U.S. Completes Policy on Peacekeeping


The Clinton Administration, chastened by its flawed efforts to make or keep peace in Somalia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Haiti, has completed a long-delayed, oft-revised policy governing U.S. participation in peacekeeping operations around the globe.

The new policy sets numerous, stringent conditions, with U.S. involvement in international peacekeeping to become "more selective and more effective" as a result, according to White House National Security Adviser Anthony Lake.

Signed by President Clinton earlier this week, the policy marks the first comprehensive effort by the government to specify the conditions under which the United States will intervene in foreign conflicts.

But the document, known as Presidential Decision Directive 13, spells out only the questions--not the answers--for policy-makers to consider when faced by a difficult political or humanitarian crisis such as those now facing Haiti or Rwanda.

"This study is not a crystal ball," Lake said. "It is a road map."

The study is the result of a yearlong policy review.

The State Department and the Pentagon took months to resolve the issue of who will pay the U.S. share for various types of peacekeeping missions. It was finally determined that the Pentagon would pay for operations involving substantial numbers of U.S. troops and the likelihood of combat, such as Somalia. The State Department will underwrite more traditional peacekeeping duties where no U.S. combat troops are dispatched, such as operations in the Golan Heights and Cambodia.

The change will result in a shift of about $500 million from the State Department budget for multinational organizations to the Pentagon, officials said.

Under the new policy, U.S. military forces will never come under foreign command, although troops on occasion may be assigned to the temporary operational control of a U.N. commander.

But there may be cases in which U.S. troops may serve "for a specific time frame, for a specific mission, in a particular location" under a military commander from another U.N. country.

Before the United States agrees to participate in a U.N. operation, these conditions must be met: There must be an identifiable U.S. interest at stake; the mission must be clearly defined in size, scope and duration; there must be sufficient resources and political will to carry out the mission, and there must be an identifiable "exit strategy" for ending U.S. involvement. Clear lines of command must be in place, and Congress and the American people must support U.S. involvement.

Officials said an important goal of the new policy is to lower the cost of U.S. participation in U.N. peacekeeping operations. The Administration has said it wants to pay no more than 25% of the U.N. peacekeeping budget. It now contributes almost a third and is $1 billion behind in its payments.

Lake said that the new policy reflects the limits of U.S. ability to solve the world's problems as well as constraints on the Treasury.

Clinton's campaign proposal for a standing U.N. peacekeeping force has now evolved into a plan to create a computer database of forces that could be enlisted on short notice to enforce U.N. resolutions.

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