October 26, 2006
Does Max Boot read blogs?
Sending mercenaries to Africa isn't politically correct. But it would be a lot more useful than sending more aid money that will be wasted or passing ineffectual resolutions that will be ignored.This was a topic that was broached here at Adventures back in May of this year. Let Blackwater Loose in Darfur was prompted by a report in the Boston Globe that Blackwater had volunteered to go to Africa and stop Darfur's genocide, provided someone would pay them. Here was my take then:
The essential problem is unique to the international system: horrific events, like genocide, which occur within the boundaries of a given state, are seen as being within the sovereign bounds of that state, and the territorial sovereignty of any given state, in our current system, is sacrosanct. Only the society of states, embodied in a number of international institutions, can choose to violate that precious sovereignty. Cries of "Never again" then seem to pale so long as that which prompts them is confined to one state. Intrastate genocide becomes, ironically, a sort of externality of the international system.All of this is especially relevant to the previous post, The Autumn of the Patriarch, which wondered where all these "proxyized" forms of warfare are headed.
June 20, 2006
The Rocket's Red Glare
The North Koreans are declaring their sovereign right to ballistic missile tests:
TOKYO - North Korea declared Tuesday it has a right to carry out long-range missile tests, despite international calls for the communist state to refrain from launching a rocket believed capable of reaching the United States.There are rumors meanwhile that the US may shoot down any such missile launched:
The Pentagon activated its new U.S. ground-based interceptor missile defense system, and officials announced yesterday that any long-range missile launch by North Korea would be considered a "provocative act. . . .There are several very good reasons to go ahead and down any missiles launched by North Korea: it would provide a real test of our incipient missile defense systems; such a shootdown would reinforce the doctrine of nuclear assurance as it applies to Japan, one of our staunchest allies; and tactically, denyng the North Korean military the advantage gained by telemetry and other such data gathered from the flight could play no small role in retarding the advancement of their military capabilities. But the most compelling reason to shoot down any test missiles is simple and scarier: how does one really know it is a test? This is no soubt what the Japanese are wondering. I was there in the 90s when the North tested their last missile, and it was . . . not well received.
Two Navy Aegis warships are patrolling near North Korea as part of the global missile defense and would be among the first sensors that would trigger the use of interceptors, the officials said yesterday.
The U.S. missile defense system includes 11 long-range interceptor missiles, including nine deployed at Fort Greeley, Alaska, and two at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The system was switched from test to operational mode within the past two weeks, the officials said.
One senior Bush administration official told The Washington Times that an option being considered would be to shoot down the Taepodong missile with responding interceptors.
For a detailed look at the US missile defense system, readers are encouraged to see Alan Dowd's piece in today's TCSDaily.
For a more in-depth look into ballistic missiles in general, missilethreat.com [h-t to Dowd] is a cornucopia of info on ballistic missiles and the threat they create. The scenario page there features high-quality animation of possible conflict scenarios involving ballistic missiles.
While it is tempting to view international terrorism and ballistic missiles as inhabiting two separate ends of the conflict spectrum, the one being non-state organizations employing low-tech and creative means, the other being a weapons system most likely produced and fielded by a state military, it might be better instead to view them both as features of our system of globalization: while murderous ideologies propagate through the globe like viruses, high-tech missile know-how does the same. As Dowd notes in his article, 30 years ago, only 8 nations possessed ballistic missiles, whereas now, by his count, there are 25 with ballistic missile arsenals.
When we envision Robert Kaplan's "coming anarchy", or Thomas Barnett's Gap, our mental images usually involve low-intensity warfare, pestilence, famine, resource scarcity, and crushing poverty, along with intractable conflicts. But these are images that, while scary, and needing to be contained if not rolled back, don't threaten the US imminently.
Adding to that picture the continued propagation of complex weapons systems like ballistic missiles adds a new urgency to our concept of the Gap, or the anarcy of the developing world and its failed states. Imagine another war between Ethiopia and Eritrea, but with ballistic missiles; or a Rwandhan genocide with airstrikes. While it's true that roving bands of thugs probably don't have the training to maintain and operate exceptionally complex military hardware, it's not a safe bet that the threats of the Third World will always remain as roving bands of thugs.
May 2, 2006
Let Blackwater Loose in Darfur
The executives of one of the most well-known private security firms, Blackwater, have offered to provide a brigade of peacekeepers in Darfur, if only someone will pay for it. [hat-tip: Arts and Letters Daily]
A few weeks ago, at an international special forces conference in Jordan, Black announced that his company could deploy a small rapid-response force to conflicts like the one in Sudan. ''We're low cost and fast," Black said, ''the question is, who's going to let us play on their team?"In other words, the private security firms need something other than cash to pay for their peacekeeping; they need some sort of legitimacy. But legitimacy for what? Invasions? The establishment of private empires of sorts?
What companies like Blackwater are proposing to do in Darfur today is very different from the combat missions of a decade ago. ''We have no interest in offensive operations," says Taylor flatly. Doug Brooks, president of the International Peace Operations Association, the industry's trade association, agrees: ''[Executive Outcomes] and Sandline were supporting offensive combat operations. I don't think that'll happen again, and certainly not that way."No one questions that firms like Blackwater would excel at providing this service cheaply and professionally.
Today, private military companies are offering defensive services-they propose to secure refugee camps and vulnerable villages, guard humanitarian aid agencies and NGOs, or, depending on the requirements of the contract, assist peacekeepers like the African Union troops in Darfur.
There's little question that companies like Blackwater could be more effective operationally than the African Union, which has been hampered by its peacekeepers' lack of command and control experience. Private military companies boast a roster of former special forces officers and law enforcement officers who are accustomed to volatile conflict and post-conflict areas like Sudan.The essential problem is unique to the international system: horrific events, like genocide, which occur within the boundaries of a given state, are seen as being within the sovereign bounds of that state, and the territorial sovereignty of any given state, in our current system, is sacrosanct. Only the society of states, embodied in a number of international institutions, can choose to violate that precious sovereignty. Cries of "Never again" then seem to pale so long as that which prompts them is confined to one state. Intrastate genocide becomes, ironically, a sort of externality of the international system.
Blackwater also subjects all of its personnel to an impressive array of extra training-whether they're training to work in Baghdad or the firm's North Carolina headquarters. They take classes in international humanitarian law, leadership, ethics, regional awareness, and ''customs and traditions." They've recently approached Amnesty International about teaching human rights education classes. And the International Peace Operations Association boasts that its code of conduct was written by human rights lawyers.
The industry also claims that it's far cheaper than its multilateral or military counterparts. ''We offer the ability to create a right-sized solution-which creates a cost savings right off the bat," says Taylor. By contrast, Brooks notes, ''NATO is insanely expensive; it's not a cost-effective organization. Neither is the [African Union]. Private companies would be much, much cheaper. When we compared their costs to most UN operations, we came up with 10 to 20 percent of what the UN would normally charge."
And so the handwringers worry over how to stop such ghastly events while still maintaining the territorial sovereignty of states.
There is no easy solution.
Blackwater though, seeks to insert itself due to one particular detail of the particular externality of Darfur. Namely, no powerful state in the world has any inherent national interest in preventing the killing there, except solely out of a sense of altruism. Blackwater offers to solve the problem for them, if only someone will pay for it all.
Here's several ways that Blackwater can raise the capital necessary to fund the Darfur peacekeeping mission, and really score a PR coup at the same time:
Option 1: Pro Bono
First announce that the mission in Darfur will be a non-profit venture. The troops and overhead will be paid for, but the firm itself will make no profit from the enterprise. Call it private security pro bono if you will. Then ask states to fund the cost.
Option 2: The Wealthy Donor Option
Go the non-profit route again. This time though, approach several wealthy individuals for support. How many Hollywood millioinaires turned out for Live8 last year? Ask them to put their money where their mouth is. Most will decline you. When they do, shame them publicly. The publicity alone will attract other wealthy donors. You know, the steel magnate from Pittsburgh, who's retired now, and already given plenty of dough to his alma mater. Or the guy in the heartland somewhere who made his fortune in mousetraps. Ask for $100 million and tell the donors that they might get a building named for them if they give that much to an insitution, but here, they'll be a footnote in history and maybe a city in Africa will carry their legacy. Be creative.
Option 3: The Paypal Option
Go to the world. Again, make it pro bono/non-profit. Ask for private donations to fund peacekeeping in Darfur. If the US public can give a billion or so in a few weeks for tsunami relief, it can certainly cough up several million to stop a genocide. Plus, none of it has to be sifted through the sticky fingers of [insert international body here]. And it'll be tax-deductible!
Finally, PR is key. Hire a bunch of bloggers to embed (ahem: my email address is in the sidebar). The journos should be all over you already. If firms like Blackwater are half as good as they claim, the immediate effects of their intervention, properly publicized, should spur further contributions in a sort of virtuous cycle.
Now take any of the above three choices and mix and match until you have enough dough to support your operations for an extended period. After you get going, your success might be shameful enough to the society of states that they start to cough up institutional money to continue your mission. All told, the private firm comes out ahead and does a good bit to shake the image of "mercenary" that seems to dog the industry.
In case you haven't noticed, each of these involves the non-profit angle. It seems that any for-profit option would have a very hard time gaining legitimacy, unless it was funded by Sudan's neighbors, or perhaps on an installment plan, by the people in Darfur themselves -- though that might be an exceptionally long installment.
Notably, it is the very same people who most loudly proclaim, "never again", who will also most loudly protest private efforts to stop the death. Perhaps actions will be perceived to speak louder than words if things are orchestrated with a bit of savvy and elan . . .
In diplomacy, business, and life, much is made of "the art of the deal." This is a situation that is crying out for a deal to be brokered between a variety of players. Something much greater than wealth will accrue to the person who can put all the pieces together in this situation: a guaranteed place in history.
October 28, 2005
Update from Adam of Mauritania
My friend and Marine buddy Adam, in Mauritania for the Peace Corps now, with his wife, writes that he is learning a great deal about Islam in his trip and is having a really neat experience. He also tells me not to worry, that he's not going native. Here's two recent posts he's done over at his blog:
June 8, 2005
Zimbabwe and the Kitty Genovese Incident
In The Shield of Achilles [link in sidebar], Phillip Bobbitt's epic tome on the future of the state, he entitles one chapter, "The Kitty Genovese Incident and the War in Bosnia."
In 1964, Kitty Genovese was repeatedly attacked and stabbed early one morning outside her apartment building in Queens as she got home from work. Despite her screams for help, and despite watching the attacks, her neighbors did nothing until she was dead.
Indeed, it was not until almost 4am that a call was finally made to the police. Throughout the assault, not one person telephoned the police or any of the emergency services. The man who ultimately did call explained that he had only done so after much deliberation; in fact he had asked a friend on Long Island for advice and that person had persuaded him to call the police.Bobbitt notes that many psychological explanations were attempted for this failure of collective action:
One psychiatrist attributed the tragedy to a constant feeling in New York that society was unjust . . .Bobbitt is doubtful:
Another psychiatrist proposed that it was the confusion of fantasy with reality, fed by the continual watching of television, that was responsible . . .
A psychiatrist suggested that the murderer vicariously gratified the sadistic impulses of those who witnessed the murder . . .
Dr. Karl Menninger, the director of the Menninger Clinic, attributed the tragedy to "public apathy that is a manifestation of aggressiveness." And one theologian suggested that "de-personalizing in New York had gone further than we realized," to which he added, "Don't quote me."
One is inclined to be skeptical about such explanations. They seem to provide, if they provide anything, a commentary on the world of the speaker more than the world of the event . . .A new emergency is brewing in Zimbabwe, as Wretchard has reported today and yesterday.
. . . Some of the most fruitful psychological research into the subject of intervention was undertaken as a consequence of the Genovese murder. Two psychologists, John Darley at Princeton University, and Bibb Latane of Ohio State University, spent four years in a program of research into what determines bystander intervention in emergencies. In a remarkable series of experiments, staging "emergencies" in stores, offices, and laundromats, ranging from epileptic seizures to thefts and disorderly conduct, they managed to discredit virtually all the usual explanations. Darley and Latane hypothesized that the paralysis that seemed to grip bystanders resulted from what they called a "diffusion of responsibility" that occurred in situations as diverse as when a woman falls and sprains an ankle, smoke pours into a room through a ventilating system, or a cash register is robbed . . .
In fact, it is hard to imagine The Zimbabwean Pundit being more explicit:
We need your help! Speak out to your representative, contact one of the organizations at http://www.kubatana.net; or if you know anyone in Zimbabwe spread the message, we are going to stand up for what's rightfully ours.What is planned is called "stay away" and is meant to be a two-day peaceful protest wherein folks simply stay home and off the streets. Zimbabwean Pundit also notes
The last succesful stayaway which started on November 11, 1998 paralyzed the country as youths and rowdy crowds fought running battles with anti-riot police and the army. This last strike led ultimately to the formation of the MDC [Movement for Democratic Change].Indeed, The Herald - Zimbabwe News Online reports thus:
POLICE yesterday warned that they will deal ruthlessly with people who will engage in an illegal protest being planned by a coalition of the opposition forces bent on disrupting peace in the country and assured law abiding citizens of protection as they carry on with their daily activities . . .Returning to Bobbitt: he concludes his examination of the psychology of emergency response:
To summarize, we can say that there are five distinct stages through which the bystander must successively pass before effective action can be taken: (1) Notice: he must become aware that some unusual occurrence is taking place; (2) Recognition: he must be able to assess the event and define it as an emergency; (3) Decision: he must then decide that something must be done, that is, he must find a convincing reason for action to be taken; (4) Assignment: the bystander must then assign some person, himself or another, or some institution to be responsible for action; he must answer the question, "who should act in these circumstances?" (5) Implementation: having decided what action should be taken, he must then see that it is actually done. If at any stage in this sequence, a crucial ambiguity is introduced, then the whole process must begin again. The presence of ambiguity in urban life, not the callousness of urban dwellers, is precisely what makes emergency intervention in cities so problematic . . .Bobbitt then takes us to the first stop on our journey:
So it was with the horrifying events of the three years 1991-1994 in the former state of Yugoslavia: fascinated, frightened, appalled, the civilized world was anything but apathetic. And yet, like Kitty Genovese's murderer, the killers in Bosnia returned again and again, once the threat of outside intervention dissipated, leaving the rest of us as anguished bystanders.Another quote is perhaps relevant should things in Zimbabwe go downhill fast, and the world begins to move through the five stages, perhaps to "Decision" or even "Assignment:"
MiraclesFrom Infantry In Battle, prepared in 1934 by the Military History and Publications Section of The Infantry School under the direction of [then] Colonel George C. Marshall.
Time and again, numbers have been overcome by courage and resolution. Sudden changes in a situation, so startling as to appear miraculous, have frequently been brought about by the action of small parties. There is an excellent reason for this.
The trials of battle are severe; troops are strained to the breaking point. At the crisis, any small incident may prove enough to turn the tide one way or the other. The enemy invariably has difficulties of which we are ignorant; to us, his situation may appear favorable while to him it may seem desperate. Only a slight extra effort on our part may be decisive . . .
It is not the physical loss inflicted by the smaller force, although this may be appreciable, but the moral effect, which is decisive.
A good thing for bloggers to remember indeed.
UPDATE: Remember, "intervention" can take many, many forms.
UPDATE2: A tangent: There are of course similarities between the five conditions of emergency response and Boyd's OODA Loop. But I think there are key differences. Boyd meant mainly for his OODA concept to be applied in situations involving actors who were clearly arrayed vis a vis each other and where the outcome was likely to be a zero-sum. With emergency response, there are multiple actors, they could be hostile, they could be friendly, the outcomes may be zero-sum or not. Feel free to discuss these differences in the comments.
UPDATE3: Welcome Instapundit readers! If anyone would like to be on my email list just send an email with "Subscribe" in the subject line to "terrier_manchester at yahoo.com." You'll get 1-3 emails a week with nothing more than a hyperlink to something I've posted. You can opt-out anytime. I never share my list with anyone. Well, enough of that. Keep reading. There're good comments.