More on R2P, Second Thoughts by Slaughter? Plus, Drezner on Networks
R2P is in the news while I slowly and laboriously wind my way through writing the next edition of the R2P is the New COIN series.
LATimes – R2P and the Libya mission:When does ‘responsibility to protect’ grant countries the right to intervene?
The Palestinian bid for statehood and traffic congestion weren’t the only things going on in New York last week as the 66th U.N. General Assembly convened. One of the issues privately discussed by foreign ministers at the United Nations was the “responsibility to protect,” or R2P. This concept was central to the U.N. mandate to protect civilians in Libya, which led to NATO‘s aerial involvement there. As the dust settles in Tripoli, it has become necessary to refute a powerful myth that has developed among some pundits and politicians. That myth is that R2P bestows “the right to intervene” in Libya.Even though R2P features in just two paragraphs of the 40-page “outcome document” of the 2005 U.N. World Summit, historian Martin Gilbert has suggested that it constituted “the most significant adjustment to national sovereignty in 360 years.”R2P’s core idea is that all governments have an obligation to protect their citizens from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. It is primarily a preventive doctrine. However, R2P also acknowledges that we live in an imperfect world and if a state is “manifestly failing” to meet its responsibilities, the international community is obligated to act. It is not a right to intervene but a responsibility to protect.
The distinction is not diplomatic artifice. After the 1994 Rwandan genocide and the 1995 massacre in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica, the international community resolved to never again be a passive spectator to mass murder. Still, it would not have been surprising if R2P had quietly expired after 2005. The United Nations, after all, can be a place where “good ideas go to die.” Instead, within the U.N. the debate now is about how R2P should be meaningfully implemented, rather than whether such a responsibility exists….
If I were the House Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee or the Senate Armed Services Committee, I sure would like to know what those foreign ministers and especially our SECSTATE or UN Ambassador were saying about R2P! I might even suggest that, in televised hearings, that before the US endorse or adhere to any newly fashionable concepts of sovereignty, the elected representatives of the people of the United States should be informed and consulted.
Simon Adams, like most commenters in the R2P debate, is focused on the impact an R2P doctrine as part of international law would have on military intervention, especially the frequency of American military intervention. This is reasonable because, logically, R2P implies much larger burdens and more frequent interventions overseas. But the flip side, if you look at the implication of “new sovereignty” as articulated by Dr. Slaughter, are changes to how we as Americans govern ourselves, transfers of power and authority to unelected officials, private interests and even foreigners, as well as limitations on democratic consent.
[Limitations on the democratic consent of the unwashed masses seems to be popular lately with the political elite]
Speaking of Anne Marie Slaughter, she recently penned a curious op-ed about Afghanistan that is not a retreat from R2P, but comes across as at least a step back from seeking maximalist policy objectives with military force, in the face of messy realities:
Where the Afghanistan effort broke down
….For a long time I was convinced that the NATO intervention in Afghanistan could be successful at building a functioning Afghan government that would provide basic services to its citizens. My views were largely shaped by my regular conversations with my long-time friend Sarah Chayes, who lived in Kandahar for much of past decade running first a dairy cooperative and then a soap and fragrance business with Afghans. We were failing, in her view, because of the high NATO tolerance for the cancerous corruption that was sucking the life out of the country, starting at the top. Her book Punishment of Virtue tells the tale, describing how Afghans genuinely committed to rebuilding their country have been systematically driven out or killed by their compatriots who are profiting from the enormous in-flux of money and opportunity that inevitably accompanies large-scale Western intervention in a poor country. She thought, and I agreed, that the U.S. had had an opportunity to help rebuild a very different Afghanistan immediately after the invasion, and that it was still possible to empower the good guys if we were really willing to take on the bad guys profiting at the local, regional, and national level.
Over the past two years, I have reluctantly changed my mind. I have come to believe that where the problem is a predatory state, which the very presence of massive Western resources tends to fuel, it is essentially impossible for outsiders to spur or even effectively support a process of reform from within when we are a big part of the problem by being there in the first place. Stewart makes the argument succinctly and effectively: “the international community necessarily [lacks] the knowledge, the power, and the legitimacy to engage with politics at a local provincial level.”
I would add a much more personal dimension, one that is consistent with a 21st century focus on social actors and social relations as well as on governments and inter-governmental relations. The “international community” does not engage with Afghans. Individual men and women (mostly men) do. Those individuals – diplomats, soldiers, development professionals – develop personal relationships with Afghan officials at the national, provincial, and local level. They have to work together on common programs; moreover, the Americans or Europeans are doing their best to cultivate personal relationship in part to garner exactly the knowledge they know they lack. But once those relationships are established, how exactly is a general or a captain, an ambassador or a political counselor, a USAID Mission Director or a field development expert supposed to turn to his or her Afghan counterparts and interlocutors and explain that they should really stop taking bribes and looting the funds intended for their fellow Afghans? And once the denial is issued, as of course it must be, then what? Accuse him or her of lying? The problems that are most central cannot even be talked about honestly. They are always someone else’s fault. But if they cannot be acknowledged, they cannot be resolved.
It is at this micro-level that policies must actually be implemented. And it is at this level that I conclude state-building military interventions are much more likely to fail than to succeed.
Slaughter, in my view, is more insightful with her empirical analysis of the granular mechanics of international relations than the theoretical and especially legal constructs she builds from them. Military force is a blunt instrument; whether you approach it from a Clausewitzian perspective or one partial to Sun Tzu, the ability to extract desired political concessions with violence – to compel the enemy to do your will – becomes more difficult and costly as your ends are at once both expansive and “fine-tuned”. We transformed and fine-tuned the societies of defeated Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Imperial Japan, but only after waging the greatest total war since the Mongols sacked Persia. Bismarckian strategic talent to accomplish major ( but not maximalist) strategic goals at reasonably affordable ( but not cheap) costs is an extreme historical rarity.
Finally, Dan Drezner has re-engaged Slaughter on the point of networks in international relations and politics:
Do networks transform the democratic political process?
….As a social scientist, I must acknowledge that this is a powerful prima facie data point in favor of Slaughter.
And yet, it’s worth pushing the NYT thesis a bit. What happens when the coalition of like-minded individuals stop being of like mind? These sorts of protests can be very powerful on single-issue questions where a single policy change is desired. Maintaining this level of activism to affect the ongoing quotidian grubbiness of politics, however, is a far more difficult undertaking. Even if people can be mobilized behind the concept of “Policy X is Stupid!” getting the same consensus on “Policy Y is the Answer!” is harder. Over time, these kind of mass movements have an excellent chance of withering away or fracturing from within. See, for example, the Tahrir Square movement in Egypt.
Another thing, and this is important: unless the people in these movements actually vote in elections, then their agenda will be thwarted in the long run. Even if these kinds of networked movements are new, the political imperative to get elected and re-elected is not. If they don’t vote, then officials have a pretty powerful incentive to curry favor with the people who do vote, don’t take to the streets and
don’t like these young whippersnappers with their interwebshave different policy preferences.
On the transformative nature of networks, I think Slaughter is, in the big picture, correct that scale free networks are different from hierarchies in important behavioral and structural ways. RAND scholar David Ronfeldt, a friend of this blog, has a paper that I would strongly recommend that looks at the sociopolitical nature of tribes, hierarchies, markets and networks that has great relevance to this discussion. Drezner’s counter-point to Slaughter has traction because although networks are powerful, it is a matter of comparative advantage over other social forms in certain environments, but not all environments.
Moreover, a lot of what Slaughter is calling “networks” – especially the “governmental networks” that occur in and within IGOs are really organizations with the characteristic of modularity and are not naturally emergent scale free social networks like your twitter follower list. Secondly, networks have weaknesses as well as strengths and history is replete with networks – like political and social protest movements, peasant rebellions and revolutionary conspiracies – that were unceremoniously and thoroughly crushed by the power of ruling hierarchies. Third, and most important, the de facto existence of tacit, dynamically evolving, social networks as political movers to be taken seriously is not itself a good reason to grant them de jure status in international law as legitimate, authority-wielding, actors.
In fact, I can think of many good reasons not to do so.
[Belated hat tips to Cheryl Rofer, Bruce Kesler, David Ronfeldt]
September 30th, 2011 at 8:50 am
Interesting post. I couple of comments . . .
Military force is a blunt instrument; whether you approach it from a Clausewitzian perspective or one partial to Sun Tzu, the ability to extract desired political concessions with violence – to compel the enemy to do your will – becomes more difficult and costly as your ends are at once both expansive and “fine-tuned”. We transformed and fine-tuned the societies of defeated Nazi Germany . . .
From a Clausewitzian perspective, the application of force applies to the military aim, as do the three tendencies to extremes. The military aim provides the means for the attainment of the political purpose whose goal is the return to peace. Gaining this peace requires the cooperation of the other side; peace necessarily needs to offer more benefits that continuing the war.
I don’t think the US transformed and fine-tuned German society after WWII. Our first two years of occupation were punitive, we only occupied less than half of what remained of the country and of course there were the Russians in the east. Germany had a significant history of democracy prior to 1933 after all so there was no need for us to teach them to be democratic.
The war transformed Germany, that and the development of a consumerist culture which has transformed us as well. Occupiers do not "build nations", nations "build" themselves.
If you were to choose an example of a nation we have played an extensive role in the development of, why not the Philippines where we were for a long time and influenced in different ways, but hardly transformed . . .
That, and something else. At least from Slaughter’s perspective I get the impression that she equates certain American/Western ideals with the concept of "the state". A state that does not achieve this is "failed"? The state however is simply an apparatus of control by the rulers and would reflect their character and the character of the society/community in general. The state rooted as it is in coercion and the application of the monopoly of force is not going to lead automatically to these ideals . . .
October 1st, 2011 at 5:00 am
"The military aim provides the means for the attainment of the political purpose whose goal is the return to peace. Gaining this peace requires the cooperation of the other side; peace necessarily needs to offer more benefits that continuing the war. "
Agreed. When one side’s objectives appear maximalist – "unconditional surrender", transforming the defeated party’s cultural identity, genocide, whatever – the enemy has no choice but to fight to the bitter end if defeat appears to be equated with destruction. That was the point I was groping for. 🙂
" don’t think the US transformed and fine-tuned German society after WWII. Our first two years of occupation were punitive, we only occupied less than half of what remained of the country and of course there were the Russians in the east. Germany had a significant history of democracy prior to 1933 after all so there was no need for us to teach them to be democratic"
Time to quibble. Perhaps "compel" the Germans to be democratic is a better description. Weimar democracy rarely commanded much support outside the Social Democratic and Center Parties with the nationalist parties embracing nostalgia for Wilhelmine authoritarianism. By the late twenties the two totalitarian parties (Nazis and Communists) had a majority of seats in the Reichstag. The Second Empire was parliamentary but it was politically where Great Britain had been about seventy to eighty years earlier with the monarch as the unelected executive with a Cabinet responsible only to him, an electoral system biased toward overrepresenting rural voters and dominance of the Junker class.
We also had to cure the Germans (at least the Western ones) of their addiction to militarism that made them the unbalancing power of Europe.
" At least from Slaughter’s perspective I get the impression that she equates certain American/Western ideals with the concept of "the state". A state that does not achieve this is "failed"?
Yes, I think that you are interpreting her correctly. R2P is a transformative project of liberal internationalism
October 2nd, 2011 at 3:24 am
[…] have mostly resolved to leave R2P-blogging to Gulliver, Dan Trombly, Mark Safranksi, and Anne-Marie Slaughter. However, Safranski linked to an op-ed by Simon Adams on the […]
October 2nd, 2011 at 11:45 am
Disagree on Germany, think it much more complex than you assume. First, was Germany pre-First World War more more militaristic than say France? The military was a very powerful and influential institution there as well. Germany in 1914 was a status quo power, contrary to France and Russia which both required a general European war to achieve their political aims -for France the reconquest of Alsace-Lorraine and great power status and for Russia the achievement of their ambitions in the Balkans and Turkey (occupation of the straits). This required the dissolution of both the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires . . . On the other hand expansionist German war aims were a product of the war and its associated losses, not to mention the implementation of what was essentially a military dictatorship after 1917.
In Weimar Germany if you were against the Treaty of Versailles you were against the government and in fact the entire political system since that treaty was the law of the land. It was allied, especially French policies, which crippled representative democracy in Germany after 1918.
When exactly did Britain attain universal male suffrage? Wasn’t it in the early 20th Century? British women younger than 30 only attained it in 1928.
Basically I don’t think a foreign power can "compel" a country/nation/political community to change its political identity which is what we are talking about. That change to be truly a change has to come from within, as we have learned yet once again since 2003 . . .
October 3rd, 2011 at 2:07 am
Hmm. I cannot say that agree with your read of history here:
Militarism was indeed strong in pre-WWI France & the War ministry and Army had a lot of autonomy, but there was a civilian government in the Third Republic & it was Clemenceau, not Foch who ran the show 1917-1918. By contrast, Wilhelm II militarized the Reich government prior to WWI by selecting army officers to fill posts and ceded virtually dictatorial power over Germany to Ludendorff in that period (as you noted).
Most Germans were likewise opposed to the Treaty of Versailles, not just the extremes, and this feeling across the whole political spectrum was manifested during the Franco-Belgian punitive occupation of the Ruhr. The Social Democrats ( backed by von Seeckt and the Reichwehr) did not like Versailles’ harsh terms either but knew realistically that Germany was not able to indefinitely defy the French and British in the early 20’s. The fragile German economy would break.
Was France or Germany the "revisionist" power in 1890-1918? That question would keep many historians (and Germans and Frenchmen) very busy arguing. It depends partly on your POV and what you take to have been the status quo. Great Britain and American elites certainly saw Germany as the revisionist power in this period (Tirpitz needlessly made an enemy of Great Britain without ever acquiring naval parity), though I grant you the French hoped to overturn 1870 and, if possible, break up Germany. The French – I agree here- get the lion’s share of the blame for making a bad peace and an unworkable postwar security system, but German ambitions in terms of war aims were hardly smaller though, as we know from the terms of Brest-Litovsk. Fritz Fischer may have gone too far in his analysis but his evidence is enough to say that Germany’s war aims included postwar continental hegemony and regional territorial expansion to a much greater degree than in 1870.
Tsarist Russia was not a revisionist power, it was a reactionary and poorly governed state that was attempting to modernize and pursue traditional foreign policy aims in the Balkans that went back to at least the 1840’s ( really to Catherine, who had hoped to put her grandson on a reconstituted "Byzantine" throne and gain egress through the Dardanelles). Russian support of Serbia was foolish but it was not unexpected, being in line with Russia’s traditional "national interests".Russia was in no shape for a major war in 1914, the severe flaws in it’s military system revealed in the Russo-Japanese War were still unremediated. After Stolypin was assassinated, there was no first rate civilian politician who could run Russia’s government, handle it’s foreign affairs and manage the erratic and easily influenced Nicholas II. Bolshevik Russia, by contrast, truly was a revisionist power.
What did we compel Germany (West) to do? Denazify, Divide, Disarm, Democratize and Integrate with it’s European neighbors and abandon any ambitions of being an independent Mitteleuropa power ( which is why Willy Brandt’s Ostpolitik raised eyebrows and hackles) and be a part of "the West" – pre-WWII that term meant Britain and France. Isn’t that at least a partial change of identity?
October 3rd, 2011 at 12:47 pm
Studied the Ritter/Fischer controversy as an undergrad in the 1970s. Thought that the more reasonable position was somewhere in between. But I’m older now and there has been a good bit of excellent history written since. Having since also lived in Germany and having German family I see it quite different than before.
French militarism actually united the country, whereas German, actually Prussian militarism, did more to divide it. Support for the Army and its continuing development united both Left and Right in France allowing for the achievement of its national ambitions which were also widely supported by both sides, republicans and anti-republicans, except for the far French socialist Left. There’s a famous drawing in the German magazine of the time Simplissimus showing the Kaiser and the king of Bavaria at the summer Army exercises. The Kaiser in an immaculate uniform and the Bavarian king looking like a ragbag. Obviously, the joke is in the accepted stereotypes, but at the same time, a lot of truth in that. Germany had been a collection of various states, many with a long history of fighting each other (Bavaria’s traditional ally had been France, Saxony’s Austria and Prussia’s England). In Hannover for instance, all the monuments to the wars with Prussia had to be removed after 1870. Sau Preuß, was as common as Damn Yankee was in the American South at the time. Wilhelm was a monarch so it was natural to use generals to fill posts, but he also hoped to use ceremony and military pomp to generate some national feeling, not to mention he was Queen Victoria’s grandson so he liked a good show . . .
As to German expansionism prior to the war, even the most rabid Pan-Germans like Heinrich Class only spoke of "border adjustments in the East". This for the simple fact that for nationalists the problem in the East was keeping the German farm boys on the farm once they had seen the lights of Berlin. Eastern Prussia was becoming predominately Polish due to German internal migration west due to economic opportunity. Max Weber addressed this situation in his inaugural lecture in the 1890s. The Junkers actually supported easing border controls to allow more Poles/Russians to cross over to help with the harvest since they worked cheaper and German labor was scarce. Expanding territorially in the east was a non-issue prior to the war, since the practicalities of absorbing more Poles and the ability of persuading more Germans to move east were seen as unworkable.
Great Britain and American elites certainly saw Germany as the revisionist power in this period
There is a basic flaw to this logic, since was not the US at the time by definition also a "revisionist power"? When had we enjoyed naval parity with Britain prior to say 1910? What we have here is an assumption of German aggressive intent, but the evidence of that prior to 1914 is unconvincing, imo. You mentioned the effects of the Russo-Japanese War, but this would have also been the perfect time for Germany to make short work of Russia since her army was a shambles, not to mention gaining an ally, Japan. If expansion was Germany’s goal, a grab for world power, then why no war in 1906, Fritz Fischer?
Tirpitz’s building program was ill conceived but could also be seen as defensive in that Germany’s merchant navy was one of the largest in the world, so necessary to protect her commercial interests and supply lines to the home country . . . What made it a threat to Britain was the commissioning of HMS Dneadnought in 1906 since all earlier battleships were thereafter obsolete . . . Britain’s numerical advantage melted away . . .
In 1984, George F. Kennan published a very interesting history entitled, The Faithful Alliance about the Franco-Russian Alliance of 1894. In his discussion of Article II of that treaty he lays bear one of the chief causes of the First World War. Essentially even a partial mobilization by any power in either alliance system, even an Austrian mobilization against Serbia for instance, would trigger Franco-Russian mobilization and involve Germany in a war with France/Russia. Declarations of war would follow, but the mobilizations were the key.
There are also the Franco-Russian discussions as to the dismemberment of Austria after the death of Franz Joseph since it was assumed that the dual monarchy could collapse with his death. That the Austrians might have something to say about this (Dennis Showalter’s point) or that Germany might wish not to see the dismemberment of her most important ally were not considered.
That Russia was in no shape for war in 1914 is a post-WWI view. At the time the Russian Steamroller was seen as a potent threat and success against Austria at least assumed. The French would not have invested so much in Russian military railroads in Poland if it were not assumed that the Russian Army had offensive capabilities in need of logistical support.
Interesting discussion . . .