Thursday, December 22, 2005

Transition Capabilities & the Transatlantic Division of Labor #1

Transitioning from conflict state to post conflict proper is the strategic challenge when it comes to preparing for the Next Intervention. The war part is not the problem. And the post-conflict situation proper is mostly a question of ressources. But the link tying the two situations together - transition - is a stepchild of military and civilians both. Tom Barnett's call for a SysAdmin force is undoubtedly the most useful grand strategic analysis framing that whole question.

Just looking at the US force structure alone is not enough: even if the US takes leadership responsibilities, the Rest of the West wants to be part of the equation - and it should be. There is no way the US could or even would want to run everything itself. Part of the Transatlantic debacle over the last years is also about this: what does the division of labor look like? Who does what, on average? And, as a consequence of this division of labor: who gets to weigh in how much on the big decisions?

This meta-discussion (which has often looked like a catfight but really is about power) wouldn't be there if we only looked at pure military punch. But all the other elements of power are of course part of it - all together, they can be cashed in to the most valuable of all kinds of power in the long term: constitutive power, i.e. the kind that lets you change the basic rules. So: what the US and the Rest of the West (Barnett's old Core) do in terms of security politics can basically be conceived of as a the supply side of a market: supplying security in situations when needed. Not always at the right time of course, and not always in the best way. But nevertheless. It is in this light, and because interventions without state-building and proper subsequent development really amounts to nothing more than a plaster that the "security" market must contain more than just the big guns. This means including the capabilities for transitioning - Barnett's SysAdmin force.

Looking at the aggregate capabilities of the European countries (NATO, EU) and the US (plus the other old Core countries) is interesting because the European Union has been working on developing joint capacities in civil crisis management for a while now, especially, and as of late also military capacities for crisis management. As the term 'crisis management' shows, the emphasis is much less war-oriented than the EU's detractors on both sides of the Atlantic would have. One element in this, which basically bridges the two is the French-Italian initiative to form a European gendarmerie unit - a paramilitary police force perfectly suited to transitioning ops.

David T. Armitage Jr. and Anne M. Moisan of t
he National Defense University just published a piece on it - and hopefully the Pentagon will be reading it. And not just State, like here.

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