It can be said that international peacekeeping is marginally better than the alternative of all-out war. Popular perceptions of peacekeeping frequently include noble, blue-helmeted soldiers hailing from a cross-section of the world's countries and representing the powerful will of the international community determined to end a conflict and rebuild a state. The ugly reality of modern peacekeeping operations belies that image, but increasing privatization of peacekeeping offers hope for improvement.
Peace operations have shown decidedly mixed results in recent years, frequently suffering from underfunding, understaffing, and horrific financial and sex scandals. And they are always tormented by the "ad-hocery" that inevitably characterizes large-scale international military cooperation. Largely devoid of superior Western military forces, most international peace operations make do with sundry odd table scraps for troops and resources. Analysts familiar with the turmoil of modern peace operations are often amazed they enjoy any success at all.
Peacekeeping success does not come from a splendid rebirth of Western interest in these missions, but rather from the unheralded role played by the private sector doing jobs once provided by Western militaries, and from a more realistic and pragmatic approach by the funding states. Sent by donor states, private companies are increasingly providing the missing skills, capabilities and, most importantly, the actual will to carry out international mandates in conflict and post-conflict (CPC) situations. The peacekeeping success stories that get the most play by advocates rarely include the central and growing role the private sector is playing to ensure that success. Private firms filling a myriad of non-traditional roles are creating fundamental changes in the way international peace and stability operations are undertaken. From a humanitarian perspective, this is long overdue.