Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Violence Of Peace

I am reading this amazing book by Stephen's about the US wars, and Obama's evolution from a anti-war candidate to a war-President. Completely fascinating. Here's a small excerpt regarding genocide and how the US and the international community reacts in modern times. I recommend this book very highly.

from "The Violence Of Peace" pg. 143

in the meantime, the problem remains. we reached this point in our analysis remember by considering who should act in the fact of genocide and horrific slaughters. the answer is, if the united states does not do it, nobody will. given the vast gulf in technology and training it is unrealistic to imagine American soldiers fighting side-by-side with the forces of other nations to prevent those evils so great that, to borrow Waltzers phrase, they shock on conscience. and yet we are unwilling to commit serious ground forces to stop horrors that nobody else is able to control. what, then, are the possibilities, apart from doing nothing.

some observers seek refuge in pleasant fantasies, that an independent united military force or perhaps a world government, might solve the genocide problem. .These grand and magical solutions seem unlikely to help consider first the independent UN deterrent. the practical and logistical problems, as many observers have pointed out seem insuperable. assuming, however that these challenges could be met, there is little reason t expect any practical effect. Although one wants t take seriously the role of the UN in preventing such outrages, it is difficult to d so. Parse the history how you will: the fact remains that in 1998, a mixed international force under UN command essentially stood by and allowed wanton slaughter of perhaps as many as a million Rwandans. In the summer of 1995, Dutch peacekeepers UN UN command allowed Serbian forces to to overrun the safe zone city of Srbenica, barely firing a shot. The result was the largest massacre in Europe since WWII. True, the failure to act did not necessarily represent fecklessness or cowardice. Many observers have pointed out ways in which the structure of the organization makes the application of violent force on behalf of its members all but impossible. Diplomacy failed to halt the killings. In Bosnia, it was American air power, in conjunction with a reluctant NATO, tat finally put an end to the violence. In Rwanda, the UN did not even try, despite repeated please from their commanders on the ground for permission to intervene.

Well, of course, no army can operate when it has fifteen commands in chief, all of whom must be consulted before each major description. As one supporter of humanitarian intervention has put it, The Security Council might be one of the most ossified political bodies on earth" There is no reason to think the command of a military force would bring about any sudden de-ossification. Happily, the UN now has a full-time office working on the problem of genocide, at least trying to keep the issue alive and before the world. But it is difficult to imagine that the organization's leadership, however composed, suddenly growing bold and decisive in the application of force against genocide. Indeed, at this writing, as the crisis in Darfur goes through its annual worsening, the Security council cannot even reach agreement on relatively mild sanctions against the regime in Khartoum. The principal opposition comes from Sudan's major trading partners- particularly China. The Obama Administration has mysteriously chosen to tone down rather than ratchet up its criticism of Sudan. Once again, as in Rwanda and the Congo, the world- America included- and certainly the UN-as much as says: A few thousand dead Africans, what's the difference?"

(cont. to pg 145)
Of course, we cannot send our military everywhere, spending blood and treasure to rescue the suffering. So we choose not to send our military anywhere, except in defense of our own interests. Some recent studies suggest that the American public will accept relatively large numbers of casualties as long as the nation seems to be winning the war: it is not combat deaths, but combat deaths in van, that people evidently mind. If the proposition is correct, the news media will bear the grave responsibility of providing actual information, a perhaps impossibly distant cry from their usual choice between two dread roles: a mindless cheer leading at the opening of hostilities, or a cynical focus on American deaths once things inevitably row dicey. This matters for two reasons. First the refusal of the media to spend much time ion issues other than American casualties makes it all but impossible for political decision makers (even assuming that the will exists) to harness public sentiment to send American-armed forces to aid non-Americans. Second, as Jean Bethke Elshtain notes, the fear that we might lose American lives ha s led to a choice in most situations of stand-off bombing instead, with the unhappy result that the public has become 'rather inured to the routinization of use of American bombing in foreign policy situations' Thus a presidential decision to send bombers but not troops 'scarcely registers on the [public's] radar screen." The ability to fight a war without using troops creates what Michael Walzer calls "a new and dangerous inequality"