Dr. Goldstein acknowledges and explains four main failed UN peacekeeping missions (Bosnia, Rwanda, Angola, and Somalia), mainly being the underfunding of these operations, lack of personnel, and lack of training. He follows up the failures with four successes (Namibia, El Salvador, Cambodia, and Mozambique). According to Dr. Goldstein, "the failure cases got twice the personnel and nearly three times the budget, relative to population, as the success cases, and incurred three times the fatalities" (p. 103). The main reason, he argues, is that there was consent of the parties in all of the cases that were successes and in the ones that failed there was no consent. Dr. Goldstein also mentions two things that the UN peacekeeping missions need to improve upon in order to make more cases successes: first, these missions need to "learn to adapt by meshing the cultures of their own personnel from various countries"; and military personal must learn to do things that they would not do during conventional military activity, such as placing their bodies in the path of an oncoming tank (p. 105). At any rate, it is clear that having peacekeepers present reduces the risk of renewed fighting. "In each case... the UN got the shooting to stop, did not solve all of the underlying social injustices and grievances, and the shooting did not resume" (p. 107). I think this is a crucial point, especially for those who believe justice and reconciliation are necessary for peace.
The book continues through the grown and development of peace keeping in the UN. Including the establishment of disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) programs, as well as security sector reform (SSR), truth commissions (p. 121) and women's involvement in peace activism. Despite the growing movement for peace, Dr. Goldstein criticizes the lack of emphasis or stress that is focused onto coordinating and supporting UN peacekeeping initiatives (p. 207). Dr. Goldstein discusses how peace movements began in the US and how sometimes these groups that all have a common goal, can lose their message effectiveness by the way they deliver it. For example, although 70% of Americans opposed the Vietnam War, most of them also opposed the war protestors (p. 221).
Peace movements of all kinds have shaped policies and laws, which have transformed the world so that war is no longer the norm. (For example, in the 19th century, most Europeans saw war as inevitable, as beneficial to the winner, something to be welcomed, not avoided, a philosophical and moral good (p. 224)). For those who believe war is a necessary or natural part of society, Dr. Goldstein points out that at one point in time, slavery was also thought of in the same light. Human sacrifices and cannibalism also used to be fairly commonplace and today these practices are all but extinct (p. 225). Another thing peace movements have contributed to is the passing of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which protects civilians during war (p. 227). Finally, Dr. Goldstein points to Egypt as an example of how meaningful changes can be made internally through peaceful demonstrations (p. 228).
The data show that in the post-Cold War era, interstate wars have become rare - and none occurred at all from 2004-2007 (p. 237), but civil wars grew from the 1970-1980s. So why do we not hear about the progress we are making in becoming more peaceful? Dr. Goldstein points out that technology has made it so that everything is reportable instantly, so even if we are becoming more peaceful, the bouts of violence that are present are reported more than they were before the technology was invented. "What you see on TV and read about in newspapers is not representative of the world, but of the extremes" (p. 239) and news is a business and reporters are going to tell whatever stories will bring them more readers/viewers and revenue (p. 240). Dr. Goldstein gives a quote that sums up this phenomenon well: For example, a TV viewer who sees a story about a murder in Yorkshire, England, might say, ‘What is the world coming to?' but in fact the murder rate in Yorkshire in 1348 was 70 times the rate today. We just know much more about today's murders (p. 241). According to one report from the University of Maryland, today's world is "more peaceful than at any time in the past century" (p. 245).
Since nearly all wars today are civil wars, it is important then to recognize the warning signs that could lead to an outbreak of war. Conditions that are favorable to creating civil wars are those territories with large populations, low incomes, low economic growth rates, recent political instability, immature democracy, small military establishments, rough terrain, and war-prone, undemocratic neighbors (p. 292). According to some, "per capita income is the single best predictor of a country's odds of civil war outbreak" (p. 292). Also, it appears that both economic development failure and a recent history of war put a country at risk of another outbreak of fighting, suggesting that without effective outside help, the war-prone countries could stay war-prone for decades to come (p. 293).
Surprisingly, there has been no connection found between political repression of minority groups and the risk of war. Nor has any evidence been found connecting intergroup hatred, income inequality, or colonial history affecting the chances for war (p. 297). This statement refutes the popular belief that war is fought over religious differences. A war reporter once said the "the ethnic conflicts and insurgencies of our time, whether between Serbs and Muslims or Hutus and Tutsis, are not religious wars. They are not clashed between cultures or civilizations, nor are they the result of ancient ethnic hatreds. They are manufactured wars, born out of the collapse of civil societies, perpetuated by fear, greed, and paranoia, and they are run by gangsters" (p. 300). In other words, wars can be spun to seem like they are being fought for various reasons, even altruistic reasons, but the main reasons why wars are continued are superficial.
A major statement that I did not agree with in this book is when Dr. Goldstein discusses the structure of the UN, particularly with regards to the Security Council. Dr. Goldstein suggests that we try to improve the Security Council by getting better consensus among the great powers rather than trying to expand it or change the rules (p. 118). He cites the Security Council's unwillingness for restructuring of power as the main reason why peacebuilding has a much smaller budget than peacekeeping in the UN (P. 199) and the reason why mandates are purposefully kept vague for political reasons (p. 120). For these reasons I believe a structural reform must happen within the UN. I also have a problem with the way the UN receives and then uses its funding. According to Article 18, Section 1 of the UN Charter, "each member of the General Assembly shall have one vote" (Schaefer, 2009, p. xiv). This would not be an issue if every member of the General Assembly were donating the same amount of money to the UN.
Alas, the funding is set up on a "capacity-to-pay" formula that is adjusted periodically. Under this system, the US is paying 22 percent of the UN "regular" budgets (in 2007) and over 26 percent in peacekeeping operations. The 192 other UN members pay substantially less and yet they have the same influence over how the UN uses the money as the United States does. (Japan - who is not a member of the Security Council- is the second largest contributor at 16.6 percent, Germany- who also is not a member of the Security Council - at 8.6 percent, Britain at 6.6 percent, France at 6.3 percent, China at 2.7 percent and Russia at 1.2 percent (Schaefer, 2009, p. xiv)). Not only is the budgetary matter completely off balance, in order to get changes made to how these assessments are made, two-thirds of the General Assembly must vote in favor of the changes. I highly doubt two-thirds of the world are going to vote that they voluntarily raise their contribution percentage. This is clearly an issue, mainly when the Security Council needs to vote on pressing matters and Russia and China hold up proceedings or veto votes altogether (as, for example, with Syria and North Korea). The UN is not working in its current form - no one wants to invest in serious overhaul and policy changes. It is much easier to pass resolutions that are not binding and have no repercussions for breaking them than to actually make real change. (Admittedly, the US has been guilty of this as well. In addition to the Iraq invasion in 2003 without UN consent; the US went to great lengths to avoid using the term "genocide" which would trigger a legal obligation to do something during the Rwandan conflict (Goldstein, p. 84)... and the UN also pulled out and "left the Rwandans to their fates" (Goldstein, p. 85)). Despite all of the problems with theories and practical implementations, I still believe the field of conflict resolution is a valuable one and it has clearly been making headway.