of the Morgenthau-Kissinger-Scowcroft stripe have more often been
interested in stability and something approaching sanctity of existing
borders. Factors like respect for human rights, democracy, freedom
and self-determination might be worthy enough, this school would
suggest, but international relations is a world of power relationships.
If you can promote democratic ideals while enhancing your power
and protecting your core national interests, fine and dandy, but
foreign policy shouldn't be driven by ideals. Stability, some would
argue, is a better bet for promoting such ideals anyway.
The neo-realists of the Bush administration were not only not really
prepared, they were at least somewhat appalled when communism (and
all their assumptions about international relations) crumbled in
1989. They stuck with Gorbachev as their preferred Russian leader
far longer than was warranted by his international stature or his
influence and popularity within the then-Soviet Union. They paid
lip service to outrage over captive nations but especially after
Hungary in 1956 did little or nothing to liberate them.
practice, most international diplomats are a confused (and often
not very self-conscious) blend of idealist and realist, often using
idealistic rhetoric to justify their thoroughly realist agenda.
What the two schools have in common, of course, is a thoroughgoing
conviction that superior, educated and cosmopolitan folk like themselves
should be running the world. You can't trust mere elected officials
to have a broader view, and you certainly can't place any confidence
in the Great Unwashed common people to have any insight worth listening
to on foreign policy.
Foreign policy is viewed as the realm of an enlightened elite. Members
of this elite might disagree among themselves, often quite vigorously,
on general philosophy or particular policies in particular contexts.
But the notion that they should be subject to the people assuming
the role of servants is hardly worth refuting, it's seen as so
the 20th century centralism and decentralism have been in tension.
Numerous empires and conquerors European colonial, Communist,
Nazi have centralized power, bringing outlying countries
under subjugation. At the same time, and especially since World
War II and the breakup of older European overseas empires, we have
seen a proliferation of smaller states. There were 51 original members
of the United Nations in 1945; now there are 185. Many of these
are former colonies of the European empires some rather absurd
in their make-up because they adopted colonial boundaries rather
than boundaries based on language, ethnicity or similarity of interests,
and therefore perpetually unstable.
At the same time in addition to the United Nations, originally
envisioned by many and still envisioned by some as the foundation
of a world government international organizations of all
kinds, based on security interests, economic interests or geographical
proximity, have proliferated. These organizations almost always
have a centralizing impact, at least insofar as they concentrate
power in the hands of a floating pool of unelected bureaucrats in
Brussels, Geneva, New York, or elsewhere. The move to adopt a single
currency and to "harmonize'' laws in Europe may or may not
lead to a single mega-state on the continent, but it has already
centralized power and made it much less accountable to mere citizens.
EAST TIMOR EXAMPLE
East Timor this tension can be seen, almost as in a test case. Indonesia
was ruled by the Dutch, East Timor by the Portuguese. The Dutch
relinquished their empire before the Portuguese did, but you could
make a case as Indonesia's rulers convinced themselves in
1975 that if Indonesia already ruled most of the islands
near Timor it was only sensible to swallow East Timor too. Since
then an independence movement has gone through several intensities
of activism and the central government has suppressed it with varying
degrees of brutality.
East Timorese independence activists soon understood that the "international
community'' contained elements that could be useful to it in its
essentially decentralizing struggle. After gaining support from
mostly non-governmental human rights groups they began to get support
from governments, if only in the form of non-recognition of Indonesia's
conquest. The independent impulse was resisted for so long by the
centralists in Djakarta in part because they recognized that other
parts of the vast Indonesian archipelago might seek independence
if East Timor set a precedent.
When the Indonesian government finally decided to honor the East
Timorese decentralist impulse (not necessarily for idealistic reasons
and only to the extent of authorizing a referendum), it called on
the United Nations perhaps the ultimate expression of the centralist
impulse in the world to supervise the process. So you had a decentralist
movement facilitated by an essentially centralist institution in part because supervising the referendum lent a degree of legitimacy
to the United Nations.
Much blood will be shed before an outcome is known, and that outcome
may be only temporary. But it will be interesting to view the East
Timor struggle and analogous struggles around the world through
a centralist-decentralist lens. If East Timor does achieve independence
eventually, will it be a genuine move toward decentralism and devolution
of power? Or will it be so beholden to the United Nations and other
international government institutions that its success will feed
the centralist impulse?
THE KLA CHANGE ITS SPOTS?
You see a similar tension in Kosovo,
for example, where independence from Yugoslavia might be achieved
only through the intervention of an essentially centralist "international
community." Among the recent episodes the transformation of
the Kosovo Liberation Army into a police force is the latest tension-laden
If the Kosovo Liberation Army, the ethnic Albanian guerrilla army
formed to fight against Yugoslavia for outright independence for
Kosovo, could be converted into a civilian police force with a simple
change of uniform, change of name and change in weapons policy,
it might be a desirable turn of events. Unfortunately, in the real
world such a conversion is most unlikely. A fantasy.
According to promises made when NATO ended its bombing campaign
against Kosovo and Serbia in June, the KLA was supposed to be demilitarized,
disarmed, and demobilized within three months, by September 19.
While the KLA did turn over some weapons to the NATO occupation
forces, it has showed every sign of staying together as a fighting
force. Some attacks against ethnic Serbs were undertaken by people
in KLA uniforms. And Chris
Bird of the British newspaper The Guardian, reported
that the KLA has hidden many modern weapons and "the weapons
handed in are often ancient hunting rifles and rusty shotguns.''
NATO has not wanted to get into an outright battle with the KLA,
which was a de facto ally during the bombing campaign indeed, the
bombing often amounted to air support for planned KLA ground operations
but it knows the KLA makes ethnic Serbs, Gypsies and others
nervous. So it came up with a plan to convert the guerrilla army
into a civilian police force, though such a notion was not part
of the UN Security Council resolution that established the NATO
The new organization will be called
the Kosovo Protection Corps and its 5,000 members are supposed to
have only 200 weapons available for guard duty (though most will
keep sidearms). But almost all its members will be former KLA members.
This is an utterly unworkable notion for many of the same reasons
the idea of US military Delta Force personnel being at the federal
siege at Waco is so upsetting to those who cherish traditional American
liberties. The military and the police are different kinds of organizations
with different missions. To imagine that somebody trained for one
kind of mission can simply undertake another kind with little or
no transition is unrealistic. To imagine that an organization created
for military missions can become a civilian police force in a twinkling
ARE NOT COPS
A military force is designed and trained
to seek and destroy an identified enemy and kill as many of them
as possible. A police force is designed and trained to keep the
peace and capture criminals in an essentially peaceful society,
protecting the general public while respecting the rights of those
accused of crime. Both missions are difficult and specialized. Though
an argument might be made the police work requires more judgment
and subtlety, some would say military work is more difficult. The
key factor is that they are very different kinds of work.
The American founders and early lawmakers recognized this and established
civilian control over the military. Later, in 1876, Congress passed
the Posse Comitatus Act, which prohibits U.S. military forces from
engaging in civilian law enforcement activities except with a special
waiver from the president. An exception has been made in recent
years for Drug War activities, but it has led to abuses and is still
To imagine that the KLA trained not simply for military activity
but for "irregular'' military activity, which in practice means
don't worry much about how you kill the enemy so long as you get
it done will in a day or two become a police force able to
enforce laws uniformly and dedicated to obeying laws itself is beyond
unrealistic. Its creation is simply another acknowledgment of NATO's
failure to rebuild a civil society in Kosovo after doing so much
to destroy it earlier this year.
contribution of $20 or more gets you a copy of Justin Raimondo's
Into the Bosnian Quagmire: The Case Against US Intervention in
the Balkans, a 60-page booklet packed with the kind of intellectual
ammunition you need to fight the lies being put out by this administration
and its allies in Congress. Send contributions to
520 S. Murphy Avenue, #202
Sunnyvale, CA 94086
Contribute Via our Secure Server
Credit Card Donation Form