GONNA STUDY WAR NO MORE
now a large body of work exists which makes the claim that organized,
large-scale war between nation-states is waning, obsolete, or just
plain gone from the horizon. A good book which makes this argument
is John E. Mueller’s Retreat
from Doomsday: The Obsolescence of Major War (New York:
Basic Books, 1989). Martin van Creveld, already discussed in this
space makes a similar point. Nuclear weapons are thought to have
played a role in this happy outcome.
potentates, Battlin’ Balkan Billy, Strobe-Light Talbot,
and Madeleine (not the one in the old children’s rhyme)
like to harp on this theme, too. They do so in the
shadow of the Kellogg-Briand Pact, which we once thought
was just a bit of hot air but which has become for
some people the founding document of our phony-baloney
20th-century international "law."
the bombs still fall, people are killed by armed forces,
and everything under the sun can be brought in under
Uncle Sam’s definition of legitimate military target.
What can this mean?
think it means that "peace-keeping" as a
new name for war is the grossest imperialist imposture
of our times. As Tacitus said of the Romans, they
make a desert and call it peace. It’s always
good to be in charge of the definitions.
people are still injured in organized fashion by armed
forces deployed by states. On the other hand, it may
be that wars of the older kind in which there were
some agreed-upon rules and in which both sides had
standing are less likely to occur. We no longer fight
morally similar states; we only deal with "criminals,"
whose criminal nature stands revealed in their very
failure to submit.
is the psychology and language of empire. Warfare
conducted within this framework corresponds nicely
to the liberals’ favorite overseas activity: the one-sided
ideologically motivated massacre.
UP THE WHITE MAN’S BOURBON
brings us to the fascinating movement to re-annex
Africa! We have to go beyond asking if two wrongs
make a right and ask ourselves does a whole series
of wrongs make a right? Or do they just make a further
call for large-scale intervention in Africa comes
from Right, Left, and Center. Douglas Hurd, former
British Minister for Foreign Affairs, calls for putting
disorderly regions under UN trusteeship. Some fellow
at National Review is getting his safari gear
together right now. From the Center, Center/Left and
Left, great mobs of academics chime in, including
Kenyan scholar Ali Mazrui and American academics David
Rieff, William Pfaff, Gerald Helman, and Steven Ratner.
Deon Geldenhuys provides a good summary of this literature,
but unfortunately his article is in Afrikaans. You
can still go to his footnotes, however.1
envisions UN trusteeships – "but less Western
and more international" and "‘inter-African
colonization,’ whereby an African Security Council
of five regional states takes responsibility to save
their continent’s troubled states." Rieff holds
that the great powers must step in "to stabilize
the military situation, after which the UN will administer
protectorates." Pfaff wants a kind of neo-colonialism
to set things right, by addressing European responsibility
for everything that is wrong in Africa.
and Ratner put forward three "models" of
UN guardianship "over ill-fated states like Yugoslavia,
Georgia, Haiti, Liberia, Somalia, and Sudan."
In the first, UN bureaucrats "are available to
run the fallen state" but with "ultimate
decision-making left with the local government"
(you bet). Next comes conservatorship, in which "the
failed state gives over specific governing functions
to the UN, as with the United Nations Transitional
Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) in the early nineties."
The third and most radical plan is direct UN trusteeship
of the old [League] type." Here, "the concerned
state stands down of its own free will from control
over its internal and external affairs for a specified
time period. The UN or group of states will come in
as administrative authority until elections for a
new government can be held."
the last few decades, Western powers have stepped
in to promote "restoration or reconstruction
of the internal political order of [failing] states."
Putting the best possible face on things, Geldenhuys
describes the interveners’ goals as "furthering
of good government, rebuilding of state structures,
nation-building, and promotion of peace." This
good work is often "welcomed… by the most important
internal political groupings, something that gives
a cooperative character to the undertaking."
A cynic might think that this is a case of one faction
calling in armed foreigners to guarantee their victory.
But that can’t be, since the proclaimed role model
for all these armed philanthropists is the system
found in "Western market democracies," i.e.,
the advanced bureaucratized welfare-warfare state.
Oh, yes, and End of History.
they’re not involved in shooting people and bombing
strictly defined military targets, the armed international
do-gooders will "establish democracy," "promote
respect for human rights and the supremacy of law,"
"subordinate the military to civil authority
and (re)build a dynamic civil society." On the
eighth day, I suppose they’ll rest, and then it’s
on to Nation Building by "sharpening the sense
of national identity and loyalty among members of
sharpened national identity is a good thing in Africa,
whereas in would be very, very wicked in Europe or
North America. Does everyone follow this?
PITH HELMET AND MATCHING HANDKERCHIEF
to actually achieve all these things? Clearly, you
have to have order. To get that, you have to enforce
"peace" by blowing things up. There seem
to be four facets to this. First, there is peacemaking,
which means that "an external party prevents
or decides a conflict." We used to call that
interference, big power politics, imperialism, and
a few other things. Now comes peacekeeping, which
"secures the results of a peace agreement by…
the deploying of peace forces." Peace building
comes into play to "address underlying socio-economic
and other problems in order to give a lasting basis
for the peace agreement." Peace enforcement –
my favorite – is last, and "can refer either
to enforcement of existing agreements or to enforcement
of solutions, even against the sense [will] of the
conflicting parties." An imposed peace – a Diktat
WITH A BETTER PRESS AGENT
means to all the above include "mediation, economic
and military support, UN peace forces, election help"
etc. Outside intervention in the nineties affected
a number of "troubled states, among them, Somalia,
Cambodia, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Bosnia-Herzegovina."
Also helped by "cooperative outside efforts"
were "South Africa, Russia, El Salvador and Haïti."
short list is, it seems to me, rather decisive. How
many of these societies were actually helped
by US/Western imperial interventions? I can’t blame
the political science types for building models. I
can blame them for not questioning the rhetoric of
statesmen and interests allied to states.
a lot that might get overlooked if you start believing
what governments say about their activities and motives.
You might, for example, miss the crucial distinction
between peaceful world order and empire, for one.