Thursday, June 22, 2006

Ghani Would Be Good For UN: FT Op-Ed On Reconstruction

Among the various candidatures either vented, expected or encouraged for the next UN Secretary General, the best looking is Ashraf Ghani, present Chancellor of Kabul University. My arguments for a Ghani candidature have been mentioned before (Next UNSG: Ghani and the Scandinavians plus Next UNSG Must Know Security) so the reason I bring him up here is his recent op/ed-piece in the Financial Times: "Afghanistan has the assets to regain momentum" (subscribers only, but brings the whole text here):
There is an emerging consensus, domestic and international, that Afghanistan is likely to slide into chaos. This misses the central point: there are assets in place that, if organised coherently, could re-establish momentum towards creating a stable, prosperous and democratic Afghanistan. If failure is not an option for the international community, attention must be focused on renewing Afghans’ trust in a bright future to make them active partners in the fight against violence and disorder. The problem has arisen from failure to adapt to a changed context, loss of momentum in pursuing a credible programme of development and mis-calibrated use of violence. (...)

What are the elements of a strategy? Hamid Karzai, president, and his government have a choice: act decisively and become founding fathers of a dignified nation or go down as those who squandered a golden chance. They must show commitment to rule of law and accountability. First, they must establish a supreme court that is a model of independence. Second, they must confront corruption through a commission of Afghan and international people who could investigate allegations at the highest levels and impose sanctions. Third, they must pursue good governance. Fourth, they must build equality of opportunity for the young generation. Fifth, security strategy must be overhauled.

Regional support must be renewed: in particular, Pakistan should be persuaded that stability in Afghanistan provides the basis of its own stability and prosperity. The imbalance between military and developmental expenditure by the international community needs to be redressed, with new mechanisms that would reinvigorate the Afghans’ energies for reconstructing their country. As the key to prosperity lies in regional trade and investment, the Gulf countries could play an important role. While use of force is going to be required, it must be placed within a comprehensive strategy of state-building. The anti-drugs strategy must be revisited to ensure it is aligned with the overall objective.
Ghani's expertise in state-building and reconstruction operations is clear as he recommends a wiser use of force (viz. the debate on the political nature of counterinsurgency where the centre of gravity is always the hearts and minds, as argued e.g. here); and a balancing of expenditures on military and civil means. Interestingly for his theoretical candidature, he smartly doesn't critize the US directly, but keeps to challenging the Karzai administration with pretty sound and concrete advice. Most importantly the piece shows his commitment not only to Afghanistan -- but also to the crucial combination of development and security embodied in the reconstruction task.

Understanding the challenge of the convergence of security and development will be essential for any coming UN Secretary General. Without knowledge of both development and security in practice (and, as Ghani has, also preferrably in theory) there is less of a chance that the UNSG will succeed. The next UNSG will have to deal with development as much as geopolitics -- and the other way around. Since most stakeholders seem to focus on either side of the coin diplomatic skills and a sense of urgency for either agenda, and their converging trend, is utterly important.

* * *

Later update on the concrete case: al-Zawahri calls for attacks on NATO forces in Afghanistan ("Al-Qaeda Leader Calls for Afghan Rebellion", Washington Post); while Karzai echoes Ghani's critique of the present tactics ("Karzai Calls for Reassessing U.S. Strategy", from AP).

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Somalia: A Long War Test Case

Somalia is a test case for the Pentagon-defined Long War against global terrorism: involvement by proxy in order to deter and defeat actual and potential terrorists; hence a campaign that looks set to be more political in nature than military. Basically, this kind of action would lend itself to a battleground between "CIA" and "State Department" operation types and operatives: one that the "CIA"-like organizations so far is dominating -- and losing.

The US supported "anti-terror" warlords have been dealt a blow in Mogadishu by other factions rallying around a sharia court system -- possibly one of the few working social "organizations" in Somalia that is not tinged by ethnic and clan allegiances.

And as opposed to the more directly greed-based warlord-system, it comes with an ethics of social interaction. At the face of things, it is logical for the US to have chosen a number of warlords to support the case against terrorist breeding grounds. But only apparently, when the setup is not conceived holistically; where all actors are not given some legitimacy. A logic of complete friend-foe distinction doesn't function when we are dealing with counter-insurgency-type goals. Moreover, and concomitantly, just because we choose to bet on some guys (chosen for pragmatic reasons), it doesn't mean that their victory will be ours -- or that the opposite is the case.

An interesting analysis Reuters analysis by C. Bryson Hull looks for the positive outcomes of the events:
Despite vows by the Islamist leaders to create a Muslim state, many diplomats said U.S. fears of Somalia becoming a terrorist base were overblown and that on the contrary, the new order may be a boost for peace. "In all likelihood, this may lead to some substantial progress in Somalia. It's quite an opening," a European diplomat involved in Somalia's peace process told Reuters on condition of anonymity. The only catch, the diplomat said, is that "most Western governments, when they hear sharia courts, think 'terrorists'."

The courts deny any al Qaeda links, although one senior Islamic court leader, Adan Hashi Ayro, was trained in Afghanistan and is suspected of involvement with the group. Security experts and diplomats say there are training camps in and around Mogadishu and that a handful of al Qaeda operatives are there. The Islamists were quick to try and calm fears they were harbouring al Qaeda by saying they shared "no objectives, goals or methods with groups that sponsor or support terrorism".
John Prendergast's column in the Washington Post: "Our Failure in Somalia" explains the dilemmas of making counter-insurgency by proxy in a country where there is no state -- and goes on to call for a more sustained state-building mission:
Now "our" warlords -- and by extension our counterterrorism strategy -- have been dealt a crushing defeat by the Islamists, as the latter have consolidated control of Mogadishu. Our short-term interest in locating al-Qaeda suspects has thus been undermined, and the risk of a new safe haven being created for international terrorists has been greatly increased. (...)

A successful counterterrorism effort would require the United States to pull the political and military threads together into a coherent strategy of broader engagement. U.S. officials and those from other governments throughout the region uniformly have told me that long-term counterterrorism objectives can be achieved only by American investment in the Somali peace process. Yet the State Department has just one full-time political officer working on Somalia -- from neighboring Kenya, and he was just transferred out of the region for dissenting from the policy on proxy warlords. Somalia's ineffectual transitional government remains confined to the shaky central town of Baidoa, where it is still struggling to overcome internal divisions.

A functioning government that could ensure security would be a win-win scenario for Somalis and the United States, enabling the state apparatus to address the criminality and extremism that undermine progress in the country. This would provide a real partner for the war on terrorism in an area that has a track record for exporting trouble. (...) The United States can no longer afford not to engage more deeply and directly in state reconstruction efforts in Somalia. It is in our national security interest to do so. (Emphasis added.)

Two points on Prendergast: 1) He peddles an unproven point on terror and failed states, 2) State Department must enter the fray: one guy doesn't cut it.

1) As I have stated before, it is a very open question whether the failed states of the world deserve our attention in the short term on the ground that they feed terrorists. The claim is very widespread, but I think it is not substantiated. What is substantiated though, is the interest we have in the long term in building secure and stable and democratic states, thus shrinking the World's zone of risk, and minimizing its bad spill-over to ourselves. In the middle term, alleviating the risk for local and regional spill-over is enormously important. Regional spill-over effects have been important drivers of many African conflicts, notably in West Africa and the conflicts in Congo (just to underpin the regional dynamics already in play, Kenya just rejected one newly emigrated warlord).

2) Running a foreign policy by proxy and through covert operations may have its advantages. But one advantage that is lost with that model is the added efficiency of a diverse public scrutiny and creatively productive debate. If Prendergast is correct about the one -- one! -- guy from State, then State really have to get their act together. The NSPD 44 and S/CRS should be enough for them to thump CIA and who else is in there, and at least claim a stake in the process. If that guy's withdrawal really was a result of diverging policy views then a) lets get the debate out in the open, b) those who remain (CIA and probably SOCOM) would be well advised not to fight a further US investment in Somalia, even if it means offering State a seat at the table.

Later update: nicely corresponding article in the Washington Post, "Guns Finally Silent in Somalia's Capital" -- plus AP's "Somali Islamic Leader Blasts US".

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Barnier Report: Slow Step Towards A European State-Building Agency

Western operational capacities -- military and civilian -- are slowly being transformed so they can cooperate under tough circumstances, thus enabling global administration of the weakest parts of the state system. The Barnier report (more below) could be one step in this direction if it is implemented by the EU and its member states.

In the US, visionary strategist Thomas P. M. Barnett famously advocated splitting Pentagon up in two parts: A Department of War (the "Leviathan Force") and a "Department of Everything Else", where the latter should deal with all of the politically difficult Military Operations Other Than War, i.e. the long-lasting statebuilding and stabilization missions that will be essential to win the Long War, and secure the rest of the world's entry to Barnett's Core of globalization of the next 50 to 100 years. So far, this does not look set to happen within the Pentagon: DoD Directive 3000 does put the essential MOOTW capabilities of Stabilization and Reconstruction at par with Major Combat Operations (and calls for them to be integrated at all force levels). But the NSPD 44 on the other hand gives State Department the final responsibility for all coming statebuilding operations, thus effectively alleviating the theoretical pressure on Pentagon for real reform (more here on both). State's Office of the Coordinator for Stabilization and Reconstruction (S/CRS) has the institutional baton, but few ressurces.

If the American policy system as such has moved forward on paper -- to some extent -- and with a top-down approach, the European Union has been busy for quite some time building capacities and moving foward on the area of civilian crisis management, including cooperation with military crises management structures. The EU will never replace NATO or become a military machine anywhere near the US in terms of major combat ops. But the civilian crises reponse area is closely connected to the general development and humanitarian policies of the (especially Northern) European countries and as such a area where the more pro-UN inclined European countries together might make a difference -- or at least inspire equivalent American progress.

J-M Barroso, President of the European Commisssion, has asked Michel Barnier (former Trade Commissioner, French Foreign Minister, and head of the French Amsterdam-treaty negotiation team) for a report on possible recommendations on a related subject: "For a European civil protection force: Europe Aid" was published early May. The report makes 12 recommendations for a strengthening of the European, civilian crisis management capacities. The most interesting of these is the creation of a common, uniformed but civilian protection force suited to act in a on a number of different scenarios, ranging from natural to man-made distasters (including terrorism) and both inside and outside of the EU.

This "force" has the potential to become the European version of the Department of Everything Else. Two possible arguments would go against that claim: 1) "Europe Aid" is purely civilian and have no guns or military capacities, 2) the envisioned scenarios do not explicitly include warlike conditions outside of Europe or long-term statebuilding and reconstruction proper, but is more couched in terms of protecting European citizens abroad (as a follow up on the tsunami-disaster). Ad 1): The intense work in progress on enhanced civil-military cooperation (or CIMIC) in both EU and NATO context will over time alleviate this problem. All NATO military actors involved in COIN and SR around the globe must by now have seen the necessity of a very enhanced CIMIC function.

Ad 2): If we rank the different scenarios or mission types in terms of increasing care for other people, rather than just protecting our own citizens, this ranking correlates completely with one going from disaster reponse over more broadly conceived humanitarian operations to complex emergencies, the most difficult of which are the statebuilding and reconstruction operations. Building a "European civil protection force" with even just a small long-range transport capacity for deployment outside of the EU is a logical first step; the resulting units will suddenly look very, very useful whenever the next stabilization crises comes along (or directly be called for to be sent to Afghanistan where NATO is in the middle of an important and extremely dangerous buildup).

The Barnier report thus builds on the recommendations of the Barcelona-report by Mary Kaldor and others in a useful, piecemeal way. Among the concrete recommendations is the founding of a common Operations Centre (with mostly coordinating functions) and a common/joint Training centre:
A Training Institute for Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid would be set up. Its location would be chosen by the Council. It would provide training for staff and for the national and regional teams making up the European force and for the evaluation experts working for the EU. It would train the single reconnaissance teams (proposal 5). The Institute would also be open to NGOs, and on certain conditions to volunteers from among the public who possessed expertise that would be useful in assistance and rescue operations.

It follows from this proposal that given that Denmark has...

* extensive institutional experience with joint training through the SHIRBRIG-brigade
* huge operational CIMIC experience in the field with the ongoing operations in the Balkans, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere
* a concrete programme for cooperation and joint development of standards between the MFA and MoD (which, even if much less ambitious than it should be, at least has prepared the two ministries to cooperate)
* an accellerating programme for domestic civilian distaster response coordination and standardization which is located under the MoD
* a high level of belief and investment in the UN humanitarian operations (OCHA), including through funding to local but globally deployed NGOs

...Denmark should work hard to get to host this Training Institute. By definition the training is civilian; but some of the knowhow is military and the Danish institutional experience and setup makes it ideally suited to produce the civilian training, and at the same time prepare for further enhanced CIMIC ops. Furthermore, the Danish derogation on defense makes it impossible for Denmark to participate in EU military ops: supporting and running the civilian training centre would make it possible for Denmark to still play a substantial role in EUs security related activities. Over time, the derogation is expected to go, and so the centre could naturally take on further, more directly CIMIC related activities. Moreover, the Institute would fit with Denmark's active foreign policy profile in terms of both development and security politics as it does with the Danish state's generally ambitious responsibilities towards its own citizens at home as abroad. Finally, strengthening the EU capacity in this area is wholly in accordance with the Danish foreign policy in strengthened and reformed UN related capacities (the report calls for the force exhibit a dual subsidiarity, to member states and to the UN). Getting to host the Training Institute if it becomes reality would thus make sense on all levels for Denmark.