own forces. The army would have to be willing to be pitched against the interests of the US or other permanent members of the Security Council, yet any U.N. standing army would require the blessing of that Security Council, where those members have a veto. Therefore making this not possible, as only the UNSC can be responsible for security. American military hegemony will not be challenged by a force that is under its own direction.Improve this
A UN standing army would be ideally suited to respond to contemporary crises.
Changes in modern warfare dictate the need for an impartial, rapidly-deploying, multi-national force. Modern warfare is no longer the trench battles of battalions aligned to a flag, it is increasingly police actions designed to prevent the resort to warfare in the first place or enforce ceasefires once they have begun. As such, the impartiality of a UN standing army would be highly valuable, offering both parties in the conflict a neutral peacemaker and peacekeeper. Contrast this to the perceived differences in attitude between troops from Britain, the US, Russia and France to warring sides in the Balkans. It would be free of accusations of meddling and self-interest that accompany the participation of troops from neighbouring states in UN interventions (for example, Nigeria in West African missions). A UN standing army could overcome local civilian suspicion, free from the threat of propaganda from those opposed to it and free from the restraints of state power on those troops involved.
Furthermore, a UN standing army would be able to deploy much faster than current peacekeeping missions which are held back by the bureaucracy of finding troops, equipment and funding. The present system takes months to put forces in the field, and these are often inadequate to the task in hand, as member states have pledged fewer troops than were requested and they then struggle to co-ordinate across cultural and linguistic barriers. This has meant the UN has often acted too late, with too little force, and has thereby failed to avert humanitarian disasters in such places as Central Africa, Bosnia, Sierra Leone and Somalia. A UN standing army would be permanently available and able to deploy rapidly to contain crises before they turn into full-scale wars and humanitarian disasters. Without an independent army, the UN has ‘no capacity to avert such catastrophes’ 1 for it simply cannot raise forces quickly or effectively enough.
 Johansen, R. C. (2006). A United Nations Emergency Peace Service to Prevent Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity, p.23.Improve this
Impartiality is not defined by the constitution of the forces, but the decision-making process which determine their use. A UN standing army would not alter the injustice of the UN Security Council and its veto system, which institutionalizes self-interest in the decisions of the body. As the recent proposal for an independent UN force indicates, the force could move swiftly to avert catastrophe but only specifically ‘after UN authorization’1. Therefore whilst a UN standing army would ostensibly be neutral, the uses for which it would be deployed would still have the same, underlying self-interested motives on the part of the UN Security Council. The problem is therefore not resolved, but pushed further up the line.
“We have to walk a fine line in order to build support in the U.S. and in developing countries. This sort of thing creates suspicion that Western countries want to use this for political purposes.” 2
On speed of deployment, the UN’s ability to respond more quickly is not a serious problem. Many of the UN’s most embarrassing incidents occurred when its troops were very much on the ground already. The three oft-quoted examples are Srebrenica, Somalia, Rwanda; in the 1990s all three states played host to UN peacekeeping forces, and in each case further bloodshed ensued. At Srebrenica, Serbian troops marched the Bosnian Muslim men out of a UN-declared ‘safe area’ 3; the fault for their massacre does not rest with speed of deployment or troop cohesion. As Morrison states, ‘until U.N. member states devote as much attention to solving the underlying political causes of national and international disputes as they have to the creation of a U.N. permanent military force, true solutions will remain elusive’4. The UN needs to be able to respond more effectively, not necessarily more quickly.
1 .Johansen, R. C. (2006). A United Nations Emergency Peace Service to Prevent Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity. p22
2. Perelman, M. (2007, September 5). Calls Grow for Creation of Standing U.N. Army. Retrieved May 10, 2011, from Forward: http://www.forward.com/articles/11552/
3. Canturk, L. (2007, October 25). Anatomy of a Peacekeeping Mission: Srebrenica Revisited. Retrieved May 10, 2011, from Worldpress: http://www.worldpress.org/Europe/2975.cfm
4. Morrison, A. (1994). Fiction of a U.N. Standing Army. Fletcher Forum of World Affairs, 83-96Improve this
A UN standing army would be more effective in operations themselves.
A UN standing army would be more effective than the variety of troops staffing missions under the current system. At present most UN operations are supplied by developing nations who hope to make a profit from the payments they receive for their services, but who are under-equipped and badly trained. Forces from the major powers are provided sparingly and only after substantial public pressure or when there exists an incentive for their use. A UN standing army would be better prepared, both in regards to training and equipment, and its soldiers would have greater motivation as they would have made a choice to enlist, rather than being conscripts forced by their own states to fight someone else’s war. A single UN force would also have better command and control than in current situations, when different national forces and their commanders often fail to work effectively together in the field for cultural and linguistic reasons. Successful forces such as the French Foreign Legion, the Indian army and the Roman army show that issues of language and culture need not be problems in combat situations. They can be overcome through a strong professional ethos and a commitment to a mutual cause, values that can only be expected to develop if troops prepare, train and fight together.Improve this
A UN standing army would still have the same drawbacks as the current model. Differences in language, culture, etc. will seriously mar operational effectiveness, especially in combat situations, irrespective of whether they have been trained together. In the heat of the battle, troops that have grown up in different cultures, speaking different languages will understandably fall back upon what they know. Cultural instincts cannot be retaught or unlearned in a military barracks; they will prove an obstacle to operational effectiveness. In addition, in a truly multinational force there will always be a great many individual soldiers who could be suspected of taking sides in a particular conflict (e.g. Muslims or Orthodox Christians in the Balkan conflicts); are such soldiers to be pulled out from a particular mission, thereby perhaps weakening the whole force? A UN army might also end up being very poorly equipped, for if the advanced military powers start to see the UN as a potential rival or adversary, they will refuse to provide it with quality arms and armour. In that case, the UN standing army becomes both another rival in the global balance of power and may drive opposition to the institution itself and its long fight to garner respect.Improve this
A UN standing army would not be cost-effective.
The cost of such an army would be very high, especially if it were to include purchase of air and sea transport to reach theatres of operation, added to the high costs of permanent establishment and training, and equipping the force for every possible type of terrain. State armed forces have the advantage of preparing for specific battles with specific enemies. Any UN standing force would be forced by its very nature to prepare for every enemy, in every environment. Such a scope is neither desirable nor easy to overcome without great expense and large numbers. At present, the UN model is preferable; it can draw upon different kind of troops for different kinds of missions from whatever member states feel best equipped to deal with a particular situation.Improve this
A UN standing army would be cost effective. It would bring benefits to the world economy, and therefore offset its own expense, through avoiding the protracted costs of refugee crises and other humanitarian disasters. These costs are both direct (through aid) and indirect (as developed nations often become the destination of illegal immigrants fleeing conflicts at home, e.g. Sri Lankans and Kurds). War also disrupts trade and thus damages the global economy, while a greater confidence that war can be avoided in future will encourage more long-term investment and thus greater prosperity. Moreover, member states providing troops for current UN missions are paid for their services, so a UN standing army would not be much more expensive that the present system.Improve this
A UN standing army is simply impossible to form.
A standing army for the United Nations has an existing legal framework; it has never been attempted in practice because it would be impossible to create. Article 43 of the original UN Charter specifies that all member states are expected, upon the signing of a future UN agreement, to provide ‘forces, assistance and facilities’ for the maintenance of international peace and security 1. That it is has never been attempted is the direct result of its sheer impracticality; who would contribute the troops? How would they be trained, and ensure that troops trained in one state would not be asked to thereafter fire on their own colleagues? Furthermore, where would the U.N. standing army be located, for the United Nations has no land, and the United States would not take kindly to a reprisal attack on the UN Army at the United Nations Headquarters. And who would fund this army? The United States hasn’t paid its bills to the United Nations in years due to their opposition to some of its actions/ What is there in place to prevent that continuing? Lastly, and most importantly, whose will would they be implementing, for the United Nations is not a single voice but the aggregated noise of its member states? The Security Council, which currently dictates the form that U.N. peacekeeping operations take, are not a group to whom impartiality can be attributed. A U.N standing army at the behest of the Security Council would be used sparingly at best and only in regions and conflicts for whom all the P5 had a vested interest in the maintenance of peace. Any impartiality that the U.N. standing army had in theory would be lost in practice.
1. U.N. Charter, (1945) http://www.un.org/en/documents/charter/chapter7.shtmlImprove this
A U.N. standing army is not impossible to form. The United Nations has already conclusively proved, in numerous peacekeeping among other missions, its ability to play a constructive, effective military role in interventions; a standing army would merely replace the top level of command. Instead of taking orders from the top brass in a national military, the orders would come from United Nations commanders. For soldiers trained to listen and respond to commands, this would constitute merely a subtle shift that would not alter their operational effectiveness. Furthermore, funding would be provided through similar streams to how peacekeeping forces are funded contemporaneously
, however once the U.N. standing army has proved itself capable, funding will surely come from those states who recognize that pooling resources to form a U.N. army is more prudent than scratching together a under-resourced, native army.
There are better alternatives to solving the problems of contemporary warfare.
If it is granted that the UN currently reacts too slowly to crises, alternatives for an improved response could be implemented without resorting to a standing army. A Rapid Reaction Force made up of fast-response units from member states with elite military capability, pledged in advance for UN operations, would build upon the best features of the current system. Security Council reform to remove the veto powers from the Permanent 5 members would allow deadlocks in decision-making to be rapidly broken and avoid the compromises which produce weak mission mandates. An improved prediction capability through better intelligence and analysis, and central logistical planning at UN headquarters would allow forces to be assembled and mandates drafted before problems became full-blown crises. Security Council rules could be changed so that resolutions requiring force could not be passed until troops have been pledged in advance.Improve this
Although other reforms of the UN may be desirable in their own right, without involving the creation of a standing army they will not address the central problems of peacekeeping. Proposals for a rapid reaction force formed from member states may speed up the arrival of troops a little, but it will still make the UN dependent upon the goodwill of member states; if they choose not to participate in a particular mission, then the usual long delays and inadequate forces will result. The predominant concern is the safety of civilians, and the existence of a force or process for establishing a force able to quickly and effectively achieve this wherever necessary in the world. A UN standing army is the only solution able to provide both quick and effective force in every possible case.Improve this
A U.N. standing army renders the United Nations a de facto state, but without a territory or a population.
Essentially only governments have standing armies, so this plan would inevitably make the UN more like a world government – and one which is not democratic and where, in China, a totalitarian state has veto power over key decision-making. This means a standing army may actually be counter-productive, impairing current perceptions of the UN’s selfless neutrality, undermining its moral authority and its ability to broker peace agreements. If the UN becomes an institution with its own voice, the fears that the UN would lose its role as the honest broker in international affairs would come to fruition 1.
1.Miller, 1992-3, p.787
A U.N. standing army does not render the United Nations a de facto state, for the army would still be under the authority of the Security Council and therefore subject to the will and control of its sitting members. As such, a standing army does not qualitatively alter the decision-making process which is the foundation for the moral authority of the United Nations and its ability to broker peace agreements. The decision to deploy troops will still have to be ultimately authorized by the UN Security Council; the only development being that the force will be both quicker to deploy, averting humanitarian catastrophes, and more effective, due to group cohesion, in its actions 1. The institutional restraints of the General Assembly vote and Security Council veto would remain as a leash on the use of any standing army, with the proviso that once unleashed, the UN would be both quicker and more effective in its use of force to implement security council mandates.
1. Johansen, R. C. (2006). A United Nations Emergency Peace Service to Prevent Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity.p.26Improve this
A UN standing army is unnecessary.
A UN standing army is unnecessary; in many cases UN missions are very successful. In Guatemala for example, a UN peacekeeping mission was essential in enabling the conclusion of a decades-long civil war in 1997. When there are problems these are more to do with lengthy and difficult Security Council deliberations, inadequate mandates, etc. rather than how long it took to gather a force together. In Srebrenica for example, where thousands of Bosnian men and boys were slaughtered by Serbian troops, the problem was not the absence of peacekeepers on the ground, but an inadequate mandate to use force. The UN would be much better spending its efforts on setting up a proper peacekeeping department, and streamlining the UN as a whole.Improve this
The lessons from failed UN peacekeeping missions are that ‘coalitions of the willing’ do not work effectively; forces used to training with each other will demonstrate cohesion in a conflict zone 1. Furthermore, states can be unwilling to get involved if they have bad memories; the UN failed to go into Rwanda because of American objections following events in Somalia in 1990 2. A rapid response team that did not rely on American troops would have been able to prevent much of the Rwandan bloodshed, or at the very least alleviate conditions until which time the US could have decided to offer its political will and military support. A standing army is required for those opportune moments when force is required to protect those for whom the major powers are not willing to make sacrifices.
1. Wedgwood, R. (2001). United Nations Peacekeeping Operations and the Use of Force. Washington University Journal of Law and Policy, 69-86
2, IbidImprove this
Canturk, L. (2007, October 25). Anatomy of a Peacekeeping Mission: Srebrenica Revisited. Retrieved May 10, 2011, from Worldpress: http://www.worldpress.org/Europe/2975.cfm
Johansen, R. C. (2006). A United Nations Emergency Peace Service to Prevent Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity
Morrison, A. (1994). Fiction of a U.N. Standing Army. Fletcher Forum of World Affairs, 83-96
Perelman, M. (2007, September 5) Calls Grow for Creation of Standing U.N. Army. Retrieved May 10, 2011, from Forward: http://www.forward.com/articles/11552/
United Nations (1945) U.N. Charter. Retrieved June 22, 2011 from United Nations: http://www.un.org/en/documents/charter/chapter7.shtml Wedgwood, R. (2001).
United Nations Peacekeeping Operations and the Use of Force. Washington University Journal of Law and Policy, 69-8
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