United Nations (UN) peace operations face an extended and dangerous period of strategic uncertainty. Since the end of the Cold War, global peacekeeping has undergone cycles of expansion and contraction. After a round of boom and bust in the 1990s, UN operations expanded through the last decade, as did those of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the African Union (AU), the European Union (EU) and other organizations. But a series of set-backs have coincided with military overstretch and the financial crisis, raising the risk that UN peacekeeping may contract once more.
Most Europeans are relieved at the re-election of Barack Obama. But in his second term he will face greater pressure to cut costs and will likely continue the US "pivot" to Asia. Though transatlantic security cooperation will continue, Europe now needs to grow up and focus on managing the crises in its own backyard.
Read the full European Council on Foreign Relations Policy Memo here
Europeans are usually supportive of the United Nations and its role in international crisis management, despite memories of the disasters in the Balkans and Rwanda. However, while European citizens approve of the UN in theory, they generally assume that the organization is not relevant to their own safety in practice.
The United Nations General Assembly met on 18 October to elect five new nonpermanent members of the Security Council. Although the winners will not begin their terms until January, the U.N. is approaching the end of two turbulent years in which three major powers -- Germany, India and South Africa -- have held temporary seats in the council, playing prominent roles in its debates over Libya and Syria.
Is there any respect in which Mitt Romney’s now-famous assertion that Russia is "without question our number one geopolitical foe" can be viewed as anything other than ridiculous - and dangerous - Cold War nostalgia?
Given the dramatic loss of life, the fallout in terms of refugees and other serious problems, and the attacks that deadly conflict inflicts on our fundamental values, preventing such conflict and the disorder it sows should be a much higher priority for the United States, other governments, international organizations, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).