Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Friday, June 18, 2010
Robert Art's Vital Interests
Here is a recent question from class. It is about Robert Art's idea about American interests. Any thoughts?
Review Art's three "vital interests": In your estimation, did he get them "right"? Using what you now know about the "9/11" attacks, how is it that he could see so clearly the threat to homeland security (at least two years before it happened) when others seemingly never envisaged such a threat?
Robert Art suggests there are six national interests, three of which are vital. He says, "retarding NBC spread, maintaining Eurasian great-power peace, and preserving access to secure and stable oil supplies" (Art & Waltz, 2009) are vital to American interests. I think for the most part he was right. But I think there are considerations to adjust some of what he considers "vital."
Regarding our homeland security, Art points out that of three types of threats, "the third type of threat - fanatical terrorists or rogue states armed with NBC weapons" (p. 331) were the most worrisome. While I think still true today, the one aspect of attacks I think many people were missing was the creativity of fanatical terrorists. The remarkable thing and arguably one of the reasons we failed to stop the 9/11 attack was how simple it was. Granted, the effort was very coordinated, well planned, and well thought out. But, the actual procedure of hijacking planes and turning them into weapons is too simple.
It seems that the fascination with weapons of mass destruction has been limited to NBC weapons. This is an area Art could refine with respect to this particular "vital interest." He was right to say that the present day threat was of a terrorist nature, but focusing on only "rogue states or fanatical terrorists armed with NBC weapons" (p. 331) leaves our broadside exposed to any number of creative options.
His idea about maintaining Eurasian peace may need updating as well. On the one hand he more than implies that it is the United States' responsibility to keep Eurasian states from all out war (Art & Waltz, 2009). This means that those states are inherently subordinate to the U.S. While that may be technically true from an international economic and military perspective today, the challenge for the U.S. is to maintain that hegemonic responsibility into the future. If the relative power of Eurasian states balances with the U.S., then the U.S. may find it hard to persuade those states to accept supervision.
This is what Fareed Zakaria talked about in his book The Post-American World. He suggests, "We are now living through the third great power shift of the modern era. It could be called 'the rise of the rest'" (p. 2). Following Zakaria's suggestion, then, the balance of global power is slowly shifting away from the U.S. and leveling amongst a field of players. His point is not that the U.S. is losing power. Rather other states, particularly Eurasian states are gaining power and independence while American power remains constant. Art's Eurasian peace theory requires perpetual American dominance. While I would not necessarily be opposed to that, the U.S. should consider the possibilities were it no longer the dominating force in the world.
In general , forecasting the future may not be practical, but enough clues from the past and present exist to piece together possibilities. The challenge is paying attention to the clues. I think Art saw clearly potential threats to U.S. homeland security. While his focus was partially narrowed to focus on NBC threats, the gist of what he proposed as threats was true. Many others saw those threats too.
Ahmed Rashid warned that the West was ignoring a growing threat in Afghanistan (Rashid, 1999). In his 1999 Foreign Affairs piece Rashid said, "Terrorism will develop new adherents there [Afghanistan]" and that cost was one "that no country…can hope to bear" (p. 35). In a response to that article a couple of months later, Peter Tomsen pointed out that, "Afghanistan is the documented training and inspirational base for worldwide militant Islamist operations ranging from American soil to the Middle East…" (p. 181). At the same time Zalmay Khalilzad and Daniel Byman urged that immediate action was essential. If not the Taliban would become, "too strong to turn away from rogue behavior" and "gain more influence with insurgents, terrorists…and spread its abusive ideology throughout the region" (pp.65-66). These are only a few examples of clues. Art was talking about impending terrorist threats. Many were talking about impending terrorists threats. It seems few were paying attention.
Art, R. J., & Waltz, K. N. (2009). The Use of Force Military Power and International Politics (Seventh ed.). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefied Publishers, Inc.
Khalilzad, Z., & Byman, D. (2000). Afghanistan: The Consolidation of a Rogue State. The Washington Quarterly
, 23 (1), 65-78.
Rashid, A. (1999, November/December). The Taliban: Exporting Extremism. Foreign Affairs
, 78 (6).
Tomsen, P. (2000). A Chance for Peace in Afghanistan. Foreign Affairs
, 79 (1), 179-182.
Zakaria, F. (2009). The Post-American World. New York: W.W. Norton.
Monday, May 17, 2010
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Here is a recent essay from class. This topic dealt with punitive measures and reconciliatory measures used to prosecute offenders of atrocities. We were to discuss the challenges that different actors face when balancing which measure to use. I'd be interested in your thoughts.
Nation/State-Building Challenges of Punitive and Reconciliatory Measures
Patrice McMahon and Jon Western warn that (2009), "After 14 years of the international community's effort in the Balkans, eight in Afghanistan, and six in Iraq, it is clear that state building is not for the faint of heart" (McMahon & Western, 2009). These examples and many others prove two things. State building has become a rule following conflicts, and it is not easy. When states, coalitions or international institutions engage in the post-conflict nation/state building process, they face several challenges. They are challenged with understanding the conflict. They are challenged with determining a solution to the conflict, and they are challenged with adjudicating the conflict.
Adjudicating the conflict offers specific challenges. External actors must balance the punitive and reconciliatory measures necessary to ensure justice. In doing so they must take into consideration three things. First, external actors should consider their effect on state sovereignty. By virtue of their intervention, external actors interfere with state sovereignty. Second, they should consider whether a certain measure of force may be necessary to either bring about an end to conflict or to maintain an end of conflict. Third, they must determine an effective solution to accountability. They must also determine which form of accountability will achieve the most effective result. Additionally, since future conflict remains an unavoidable problem for the international community, who is most effective in meeting those challenges - the state, international institutions or others, such as non-governmental organizations (NGO)? The entire process of conflict resolution, then, is a balancing act of challenges for both punitive and reconciliatory measures.
PUNITIVE MEASURES; RECONCILIATORY MEASURES
Trials and tribunals, such as those conducted at Nuremburg following WWII, are generally punitive post-conflict measures. Their intent is to prosecute those who are responsible for atrocities. On the one hand, punitive measures are necessary to seek justice. On the other hand they can also act as a deterrent for future violence. In terms of international justice, Ramsbotham et al believe that trials (2005) "are an essential ingredient in the struggle to assert internationally endorsed humane standards" (p. 241).
Truth commissions lean more towards a reconciliatory measure in that they do not entirely prosecute fault. They more so explain fault. The truth commissions used in South Africa, for instance, were particularly important for closing a dark chapter on racial and ethnic abuses. While some suggest truth commissions do not fully prosecute offenders, they do expose the gravity of situations. In South Africa the extent to which apartheid was a function of inhuman treatment became "truth." It was hard to deny those abuses took place. Jonathan Tepperman expressed this in a Foreign Affairs essay in which he cites a South African Constitutional Court judge. The judge, Richard Goldstone, says (2002), "If we had not had a truth commission, the denial of apartheid-era abuses …would no doubt continue to this day" (p. 135-136). Outside actors take on several challenges in choosing which measure to apply.
One challenge outside actors face is that they are outside actors. They cross the lines of sovereignty to intervene in situations. Since the end of the Cold War, lines of sovereignty have been crossed many times including Somalia, Haiti, Cambodia, the Balkans, Iraq, Afghanistan (Fukuyama, 2004) and most recently Pakistan. We should reflect on the following observation Francis Fukuyama made in his aptly titled book, State-Building:
State sovereignty was a fiction or bad joke in the case of countries like Somalia or Afghanistan, which had descended into rule by warlords. Dictators and human rights abusers like Serbia's Milosevic could not hide behind the principle of sovereignty to protect themselves as they committed crimes against humanity, particularly in multiethnic states like the former Yugoslavia where the borders of the sovereign state in question were themselves contested. Under these circumstances, outside powers, acting in the name of human rights and democratic legitimacy, had not just the right but the obligation to intervene. (p. 97)
Intervening in a situation inherently requires an organization to inject itself into the troubled nation. In Bosnia for instance, many international organizations entered the scenario. The United Nations, NATO, the EU, the United States and many more separate organizations sought to help the Balkan states recover from both fighting and atrocities. McMahon and Western suggest that at one point over 262 (McMahon & Western, 2009) entities were working within Bosnia. To say that Bosnia had any control of itself at that time would be laughable. They did not.
Yet, as Fukuyama said, the international community essentially had an obligation to intervene because the Balkan conflict had human rights interests and international interests. Necessary intervention, though, can become problematic. Over time the intervention of external actors creates a sense of fatigue. James O'Brien illustrates the fatigue by saying (2006), "many in the region may be tired of change; as one participant told me, the states 'are tired of transition'" (p. 80). In that case the international community must determine which actor is best suited to mete out justice, bring about change and avoid upsetting too extensively states' rights of sovereignty.
For this particular challenge, regional coalitions, such as the EU, may be the most effective element. In the Balkans, there is a specific incentive for participation by the affected nations. It is in their best interest to become members of the EU. Conversely, the EU is able to leverage its incentive to effect changes. Elizabeth Pond notes that (2008), "The trump card is that the Kosovar Albanians, like everyone else in the Balkans, yearn to join the EU…and must be on their best behavior to qualify" (p. 104). Because they hold that "trump card" of dependency, regional institutions can be more nimble in terms of interfering with sovereignty. But what if more than just access to the troubled state is needed?
Fukuyama argues that force was the necessary measure needed to "pacify" the Balkans. Drawing a distinction between applying peace and applying force, Fukuyama suggests the following (2004):
the European peacekeepers contributed to the problem by not being willing to fight; in places like Srebrenica, they were held hostage and needed to be rescued. It was only as a result of actions by states that were willing to decisively use traditional forms of military power - the Croatians in the case of Bosnia and the Americans in the case of Kosovo - that Serbian domination was ended and the Balkans pacified. (p. 116)
A particularly frustrating challenge actors face in troubled situations is to what extent should force be applied to quell violence. Arguably the UN has a poor track record of applying force in situations. An equally arguable point some might make is that member states, such as the U.S., can be unreasonably forceful. Actors must consider to what extent force should be applied in the situation. This determination can impact the method external actors use to achieve justice be it punitive or reconciliatory.
Ramsbotham et al suggest there is a need to end violence before meting out justice. Referring to the aforementioned, Richard Goldstone, who was also involved in criminal tribunals of the former Yugoslavia, they note that (2005) "without a cessation of violence there is usually no hope of bringing perpetrators of atrocities to justice" (p. 241). When external actors must force an end to violence, they must also be careful not to blur the legal lines of war and peace. Kenneth Roth makes this point regarding the United States' handling of detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan. In an essay for Foreign Affairs he says (2004), "using war rules when law-enforcement rules could reasonably be followed is dangerous…But if war rules apply, the government is never obliged to prove a suspect's guilt" (p. 5).
That is not to say external actors would either apply rules of war or apply rules of peace when prosecuting alleged offenders. But, the effect of the measure of force applied to end violence could cause actors to apply more punitive measures instead of reconciliatory ones or vice versa. Therefore it may be incumbent upon international institutions, such as the UN, to affix a punitive or reconciliatory label to the resolution process. As an institution that should remain somewhat impartial, they would likely be more effective at determining a path to justice. This way accountability can be properly applied on both sides of the conflict.
After a conflict, intervening actors are challenged to deal with the question of what to do with the accused. Part of the resolution process involves holding perpetrators accountable. This is in part a matter of upholding regional and international human rights norms. It is also a matter of closing painful chapters of history for the offended so they and the nation can move on. Henry Kissinger put it this way in a 2001 Foreign Affairs essay (2001), "It is an important principle that those who commit war crimes or systematically violate human rights should be held accountable" (Kissinger, 2001). But what does it mean to be held accountable? For instance which process of justice would have served both the former Serbian President, Slobodan Milosovic, and the Serbian people? Was the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) sufficient? Or would a less punitive approach, such as truth commissions used in Central and South America, have effectively moved the conflict forward?
It is difficult to say because both methods have inherent problems. Michael Humphrey, in a 2003 essay, points out that (2003), "The main public criticisms of truth commission reports…[is] governments' failure to implement the recommendations of reports, especially on reparations" (p. 178). As was mentioned before, truth commissions expose the truth. On many levels they contribute to the emotional healing of a nation. But, when severe atrocities are committed, blanket forgiveness may not be a viable option.
What further complicates determining accountability is determining through which means accountability is served. This is specifically true of punitive measures. Laura Dickinson offers a reasonably convincing suggestion that instead of purely domestic or purely international courts, a hybrid system of justice may be most effective to ensure proper accountability (Dickinson, 2003). She argues that domestically courts (2003), "do not capture the complexity or magnitude of the atrocities" (p. 305). In essence, domestic judicial systems are not designed to handle the extent of atrocities which often are of an international scope.
Conversely she argues that internationally (2003), "there is often such a limited base of familiarity with the norms in question that such authority is meaningless" (p. 305). In other words, courts, such as the International Criminal Court, can be so far removed from the problem that their lack of understanding regional and local laws has negative ramifications. For these reasons, then, regional institutions may be most effective at determining accountability. Institutions such as NATO have a vested interest in resolving conflict particularly when member states are involved. Also, because of their regional familiarity, NATO and similar regional institutions may more effectively issue meaningful authority rather than "authority [that] is meaningless".
Undoubtedly nation/state-building is very complicated. But, it is an inescapable international process. Fukuyama offers (2004), "Peace is of inestimable benefit to the people living in those countries and justifies the international effort" (p. 103). The challenges of sovereignty, use of force, and effective accountability are a few of the many challenges external actors face when trying to resolve conflicts. It is important for the international community to balance those challenges. And, it is important for the international community to apply the proper institution to those challenges. Doing so may bring about a more effective end to conflict whereby either punishment or reconciliation is best served.
Dickinson, L. (2003). The promise of hybrid courts. The American Journal of International Law
, 97 (2), 295-310.
Fukuyama, F. (2004). State-building: governance and world order in the 21st century. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press.
Humphrey, M. (2003). From victim to victimhood: truth commissions and trials as rituals of political transition and individual healing. The Australian Journal of Anthropology
, 14 (2), 171-187.
Kissinger, H. (2001, July/August). The pitfalls of universal jurisdiction. Foreign Affairs
, 80 (4), pp. 86-96.
McMahon, P. C., & Western, J. (2009, Sep/Oct). The death of dayton. Foreign Affairs
, 88 (5), pp. 69-83.
O'Brien, J. C. (2006, Summer). Brussels: next capital of the balkans? The Washington Quarterly
, 29 (3), pp. 71-87.
Pond, E. (2008, Autumn). The EU's test in kosovo. The Washington Quarterly
, 31 (4), pp. 97-112.
Ramsbotham, O., Woodhouse, T., & Miall, H. (2005). Contemporary conflict resolution (Second Edition ed.). Malden, MA: Polity.
Roth, K. (2004, January/February). The law of war in the war on terror. Foreign Affairs
, 83 (1), pp. 2-7.
Tepperman, J. D. (2002, March/April). Truth and consequences. Foreign Affairs
, 81 (2), pp. 128-145.
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
I am not much of a historian. In fact I can barely remember what happened last week. But, we have been discussing the Marshall Plan in class. It is something I do not remember learning. I’ve heard about it. We hear about it often in the news and as a comparison to present day drastic measures. But, I wonder if we really know what we are talking about. Anyway, here is what I think thus far. Thoughts? Ideas? More info please?
There were at least two primary motives for the implementation of the Marshall Plan. After Germany surrendered unconditionally, two significant shocks to the global system remained. One, was the physical devastation left behind in Europe. Infrastructure was severely lacking and people were literally hungry. Two, was the oncoming rise of communism from the East. So, there was a practical and political motive to the Marshall Plan.
The practical application was to help Europe recover from the war. Truman saw a recovered Europe as in the best interest of all - America and Europe (Truman, 1972). In recognizing a need for Europe to quickly come back from such loss, Truman and his administration put a priority on helping them. In her book about her father, Truman's daughter Margaret, recalled a 1948 speech to Congress in which he said (1972), "the determination of the free countries of Europe to protect themselves will be matched by an equal determination on our part to help them protect themselves" (p. 405). Part of the Marshall Plan was to do just that - inject aid on a massive scale to help Europe help themselves.
The political piece of the plan, however, was most likely to set conditions for the oncoming struggle between communism and capitalism. David Reynolds points out in his Foreign Affairs piece that (1997), "The promise of American aid helped persuade the center-left in both of these countries to break with the communists and, in Frances case, with Soviet foreign policy" (p. 182). Reynolds also points out that Stalin himself drew a similar conclusion regarding the Marshall Plan (Reynolds, 1997). Given that Truman was not only a very practical person, he was a very skilled politician. I believe the Marshall Plan was very much a political calculation to strike against the East (Soviets) and extend American democratic influence.
Reynolds, D. (1997, May/June). The european response. Foreign Affairs , 76 (3), pp. 171-184.
Truman, M. (1972). Harry S. Truman. New York: William Morrow & Company, Inc.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Post-Conflict Reconstruction Tools: The Interconnectedness of the Political, Economic, and Military
In the book Contemporary Conflict Resolution, Oliver Ramsbotham et al point out that (2005), "Conflict is an intrinsic and inevitable aspect of social change" (p. 13). This statement is hard to dispute. Throughout the course of human history states have risen and fallen. Some are more successful than others (The failed state index, 2009). The disparity of successes and failures, contradiction of cultures, demand for strength and power are only a few of the many reasons states conflict with each other. Given that conflict is such a part of the global landscape, mechanisms have emerged over time to deal with those conflicts. The study and practice of conflict resolution is no less intricate and complicated than the diversity of the conflicts themselves.
Today's policy makers employ certain tools to reshape and reconstruct those conflicted landscapes. States use their political, economic and military arms as tools to engage in the reconstruction of war-torn or crisis-torn states. The question is, to what extent are these tools interconnected? Are they unilaterally sufficient, or are they mutually dependent on each other to achieve certain effects in crisis regions? Also, given that the global landscape is inevitably conflicted, as Ramsbotham et al suggest, how much more challenging is it to implement the triune of tools today than prior to the end of the Cold War?
John Hamre and Gordon Sullivan point out that post-conflict reconstruction entails four separate functions: security, justice and reconciliation, social and economic well-being, and governance and participation (Hamre & Sullivan, 2002). This four pronged approach is similar to the longstanding military principle of national strategy known as DIME: diplomatic, information, military, and economic. Whichever way the terms are defined, these pillars are influenced by the political, economic and military tools to balance a nation's foundation. When a conflict or crisis arises, a state becomes out of balance because one of those factors is exaggerated or neglected. One of the political, economic or military tools must be strengthened to support the foundational pillars.
It is helpful to view this relationship in the form of a three-legged table on which rests the foundational pillars (Fig. 1). The legs represent the effort of political, economic and military tools balancing the table. From this illustration it becomes clear that any element either a leg or a pillar that is uneven could tip the table in any direction. In terms of reconstruction, it stands to reason that to achieve a solid reconstruction result, a strategy should employ all three tools concurrently.
There exists, then, an interconnected relationship not only with the political, economic and military, but also with a state's foundational pillars. The topside and the underside of the table must work together to keep the table steady. This relationship is consistent with present day thinking regarding reconstruction. Hamre and Sullivan reference the former UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, who said (2002), "'All these tasks - humanitarian, military, political, social, and economic - are interconnected...We cannot expect lasting success in any of them unless we pursue all of them at once as part of a single coherent strategy'" (p. 92). Using this illustration along with any foundational pillars such as those Hamre and Sullivan suggest as a framework for discussion, we can determine the extent to which these elements are in fact interconnected.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict offers one example of the impact from imbalance in the application of the political tool. In 2006 Hamas, a labeled terrorist organization, won Palestinian legislative elections. This was a shock to many in the Arab region and to the West. What could be considered a diplomatic blunder, was a political miscalculation of the Palestinian situation. This led to what Glen Kessler points out in his Washington Quarterly piece (2008), "Hamas's (sic) eventual seizure of the Gaza Strip and its 1.5 million inhabitants" (p. 137).
The political imbalance was evident from two angles. First, a terrorist organization legitimately assumed Palestinian control. After Hamas won the election, the region was left to deal with a previously illegitimate organization. Second, the U.S. and others, prior to the election, were possibly too focused on the political election process. Again Kessler points out (2008), "Its victory [Hamas]…is the direct result of the U.S. fixation with elections as a pathway to democracy" (p. 138). In other words applying too much energy on the political leg of the Palestinian situation caused that leg to be overextended.
This has tipped the foundational table in the region making further peace settlements potentially more difficult. Coincidentally, Kessler explains a similar balancing act in which he illustrates (2008), "The rise of Hamas means that a viable peace has become a three-legged stool - Israel, Fatah, and Hamas. The stool will not stand if one leg is missing." (p. 139).
Whichever element of the legs and pillars one chooses as most important, it cannot alone act to reconstruct a state. All elements should be considered simultaneously. Also, the process of reconstruction is neither sequential nor linear. Each tool should be applied in sync with the others. One leg cannot be constructed without support from the other two. Seth Kaplan offers a case in point approach to helping Somalia recover from years of internal and external struggles. In his Washington Quarterly essay he explains:
A four-pronged approach might be most productive: One, provide military, financial, and political support...Two, spur the establishment of new regional governments...Three, encourage moderate Islamic groups to participate in this plan...Four, help establish a modest national superstructure of governance. (p. 92)
An important point to note about comprehensive, multi-faceted integration of tools is that interconnectedness may allow for more complex problem solving. One thing aiding states should consider is that every situation is not exactly the same. Each crisis requires a different application of each tool to achieve the greatest level of reconstruction success. As Kaplan concluded (2010), "The international community needs to look beyond the one-size-fits-all state-building formula if it hopes to fix fragile states" (p. 95). By attacking problems with a comprehensive strategy of political, economic and military tools, the pillars of a state's foundation can be reconstructed together minimizing lopsided results.
Mapping out a strategy for reconstruction in a given crises area is no easy task. There are myriad data points to consider when evaluating a state. The magazine, Foreign Policy, publishes an annual Failed States Index. The recent index includes 12 measures of failure ranging from security to development. Each measure of failure is representative of the political, economic, and military tools either working or not working well. Failed states in which none of the three work well, such as Somalia, are clearly evident. Others, such as China, which are supported more favorably in the economic realm, but less so in the political are not as obviously "failed" (The failed state index, 2009). In terms of reconstruction, then, it would be necessary to fully analyze those elements of a state that require a boost. Doing so would, in essence, determine the right amount of influence in the right area to shift the imbalance.
Historically, applying the political, economic, and military tools has never been free of challenge. But, implementing those tools for reconstruction in some respects offers new and more complicated challenges today. Prior to the end of the Cold War, conflicts were relatively symmetrical. Conflicts began. Fighting ensued. Conflicts ended. The international community intervened, and the process of reconstruction moved on. Ramsbotham et al note that (2005), "In 1945 the political conflicts were decided on the battlefield and were emphatically over before reconstruction began. This is not the situation in most 1989-2004 cases" (p. 191).
Since the end of the Cold War, a more correct description of conflicts is that they are more asymmetrical. Terrorism is an additional dimension added to the global landscape. Ramsbotham et al note that terrorism is not a new phenomenon (Ramsbotham, Woodhouse, & Miall, 2005). But, the latter half of the 20th century has arguably seen a greater proliferation of terrorist influences. The threat of terrorism may be more profound after the Cold War in so far as the outcome of terrorist acts are more dramatic. Ramsbotham et al point out that (2005), "the greatest number of terrorist atrocities in the past century has been perpetrated by what Walter Laquer calls 'terrorism from above'. According to some estimates, well over 160 million of their own citizens were 'intentionally killed' by repressive governments" (p. 71). Because terrorism is a loose term that includes criminal, tyrannical and ideological realms, it is therefore very widely spread.
This author submits that the complexity terrorism injects into the global scene adds a dimension that was previously unrecognized or only mildly scrutinized. It is interesting that empirically there has been a decline in the number of conflicts since 1989 (Ramsbotham, Woodhouse, & Miall, 2005). But, the decline in overall conflicts may have been eclipsed by the global involvement of much of the international community to combat the threat of terrorism in its many forms. In other words, the world is joined in a fight against terrorism. This post-Cold War is unique because the diversity of terrorism is as vast as the number of states affected by terrorism. This means that every conflict situation is different and requires a specific strategy. As Ramsbotham et al point out (2005), "no one operating model can fit the needs and complexities of each country's situation" (p. 192).
For that reason, applying the political, economic and military tools in post-conflict reconstruction is potentially more challenging than before. The stakes still remain as high as they were prior to the end of the Cold War. But now, the added dimension of terrorism means that reconstruction models should be tailored rather than store bought. Post-conflict reconstruction requires even more careful analysis of the multifaceted dimensions of a situation to maintain balance. More so, applying a combination of political, economic and military tools to each situation also requires careful analysis so as not to exaggerate one element or neglect another.
Hamre, J. J., & Sullivan, G. R. (2002, Autumn). Toward postconflict reconstruction. The Washington Quarterly
, 25 (4), pp. 85-96.
Kaplan, S. (2010). Rethinking state-building in a failed state. The Washington Quarterly
, 33 (1), 81-97.
Kessler, G. (2008, Autumn). Fix this middle eastern mess. The Washington Quarterly
, 31 (4), pp. 135-142.
Ramsbotham, O., Woodhouse, T., & Miall, H. (2005). Contemporary conflict resolution (Second Edition ed.). Malden, MA: Polity.
The failed state index. (2009, July/August). Foreign Policy , pp. 80-83.
Monday, March 15, 2010
Here is a piece from the last class. The tone of this piece might seem like I'm accusing a certain country or set of countries for failing to act in the 90s. That is true, but that does not mean I am blaming them. There are enough circumstances in history that in retrospect inaction or minimal action by those who could have done more resulted in bad situations. It is a common thread, but I don't think blame is the correct word. Instead we should remember these lessons and pay attention. I think we often miss what's in our periphery vision because we focus too much on what's directly in front of us.
Today NATO forces continue to engage in a protracted war for peace. Brought on by the terrorist attacks on the U.S. in 2001, waging peace has been no simple task. Into the ninth year, the world watches again as nations pour their militaries into Afghanistan in an effort to topple an insurgency that ceases to disappear. Names such as Gulbeddin Hekmatyar, Mullah Omar, and Osama bin Ladin are at the front of a target list of enemies. Finding and bringing these leaders of extremist organizations to justice is a primary objective in the long war. Yet they are not new names.
Their cause is not new, and their intentions are not new. These same names and many more surfaced during the 80s and 90s. It was during the 90s that many of them and their organizations such as Hizb-i-Islami, Taliban, and al Qaeda became prevalent. And, it was during this period that conditions were perfect for their ideologies to ripen. How did it happen? Could the world have seen them and their intentions coming? Could the world have prevented a rise of extremist ideology in Afghanistan? More importantly, did it try? We have to wonder in retrospect if effective efforts of peace were made during this decade? We should also wonder if more could have been done and would more have made any difference?
Afghanistan has run the gamut of peacekeeping operations. Throughout the 80s and 90s and the turn of the century, the international community has been engaged in peacekeeping, peacemaking, and peace enforcement operations. Between 1990 and 2000 Afghanistan underwent a transformation that resulted in the present day battle to eliminate Taliban control. After the Soviet Union was forced out of the country, Afghanistan experienced more than just a shift in power. Immediately after the Soviet defeat, power was virtually non-existent. It was during this non-existent period between 1989 and 1992 that groups maneuvered for a position to claim hold of the country. Ultimately one group, the Taliban, prevailed.
Their brand of extreme, fundamentalist and ultra-conservative Islam proved to be oppressive and threatening. They enacted a form of law that engaged in extreme forms of punishment. They pushed a system of rule that was strict and harsh. Their continued pursuit of power resulted in a massive exodus of refugees and a violent loss of civilian life. Internally the Taliban caused nothing but problems for the Afghan people. Internationally, the Taliban caused nothing but problems for security. It was their harboring of other extremist groups that warranted an even greater appreciation for the gravity of their threat. In a Foreign Affairs piece in 2000, Peter Tomsen pointed out that (2000), "Afghanistan is the documented training and inspirational base for worldwide militant Islamist operations ranging from American soil to the Middle East…" (p. 181). It was no secret who the Taliban were and what their intentions were. Yet, there is little evidence suggesting western states were interested in preventing a failed state's further demise. As a result of the Soviet defeat in 1989 and the withdrawal of U.S. interest in the region, a vacuum was created.
This gets to the heart of the issue in the 90s, and that is, given a void, what remained to fill the void? Was it rogue elements or the international community vis-à-vis peace measures? Clearly rogue elements filled that void. Could something have taken their place? The preferred option would have measures of peace.
In a similarly conflicted region of the world, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Darfur region of Sudan offer examples of minimally effective intervention by the international community. Francois Grignon and Daniela Kroslak point out that (2008), "Once a vacuum is created, it has to be filled by agreed state structures. If not, the same or other armed groups will quickly regain or expand their territorial control" (p. 187). Regarding African states, genocide and extreme ethnic cleansing resulted from those vacuums being filled with violent regimes. Indeed peace operations existed in those African states and they continue today. But to what end? Recently the question was asked as to the success or failure of MONUC, the UN mission in Congo. Given that Grignon and Kroslak suggest (2008), "its efforts over the past five years to save lives in eastern Congo, it has performed abysmally" (p. 186), many agree that UN efforts have in fact been a failure. So what about Afghanistan?
INTO THE 90s
In Afghanistan, NGOs, the UN, the U.S. and even the USSR had been dealing with many issues to preserve and protect the civilian population. Going into the 90s it was a severe refugee problem that afflicted the Afghan population. Helga Baitenmann points out that (1990), "The combined efforts of the [UNHCR] and the governments of Pakistan and the USA could not alone take care of the 3.5 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan" (p. 62). The Soviets had wreaked such havoc in the country that many citizens fled. The international response was relatively significant. Prior to the end of the Soviet conflict there were over 200 NGOs operating in and around Afghanistan (Baitenmann, 1990). Even the U.S. interest in aid support was significant. A proxy war with the USSR through Afghanistan meant the U.S. would influence efforts to stabilize Afghanistan and destabilize the Soviets. At one point, as Baitenmann pointed out (1990), "The US government has had ties to all major NGOs" (p. 69).
While NGO operations were significant going into the 90s, they were not without difficulties. The country was very much a war torn state, and as such continued to be very hostile. What is interesting about the hostility going into 1990 is that it may not have been entirely a function of fighting. True, despite forcing the Soviets out of Afghanistan, Afghanis themselves waged a civil war as factions fought for power. And, intrastate infighting made it difficult for NGOs to deliver their services. But, what may have been even more difficult as Baitenmann suggests is the political atmosphere of east versus west (Baitenmann, 1990).
The vast NGO effort in Afghanistan was largely linked to elements of U.S. interest with intended goals of influencing Soviet imbalance (Baitenmann, 1990). Groups that supported similar campaigns in Central America's communist struggle, supported advocacy campaigns in Afghanistan. These kinds of aid operations could be considered to have been part of a larger strategic, political campaign. In effect, their interest may not have been entirely for Afghanistan. Rather there may have been more interest against the Soviets, i.e. against communism. The effect? Once the Soviets were run out of Afghanistan and communist ties were no longer an influence, what purpose would those NGOs continue to serve?
As interest in the region faded, Afghanistan was left to fend for itself. One of the first orders of business was to reestablish its central government. But, having been a war-torn country for so long, Afghanistan was out of practice governing itself. What happened instead was the creation of an ineffective and often inept council of former mujahedeen representatives. The UN, moderately involved in the building process sought to help create a "power-sharing arrangement…from various mujahideen parties and the Wattan Party, the former Communists" (p. 165-166) as Shah Tarzi points out in his Asian Survey essay. This may have been one of the first missteps in the 90s to prevent the rise of Taliban extremism. In a piece for Third World Quarterly, Ian Spears' observations about power-sharing in Africa conclude that (2000), "The central weakness of power-sharing is not that it fails as an idea, but that it runs into so many obstacles when put into practice" (p. 116).
As indicated by Spears observation of power-sharing, what further complicated the formation of a central governing body was the increasing pressure of Gulbeddin Hekmatyar, an extreme Islamic fundamentalist whose desire it was to gain some kind of control in the country's capital. His menacing of Kabul went so far as to assail Kabul with rockets and threaten officials with some initially failed military coups (Tarzi, 1993). Hekmatyar was an inescapable obstacle to progress with respect to forming an effective central government. His hard line approach to insisting on a position within the government would prove to be a fatal blow to legitimate governance.
It was at this specific point, that the UN should have increased influence in the building process. But little evidence exists to suggest the UN did anything more. As Afghanistan's constitution was being constructed, relatively few indications suggest any state involved themselves further in Afghanistan's developing process. In his 1993 essay, Tarzi points out that (1993), "the interim government, ineptly conceived and organized, was a constitutional monstrosity" (p. 166). Peacemaking efforts by either the UN, the U.S. or even neighboring Pakistan, China and Iran seem to have been non-existent during the period between 1990 and 1992. This may have something to do with why Afghanistan created such an inept government. This condition of ineptitude, coupled with a lack of international support through any kind of peace intervention meant that specific individuals such as Hekmatyar could continue to harass the fledgling state.
By the end of 1992, Hekmatyar's menacing resulted in (1992), "some 3000 deaths, and many of the 9000 wounded were women and children [figures for August alone]" (p. 174). Yet, the UN and the international community did little more than watch as Afghanistan earned a spot at the "top of the list of indices of misery and deprivation" (p. 174). Their previous refugee problem only grew. Pakistan could be considered the most helpful state in terms of aid and assistance because they had no choice. Approx 3.5 million Afghanis (Tarzi, 1993) sought refuge in the border country. As reported by Tarzi, the world was watching and witnessing the deterioration of a state badly in need of help. So where was it?
TWO YEARS LATER
By 1994 a paradox of international support emerged. On the one hand, the UN sought to be more involved in Afghanistan and to insist upon a peace agreement. On the other hand, major UN players, namely the United States, withdrew support for a variety of reasons. An essay in Asian Survey by Zalmay Khalilzad concludes (1995), "The decline in American assistance has been the most dramatic, amounting to around $6 million in 1993-1994" (p. 152). In terms of the world agenda, Khalilzad indicated Afghanistan was a very low priority (Khalilzad, 1995).
Yet, again it was during this period that attention should have been great because the fractured government continued to fight amongst itself. More importantly it was during this period that the Taliban really started to emerge. Khalilzad pointed out that (1995), "The Taliban, a movement composed mainly of religious students, emerged as a major new power center late in the year" (p. 148). Although hindsight is always 20-20, failing to recognize the potential threat of Taliban control was a critical error of the international community. It may not have been so much a failure to recognize as a failure to act that spurred the Taliban's rapid rise to control.
The UN had in fact initiated a special mission during this period with the intent to bring about a peace arrangement. But, UN efforts fell short of accomplishing anything as Hekmatyar and others battled for control of Kabul. Afghanistan without a doubt was in an all out civil war. With Kabul under attack, little by way of peace negotiation took place. Moreover, Khalilzad said (1995), "Because of the attacks in Kabul, U.N. staff members left and U.N. humanitarian aid declined – while the need for it increased" (p. 149). In defense, however, it is fair to say that the UN had a responsibility to protect its people and its interests.
What one should wonder today is whether withdrawing aid and support may have only exacerbated the problem. This author believes that the lack of international aid at that time may have contributed to the problem in so much as non-intervention was akin to the non-intervention in Rwanda during the same time period. In effect, the UN was quite concerned with protecting a positive image and less concerned with protecting states' citizens. The UN is not entirely to blame, though for limiting aid support. As mentioned before, the world was watching and witnessing the deterioration of Afghanistan but doing little to help.
WHERE HAVE ALL THE NGOs GONE?
One might get the impression that no peace initiatives existed at all. That is not true. While characterizing the UN and the international community as non-existent is a fair characterization, many efforts did exist to push peace plans and programs. They were just haphazard and ultimately ineffective. In a 1995 article for Disaster Prevention and Management, Sultan Barakat and Arne Strand described the situation as this (1995), "Despite the fact that there are more than 200 NGOs working for the people of Afghanistan…there is very little to show for their efforts in terms of reconstruction and people's return to normality" (para. 2). Adding to the problem of ineffective NGO efforts is what Barakat and Strand refer to as "donor fatigue" meaning that as the civil war continued states reassessed the value of their investment in aid projects and programs (Barakat & Strand, 1995).
What is interesting about the role of NGOs as opposed to UN and other state specific aid is that NGOs seem to have been the most active agent engaged in any form peace operations. Yet by the mid 90s with a variety of NGOs and a removed UN, there existed little to no coordination of aid efforts. The UN was encouraging NGO support from local Afghan communities (Afghan NGOs) while limiting other international agencies (Barakat & Strand, 1995). The problem was there was too much work to be done. NGOs alone could not have done all the work, and the UN alone could not have done all the work. There needed to be a unified effort of aid and peace initiatives which simply did not happen. Barakat and Strand concluded that (1995), "Developing a co-ordinated (sic) and common policy between UN and the NGOs…is actually the greatest challenge for all those involved in the rehabilitation process" (para. 38). Evidently a second, rather oxymoronic battle had been ongoing in Afghanistan which was for control of peace initiatives.
1996 "YEAR OF THE TALIBAN"
While the peace battle continued, the battle for control of Kabul intensified. The Taliban grew more determined to control Afghanistan. By the end of 1996 they controlled nearly two thirds of the country. Even more remarkable was by June of 1996, Hekmatyar had finally earned his spot in government as the Prime Minister. This new government became known for its strict and harsh social rule. Ralph Magnus, referring to 1996 as the "Year of the Taliban" revealed that (1997), "Hekmatyar announced a strict Islamic regime in Kabul, closing cinemas, banning music broadcasts on radio and television, advising women to follow Islamic dress codes, and calling for the dismissal of all communist officials" (p. 112). Although it had been six to seven years in the making, this new, extremist government was suddenly cause for alarm by the international community.
In the US, interest suddenly grew, but according to Magnus, their concern may have been more self interested. He notes the following exchange in Washington (1997):
Unfortunately that new interest did not translate any further into more peace operations. Instead the state of Afghanistan continued to worsen through the end of the decade. The Taliban continued to gain more control of the country. And, they encouraged other breeds of extremism to flourish, namely Al Qaeda. Simply recognizing that a problem existed was about the extent to which the UN went to deal with this threat.
THE END OF THE DECADE
The end of the decade brought about little by way of constructive efforts to end the Taliban violence. In a few measures to deal with the Taliban, the UN passed several resolutions. One such resolution agreed upon in February of 1998 was aptly subtitled, Emergency International Assistance for Peace, Normalcy and Reconstruction of War-stricken Afghanistan. As is the case with many resolutions, this one attempted to express concern over the loss of life and the well being of Afghanistan's citizens. It denounced the oppressive practices of the Taliban against women for instance. And it urged participation by the international community to assist with aid and reconstruction, so long as it was practical (UN Resolution 52/211 , 1998).
A subsequent resolution later that year, Resolution 1214, further condemned the Taliban for their continued violence and harsh governance. Yet, it is likely that the UN's "reiterating its deep concern at the continuing discrimination against girls and women [etc.]" did nothing more than appease the international community's desire for someone to do something (UN Resolution 1214, 1998). Unfortunately, little evidence exists to indicate that anybody did anything of real value to encourage peace.
1998 saw the bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. It was Osama bin Ladin, the head of the Al Qaida organization, that the U.S. blamed. Ahmed Rashid points out in a Foreign Affairs piece that (1999) "Washington demanded bin Ladin's extradition; the Taliban refused to comply" (p. 32). It is little wonder then that strongly worded resolutions had minimal effect. In terms of peace enforcement, the UN's efforts could be construed as having been wanting.
The rest of the story needs no elaboration. After 9/11, the U.S. and NATO did something about the Taliban and toppled the regime. But, the world watches now, nine years later, as the U.S. and NATO continue to fight a resistant insurgency. Undoubtedly the interest of those that were previously uninterested is sharply more acute.
WHAT GOOD WOULD IT HAVE DONE?
One question that should be asked and analyzed is would more aggressive peacekeeping intervention have done any good? There is anecdotal evidence in terms of peacekeeping efforts that suggest peace operations do not always help the people. The African continent provides plenty of case studies for example. In their brief but pointed article "The Problem with Peacekeeping", Grignon and Kroslak illustrate this very point. They say:
This unfortunate illustration suggests that quite possibly had the UN or other members of the international community done more by way of peacekeeping, the outcome would likely not have changed with one exception. It was an indifference and not entirely an incompetence in Afghanistan that denied Afghanistan a better chance at peace. As Barnett says (2002), "The UN's indifference, in short, is the sum of the individual indifferences of member states" (p. 175).
The clues regarding the rise of an extremist organization threatening U.S. and international security was not a secret. There is no shortage of research and discussion pointing to the imminent threat to the west. In a response to Ahmed Rashid's writing about the Taliban, Tomsen warned (2000), "The chief danger to U.S. interests is the rising tide of Islamist militancy and international terrorism emanating from bases in Afghanistan" (p. 181).
What role then did humanitarian and other peace operations play during the 90s? Did peace operations help prevent or at least stall the rise of the Taliban? Unfortunately they did not. One might wonder then if the international community is at fault for Afghanistan's condition leading into the 21st century. That kind of characterization would require a further analysis of deliberate ignorance. In this analysis it would be an unfair leap to conclude such culpability. But, in many respects the international community did abandon Afghanistan or at least leave Afghanistan without much help. Such a void may have been avoidable. But, we only know what history has proved which, as Michael Chege reiterated of British foreign secretary Jack Straw, "when we allow governments to fail, warlords, drug barrons, or terrorists fill the vacuum" (p. 147).
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