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The Myth of the Democratic Peacekeeper

Civil-Military Relations and the United Nations

Arturo C. Sotomayor

Publication Year: 2013

The Myth of the Democratic Peacekeeper reevaluates how United Nations peacekeeping missions reform (or fail to reform) their participating members. It investigates how such missions affect military organizations and civil-military relations as countries transition to a more democratic system. Two-thirds of the UN’s peacekeepers come from developing nations, many of which are transitioning to democracy as well. The assumption is that these “blue helmet” peacekeepers learn not only to appreciate democratic principles through their mission work but also to develop an international outlook and new ideas about conflict prevention. Arturo C. Sotomayor debunks this myth, arguing that democratic practices don’t just “rub off” on UN peacekeepers. So what, if any, benefit accrues to these troops from emerging democracies? In this richly detailed study of a decade’s worth of research (2001–2010) on Argentine, Brazilian, and Uruguayan peacekeeping participation, Sotomayor draws upon international socialization theory and civil-military relations to understand how peacekeeping efforts impact participating armed forces. He asks three questions: Does peacekeeping reform military organizations? Can peacekeeping socialize soldiers to become more liberalized and civilianized? Does peacekeeping improve defense and foreign policy integration? His evaluation of the three countries’ involvement in the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti reinforces his final analysis—that successful democratic transitions must include a military organization open to change and a civilian leadership that exercises its oversight responsibilities. The Myth of the Democratic Peacekeeper contributes to international relations theory and to substantive issues in civil-military relations and comparative politics. It provides a novel argument about how peacekeeping works and further insight into how international factors affect domestic politics as well as how international institutions affect democratizing efforts.

Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii

List of Figures and Tables

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pp. ix-x


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pp. xi-xiv

List of Abbreviations and Acronyms

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pp. xv-xviii

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Introduction: Myths and Realities of Peacekeepers in Democratic Transition

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pp. 1-20

Because of the large spike in post– Cold War peace missions, interest in United Nations peacekeeping operations has reached new heights. For most of the Cold War era, there were never more than fi ve UN peacekeeping missions operating at any one time. By the end of 2011, however, fi fteen operations were...

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1: Why Do Democratizing States Participate in Peacekeeping?

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pp. 21-37

Peacekeeping has become the UN’s key instrument for maintaining world peace and order. Given the prominence of this tool, a significant portion of international relations research has inevitably focused on the relationship between peacekeeping, the durability of peace agreements, and the end of interstate...

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2: What Is the Evidence from South America?

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pp. 38-67

While chapter 1 covered the rationale for demo cratizing states’ participation in peacekeeping operations, here I provide an empirical evaluation of the same themes, examining how signaling, domestic reform imperatives, and budgetary motivations have affected peacekeeping activities in South America in diverse...

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3: Does Peacekeeping Reform Military Organizations?

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pp. 68-98

Having analyzed why democratizing states participate in peacekeeping operations, I now turn to how peacekeeping affects the military as an organization. As I discussed in chapter 1, the desire to induce military reform can motivate states to join international peacekeeping efforts. Conventional wisdom argues...

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4: How Does Peacekeeping Socialize the Military in South America?

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pp. 99-126

I now turn my attention to an examination of how peace missions can impact individual military officers, as people. As Marten Zisk (1993, 21) argues, “It is important to keep in mind the fact that military officers are individuals, not merely bureaucratic and organizational actors.” Even if military institutions...

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5: How Does Peacekeeping Socialize the Military in Haiti?

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pp. 127-159

An in- depth analysis of MINUSTAH helps us consider how peacekeeping missions socialize troops. The mission has a complex set of mandates that combine peace observation, peace enforcement, peacebuilding, and even refugee assistance.1 Its complexity helps illustrate that peacekeeping is not a one-dimensional...

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6; Does Peacekeeping Help Integrate Defense and Foreign Policy?

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pp. 160-189

Does peacekeeping influence foreign policy? If, as argued in chapter 1, peacekeeping can serve as a foreign policy tool by signaling international commitment, it would also appear that it can influence those who shape and formulate foreign policy. Peacekeeping participation can be consequential for military...

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Conclusion: Theory and Policy Implications of the UN Peacekeeping System’s Divergent Effects

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pp. 190-208

Former UN Secretary- General Dag Hammarskjöld, who in 1961 died tragically in a plane crash in the liberated Congo while managing a peacekeeping mission there, famously said that “peacekeeping is not a job for soldiers, but only soldiers can do it.” Over the years, this famous quotation has become a...


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pp. 209-222


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pp. 223-246


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pp. 247-255

E-ISBN-13: 9781421412146
E-ISBN-10: 1421412144
Print-ISBN-13: 9781421412139
Print-ISBN-10: 1421412136

Page Count: 280
Illustrations: 1 map, 4 graphs
Publication Year: 2013