The United Nations, Regionalism and the Future of International Peace and Security
Ambassador William Richardson.
Ambassador and United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations. Formerly Member of the 98th-103rd Congresses from the 3rd District of New Mexico and a Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee.
Ditchley Park contains a storied and impressive history, one that is of special significance because of the critical role it played during World War II as a wartime residence of Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
As a student of foreign affairs, and world history, I have long revered Winston Churchill. Not simply as a model of leadership and guidance in a time of great adversity, but also as a master orator whose words inspired not just the British people, but millions across the globe as well.
In America, we too, remember the words of Churchill, but in a far different context. After four years of war and after the final, exhausting victory in Europe and the Far East, Americans were wary of further foreign entanglement and involvement. The war was over, the Soviets were seemingly our Allies and the time had come for America to take care of its own. But, in 1946 at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, it was a Briton who reminded the American people that all their struggles on the battlefields of WWII, from Normandy to Guadalcanal, would be for naught if the United States simply turned its back to the “Iron Curtain” descending across Europe.
On that March day when the flames of East-West conflict were only just beginning to fan out across Europe, Winston Churchill spoke not only of the foreboding present, but of a hopeful future as well. He spoke of a fraternal, special relationship linking our two lands and our two peoples. One that would be realized, he said:
“if we adhere faithfully to the Charter of the United Nations and walk forward in sedate and sober strength, seeking no one’s land or treasure, seeking to lay no arbitrary control upon the thoughts of men, if all British moral and material forces and convictions are joined with your own in fraternal association, the high roads of the future will be clear, not only for us but for all, not only for our time but for a century to come.”
Churchill’s words defined the era in which I came of age and they informed the relations between the United States, Britain and its allies across the globe for the next half century. And, of course, these words embody the spirit of the United Nations.
So it is a humbling experience to be in Britain today, and particularly at Ditchley Park, as a representative of the United States government, when once again the world stands at the threshold of that hopeful future that Churchill envisioned - although one full of far greater promise and opportunity. As English-speaking people, as close allies and inheritors of the same political tradition and culture, Britain and America must and will continue to maintain our “special relationship”. Today, as a new generation assumes the mantle of leadership in our respective nations, the opportunities for cooperation, both bilaterally and in the United Nations, are greater than ever.
For that relationship to remain strong, America must constantly reinvigorate and reaffirm old bonds. That is why we are undertaking such a far-reaching transformation of NATO.
Changes in the organization’s strategic doctrine and force structure, the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council - as well as the initiative just this past week that will expand membership to Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic - are continuing the process of strengthening NATO for the 21st century. This most recent expansion follows on the heels of NATO’s historic agreement with Russia to enshrine an era of greater partnership and cooperation with our former Cold War adversaries. Through these efforts, the common goals of European security and integration will be advanced across the Continent, ensuring peace and stability for the next generation.
It must be remembered that the process of NATO expansion is not occurring in a vacuum. In my view it is reflective of a much larger and critically important change in the international system - the movement toward greater regional cooperation across the globe.
Some would argue that globalization is the defining characteristic of the post-Cold War era. It’s hard to disagree. There can be little question that a global interdependent world of open markets, free trade and economic integration is here to stay. Yet, even as capital, ideas and even disease and crime flow across porous national borders, there remains a fundamental paradox in the international system.
At the same time as nations are realizing and enjoying the benefits of a global vision, they are showing a growing willingness and desire to coalesce along local lines and in many cases strengthen existing regional fora or create new ones - whether their basis is economic, political or military. It reminds me of a popular American bumper-sticker, “Think Globally, Act Locally.”
These regional groupings are fast becoming the means by which neighbors communicate and interact with each other, and in turn with the international community. Some would say this represents a threat to globalization - creating a situation whereby nations may group themselves in regional blocs to wage economic, political or even military conflict.
I respectfully disagree. In my view, regionalism is representative of a larger worldwide movement toward the acceptance of democracy, open borders, economic liberalization and a belief that only by ensuring stability and cooperation through regional fora can nations remain competitive in the international system.
At a time when the United Nations is embarking on an ambitious reform agenda, I believe that these new regional entities present important opportunities for sharing the burdens and responsibilities of not only maintaining regional stability but improving international peace and security as well.
The opportunities for UN cooperation with regional organizations and actors are myriad. Across the globe, they are already beginning. This evening I would like to share with you some specific thoughts and ideas for how we may better foster a cooperative spirit between global and regional institutions, as well as create an informal division of labor for meeting current and future challenges to global peace and security.
My interest in discussing the merits of regionalism cannot easily be separated from one of my key goals as United States Ambassador to the United Nations - UN reform. I sometimes fear that our allies in Europe, and across the world, view America’s calls for reform as a euphemism for crippling the organization. Nothing could be further from the truth. Those of us actively supporting UN reform do so out of a belief that streamlining, cutting bureaucracy and red tape and refocusing the United Nations are in the organization’s long-term interest.
Reform, however, is and must be about more than simply budget cutting. Part of the challenge must inevitably focus on the question of prioritization, delegation of responsibility and a rational division of labor in the international system. As former Secretary of State Warren Christopher said in a speech to the General Assembly in 1995, “It is time to recognize that the UN must direct its limited resources to the world’s highest priorities, focusing on the tasks that it performs best.”
Over the past few years, legitimate concerns have been raised by the American public and leaders of Congress about the efficiency and the effectiveness of the United Nations. Dramatic failures to achieve peace in the former Yugoslavia or prevent genocide in Rwanda raised questions about how we, as an integral member of the UN, viewed and interacted with the organization.
Evidence of overlapping mandates, excessive staffing and wasteful spending raised questions about America’s oversight of assessed funds. These questions created a crisis of confidence in the US Congress about our relationship with the UN - spawning insistent demands for reform.
Together with President Clinton and Secretary Albright I have worked with my former colleagues in Congress, my new colleagues in New York and the American people to reestablish the bipartisan consensus that once dictated our relationship with the United Nations.
It is not an easy job. Even though poll after poll indicates that Americans strongly support the UN, a vocal minority who oppose the work of the organization, writ large, is dominating the debate. They spin baseless yarns about the UN’s infringement of American sovereignty. Or falsely assert that the United Nations is intent on taking over the world. There are even those who remain convinced that the UN possesses a fleet of black helicopters that fly across rural America wreaking havoc.
As foolish as these proclamations are, they often seem to receive as much attention in America as the stories of UN success. Today, however, our efforts finally seem to be paying off. Legislation, currently winding its way through the United States Congress, would lay the basis for finally resolving the issue of our outstanding dues to the United Nations.
We are emerging from this difficult and trying debate with a renewed Congressional commitment of support for the UN and a plan for repaying the great bulk of our arrears. I must stress, however, that the United States will need the help of all the member states of the United Nations to put our plan into effect. Not all of its provisions are welcome and some demand greater contributions from others to broaden the base of UN financing. If we are successful, though, it is my belief that the United Nations will be grounded on a much sounder financial and operational foundation for the future.
I think we all recognize that there needs to be a new approach and attitude at the United Nations. There must be significant management improvements, streamlining of economic and social agencies, and greater coordination among development programs. Moreover, with these streamlined structures, the UN can spend more energy on implementing the conclusions of the several major conferences held in the past decade - as opposed to planning new ones. In my view, the credibility of the UN is at stake.
In New York, reform efforts spearheaded by Secretary General Annan are already beginning to return the UN to its core competencies - addressing threats to international peace and security, humanitarian assistance, sustainable development, global norm setting, serving as an international forum - and doing so in a more efficient manner.
While these efforts are critically important, we must also recognize that successful reform is about more than no-growth budgets or benchmarks. Truly effective reform will depend in large part on the UN’s ability to come to grips with, and adapt to, the vast transitions already underway in the international system and in particular the movement toward regional integration and cooperation.
The opportunities for regional solutions exist in part because of the end of the Cold War. For the past 50 years the international system was far less complicated, multifaceted or regionally fixated - instead, two ideologically opposed blocs were at the forefront of the international system.
These two competing blocs made and shed alliances based as much on geopolitical and ideological determinants as on national proximity. We along with the Soviet Union maintained political, economic and military alliances across the globe based on an assessment of how these smaller nations fitted into the global rubric of East-West confrontation.
But today the international situation is far different and, for a variety of reasons, regional actors are more inclined toward cooperation, not conflict, and internal development as opposed to regional domination or expansion. Today, regions and regional organizations are stronger, more cohesive, and better capable of playing a leading role in maintaining international peace and security.
This fundamental change in the international system reflects a growing belief among nations that their security cannot be separated from the security and stability of their neighbors. Countries simply cannot compete in the global economy if the world is falling apart around them.
It should come as no surprise that many of the newer regional and sub-regional groupings often begin as economic organizations. They soon realize that regional stability, democracy, open borders and free market economies as well as economic integration and free trade are the keys to long-term prosperity.
That is also one of the main reasons why the Clinton Administration is making regional economic integration one of its key foreign policy objectives. In Europe, with the new Trans-Atlantic agenda; in Asia, with APEC; in Latin America with NAFTA, the Summit of the Americas and a Chilean free trade agreement; and in the Middle East with the establishment of annual Middle East/North African Economic Summits, the United States is committed to increasing and enshrining economic cooperation frameworks across the globe.
These commitments are born, in part, out of a belief that linking these economies together will increase prosperity as well as political and security cooperation while lessening the chance of confrontation or regional conflict.
As President Clinton said when he spoke to the APEC Leaders Meeting in 1994, as markets expand, as information flows, as contacts across borders and among people multiply, the roots of open societies will grow and strengthen and contribute to stability not instability.”
These changes are not just being spearheaded by American leadership - they are often home-grown. Over the past few years in Africa - and particularly in the last several months - we’ve seen striking evidence of a growing belief among African nations that African problems must be solved from within the region - by African solutions.
This is particularly true in Southern Africa, where South Africa once employed a policy of destabilization toward its neighbors. Today, the new South Africa is working to ensure regional stability and economic integration through the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
In Latin America, civil strife and regional conflict are giving way to an unprecedented era of economic and political integration. The OAS, so often in the past hampered by ideological divisions, is playing an increasingly prominent role in the promotion of democracy, trade and environmental protection.
Even in the Middle East, we are seeing the first tentative steps toward peace and regional cooperation - from Gulf to Maghreb.
Of course, the best example of regional cooperation is right here in Europe. Following the Second World War, European leaders - with great foresight - realized that only through cooperation and integration could the continent remain stable and at peace. With US engagement, institutions to guarantee stability and freedom in Western Europe - from NATO to the Common Market and today the European Union - were created. Not only did they keep the peace, but they served the dual purpose of containing the Communist threat in Europe.
These institutions, which were created at a time when Europe was emerging from six years of conflict, continue to remain relevant today as Europe emerges from fifty years of Cold War. Certainly, the clamor today among other European countries to join the EU and NATO demonstrates the inherent strength of these institutions.
Creating and cultivating this sense of regional purpose, as well as these institutions, will serve as one of the strongest deterrents to inter and even intra-state conflict in the post-Cold War era.
Since 1989, the trend toward regional integration has led to the creation of new fora as well as agreements to facilitate regional, political and economic cooperation or strengthen existing regional organizations.
We see them across the globe. For example, here in Europe, the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) changed its name to the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), in part to move its agenda away from proclamations toward concrete action. The European Community (EC) evolved into the European Union (EU) to further establish and enshrine continent-wide integration.
And of course NATO since the end of the Cold War has reformed itself to better and more rapidly respond to regional crisis. Moreover, by welcoming new members from the former Warsaw Pact, it is expanding the common goals of regional security and stability across the Continent.
The Organization of American States (OAS) is displaying an increased level of commitment to regional solutions and the maintenance of democratic governance in Latin America and the Caribbean. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is eliminating trade barriers between the United States, Canada and Mexico. MERCOSUR is seeking to do the same in the southern cone of South America. In addition, a multitude of regional groupings have produced dozens of intra-regional free trade pacts. And on a hemispheric scale, the Summit of the Americas aims to fully integrate the region economically and politically.
In Asia, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC) is promoting economic links throughout the region. Meanwhile, ASEAN is displaying a willingness to be more active in spearheading political and security integration through the Asian Regional Forum (ARF).
Finally, in Africa, the Organization for African Unity (OAU) is strengthening its Mechanism for Conflict Prevention and Resolution, which was created in 1993 to serve as an early warning system for preventing conflict.
New and invigorated sub-regional groupings such as SADC and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are also striving to fashion regional solutions for regional conflicts.
One of the most significant and seldom explored implications of this post-Cold War growth in regional integration is the dramatic change in the focus of the United Nations and its approach to international security.
The greatest manifestation of this change is the growing trend for the United Nations to work in concert with regional organizations, actors or multi-national forces in the pursuit of international peace and security.
With the fall of the Berlin Wall the Security Council was loosed from the shackles of East-West confrontation. Soon after, United Nations personnel found themselves conducting more peacekeeping operations in the four years from 1990 to 1994 than they had in the previous forty-four. More than 78,000 UN troops and observers were scattered around the globe in locales as diverse as Mogadishu and Sarajevo, the Western Sahara and Abkhazia.
As the breadth of these operations began to take its toll on an overburdened UN it became clear that the member states were asking the United Nations to do too much.
The growing demands for command and control procurement and resources, and the rapid deployment of peacekeeping forces was more than the system could handle - and it contributed to a financial crisis we are burdened with today.
Moreover, while member states of the Security Council may share genuine concerns about threats to international peace and security, the changing definition of such threats - from primarily inter-state conflicts to civil wars, humanitarian catastrophes, anti-democratic usurpation and human rights violations - limit the willingness of member states to participate financially, logistically or militarily.
The changing nature of these crises also meant that, even with the best of intentions, the UN could not force peace upon combatants still intent on pursuing their personal agendas through military rather than political means.
That is one of the main reasons why the Clinton Administration is using its authority in the Security Council to ask the tough questions before the UN acts, in order to avoid the overly broad mandates that hindered operations in Somalia and the former Yugoslavia. Together with our allies, we must ensure that peacekeeping operations are better disciplined, more effective, cost-efficient, and mandated with concrete, achievable objectives and exit strategies.
It is these experiences of recent years that teach us that the UN system lacks the resources and the capability to solve every global problem or deal with every international threat on its own. With newly empowered regional actors willing and able to play a greater role in regional security, we must strengthen and expand the relationship between the United Nations and regional organizations.
Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter clearly envisions a role for regional organizations - alongside the UN - in maintaining global peace and security. In fact Article 52 is quite clear in stating that “Nothing in the present Charter precludes the existence of regional arrangements or agencies for dealing with such matters relating to the maintenance of international peace and security.” In my view, such close collaboration is not only necessary and proper, but in the best long-term interests of the United Nations and the international community.
These new initiatives need not detract from the principal role of the United Nations and the Security Council in addressing threats to international peace and security. Indeed, they allow the United Nations to focus on those priorities where the organization adds the greatest value, while moving away from tasks better performed by other groups.
As peacekeeping operations have continued to become more varied and multidisciplinary - such as we’ve seen in post-Dayton Bosnia - many regional entities are demonstrating that they possess the capabilities to take on new responsibilities. These responsibilities have included tasks as varied as election monitoring, human rights verification, development assistance, demilitarization and sanctions enforcement, and the list goes on. More and more, such peace- building activities are becoming an integral element of successful peacekeeping operations.
Many of these operations are being undertaken in cooperation with UN agencies. In some cases, organizations have set out on their own. While the degree of success differs in each case, important lessons have been learned, peacekeeping operations improved, and good models for cooperation in the future created.
Through these efforts regional organizations are serving as incubators for future strategies toward effective peacekeeping and peace-building efforts that can and should be imitated by other regional entities.
The greater inclusion of regional actors in maintaining international peace and security is not simply a response to an overburdened United Nations. These organizations possess significant virtues of their own.
One of the strongest advantages that regional actors possess is their greater inclination both to act when local disputes threaten to turn in to broader conflicts and to remain engaged long after the UN or the
rest of the world loses interest. Unlike other nations further afield, neighboring countries often have a direct stake in the peaceful resolution of a regional conflict.
Moreover, the impact of local conflicts may encourage entities to marshal greater political will, exercise direct diplomatic influence, mount peacekeeping interventions and be more willing to bear the often inevitable casualties of peacekeeping operations.
Such has been the case in Liberia, where the ECO WAS-sponsored ECOMOG peacekeeping force helped bring a measure of peace to a country exhausted by years of civil war, created the framework for upcoming elections to be held, began demilitarizing combatants, and stopped the conflict from spilling over its borders.
When the ECOMOG operation began in 1990 it was unprecedented. Never before had a sub-regional organization attempted such a peacekeeping foray in Africa. While starting off slowly, the effectiveness of the operation has shown dramatic improvement over the years, and the stage is now set for Liberia’s first national elections in more than a decade.
In Haiti, as well, the Security Council’s judgement that the initial military intervention was beyond the UN’s capability led to the authorization of a regional solution. The United States assembled a multinational force of concerned nations - many of which were from the Western Hemisphere and were taking part in such a cooperative effort for the first time - in order to return democracy to the island nation and protect America’s national interests.
Once the US-led force established a secure and stable environment on the island, the UN took charge of maintaining the peace by working to restructure the Haitian police force and assisting the Haitian government in maintaining an environment conducive to the growth of democratic institutions and economic development.
Close proximity to a crisis also provides regional organizations with the ability to intervene on a significantly faster and more effective time-scale. Recent events in Albania demonstrate that regional actors or multi-national forces may possess the capability to respond more quickly than the UN. Led by Italy, neighboring countries, fearing a spillover from the conflict, were able to quickly cobble together a multinational force with UN authorization. While the situation remains tense, recent OSCE-monitored elections and an indication that a peaceful, democratic transition are in the offing are a hopeful sign for Albania.
Geographical proximity also provides, in some circumstances, special insights and influence that arise from shared historical experiences, similar cultural backgrounds, and greater familiarity with the major political groups and actors involved in a given conflict.
Together, these comparative advantages suggest that regional organizations may be particularly well- placed to achieve results in the areas of preventive diplomacy, peacemaking, peace intervention and post- conflict peace-building.
The OAS, for instance, has been effective in the area of post-conflict peace-building through its efforts - often alongside the United Nations - in ensuring adherence to international norms on human rights, verifying the implementation of peace accords, monitoring elections and in some cases even demilitarizing soldiers in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala.
Also in Latin America, when the military in Paraguay sought to topple a democratically-elected President, MERCOSUR, along with the OAS and the United States, in support of the Paraguayan people, put strong and successful diplomatic pressure on army officials, allowing Paraguay’s progress toward civilian, democratic rule to continue unabated.
South Africa, on its own and through the Southern African Development Community, used preventive diplomacy to prevent backsliding on democratization efforts in Lesotho, and remained actively engaged in bolstering peace efforts in Angola and Congo.
Involving regional organizations in the maintenance of international peace and security also allows each group as well as UN agencies to bring to bear their specific and unique institutional assets.
For example, in Bosnia implementation responsibilities are shared by a number of institutions, including the UN, NATO and the OS CE. NATO forces and partner countries in SFOR are playing a vital role in keeping the peace. The OSCE helped monitor elections this past Fall. In addition, the OSCE and the United Nations are in close collaboration in areas such as human rights protection and the return and reintegration of refugees into the country. Meanwhile, UN police monitors are helping to implement the Dayton Accords by restructuring local police forces for the future.
During the war, the WEU and OSCE shared responsibility for monitoring sanctions enforcement. Of course, UNPROFOR provided essential humanitarian assistance, which saved countless lives. In addition, the stationing of blue hats in Macedonia prevented the conflict from spreading.
These operations reflect pragmatic, ad hoc solutions to significant security challenges. Moreover, they give organizations the opportunity to best utilize their varying institutional strengths. Of course, just as regional organizations differ in terms of their capacities, backgrounds and regional political settings and inclinations, so too must the models for cooperation with the United Nations. A standardized one-size-fits-all approach simply will not work. Instead a flexible, pragmatic approach - tailored on a case-by- case basis - is more appropriate.
In some cases, regional organizations - with approval from the United Nations - are best going it alone. In other cases, the UN and regional organizations must embrace specific roles depending on each group’s particular strengths or weaknesses. Of course, there are times when it is best for the UN to take the lead. In Namibia, El Salvador, Angola and Mozambique successful UN-run peacekeeping operations paved the way for national elections and the implementation of peace accords.
In the end, one thing is clear: relationships between the UN and regional entities for a given crisis are best determined not by a universal approach but through political judgement informed by intimate knowledge of the dispute and the actors involved.
Despite the clear benefits of cooperation, there are obvious potential pitfalls and limitations to the use of regional entities that must also be considered. The main disadvantages to the greater involvement of regional organizations in international peacekeeping are obvious: a lack of resources, experience, institutional prestige, and training.
These are the kinds of strengths that the United Nations has garnered through years of peacekeeping efforts. With help from the United Nations and others, these capabilities can be developed by regional groups as well. Consequently, the lack of prestige and credibility to which some regional organizations are held tends to create a bias for UN-manned and funded operations.
In addition, many regional groupings currently lack the resources that would allow them to take a leading role in peacekeeping, peacebuilding or diplomatic efforts. Consider for example that the budget of the OAU is no larger than the budget of many American or British think-tanks.
While it is true that geographical proximity, common cultural heritage and shared historical background may often prove to be beneficial in the utilization of regional organizations, they can also backfire.
In fact, in some circumstances, such shared characteristics and close proximity generate mistrust and fear while raising concerns over the political partiality of the regional organizations. Such has been the case recently in Sierra Leone and to a lesser degree in Liberia.
Moreover, the danger of regional organizations being used in the pursuit of regional hegemony is a threat that must be considered when apportioning responsibility to regional organizations.
One of the most significant concerns of a greater reliance on regional organizations is that it could detract from the primary role of the Security Council. Too great a dependence on regional actors could encourage a sense of differing standards in deciding when and where to respond to regional crises.
We must guard against neo-isolationist tendencies, which promote a belief that a crisis in a given region need not concern nations outside that region. Regionalism cannot be used as an excuse to shirk responsibilities at the global level.
Over the past few years, general suggestions for enhancing and defining United Nations cooperation with regional organizations have been advocated and in some cases established. In my view, they deserve strong consideration arid continued support.
• The establishment and strengthening of a mutual presence in the respective Secretariats of the UN and various regional and sub-regional organizations.
• Creating and expanding formal and informal contact points in the respective Secretariats.
• Convening of periodic joint meetings and debriefings on the implementation and lessons learned from cooperative undertakings, and the principles which should guide peacekeeping and related activities.
• Establishment and strengthening of early warning and information networks within a region with linkage to corresponding UN networks.
• Enhanced coordination of planning and training for joint UN-regional peacekeeping and security related operations.
• UN technical assistance and training of personnel, including a staff exchange program.
• Mobilization of financial and logistical support for regional organizations.
In addition, the Clinton Administration remains committed to expanding and strengthening regional peacekeeping capabilities. In Africa, the Administration is working to create an all-African military and peacekeeping capability for quickly and decisively responding to political or humanitarian crises. These units, trained and equipped with assistance from the United States and other donor nations, would be available on a case-by-case basis and would operate under the auspices of the United Nations, the OAU or even a multinational force. These African peacekeeping units would work to stabilize conflict areas or perform peacekeeping functions. The Clinton Administration strongly believes that enhancing African capabilities will lessen the burden on the United Nations while at the same time reinforcing regional cooperation among African nations.
Other efforts are under consideration for Latin America and Asia. While the regions are different, the goals are the same - providing regional solutions for regional problems.
This, in a sense, is the crux of what greater United Nations cooperation with regional organizations will provide - a more effective and rational means of resolving threats to international security. With a changing, mult-ipolar world it is a goal those of us on both sides of the Atlantic have shared, but it seems the solution always seems to flutter just out of our grasp.
Will a greater reliance on regional organizations for maintaining international peace and security provide a lasting and complete solution to international problems? Unfortunately, the answer is probably no. But certainly we can and must empower regional organizations to play a much more decisive and significant role in preventing and managing regional and intra-state conflicts.
As we prepare to enter the 21st century, a more realistic allocation of peace and security functions is absolutely imperative if we are to effectively manage the international security challenges that lie ahead. Such initiatives will allow the United Nations and its agencies to enact far-reaching reforms that will help the organization focus its energies on those tasks it performs best.
If we truly desire to leave the next generation a world that is freer, at peace and full of boundless opportunities for the future, this is a process that I believe must begin.
As Andrew Jackson the famous American President, General and founder of the Democratic Party, said as he rallied his overmatched and undermanned troops against an advancing British Army at the Battle of New Orleans, “Raise those guns a little lower.”
The moral of the story? well, first don’t fight a battle after the war has ended, but for the purposes at hand - set more realistic expectations. That is certainly true, whether you’re a soldier or a global organization. And if you do set such expectations - make them count. That’s a lesson we’d sometimes all be better off heeding.