(Wisner, Inderfurth testify at Senate hearing)  (710)

By Wendy S. Ross

USIA Congressional Affairs Writer

Washington -- The Clinton administration is reviewing ways to help the

United Nations strengthen its capacity to plan and conduct peacekeeping and

peace enforcement operations, say two top administration officials.

Frank Wisner, undersecretary of defense for policy, and Karl Inderfurth,

U.S. alternate representative to the United Nations for special political

affairs, testified July 14 before the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on

Coalition Defense and Reinforcing Forces.

They told the panel that the National Security Council has assembled an

inter agency task force to review U.S. participation in multilateral

peacekeeping and enforcement operations, including U.N. financing and

budget management reforms.  That review, begun in February, is nearing

completion, they said.

"If we do not want America to be the world's policeman, we must find new

collective means of preserving peace, and the best arsenal available to us

1s the arsenal of peacekeeping" and of collective security, Wisner said.

He said the United States "is the central element" in this process, and "is

truly unique" in the skills it can bring to the peacemaking process.

It is clearly in the interest of the United States to assist in the training

and equipping of U.N. peacekeeping and peacemaking forces and in providing

them intelligence, logistics and lift capacity, he said.

The United States is also prepared, he said, on a case-by-case basis, to

join with other nations in providing combat units.  "We have now done so in

Somalia and Macedonia," he pointed out, but he made clear that "the central

authority over United States troops will be retained by the leadership" of

the United States.

"We have to tread a fine line," he said, "making certain the United Nations

has effective military control" while at the same time ensuring that

ultimate authority lies with the president and secretary of defense.

The importance of U.N. peace operations to this nation's foreign and defense

policies cannot be overstated, Inderfurth said.  "Getting peacekeeping

right is one of the most challenging and critical tasks" facing the United

States in the post-Cold War world.

"We know the peacekeeping system is in need of major reform," he said, "but

we also are confident that with American leadership and the dedicated

participation of other governments, the means to create a viable

peacekeeping system can be found."

But he said the United States is not supporting the creation of a permanent

or standing U.N. army.  "All troop contributions to U.N. peacekeeping

operations," he said, "are and will remain at the discretion of each


Inderfurth said Somalia and Cambodia are examples of successful U.N.

peacekeeping actions.

If a poll were taken in Somalia, he predicted, the majority of the people

would show support for a continued U.N. presence there despite the ongoing

fighting in Mogadishu.

Wisner reminded the senators that without the U.N. humanitarian action, tens

of thousands of Somalis would have starved.

"The new multilateral security system is on trial.  It has had a fairly good

record in the gulf war, in Cambodia and Somalia, but a miserable one in

Yugoslavia," said retired Ambassador Jonathan Dean, who now is the arms

control adviser for the Union of Concerned Scientists, a private non-profit

organization which advocates stronger measures to control weapons


"Today in hindsight," he said, "it is widely agreed that if NATO or the U.N.

had intervened at the outset of the fighting in Slovenia, early in the

Croat-Serb conflict in Croatia, and early in the Bosnia conflict, that

these interventions could have blocked further fighting."

The United States and other industrialized nations, he said, "must be

willing to lead, to frame the issues for their publics, and to place their

armed forces in harm's way in order to prevent or stop organized killing."

Subcommittee chair Senator Carl Levin said a lot of issues remain to be

worked out on the peacekeeping issue.  He said his subcommittee wants to

take a lead role in meeting this challenge.  "We want to work with the

administration to make it possible to move multinationally" when possible

"to avoid broader wars," he said.