Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Emotional Response or Crafting Policy?

The last comment posted to yesterday's discussion on Sudan sums it all up: the anonymous poster, like Senator Biden in 2004, argues that, if not for the baneful influence of the "realists", who somehow have a mystical lock on policy formulation, American power would be unfettered to do good in the world. And simply by raising hard and inconvenient questions, we must be supporters of dictators and tyrants.

If the central government and the western rebel/secessionist movements cannot reach a sustainable peace agreement, then, as I see it, these are our varying options. In taking one or more options off the table, I think advocates are under the obligation to demonstrate why the remaining options are more viable or more likely.

1. Do nothing. Let the death and destruction continue, even potentially destabilize neighboring states, but otherwise containable to central Africa. (More or less what we've been doing to date)

1a. Public relations campaign. Passing of resolutions, fiery speeches, etc. and half-hearted attempts at sanctions and divestment but no further action.

2. "Offshore" balancing by increasing the capabilities of the rebel movements to protect civilians and withstand government forces. Avoids direct U.S. involvement, but also little ability to control what groups would do with weapons, equipment and intelligence and also no guarantees that Khartoum will not up the ante by buying more and better weapons.

3. Aid the African Union efforts. Again, avoiding direct U.S. involvement, but the question has to be firmly and directly answered: why are African forces which have been largely ineffective or problematic in other African peace-keeping efforts going to be so qualitatively better in Darfur, unless African Union forces are backed up by Western forces (private or public) on the ground? How do we avoid Sierra Leone, Liberia, etc.

4. UN force comprised of non-U.S./non-European soldiers. See question 3. Are Pakistani forces, for example, prepared for major combat operations if Khartoum raises the ante?

4a. Some mix of UN forces and PMCs (not wild-eyed Wild Geese mercenaries but retired professionals) to augment African Union forces, with a clear command and control mandate.

5. U.S./NATO force. Is it possible to get real sustained support from Western publics for a deployment, not the emotional CNN response of "doing something" that turns into "get the hell out" when casualties occur? Will a U.S./NATO force be prepared to use force and take casualties to prevent ethnic cleasning and violence, something that didn't happen in Kosovo in 2004?

The Sudan/Darfur crisis demonstrates that the hopes in the immediate post-Cold War world that nation-states would be prepared to take the burden of a "duty to protect" is more a dream then a reality. Is a way forward, perhaps, to return to the medieval concept of the knights-hospitaller, of having autonomous, sovereign military orders prepared to intervene if given authorization, a kind of 21st century Knights of Malta?

The need for modern groups resembling the Knights of Malta points to a degree of dysfunction in national sovereignty over much of the world that interventions may not really remedy.

In Africa, we should encourage the African Union to develop a long-range plan in which its nations would agree to set and achieve steps toward stronger common institutions, including a peacekeeping command with the autonomy and professional skills to be effective. Outside assistance should be a means to this end and not just a series of interventions to keep failed states in check.
Majority of African states are not nations (excepting states such as Senegal). African Union is even more of a paper organization that the OAU.

Best that can be done is to strengthen certain states hoping they, in turn, can serve as a cushion, role model, guide, and core for the peripheral states. Candidates would be SA, Senegal, Tanzania, Kenya, may be even Nigeria.
Sudan could have been an issue for Democrats to make the case for responsible use of American power in the world; the "right" war in contrast to Iraq. But they're giving away the moral high ground on this.
Private armies seemingly are contrained by democracies because they're funded by taxpayers. As they pick up capital, arsenal and expertise they'll become increasingly independent. What flag will they carry? IMF? NATO's strong arm with soldiers from Poland, Ukraine and Georgia? Their own?

Who's going to be the 21th c. Louis to put them on the stacks? And what constraints on democracy will be necesarry for that war?

Concerning a "moral high ground". What rosy view of history supposes the templar knights were acting with the common good in mind? Seize, grab and plunder in the name of the cross! What symbol will they use today? the "D" of democracy?

In order to retain or salvage its worldwide legitimacy, intervention policy needs assistence from a wide diversity of nations, including soldiers. A lack of experience might turn out badly in any case, however recurrent one-sided interventions by a global police-state and possibly its reincarnated templar stooges have a much more destabalising potential than a local war in
Africa. This despite the terrible atrocities at hand.
you really want to legitimize autonomous military 'orders'? You really think it's a good idea to make viable mercenary armies whose sympathies can be bought and sold, not just by money, but by affiliation with an ideology that may serve only itself and not the common weal? If we are on the edge of slipping into a new dark ages, possibly such a thing will come to be - but it hardly seems enlightened otherwise.

That being said, Africa should be forced to deal with its own problems first [possibly with some help] - and when it fails, as it most surely will, then it'll be appropriate to talk of other solutions free of idealistic nonsense and movie star rhetoric.
I think posters are missing Nikolas' point.. If you want humanitarian interventions around the world but no one wants to step up and put their national militaries at risk--if the cry is always for "someone else" to do it--then you either have humanitarian tragedies or you have to find other solutions.

The rise of the private military is a response to democracy. It is a response to the fact that governments no longer feel they have sufficient power or authority to compel military service in the absence of an overarching threat. People don't sign up to join the US military to fight in Darfur. So the market is responding.
its put up or shut up time. congress says in 2004 that darfur is genocide so i guess that was just hot air for the election. either genocide deserves response or it doesnt.
From the 2006 National Security Strategy: can't get it in much plainer words than this:

we must not allow the legal debate over the technical definition of ‘genocide’ to excuse inaction. The world must act in cases of mass atrocities and mass killings that will eventually lead to genocide even if the local parties are not prepared for peace.
Outside action doesn't have to be costly if it is sustainable or effective at deterring future genocide. But I wonder if the search to devise some way to have intervention on the cheap is sending the message that the lives to be saved aren't worth all that much.

The trouble with ad hoc intervention in a place like Sudan is that it could escalate. I agree that this could happen if we arm the Darfurians, but it could also happen if we send in private mercenaries or commit regular troops. There is no guarantee that an intervention intended to be local and small-scale will stay that way.

There may be a case for providing a shield to Darfur in the short run. But any outside involvement has to leave some permanent change or the effort will be in vain and will be resisted with greater force precisely because opponents will recognize it for the short-term commitment that it is.

Given the crooked timber of mankind, I caution you against this so-called "humanitarian intervention" and/or "democracy promotion" ideas. Both concepts can and will be used by crafty leaders to sucker a gullible population into foreign adventures.

Consider what even this discussion has led to: mercenary armies, tampering with the state system so no state can feel safe and thus increased international insecurity.
All at the altars of these new gods.
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