Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Scholars for a Sensible Foreign Policy

Over 850 scholars in the field of international relations have signed an "Open Letter to the American People" that "call[s] urgently for a change of course in American foreign and national security policy." The statement continues:

We judge that the current American policy centered around the war in Iraq is the most misguided one since the Vietnam period, one which harms the cause of the struggle against extreme Islamist terrorists. One result has been a great distortion in the terms of public debate on foreign and national security policy--an emphasis on speculation instead of facts, on mythology instead of calculation, and on misplaced moralizing over considerations of national interest.

In a statement that is appended to the open letter, Robert Keohane of Duke University lists seven lessons that the United States should learn based on its recent experiences.

1. Base policy on analysis, not fixed beliefs.

2. Always have a Plan B. The State Department prepared a much more realistic assessment of the problems that would face the United States in the aftermath. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld not only rejected the plan; he sought to prevent anyone associated with it from being involved in postwar planning for Iraq.

3. Remember that military power is not sufficient to achieve most political objectives. It does not assure that we will win the peace. To achieve political objectives, it is essential to be able to persuade people that our values and interests are consistent with theirs.

4. The first principle of foreign policy is to match goals with resources. The key goal of American foreign policy--to fight terrorism--has been undermined by the attack on Iraq.

5. Occupations almost always generate mobilized opposition.

6. War is dangerous for democracy. This administration has claimed virtually unlimited authority to arrest and prosecute, without normal guarantees of due process, anyone it accuses of involvement with terrorism, inside or outside the United States. "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty," and is especially needed in wartime.

7. Dismissing international law is detrimental to our capacity to lead.

Read the letter, check to see if your favorite IR professors have signed, and leave a comment.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Ambassador Prosper

Pierre Prosper, the United States Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues, spoke at Pepperdine today. His comments addressed Sudan, the special tribunal in Iraq, and (briefly and superficially) the Guantanamo detainees. I had the opportunity to respond to Ambassador Prosper's talk and took the opportunity to discuss torture in Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, Gardez, and Mosul, issues that have been covered in posts on this blog. I also took the opportunity to suggest that Ambassador Prosper ought to resign. Here are the concluding paragraphs of my remarks:

I understand that some people in the United States don’t care about the rule of law in the international system. That is not, I assume, Ambassador Prosper’s position.

I understand that the Department of Defense, not the Department of State, is in charge of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. So perhaps Ambassador Prosper was never consulted about what constitutes torture or told about what is being done under the heading of "harsh interrogations." But Europeans–including those in the "coalition of the willing"–know what’s going on in Guantanamo and in Gardez, Afghanistan. Surely some of them have spoken to the Ambassador for War Crimes Issues about American crimes.

I believe Ambassador Prosper to be a decent man concerned about human rights and international justice. I am, however, having increasing difficulty squaring that belief with the fact that he has not resigned his office.

I have to ask, in conclusion, just what would have to happen, Mr. Ambassador, for you to conclude that you could no longer serve this Administration as Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues?

Much to my surprise, Ambassador Prosper did not announce his resignation on the spot. I'm sure, though, that it will happen soon.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Coercive Violence

Almost forty years ago, an economist and strategic thinker named Thomas Schelling published a book entitled Arms and Influence. It began with some simple but important observations concerning the objectives served by the use of force. Force, Schelling said, can be used to take what a country wants or to keep what it has. “Forcibly a country can repel and expel, penetrate and occupy, seize, exterminate, disarm and disable, confine, deny access, and directly frustrate intrusion or attack.” But there is something else that force can accomplish: “force can be used to hurt. In addition to taking and protecting things of value it can destroy value. In addition to weakening an enemy militarily it can cause an enemy plain suffering.”

With this insight Schelling proceeded to explain the evolution of modern warfare from a point at which the ability to inflict punishment on an enemy depended on the ability to defeat that enemy in war to a point at which punishment could be inflicted prior to the military defeat of the enemy. Under the former circumstances, the conquest of a city or an entire state would enable the conqueror to seize economic assets and to enslave or kill the enemy’s civilian population. The latter situation, in contrast, is one in which the destruction of non-combatants and property occurs in the course of the war. The aerial bombardment of cities in World War II offers the classic example.
The understanding that military force can be used to punish as well as to seize or defend leads to Schelling's most important observation: when punishment can be meted out before the military defeat of the enemy is achieved, it can be deliberately employed as a means of coercion. And with weapons of mass destruction, the mere threat of such punishment can be used to coerce an adversary.

Much of modern warfare has as its object seizing territory or overthrowing governments or merely fending off the attacks of others. Superior military force is necessary to accomplish these ends. There is also, however, a great deal of fighting that occurs when one side has no hope of prevailing by virtue of brute force. Such warfare, far from being irrational, is based on the idea that one’s objectives can often be accomplished merely by inflicting sufficient pain to make the adversary yield. It is this–-the logic of coercive violence–-that explains suicide bombers in Israel and videotaped beheadings in Iraq. It also explains the difficulty of defeating insurgencies in Algeria, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Chechnya, and Iraq. When a military contest becomes a matter of inflicting pain rather than demonstrating superiority, matching the enemy’s staying power (that is, the ability to endure pain) is more important than matching the enemy’s military power.

It was folly to have invaded Iraq. American military power made it easy to rout the Iraqi army and to overthrow Saddam Hussein, but American staying power-–regardless of who is elected president on November 2–-is unlikely ever to match the staying power of the Iraqi insurgency.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

United Nations Day

Today is United Nations Day, the 59th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations. In his message marking the occasion, Secretary-General Kofi Annan promised to develop proposals to make the organization more effective. Annan said, "We all need an effective United Nations -- one that reflects the world we live in today, and can meet the challenges we will face tomorrow."

October 24 is also the date on which the Peace of Westphalia, conventionally regarded as the treaty ending the sovereignty of the Holy Roman Empire and ushering in the age of autonomous states, was concluded.

(The original New York Times story on the entry into force of the Charter of the United Nations can be seen here. The Times did not have a reporter covering the Thirty Years War or the Peace of Westphalia, but you can read the text of the Peace of Westphalia here.)

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Free Education in Africa

This story, from tomorrow's New York Times, provides some very encouraging news from Africa. Across the continent, millions of children are enrolling in schools for the first time as country after country makes primary education free. The change in policy is a product of democratization (office-seekers have found that free education is popular with voters) and a change in policy by the World Bank, which had formerly encouraged governments to charge school fees.

There are, of course, many problems with the massive influx of new students, including over-crowded classes and severe shortages of supplies. Some elementary schools in Kenya have a student-teacher ratio of over 100:1. Nonetheless, many families in Africa perceive education as the way out of crushing poverty and are taking advantage of this opportunity their governments are struggling to provide.

Read the story and consider whether or not some organization you belong to--your church, your service club, your sorority or fraternity, or whatever--could help to support a school (or at least a student) in Africa. Leave a comment if you want help figuring out how to do it.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Power Corrupts

Realists tend not to be very funny people. I recall hearing Henry Kissinger speak a number of years ago and even though he told a couple of jokes at the beginning of his presentation, he was no Jon Stewart. Power, the realist's Rosetta stone, just doesn't lend itself to comedy. (Powerlessness is another matter. Just think of the late Rodney Daingerfield's "I don't get no respect" routine.)

Dr. Steve Rouse has led me to a great web site that specializes in demotivational materials such as the poster that shows a ship sinking with the caption: "MISTAKES: It could be that the purpose of your life is only to serve as a warning to others." One of their posters quotes Lord Acton's famous line about power . . . and adds what many people with power have no doubt thought.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

What We Know for Certain

In a New York Times Magazine story this past Sunday, Ron Suskind recalls a meeting with an unnamed White House aide who said that Suskind and others like him were "in the reality-based community." A new poll from the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland offers some help in distinguishing those who are in the "reality-based community" from those who aren't. Here are the first two paragraphs of PIPA's press release regarding the findings:

Even after the final report of Charles Duelfer to Congress saying that Iraq did not have a significant WMD program, 72% of Bush supporters continue to believe that Iraq had actual WMD (47%) or a major program for developing them (25%). Fifty-six percent assume that most experts believe Iraq had actual WMD and 57% also assume, incorrectly, that Duelfer concluded Iraq had at least a major WMD program. Kerry supporters hold opposite beliefs on all these points.

Similarly, 75% of Bush supporters continue to believe that Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda, and 63% believe that clear evidence of this support has been found. Sixty percent of Bush supporters assume that this is also the conclusion of most experts, and 55% assume, incorrectly, that this was the conclusion of the 9/11 Commission. Here again, large majorities of Kerry supporters have exactly opposite perceptions.

Those who saw PIPA's last poll on what Bush and Kerry supporters know (or don't know) are unlikely to be surprised.

As Mark Twain put it, "It's not what we don't know that hurts us, it's what we know for certain that just ain't so."

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Paul H. Nitze (1907-2004)

Paul H. Nitze, whose career in government service spanned almost fifty years--from FDR to Reagan--died last night at his home in Washington, D.C. at the age of 97. Nitze was, in many respects, the quintessential Cold Warrior. As a member of the Strategic Bombing Survey following World War II, he was one of the first Americans to see the impact of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki from the ground. In 1950, he was the principal author of NSC-68, an influential study that established the foundations of American defense policy during the Cold War. He served in a variety of posts in the Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon administrations, but was not offered a post by President Carter. On the outside, Nitze became a harsh critic of Carter's arms control policy.

The details of Ambassador Nitze's career are here in this New York Times obituary. I have a personal experience with Ambassador Nitze to add.

In 1980-81, I was a student at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C. Ambassador Nitze was a co-founder of the school and had a long and close association with it. In fact, in 1989 the trustees of the University voted to rename the school the "Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies." When he was not occupied by government service, he sometimes taught classes there. In the fall of 1981, I was part of a seminar he offered entitled "Strategy in Support of Political Purpose: Theory and Practice." Although already in his 70s, Ambassador Nitze was extraordinarily sharp. He spoke with equal lucidity and assurance about his personal experiences at the beginning of the Cold War and about the state of the world at that moment.

Of all the things that Ambassador Nitze said in his seminar, nothing struck me more forcefully than a comment he made about his experience of walking through Hiroshima as a member of the Strategic Bombing Survey just a few months after World War II ended. He said that the destruction there was no worse than it was in any number of other cities that had been bombed using conventional weapons.

Objectively, I knew he was correct. In fact, more people died in the March 1945 bombing raids on Tokyo than died in either Hiroshima or Nagasaki. At the same time, I thought the comment offered an important insight into his perspective on nuclear weapons. It suggested, I thought, a cold and calculating view of the original weapons of mass destruction, one that helped to explain his insistence on the political utility of nuclear weapons.

Ambassador Nitze did not finish the semester with us. His seminar was turned over to Fritz Ermarth, a specialist in Soviet nuclear strategy, because Ambassador Nitze had been asked by President Reagan to lead the U.S. delegation in the arms control negotiations conducted in Geneva from 1981 to 1984. Later, in his last government assignment, Ambassador Nitze negotiated the INF (intermediate-range nuclear forces) Treaty, the first arms control agreement designed to eliminate an entire class of nuclear weapons. In some respects, the INF Treaty seems to have been a repudiation of his earlier hard-line views. Ambassador Nitze, however, no doubt regarded it as a vindication of those views.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Iraq and Al Qaeda

The highly respected International Institute for Strategic Studies, a London-based military think tank, has just released The Military Balance, an annual report on the military capabilities of the world's states and non-state actors. The report asserts that the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq has aided Al Qaeda's recruitment efforts and that, at present, there are over 18,000 Al Qaeda sympathizers scattered throughout 60 countries. Al Qaeda is still "a viable and effective 'network of networks,'" in the words of the report.

The Military Balance also notes that Al Qaeda now requires less money to operate and that its funds are being handled in a manner that is more difficult to track.

In an observation with direct relevance to the ongoing debate in the United States over the prospects for a draft, Christopher Langton, the editor of the report, said that post-conflict military operations were "manpower-intensive, as the human component replaces the weapon system as the key enabler to success." Furthermore the use of reservists who have not had the proper training for the roles they are being asked to fill can create problems, as the Abu Ghraib scandal demonstrated.

The Guardian provides details here.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Evil Empire Thwarted

I refer, of course, to the New York Yankees' loss to the Boston Red Sox last night on a twelfth-inning homerun by David Ortiz. Who knew back in July at the Democratic National Convention in Boston that this was what the Dems meant with that "hope is on the way" line?

Sunday, October 17, 2004

More on Guantánamo

A story in today’s New York Times indicates that prisoners at Guantánamo Bay have been routinely abused in spite of frequent assertions to the contrary by the Defense Department. The individuals interviewed by the Times are described as "military guards, intelligence agents, and others, . . . some of whom witnessed or participated in the techniques and others who were in a position to know the details of the operation and corroborate their accounts." All spoke on condition of anonymity out of fear of retribution.

Here is some of what those interviewed by Times reporter Neil A. Lewis described:

One regular procedure that was described by people who worked at Camp Delta, the main prison facility at the naval base in Cuba, was making uncooperative prisoners strip to their underwear, having them sit in a chair while shackled hand and foot to a bolt in the floor, and forcing them to endure strobe lights and screamingly loud rock and rap music played through two close loudspeakers, while the air-conditioning was turned up to maximum levels, said one military official who witnessed the procedure. The official said that was intended to make the detainees uncomfortable, as they were accustomed to high temperatures both in their native countries and their cells.

Such sessions could last up to 14 hours with breaks, said the official, who described the treatment after being contacted by The Times.

"It fried them," the official said, who said that anger over the treatment the prisoners endured was the reason for speaking with a reporter. Another person familiar with the procedure who was contacted by The Times said: "They were very wobbly. They came back to their cells and were just completely out of it."

Does this sort of interrogation technique rise to the level of torture? David Scheffer, who served as the United States' first Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues, believes it does. "I don’t think there's any question that treatment of that character satisfies the severe pain and suffering requirement, be it physical or mental, that is provided for in the Convention Against Torture," he said.

Defenders of the interrogation techniques used at Guantánamo claim that they have produced useful intelligence that has saved American lives. This claim, however, was contradicted by Lt. Col. Anthony Christino, a twenty-year veteran of U.S. military intelligence, earlier this month. Regardless, the international law prohibition against torture is non-derogable. (See Article 2 of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.)

The current U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues, Pierre Prosper, will be speaking at Pepperdine on Tuesday, October 26, 2004 at 2:30 p.m. in the Drescher Auditorium. The question and answer portion of his presentation should be interesting.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Dear Clark County

The Guardian, a prominent British newspaper, is pairing interested readers with independent or unaffiliated voters in Clark County, Ohio as a means of allowing those who live outside the United States to express their views in a direct and meaningful way on the American presidential election. Using a voter registration list obtained from the county clerk in Clark County, The Guardian is sending readers who e-mail the newspaper a single name and address of a registered voter in Clark County along with suggestions for crafting a politely worded letter. Although the project was presented to readers in a non-partisan fashion, Ian Katz, features editor for The Guardian, concedes that most Britons--and certainly most Guardian readers--are likely to favor John Kerry.

As of 6:00 p.m. (GMT) on Friday, 11,658 people had contacted The Guardian to request the name and address of a political pen pal in Clark County. While most requests were from readers in the U.K., the paper reports that readers from around the world, including France, China, Brazil, and Eritrea, had written in.

Katz said, "For millions of people around the world, this election will have far more of an impact on our lives than even elections in their own country, and this is a way for non-Americans to have some say."

Needless to say, conservatives are apoplectic and many have suggested that foreigners have no business trying to influence the outcome of an American election. It is, however, merely a letter-writing campaign. It's not as if the British are using their intelligence service to incite the overthrow of a democratically elected president (as the United States did in Chile with Salvador Allende and in Vietnam with Ngo Dinh Diem). It's not as if the British are prepared to assassinate an American leader (as the United States was in the Congo with Patrice Lumumba and in Cuba with Fidel Castro). It's not even as if the British had announced an intention to teach us "to elect good men" (as Woodrow Wilson said in reference to "the South American republics") or to keep score on us (as we do on them--and everyone else in the world--with the annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices). The Guardian, and the readers who have responded to its campaign, are merely trying to express their opinions to Americans about an election that does, in fact, have tremendous significance for non-Americans. What's wrong with that?

The United States would gain in both power and moral authority if Americans, and their government, were to heed the advice of the Declaration of Independence and pay "a decent respect to the Opinions of Mankind."

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Inside the Green Zone

Although the Green Zone (since June 28 formally called the International Zone) has been regularly subjected to generally harmless mortar attacks, a much more destructive attack occurred today as two bombs--one in the bazaar and the other in a restaurant--were detonated within about five minutes of each other. Preliminary reports indicate that three American civilians--employees of DynCorp, a Defense Department contractor--were among those killed in the attacks.

Life inside the Green Zone--and beyond in Baghdad--is the subject of William Langewiesche's fascinating cover story in the November issue of The Atlantic Monthly. "Welcome to the Green Zone: The American Bubble in Baghdad" (full story available to subscribers only) is worth reading not only for its description of life in the Green Zone but for its nuanced account of American successes and failures in Iraq.

Langewiesche devotes a bit of attention to traffic in Baghdad--a symptom of a certain return to normalcy in the city, but, simultaneously, a problem that Americans have been ill-equipped to handle. One vignette in particular is worth passing along. Langewiesche writes,

A Kurdish friend of mine witnessed an argument between two drivers after one of the innumerable smashups, during which one man shouted, "What kind of driving was that?!" and the other shot back, "This is a democracy now, and I can drive as I please!"

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

The Domestic Debate

Tonight's debate on domestic issues had definite foreign policy overtones. By my count, Saddam Hussein (gone but not forgotten) was mentioned twice, Iraq was mentioned seven times, Afghanistan was mentioned three times, and Osama bin Laden was mentioned ten times. (Here's the debate transcript.) Clearly, 2004, like 1968, is one of those rare presidential election years when foreign policy is more important than domestic policy in the minds of the American voters--and in the minds of campaign strategists.

At the same time, with less than three weeks to go until the election, it's important to keep in mind the distorting effects of the Electoral College. This election has come down to eight or ten swing states: Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, New Mexico, Michigan, and Nevada. (Colorado should be in the mix, but the possibility that its electoral vote will be split diminishes its importance. Pennsylvania has also been among the swing states in this election, but there is evidence that the Bush/Cheney campaign is conceding Pennsylvania, just as the Kerry/Edwards campaign appears to have conceded Missouri.) In most of these states, economic issues remain paramount. Consequently, while foreign policy may be the most significant issue in this election for most Americans, for the next three weeks we may be hearing the candidates talk a lot about the issues that are most important to the people of Ohio.

Of course, the Iraqis seem determined to stay in the headlines daily between now and November 2.

The 9/11 Commission Report

Government reports, however informative and necessary, are rarely considered literary masterpieces. In fact, most are far more likely to be considered examples of "how not to write" than examples of effective prose. Now, however, comes word that The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States--Authorized Edition has been named a finalist in the National Book Award non-fiction category. Yet another reason to read it--even on-line, if necessary.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

ICC Update

On July 17, 1998, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) was adopted. The Rome Statute creates an international court at The Hague with the authority to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. The Rome Statute entered into force on July 1, 2002.

As of October 1, 2004, 139 states had signed the Rome Statute; 97 had ratified or acceded to it. The United States, which signed the Rome Statute on December 31, 2000, stated on May 6, 2001 that it had no intention to seek ratification. Since that time, the United States has negotiated a series of bilateral agreements designed to insure that U.S. citizens will not be surrendered to the ICC.

(For Amnesty International's analysis of the ICC, go here. The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court is available here. The web site of the ICC is located here.)

Monday, October 11, 2004

The "Disappeared"

One of the worst human rights abuses of the Latin American dictatorships in the Southern Cone during the 1970s and 1980s was the "disappearing" of individuals identified as "enemies of the state." The military junta in Argentina and the repressive regime of Gen. Augusto Pinochet in Chile were notorious for causing dissidents to vanish without a trace.

Human Rights Watch issued a report today that notes the "disappearing" by the CIA of eleven al Qaeda suspects in American custody. Here, from the report's Executive Summary, is a brief passage describing the problem:

In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, the Bush administration has violated the most basic legal norms in its treatment of security detainees. Many have been held in offshore prisons, the most well known of which is at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. As we now know, prisoners suspected of terrorism, and many against whom no evidence exists, have been mistreated, humiliated, and tortured. But perhaps no practice so fundamentally challenges the foundations of U.S. and international law as the long-term secret incommunicado detention of al-Qaeda suspects in “undisclosed locations.”

Holding prisoners incommunicado in secret locations is a violation of the Geneva Conventions, which require that detainees be made available to visits by representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and that they be allowed to communicate with attorneys and family members.

The report raises important questions concerning U.S. policy in the "global war on terrorism" and notes the importance of honoring international obligations under international humanitarian law. It is entitled The United States' "Disappeared:" The CIA's Long-Term "Ghost Detainees" and is well worth reading.

Preemption vs. Prevention

David E. Sanger of the New York Times writes today about President Bush's evolving standard for waging a pre-emptive war. As Sanger points out, in the months leading up to the invasion of Iraq, the Bush Administration emphasized the urgency of taking military action to disarm Saddam Hussein's regime. Now, with the Duelfer Report making it clear that the only threat Iraq posed in 2003 was its threat to undermine the U.N. sanctions regime and with President Bush continuing to insist the war was necessary, something has to give. It appears that the something is the operative definition of preemption. "Taken at face value," Sanger writes,

Mr. Bush appears to be saying that under his new standard, a country merely has to be thinking about developing illicit weapons at some time. "He's saying intent is enough," said Joseph Nye, a Harvard professor who under the Clinton administration headed the National Intelligence Council, the group that assesses for the president when countries have trespassed that hard-to-define line.

"The classical definition for pre-emption was 'imminent threat,' " Mr. Nye said. Then, with the development of the president's "National Security Policy of the United States," that moved to something less than imminent, because, as Mr. Bush argued, it is often hard to know when a country is about to attack. Now, said Mr. Nye, "the Duelfer report pushed him into a box where capability is not the standard, but merely intention."

As Matthew Gross points out today, there is a problem with the terminology that the Bush Administration--and almost everyone else, including David Sanger--has been using to talk about the invasion of Iraq and the strategy that prompted it. These paragraphs from a talk I gave on February 12, 2003 (about a month before the start of the Iraq War) deal with the distinction between "preemptive war" and "preventive war." What we ought to be talking about (and, in fact, what we are talking about, only with the wrong term) is preventive war.

A focus on security–that is, a focus on the threat that Iraq poses to the U.S. and to others–leads us ineluctably to the question of preventive war. Here it is important, I believe, to draw a distinction between preventive war and preemptive war. I suspect that policymakers have, at times, exploited the linguistic quirk that makes these two morally separable categories sound so much alike. The basic issue is this: While a state need not wait until it has been attacked to strike a defensive blow, how imminent or how certain the anticipated attack is has considerable moral significance. It would be impermissible, to take a homespun example, for my older son, noting his younger brother’s rapid rate of growth, to decide to beat him up while he still could. And, in fact, I told Daniel that it was wrong on many occasions. (Note to International Relations realists: Stephen’s achievement of parity and the concomitant establishment of a balance of power has proved to be a better guarantor of peace in the household than moral exhortations ever were.)

Michael Walzer, in Just and Unjust Wars, includes a chapter on what he labels "Anticipations." He notes that it is lawful for both individuals and states to "defend themselves against violence that is imminent but not actual; they can fire the first shots if they know themselves about to be attacked." There is, however, considerable difference between preventive defense and preemptive defense. In an effort to find a defensible line separating the two, Walzer presents a "spectrum of anticipation." In discussing this spectrum, he calls preventive war "an attack that responds to a distant danger, a matter of foresight and free choice." To the extent that the just war tradition seeks to define the jus ad bellum in deontological terms, that is, to circumscribe the resort to war according to specific principles, preventive war cannot be justified by the tradition. The "distant danger," the "matter of foresight" to which Walzer refers tells us that the moral framework necessary for the justification of preventive war is teleological. We must, in other words, be prepared to judge the consequences of acting or failing to act. It is the fact that we are engaged in a moral debate concerning inherently unknowable consequences, I would submit, that makes the present situation so vexing from an ethical standpoint. If we could reliably predict the outcome of policies leading either to war or to peace, we could at least come closer to a moral consensus.

Historically, Walzer notes, states responded in the name of balance of power politics to distant threats like my son Daniel once did. Note Francis Bacon’s justification of preventive war: "Neither is the opinion of some of the Schoolmen to be received: that a war cannot justly be made, but upon a precedent injury or provocation. For there is no question, but a just fear of an imminent danger, though no blow be given, is a lawful cause of war." "War," Walzer states in summarizing this view, "is justified . . . by fear alone and not by anything other states actually do or any signs they give of their malign intentions. Prudent rulers assume malign intentions." But, Walzer continues, "It isn’t really prudent to assume the malign intent of one’s neighbors; it is merely cynical, an example of the worldly wisdom which no one lives by or could live by." Judgments are required and, for those judgments to be helpful, evidence must be adduced.

The evidence offered by the Bush Administration for invading Iraq was inadequate as a justification of war. The argument can be made that we did not know that at the time (although many, including most members of the U.N. Security Council, seem to have made a better judgment than the Administration did about the evidence that was available), but the argument is irrelevant. Preventive war is subject to teleological judgments; it breaks the usual rules of international law and morality and can only be justified by the outcome. The Bush Administration knows this and has, consequently, begun to argue that Saddam's ouster alone justifies the resort to war. But if the point of the war really was the removal of Saddam Hussein from power, then Bush's strategy was neither preemptive war nor preventive war. It was humanitarian intervention. But try finding that term in any of the prewar speeches by Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, or Rice.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Islam and Democracy

Afghanistan--where yesterday's presidential election was marked by charges of fraud from candidates opposing American favorite Hamid Karzai--and Iraq--where questions continue to surface concerning the feasibility of holding elections scheduled for January--cause some to wonder whether Islam and democracy are compatible. In fact, Intelligence Squared, a London-based forum that sponsors live debates, hosted six eminent speakers in a debate on the proposition that "Islam is incompatible with democracy" on May 18, 2004. (The audience affirmed the proposition by a vote of 404 to 267.)

Amir Taheri, an Iranian journalist living in London and a participant in the Intelligence Squared debate, distilled his debate text into an op-ed piece for the Sunday Times (London) on May 23, 2004. He wrote:

To say that Islam is incompatible with democracy should not be seen as a disparagement of Islam. On the contrary, many Muslims would see it as a compliment because they believe that their idea of rule by God is superior to that of rule by men, which is democracy.

The great Persian poet Rumi pleads thus:

Oh, God, do not leave our affairs to us For, if You do, woe is us.

Islamic tradition holds that God has always intervened in the affairs of men, notably by dispatching 124,000 prophets or emissaries to inform the mortals of his wishes and warnings.

Many Islamist thinkers regard democracy with horror.

The late Ayatollah Khomeini called democracy "a form of prostitution", because he who gets the most votes wins the power that belongs only to God.

Sayyid Qutb, the Egyptian who has emerged as the ideological mentor of Salafists (fundamentalists who want to return to the idyllic Islamic state of their forebears) spent a year in the United States in the 1950s. He found "a nation that has forgotten God and been forsaken by Him; an arrogant nation that wants to rule itself".

Last year Yussuf al-Ayyeri, one of the leading theoreticians of today's Islamist movement, published a book in which he warned that the real danger to Islam did not come from American tanks and helicopter gunships in Iraq but from the idea of democracy and the government of the people.

Fareed Zakaria, in The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad, devotes considerable attention to the question of democracy in the Muslim world. Portions of his comments (from pp. 128-29) are worth quoting:

The trouble with thundering declarations about "Islam's nature" is that Islam, like any religion, is not what books make it but what people make it. Forget the rantings of the fundamentalists, who are a minority. Most Muslims' daily lives do not confirm the idea of a faith that is intrinsically anti-Western or antimodern. The most populous Muslim country in the world, Indonesia, has had secular government since its independence in 1949, with a religious opposition that is tiny (though now growing). . . . [Indonesia] has now embraced democracy (still a fragile experiment) and has elected a woman as its president. After Indonesia, the three largest Muslim populations in the world are in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India (India's Muslims number more than 120 million.) Not only have these countries had much experience with democracy, all three have elected women as prime minister, and they did so well before most Western countries. So although some aspects of Islam are incompatible with women's rights, the reality on the ground is sometimes quite different. And South Asia is not an anomaly with regard to Islamic women. In Afghanistan, before its twenty-year descent into chaos and tyranny, 40 percent of all doctors were women and Kabul was one of the most liberated cities for women in all of Asia. . . .

Then there is Turkey, with the fifth largest Muslim population in the world, a flawed but functioning liberal democracy, a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and perhaps soon to be a member of the European Union. Add fledgling democracies such as Nigeria and Mali and you have a more rounded view of the world of Islam. It is not the prettiest picture. Most Muslim countries are in the Third World and share the Third World's problems of poverty, corruption, and misgovernment. But there is no simple link between Islam and repression. As Freedom House noted, "the majority of the world's Muslims live in electoral democracies today." If there is a fundamental incompatibility between Islam and democracy, 800 million Muslims seem unaware of it.

Zakaria goes on to note that the 800 million Muslims living in electoral democracies are not the Muslims who live in the Middle East. It is the Arab portion of the Muslim world from which democracy is conspicuously absent. Nation-building (and democratization) in Iraq is, consequently, both a high-risk--and high-stakes--proposition.

[UPDATE: Kevin Kumala reminds us here that Indonesia has just held its first direct election for president and that Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono defeated incumbent Megawati Sukarnoputri. So, barring a challenge to the election results--and, more broadly, to Indonesian democracy--Indonesia will no longer have a woman in the presidency as of October 20.]

Saturday, October 09, 2004

F-16 Cockpit Camera

It is perhaps a testimony to the degree of control the Pentagon has exercised over the news coverage of the Iraq War, but we've seen very few of the cockpit camera videos that were so common during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Here (via Matthew Gross), however, is a video that was shown recently on Channel 4 in the U.K. It shows a missile strike from an American F-16 on a group of people on the street in Fallujah back in April.

Lt. Col. Dave Grossman devotes considerable attention in his book entitled On Killing to the psychological significance of killing at a distance. He writes (p. 108), "In years of research and reading on the subject of killing in combat I have not found one single instance of individuals who have refused to kill the enemy under these circumstances [of killing from a distance], nor have I found a single instance of psychiatric trauma associated with this type of killing." The video suggests why this is the case. One must force oneself to remember that the dots moving ant-like on the street below are human beings.

Friday, October 08, 2004

The Nobel Peace Prize

Dr. Wangari Maathai of Kenya has become the twelfth woman, and the first from Africa, to win the Nobel Peace Prize. The Nobel committee cited Dr. Maathai "for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace."

Dr. Maathai has been an advocate for human rights in Kenya and for women's rights throughout Africa. She is best known, however, as the founder of the Green Belt Movement, which is responsible for planting over 30 million trees throughout Africa. The chairman of the Nobel committee, Dr. Ole Danbolt Mjoes, acknowledged that the decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize to Dr. Maathai represented a broadening of the scope of the prize. Dr. Mjoes said, "We have expanded the term 'peace' to encompass environmental questions related to our beloved Earth."

The previous female Nobel laureates were Bertha von Suttner (1905), Jane Addams (1931), Emily Greene Balch (1946), Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan (1976), Mother Teresa (1979), Alva Myrdal (1982), Aung San Suu Kyi (1991), Rigoberta Menchú Tum (1992), Jody Williams (1997), and Shirin Ebadi (2003).

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Oil and the GWOT

Bill Maher made the point pretty effectively a couple of years ago with his book entitled When You Ride Alone, You Ride with Bin Laden: What the Government Should Be Telling Us to Help Fight the War on Terrorism. (How is it that comedians have become our best policy analysts?) Today, Thomas Friedman writes in the New York Times about the role that an energy policy must play in the "global war on terrorism." Here's the opening paragraph:

Of all the shortsighted policies of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, none have been worse than their opposition to energy conservation and a gasoline tax. If we had imposed a new gasoline tax after 9/11, demand would have been dampened and gas today would probably still be $2 a gallon. But instead of the extra dollar going to Saudi Arabia - where it ends up with mullahs who build madrasas that preach intolerance - that dollar would have gone to our own Treasury to pay down our own deficit and finance our own schools. In fact, the Bush energy policy should be called No Mullah Left Behind.

Friedman, it appears, is pulling no punches since his return from a book-writing sabbatical. The strong language could have been even stronger. I filled up this morning ($2.41/gal. for 87 octane) while listening to the news that oil futures have topped $53 per barrel. (When I wrote about petroleum just over a week ago, the price of oil had just gone over $50 per barrel for the first time ever.)

Read the column and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Women and the Afghan Election

As President Bush noted in last week's debate, large numbers of Afghan women have been registered to vote in anticipation of the presidential election scheduled for October 9. However, a report released by Human Rights Watch yesterday notes that Afghan warlords and Taliban have been threatening women who plan to participate in public life. Furthermore, although official figures indicate that 41 percent of registered voters in Afghanistan are women, HRW finds that the percentage has been inflated by multiple registrations and that the figure varies dramatically from region to region depending on the level of security. In areas with active insurgencies, such as those along Afghanistan's border with Pakistan, less than 10 percent of registered voters are women.

Problems for women in politics in Afghanistan may become particularly acute next year when parliamentary elections occur. Although approximately 25 percent of the seats in the lower house of Afghanistan's parliament are set aside for women, many women are afraid to run for office as a result of intimidation by local warlords.

Feminists have long argued that changing the law to remove formal barriers to women's participation in the political, economic, and social lives of their communities is merely a first step toward insuring gender equality. The situation in Afghanistan illustrates, very dramatically, why this is true.

Darfur Update

President Omar al-Bashir agreed today to allow freedom of movement in the Darfur province for 3,500 African Union troops and to withdraw the Sudanese military from the region. The agreement, designed to secure a ceasefire in the province where 50,000 people have been killed and 1.4 million have been displaced, came during a two-hour-long discussion with British prime minister Tony Blair in Khartoum.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

The Draft Issue: Politics

Over the past month or so, I've watched the question of a draft move quickly from the realm of nervous types with internet connections into the mass media and right on to the campaign trail. Depending on the partisan lenses with which one approaches this development, reactions are likely to range from "it's all a liberal plot to frighten people into voting for Kerry" to "it's about time we had a serious debate on the implications of Bush's foreign policy."

I'm well aware of the political implications of the draft, of the boost that Kerry would get from heightened fears in the electorate about the possible reinstatement of military conscription. For a number of reasons, the question of a draft needs to be debated soberly. After all, the draft touches on fundamental questions of national security and the pursuit of equality in society.

It is, however, an election year. Those responsible for deciding whether we are to have a draft in the United States are all politicking at present. Sober debate is in short supply. I say this in spite of the fact that today the United States House of Representatives debated a bill (H.R. 163) "to provide for the common defense by requiring that all young persons in the United States, including women, perform a period of military service or a period of civilian service in furtherance of the national defense and homeland security, and for other purposes." Actually, it would be more accurate for me to say that I raise the point about the absence of sober debate because the House today debated a bill to reinstate the draft.

Consideration of H.R. 163 in the House today was intended to make a political point, not to make policy. Likewise, the introduction of H.R. 163 back on January 7, 2003 was intended to make a political point, not to make policy. In January 2003, Democrats were trying to score political points. Today it was the Republicans doing the same. An explanation is in order.

Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ernest Hollings (D-S.C.) introduced legislation at the beginning of the 108th Congress to reinstate the draft. H.R. 163 and its Senate companion, S. 89, were introduced shortly before the United States went to war in Iraq in an effort, first, to protest the Bush Administration's plans for a preventive war and, second, to underscore the injustice of asking the poor to bear a disproportionate burden in the defense of the United States (what was, in my view, Michael Moore's most effective argument in Fahrenheit 911). In defense of this interpretation of H.R. 163 (and S. 89), I offer Congressman Rangel's statement concerning H.R. 163:

There are some who believe my proposal is really meant to show my opposition to a unilateral preemptive attack against Iraq by the U.S. Others believe that I want to make it clear that, if there is a war, there should be a more equitable representation of all classes of Americans making the sacrifice for this great country.

The fact is, both of these objectives are mine. I truly believe that decision-makers who support war would more readily feel the pain of conflict and appreciate the sacrifice of those on the front lines if their children were there, too. I don't make too much of the fact that only four members of the 107th Congress, which voted overwhelmingly in favor of war with Iraq, had children in the military. That is only a symptom of a larger problem, in which it is assumed that the defense of our country is the sole responsibility of paid volunteers.

In an editorial published in the Dallas Morning News, Sen. Hollings and Rep. Rangel said, "We can't continue to call upon the same people, and the same segment of society, to make all of the sacrifices while other folks continue on with their lives as if nobody is dying out there." (While the Iraq war horse is, quite obviously, out of the barn, the question of justice remains salient.)

This, perhaps, explains the Democrats' reason for introducing legislation to reinstate the draft in January 2003. Why did the Republicans in the House of Representatives decide to debate H.R. 163 today?

The obvious and utterly benign explanation--that H.R. 163 had finally percolated up through the legislative process and just happened to be on the calendar for floor debate four weeks from election day--is absolutely wrong. No committee hearings were ever held on the bill. It was brought to the floor of the House under a suspension of the rules, a procedure ordinarily designed to "dispose of non-controversial measures expeditiously" (in the language of the House Rules Committee's Majority Office). The Republican leadership of the House decided to consider H.R. 163 as a "suspension" in order to dispose of it and thereby attempt to render it less significant as an election-year issue. As Rep. Rangel put it, "The Republican leadership decision to place the draft legislation on the Suspension Calendar is a political maneuver to kill rumors of the President's intention to reinstate the draft after the November election." (Rangel's entire statement--an explanation of his "no" vote on his own bill--is here.)

There you have the politics of the draft. The Democrats want us to believe a draft is coming if Bush is reelected in November. The Republicans want us to believe that the draft issue was laid to rest in the House of Representatives today. Which is it? The answer to that question must wait for another post.

(Don't expect to wait very long for the next discussion of the draft. I'm anxious to know the answer myself.)

Monday, October 04, 2004

Justice in Cambodia?

From 1975 to 1979, an estimated 1.7 million Cambodians--nearly a quarter of the country's population--were killed by Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge regime. Seven years after Cambodia first requested the assistance of the United Nations in establishing a tribunal to try surviving Khmer Rouge leaders for genocide and other crimes against humanity (and over a year after an agreement to create such a court was signed by Cambodian and U.N. representatives), the lower house of Cambodia's parliament ratified the agreement, clearing the way for the tribunal to become a reality.

Although Pol Pot died in 1998 before facing trial, other top Khmer Rouge leaders remain alive and are expected to be tried. They include Khieu Samphan, former head of state, and Ta Mok, a Khmer Rouge military commander. Among the most notorious figures likely to face trial is "Comrade Duch," who ran Tuol Sleng Prison. Duch documented in great detail the "enemies of the state" who were tortured and killed in Tuol Sleng, apparently to prove his effectiveness in his job. Over 5,000 photographs of prisoners who passed through Tuol Sleng are available on-line among the documents collected by the Cambodia Genocide Project at Yale. To view even a fraction of the collection of photographs is staggering.

There are still obstacles to the creation and operation of the tribunal. Cambodia, which agreed to split the estimated $57 million cost of operating the court, says it cannot pay its share. To date, only Australia has contributed toward the portion to be covered by the United Nations. Furthermore, international observers are concerned that the tribunal, which is to include both Cambodian and international judges with a majority of the former, will be too susceptible to Cambodian government influence. Prime Minister Hun Sen has not inspired international confidence in his commitment to justice for surviving Khmer Rouge leaders.

Notwithstanding these problems, the ratification of the tribunal agreement is an important development. As Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, said, “Even 25 years after genocide, it is not too late to seek justice and not too late to talk about what happened here.”

Taking Action: Human Rights

Novel laureate Jody Williams, whose International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) prompted the world's governments to sign an antipersonnel landmine ban at Ottawa in December 1997, demonstrated the value of the internet as a tool for activists. From time to time, I will use this space to highlight some opportunities for individual activism in international politics. The focus today is on human rights.
  • Amnesty International offers many opportunities to take action individually or as part of a group. The on-line Action Center provides a constantly changing menu of issues, including at present the outsourcing of torture--an issue I discussed here.
  • The International Justice Mission is a Christian organization that seeks to address injustice through casework and education. IJM offers ways to get involved here.
  • Human Rights Watch lists ways to get involved on behalf of human rights here.
  • The web site for Human Rights First (formerly the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights) includes analysis of issues and opportunities to take action.
  • There are things you can do about the situation in Darfur. This page lists ten ideas.
  • The Campaign to End Genocide maintains an advocacy page here.
  • Finally (in honor of Pepperdine alumna Jane Kembabazi, who introduced me to the organization), take a look at the Uganda Children's Charity Foundation (UCCF) and think about contributing to the Children's Wish List.

If you want to get the most out of your efforts (or your group's efforts), you might want to look at the guide to advocacy provided by the Institute for Global Communications (IGC), a network of activist networks. The guide is located here.

So what are you waiting for? As Gandhi put it, "You must be the change you wish to see in the world."

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Guantánamo Detainees

According to a soon-to-be-released book that draws on interviews with military intelligence officials, interrogations of detainees at Guantánamo Bay have not prevented a single terrorist act. A story in today's Guardian cites a recently retired American lieutenant colonel who worked in military intelligence and had access to reports from Guantánamo who says that President Bush and Secretary Rumsfeld "wildly exaggerated" the significance of intelligence gained from detainees.

The Guardian story goes on to suggest what is wrong with information gleaned as a consequence of torture--or "harsh interrogations"--citing the cases of British citizens who spent time in Guantánamo:

Earlier this year, three British released detainees, Asif Iqbal, Shafiq Rasul Rhuhel Ahmed, revealed that they had all confessed to meeting bin Laden and Mohamed Atta, leader of the 11 September hijackers, at a camp in Afghanistan in 2000. All had cracked after three months isolated in solitary confinement and interrogation sessions in chains that lasted up to 12 hours daily.

Eventually, MI5 proved what they had said initially - that none had left the UK that year.

The book--Guantánamo: America's War on Human Rights--by British journalist David Rose is due to be released in the U.K. this week and in the United States at the end of November. You can read pre-publication excerpts here and here.

Back from Sabbatical

Alas, I'm not the one back from sabbatical. Thomas Friedman is back--and he's not happy about the politicization of the war in Iraq. For those who are not regular readers of his column on foreign affairs in the New York Times, Friedman supports efforts to build democracy in the Middle East, but he has been critical of the Bush Administration's approach to the war in Iraq. Having had some time off to work on a book, Friedman returns with some very trenchant criticisms. Be sure to read his column in today's Times.

Saturday, October 02, 2004


Mohandas K. Gandhi, the father of modern India and one of history's greatest advocates of non-violent action, was born on this date in 1869.

As a young attorney, Gandhi moved from India to South Africa in 1893 where he confronted racial discrimination, including apartheid laws. In 1915, he returned to India permanently to lead a nationwide movement of non-violent action in support of Indian home rule. Over the course of the next thirty-two years, Gandhi spoke and wrote about, organized, and led a series of actions including marches, acts of civil disobedience, strikes, and boycotts designed to encourage the British to leave India. In 1947, the British granted Indian independence.

On January 30, 1948, Gandhi was assassinated.

Gandhi published the following in Young India, a newspaper he edited, in 1925:

Seven Social Sins

Politics without principles
Wealth without work
Pleasure without conscience
Knowledge without character
Commerce without morality
Science without humanity
Worship without sacrifice

Friday, October 01, 2004

The Debate

I don't have a lot to say about the presidential debate on foreign policy last night, but this exchange, I thought, was interesting:
Kerry: "Nuclear proliferation. Nuclear proliferation. A major difference between the President and me is that I can say 'nuclear' and he can't."

Bush: "It's hard. It's hard trying to say 'nucular.' And I don't think my opponent should insult our allies by pronouncing it correctly."