The Case for Engagement: American Interests in UN Peace Operations

  • Edward C. Luck


This chapter makes the case for a robust American commitment to UN peace operations. To do this, five fundamental areas are addressed: (I) how the dramatic changes in the international system affect American policy choices; (2) the wide variety of ways in which the UN may seek to intervene in a local conflict; (3) the advantages of multilateralism; (4) the nature of US global interests; and (5) public attitudes and political leadership. The debate over US involvement in UN peace operations has been clouded by the frequent invocation of stereotypes of interventionism versus isolationism based on images from earlier eras, by assumptions that this is an either-or choice, and by misapprehensions about public perceptions and concerns. Through these simplistic caricatures, discussion has become polarised and symbolism has tended to overshadow serious analysis of American interests and alternatives in an era of rapid change. Neither Munich nor Vietnam are helpful analogies for understanding post-Cold War choices, because both are embedded in images of a bipolar world in which the nature of threats, interests and opportunities was very different from what we face today.


Foreign Policy Security Council Peace Process Civil Conflict Collective Security 
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  1. 10.
    March 1989 and March 1992 surveys on US public attitudes on the United Nations conducted by the Roper Organization for UNA—USA, cited in Jeffrey Laurenti, Directions and Dilemmas in Collective Security ( UNAUSA: New York, 1992 ), pp. 27–30.Google Scholar
  2. 12.
    See Steven Kull, op. cit. in note 5, and Steven Kull and Clay Ramsay, ‘Public Seeks Sense of Purpose in US Bosnian Policy: Approval for Airstrikes Rose When Need Was Explained’, Christian Science Monitor, 22 February 1994.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1995

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  • Edward C. Luck

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