Major General Robert Mood, Head of Mission and Chief of Staff of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), told an IPI audience on January 31st, “You cannot solve problems in one culture with solutions from another.”
General Mood, who is ending his two-year term as head of what is the UN’s original peacekeeping force in the Middle East, said this was “obvious, but difficult to translate into actions on the ground.”
“That might be one of the reasons for the convergence of several factors in the Middle East as we speak,” he said. “Perceptions are increasingly more important than reality.”
General Mood, who has served thirty-three years as a soldier, four of them as the Chief of Staff of the Norwegian Army, said that though the military is traditionally designed to destroy and defeat a military enemy, his experience is that “the violence released in military operations stimulates violence and unpredictability, and it facilitates opportunistic action.”
“Military means tend not to achieve the anticipated political aim,” he said, adding that the military option is “overrated and it’s used too often, because it is so easily available to demonstrate political determination.”
“Obviously, military action is sometimes necessary and unavoidable,” he said, but “it may do more harm than good.”
“Brave leaders, dialogue, education and culture are more powerful than any military,” he said.
The event was moderated by Warren Hoge, IPI Vice President for External Relations.