Global Trends Point to Fragmentation of International Crisis Management

Global Trends Point to Fragmentation of International Crisis Management
Peacekeepers from the Netherlands serving with the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) keep watch in Gao, Mali, Feb. 26, 2014 (U.N. photo by Marco Dormino).

International crisis management does not evolve in a linear or rational fashion. It develops in fits and starts, almost always in response to specific shocks. Just as the Rwandan genocide and Srebrenica massacre reshaped United Nations peacekeeping in the 1990s, forcing the U.N. to professionalize its management systems and start thinking systematically about protecting civilians, 9/11 led NATO to shift from regional stabilization in the Balkans to long-range expeditionary warfare in Afghanistan. Had U.N. or NATO officials known at the time that, by adapting to these events, they were heading for the quagmires of Darfur and Helmand respectively, they might have balked. Events swept them toward these challenges nonetheless.

The convergence of crises in Ukraine, the Middle East and Africa in 2014 now has the potential to reshape international crisis management equally profoundly. While the course of future conflicts remains highly unpredictable, three trends seem to be clear.

The first, and most widely noted, is that NATO is switching back to a regional security focus to counter Russia now that the alliance’s Afghan mission is winding down. As a result, NATO is likely to invest less time in the sort of nation-building strategies it prioritized in Afghanistan and more on the military hardware and political software needed to track submarines, shadow Russian bombers and rebut Moscow’s beguiling propaganda.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.