Thanks to Don D'Cruz for sending along this article from Newsweek International on the business of international NGOs:
Where the Money Is
The $1.6 trillion non-profit sector behaves (or misbehaves) more and more likebig business.
By Rana ForooharNewsweek International
Sept. 5, 2005 issue -
If it wasn't for the raffia coasters and folk art in her office, it would be tough to tell Oxfam GB director Barbara Stocking from the CEO of a multinational corporation. She's got the no-nonsense manner, and the power broker's schedule. A glance at her summer calendar shows a meeting with EU Trade Minister Peter Mandelson, a fund-raiser with European business leaders, aprep session for a meeting with the World Bank president, a trip to the G8 summit in Scotland. Minions shuffle in and out, briefing Stocking ondevelopments affecting Oxfam projects: tsunami relief, elections in Ethiopia, a Chilean earthquake. "Right, is that all the disasters?" she asks briskly.
Stocking says it's her mission to "save the world." But unlike many do-gooders of the past, she's doing it in a suit rather than sandals and so are many others. Spurred by a growing number of global conflicts, increased outsourcingof aid work by Western governments and the boom in private philanthropy, nongovernmental organizations like Oxfam have become big business. In the first global estimate of just how big, the Comparative Nonprofit Sector Project at Johns Hopkins University studied 37 nations and found total operatingexpenditures in 2002 of $1.6 trillion. To put these figures in context, the authors point out that if nonprofits were a country, they would have the fifth largest economy in the world. The sector is dominated by charity schools and hospitals, which account for 57 percent of the expenditures, and includes everything from soup kitchens to professional associations, as well as aid-cum-activist NGOs like Oxfam. Yet just by adding up the fast-growing budgetsof the biggest NGOs, it's clear these increasingly visible players on the global political scene have become a multibillion-dollar industry.
The result is a growth story with few parallels in the annals of business, for as NGOs boom they face tensions unique to their mission. What is the bottom line for a nonprofit? How to judge success, or regulate and police a sector in whichmany executives now make good money, yet still are not exactly in it for the money? All these gray-area issues are coming to the fore now, more than 10 years after a U.N. investigation into the debacle of aid to Rwanda produced calls for greater accountability, and on the eve of a big NGO summit at the U.N. next week. ''Currently, a lot of money is being channeled to good causes, through organizations we know very little about," EU antifraud commissioner Siim Kallassaid in March. ''Noble causes always deserve a closer look." Next month, in response to scandals in the NGO world, U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley is due to introduce rules for nonprofits modeled on Sarbanes-Oxley, the corporate-governance code inspired by the scandals that began with Enron.Remarkably, nonprofits grew faster than the rest of the U.S. economy even during the late-1990s boom that produced Enron. The director of the Johns HopkinsCenter for Civil Society Studies, Lester Salamon, says that U.S. nonprofit expenditures grew 77 percent faster than the American economy as a whole between1977 and 1999, and did not miss a beat in the ensuing recession. As the U.S.economy fell into a "jobless recovery," with total employment falling between2001 and 2004, employment in the nonprofit sector grew by 2 to 4 percent a year.While international data are sketchier, Salamon says the largest developed countries show similar trends. In the U.K., employment in the voluntary sector increased by 17.7 percent between 1995 and 2000, compared with an 8.5 percentincrease in the for-profit sector.
A big reason for this is the growth of the global service economy. Most NGOs are, after all, service providers, delivering things like health care and education. They are also dropping their image as anticapitalist do-gooders and adopting the look of the Fortune 500 companies that they have been known to criticize. With multibillion-dollar budgets and responsibilities that range from fieldwork to fund-raising and lobbying, "economies of scale become very important," says Oxfam International executive director Jeremy Hobbs. ''Call it the 'moral economy,' if you like," says Nicholas Stockton, a former executive director and 20-year veteran of Oxfam. ''There's a market for good works, and it's big business."Where there is big money, there are consultants. Oxfam recently hired McKinseyconsulting to review its entire operation. Stocking, who was a high-level executive in the British National Health Service before coming to Oxfam, lists"finding great people with management skills" as her No. 1 challenge. "The ideological dispute of the 1990s on whether people within NGOs could be managerial and still have passion is over," she says. "We've realized we need toget more professional." The World Wildlife Fund has changed the title of its"country director" post to "CEO," and has annoyed lifelong greens by hiring business executives for these posts.In fact, salaries at nonprofits are rising as recruits arrive from the corporateworld. Marsha J. (Marty) Evans, president and CEO of the American Red Cross,manages a $3 billion budget, and makes $450,000 a year. She regularly hires from big businesses (her new finance director came from a major bank), or from one of the dozens of new NGO-specific business programs and courses at schools like Harvard and the London Business School. ''The days when you could keep funds in a cigar box are gone," says Evans. ''Our blood-donation program, for example, is run like a modern pharmaceutical business. When I'm spending $100 million on hurricane relief, I need people who can negotiate the best deals with suppliers."
NGOs are also increasingly looking for ways to raise money without governmentstrings attached. Oxfam has launched its own fair-trade-coffee shop in London's Covent Garden. The Chicago Children's Choir runs a singing-telegram business; one California organization for the homeless has started a property-management firm; groups like the Rainforest Alliance have taken consulting fees for advising timber firms on environmental issues. According to Johns Hopkins data, service fees paid to nonprofits (mainly schools and hospitals) account for about half their revenue, or nearly $880 billion a year.
Independent income allows NGOs to stand up to public donors. In Iraq, where theUnited States has pressured NGOs to display American logos on aid deliveries and to clear discussions with the press, the pressures are clear. Oxfam GB, which has 550,000 regular individual donors, was able to come out firmly against the war in Iraq; others, like American CARE (which gets about half of its $561million budget from the U.S. government), had to tread softly. The leverage of independent wealth is not, however, easy to come by: Bridge-span, a U.S.consulting firm, surveyed the business ventures of 41 high-profile U.S.nonprofits between 2000 and 2001, and found that 71 percent were unprofitable.
Still, the NGO business is set to get even bigger. But for a brief dip in the1990s, due in part to fiscal trouble in donor nations, international aid has been on the rise since the late 1940s and hit a record $78.6 billion in 2004, up from $59 billion in 1995. Experts say 2005 will bring a new record. And with governments everywhere privatizing just about everything in sight, the share of those aid flows that are funneled through private NGOs has nearly tripled from4.6 percent in 1995 to 13 percent last year (and roughly 30 percent for emergency relief efforts). Britain already provides much of its aid through NGOs and plans to increase funding for key groups by 40 percent in the coming year, strengthening the role of NGOs in British foreign policy.
Private aid flows are growing too: in the United States, the number of private foundations has tripled since the early 1990s.The result is a blurring of lines between aid workers and soldiers, government agendas and charitable missions. It's increasingly clear that like governments or companies, NGOs have vested political interests, as well as financial motives: the need to attract aid to stay alive. But unlike governments, they aren't elected. And unlike businesses, they aren't subject to the curbing forces of the marketplace. Global regulation is mixed at best. America and Britain have fairly rigorous reporting requirements for NGOs. In many other countries, there is virtually no government control. While many big NGOs like Oxfam, Save the Children and CARE have strong internal rules, NGOs as a class are generally much less transparent than business or government. ''In many ways, they are the least accountableactors on the global scene," says Alexander Cooley, a professor of political science at Barnard College in New York.
Such issues have been brewing for a decade or more. Several African governments have asked for ''mission holidays," as they don't have enough staff to coordinate all the groups offering aid, including some that are not fully qualified. ''It's not unheard of to have plastic surgeons who've never seen a case of cholera" operating in Africa, says James Bishop, head of InterAction, an umbrella group for 160 U.S. NGOs. Still, he notes, ''competitive pressures are afact" and can push groups to go where the action is in order to keep the aid flowing. Jagdish Bhagwati, a Columbia University trade expert, has criticized the expansion of groups like Oxfam and Action Aid into areas outside their core expertise. "These groups are huge and diversified, just like multinationalbusinesses," he says. "And like businesses, they have the profit motive, which pushes them into new markets." Bhagwati also criticizes NGOs for entering policy debates beyond their economic competence, particularly in attacking free-trade deals that help poor nations.
"There is a terrible tendency in this business to try and do it all ourselves,"admits Barbara Stocking, but she defends the NGO entry in the global-trade debate and says the roles of aid worker and policy adviser are now inextricably linked. "It all goes together, bottom to top. Decision makers only want to speak with me because I see what's going on at the ground level," she says. And sheer size can be a practical advantage. "We're in 120 countries," says Save the Children managing director Rudy von Bernuth. "The fact that we are there before conflicts start, and after they end, helps us maintain our neutrality, and that's crucial to security in conflict zones."
As in the corporate sector, scandal has brought the accountability question to the fore. High-profile incidents include the misuse of children's aid funds byU.S.-based groups in the late 1990s, the American Red Cross's use of 9/11donations for other causes, and a series of shady land deals by theWashington-based Nature Conservancy in 2003. A study by Harvard's Hauser Centerfor Nonprofit Organizations listed 152 incidents of misconduct by U.S.nonprofits between 1995 and 2002, including 104 cases of criminal activity; the author, Marion Fremont-Smith, does not view the numbers as alarming compared with recent corporate cases, but notes that as NGOs operate more and more like businesses, there will inevitably be a greater need for tighter rules and enforcement.
It hasn't been easy for NGOs to accept such scrutiny. Bhagwati says he "can always count on lots of hate mail" when he writes critically about NGOs.' 'Historically, there has been a sense that 'we're doing God's work, and couldeveryone please leave us alone?' " says John Elkington, head of SustainAbility, a consulting firm that advises both corporations and NGOs.That began to change after the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. As refugees fled to camps in Zaire and Tanzania, so did Hutu war criminals, who used the camps to regroup and run smuggling operations. Alex Cooley, who wrote about this chaos in''The NGO Scramble," says NGOs competing for short-term contracts from governments that didn't want to hear bad news had little incentive to report theHutu infiltrations. The problems triggered a massive U.N. review and a call for stricter accountability.
The effort to set clear rules is still controversial. Many NGOs rejected calls for binding standards. Nicholas Stockton says Americans worried about getting sued by Third World governments, while the French gave existential arguments about how aid, as an ''act of solidarity" between individuals, is impossible to regulate. The result: there are now many "global" codes of conduct to which various NGOs have signed on.There is also no clear way to rank performance. The more NGOs act likebusinesses, the more they struggle to find a bottom line - a nonprofitequivalent of profit. A number of for-profit consulting firms have sprung up toadvise donors and aid recipients on how to choose an NGO. Stockton, who now runs the Humanitarian Accountability Project in Geneva, is still trying to establish a ranking system with the support of groups like Oxfam, CARE and Save the Children.
But many resist. ''There's still a lot of naivete in the NGO world,"says Stockton. "We haven't been as good as we should have been at recognizing that we are a business."While NGO blunders resonate more powerfully than corporate ones because lives, rather than profits, are at stake, the industry is learning quickly. Recent missteps and scandals may turn out to be a kind of capitalist phase of creative destruction, spawning greater efficiency. Already, the NGO world is going through a shakeout, merging, streamlining and moving into specialty niches that make the best use of its specific strengths. The American Red Cross is eschewing controversial policy work and beefing up its relief-delivery systems. Many national branches of Oxfam, like the Dutch operation, are farming out on-the-ground tasks to local groups that can do them more cheaply, and sticking to lobbying around issues like trade and development. Action Aid, a well-knownBritish relief-and-development NGO, recently decentralized its operations and moved its headquarters to South Africa to be closer to its real customers.
Meanwhile, Oxfam GB continues to expand its reach. As the driving force behind the Make Poverty History campaign, the group will continue to play a major role in the trade, aid and poverty debate. It will shortly publish a piece of research done with Unilever, analyzing that company's footprint in Indonesia, part of its new scrutiny of global supply chains and their effect on local people. There are plans to increase involvement in issues from climate change to HIV and AIDS prevention, to explore new commercial enterprises (beyond the coffee shop) and add more global celebrities to its promotional roster, which already includes Bono, Michael Stipe and Alanis Morissette. With the goal of growing the business by 50 percent or more within the next few years, Stocking may well turn Oxfam into the Microsoft or McDonald's of the nonprofit world. And some in the NGO world will see that as high praise indeed.
Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Thanks to Don D'Cruz for sending along this article from Newsweek International on the business of international NGOs:
Saturday, August 27, 2005
Christopher Hitchens makes the case for the Iraq war in a brilliant, blistering article in the Weekly Standard, A War To Be Proud Of. (Find it here.) It is a remarkable article partly because Hitch locates the war against the backdrop of the entire sorry history of what was supposed to be the triumphant liberal internationalism of the 1990s, but which instead gave us Saddam's Kuwait aggression, the wars of the Yugoslav succession, the Rwandan genocide, the humanitarian emergencies of Somalia and elsewhere in the Horn of Africa, and much else besides. Christopher properly integrates these events with the rise of Islamofacism and international terrorism, and with caustic intelligence puts the war in Iraq at the center not only of the war on terror but the larger struggle for freedom, peace, and security that was so disastrously botched in the 1990s. It is an unapologetically neo-con take on the war in Iraq - which is to say, it is unapologetically moralist and idealist in its justification for ending the Saddam regime. At the same time, one of the things that makes the neo-con position "neo-con" is its unflinching willingness to assert that the "new" foreign policy realism must necessarily take idealism as its base - the old mantra of realist "stability" has in fact been a catalyst of instability of the terrorist kind. The neo-con position - and the one which, in Hitch's view and certainly in mine, is the correct read on both Islamofacist terrorism and the Iraq war - understands that a certain idealism is the new realism.
This is a very good, very important article - perhaps the best short article laying out today's argument for the war, and it is no accident that it is made by a former Trotskyite. It is a pity that the Bush administration seems incapable of making such arguments on its own; fortunate that at least a few of Hitchens' eloquence have joined its side. Excerpts:
LET ME BEGIN WITH A simple sentence that, even as I write it, appears less than Swiftian in the modesty of its proposal: "Prison conditions at Abu Ghraib have improved markedly and dramatically since the arrival of Coalition troops in Baghdad."
I could undertake to defend that statement against any member of Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International, and I know in advance that none of them could challenge it, let alone negate it. Before March 2003, Abu Ghraib was an abattoir, a torture chamber, and a concentration camp. Now, and not without reason, it is an international byword for Yankee imperialism and sadism. Yet the improvement is still, unarguably, the difference between night and day. How is it possible that the advocates of a post-Saddam Iraq have been placed on the defensive in this manner? And where should one begin?
I once tried to calculate how long the post-Cold War liberal Utopia had actually lasted. Whether you chose to date its inception from the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, or the death of Nicolae Ceausescu in late December of the same year, or the release of Nelson Mandela from prison, or the referendum defeat suffered by Augusto Pinochet (or indeed from the publication of Francis Fukuyama's book about the "end of history" and the unarguable triumph of market liberal pluralism), it was an epoch that in retrospect was over before it began. By the middle of 1990, Saddam Hussein had abolished Kuwait and Slobodan Milosevic was attempting to erase the identity and the existence of Bosnia. It turned out that we had not by any means escaped the reach of atavistic, aggressive, expansionist, and totalitarian ideology. Proving the same point in another way, and within approximately the same period, the theocratic dictator of Iran had publicly claimed the right to offer money in his own name for the suborning of the murder of a novelist living in London, and the génocidaire faction in Rwanda had decided that it could probably get away with putting its long-fantasized plan of mass murder into operation.
One is not mentioning these apparently discrepant crimes and nightmares as a random or unsorted list. Khomeini, for example, was attempting to compensate for the humiliation of the peace agreement he had been compelled to sign with Saddam Hussein. And Saddam Hussein needed to make up the loss, of prestige and income, that he had himself suffered in the very same war. Milosevic (anticipating Putin, as it now seems to me, and perhaps Beijing also) was riding a mutation of socialist nationalism into national socialism. It was to be noticed in all cases that the aggressors, whether they were killing Muslims, or exalting Islam, or just killing their neighbors, shared a deep and abiding hatred of the United States.
The balance sheet of the Iraq war, if it is to be seriously drawn up, must also involve a confrontation with at least this much of recent history ....
I know hardly anybody who comes out of this examination with complete credit. There were neoconservatives who jeered at Rushdie in 1989 and who couldn't see the point when Sarajevo faced obliteration in 1992. There were leftist humanitarians and radicals who rallied to Rushdie and called for solidarity with Bosnia, but who--perhaps because of a bad conscience about Palestine--couldn't face a confrontation with Saddam Hussein even when he annexed a neighbor state that was a full member of the Arab League and of the U.N. (I suppose I have to admit that I was for a time a member of that second group.) But there were consistencies, too. French statecraft, for example, was uniformly hostile to any resistance to any aggression, and Paris even sent troops to rescue its filthy clientele in Rwanda. And some on the hard left and the brute right were also opposed to any exercise, for any reason, of American military force.
The only speech by any statesman that can bear reprinting from that low, dishonest decade came from Tony Blair when he spoke in Chicago in 1999. Welcoming the defeat and overthrow of Milosevic after the Kosovo intervention, he warned against any self-satisfaction and drew attention to an inescapable confrontation that was coming with Saddam Hussein. So far from being an American "poodle," as his taunting and ignorant foes like to sneer, Blair had in fact leaned on Clinton over Kosovo and was insisting on the importance of Iraq while George Bush was still an isolationist governor of Texas.
Notwithstanding this prescience and principle on his part, one still cannot read the journals of the 2000/2001 millennium without the feeling that one is revisiting a hopelessly somnambulist relative in a neglected home. I am one of those who believe, uncynically, that Osama bin Laden did us all a service (and holy war a great disservice) by his mad decision to assault the American homeland four years ago. Had he not made this world-historical mistake, we would have been able to add a Talibanized and nuclear-armed Pakistan to our list of the threats we failed to recognize in time. (This threat still exists, but it is no longer so casually overlooked.)
The subsequent liberation of Pakistan's theocratic colony in Afghanistan, and the so-far decisive eviction and defeat of its bin Ladenist guests, was only a reprisal. It took care of the last attack. But what about the next one? For anyone with eyes to see, there was only one other state that combined the latent and the blatant definitions of both "rogue" and "failed." This state--Saddam's ruined and tortured and collapsing Iraq--had also met all the conditions under which a country may be deemed to have sacrificed its own legal sovereignty. To recapitulate: It had invaded its neighbors, committed genocide on its own soil, harbored and nurtured international thugs and killers, and flouted every provision of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The United Nations, in this crisis, faced with regular insult to its own resolutions and its own character, had managed to set up a system of sanctions-based mutual corruption. In May 2003, had things gone on as they had been going, Saddam Hussein would have been due to fill Iraq's slot as chair of the U.N. Conference on Disarmament. Meanwhile, every species of gangster from the hero of the Achille Lauro hijacking to Abu Musab al Zarqawi was finding hospitality under Saddam's crumbling roof.
One might have thought, therefore, that Bush and Blair's decision to put an end at last to this intolerable state of affairs would be hailed, not just as a belated vindication of long-ignored U.N. resolutions but as some corrective to the decade of shame and inaction that had just passed in Bosnia and Rwanda. But such is not the case. An apparent consensus exists, among millions of people in Europe and America, that the whole operation for the demilitarization of Iraq, and the salvage of its traumatized society, was at best a false pretense and at worst an unprovoked aggression. How can this possibly be? ....
"You said there were WMDs in Iraq and that Saddam had friends in al Qaeda. . . . Blah, blah, pants on fire." I have had many opportunities to tire of this mantra. It takes ten seconds to intone the said mantra. It would take me, on my most eloquent C-SPAN day, at the very least five minutes to say that Abdul Rahman Yasin, who mixed the chemicals for the World Trade Center attack in 1993, subsequently sought and found refuge in Baghdad; that Dr. Mahdi Obeidi, Saddam's senior physicist, was able to lead American soldiers to nuclear centrifuge parts and a blueprint for a complete centrifuge (the crown jewel of nuclear physics) buried on the orders of Qusay Hussein; that Saddam's agents were in Damascus as late as February 2003, negotiating to purchase missiles off the shelf from North Korea; or that Rolf Ekeus, the great Swedish socialist who founded the inspection process in Iraq after 1991, has told me for the record that he was offered a $2 million bribe in a face-to-face meeting with Tariq Aziz. And these eye-catching examples would by no means exhaust my repertoire, or empty my quiver. Yes, it must be admitted that Bush and Blair made a hash of a good case, largely because they preferred to scare people rather than enlighten them or reason with them. Still, the only real strategy of deception has come from those who believe, or pretend, that Saddam Hussein was no problem.
I have a ready answer to those who accuse me of being an agent and tool of the Bush-Cheney administration (which is the nicest thing that my enemies can find to say). Attempting a little levity, I respond that I could stay at home if the authorities could bother to make their own case, but that I meanwhile am a prisoner of what I actually do know about the permanent hell, and the permanent threat, of the Saddam regime. However, having debated almost all of the spokespeople for the antiwar faction, both the sane and the deranged, I was recently asked a question that I was temporarily unable to answer. "If what you claim is true," the honest citizen at this meeting politely asked me, "how come the White House hasn't told us?"
I do in fact know the answer to this question. So deep and bitter is the split within official Washington, most especially between the Defense Department and the CIA, that any claim made by the former has been undermined by leaks from the latter. (The latter being those who maintained, with a combination of dogmatism and cowardice not seen since Lincoln had to fire General McClellan, that Saddam Hussein was both a "secular" actor and--this is the really rich bit--a rational and calculating one.)
There's no cure for that illusion, but the resulting bureaucratic chaos and unease has cornered the president into his current fallback upon platitude and hollowness. It has also induced him to give hostages to fortune. The claim that if we fight fundamentalism "over there" we won't have to confront it "over here" is not just a standing invitation for disproof by the next suicide-maniac in London or Chicago, but a coded appeal to provincial and isolationist opinion in the United States. Surely the elementary lesson of the grim anniversary that will shortly be upon us is that American civilians are as near to the front line as American soldiers.
It is exactly this point that makes nonsense of the sob-sister tripe pumped out by the Cindy Sheehan circus and its surrogates. But in reply, why bother to call a struggle "global" if you then try to localize it? Just say plainly that we shall fight them everywhere they show themselves, and fight them on principle as well as in practice, and get ready to warn people that Nigeria is very probably the next target of the jihadists. The peaceniks love to ask: When and where will it all end? The answer is easy: It will end with the surrender or defeat of one of the contending parties. Should I add that I am certain which party that ought to be? Defeat is just about imaginable, though the mathematics and the algebra tell heavily against the holy warriors. Surrender to such a foe, after only four years of combat, is not even worthy of consideration.
Antaeus was able to draw strength from the earth every time an antagonist wrestled him to the ground. A reverse mythology has been permitted to take hold in the present case, where bad news is deemed to be bad news only for regime-change. Anyone with the smallest knowledge of Iraq knows that its society and infrastructure and institutions have been appallingly maimed and beggared by three decades of war and fascism (and the "divide-and-rule" tactics by which Saddam maintained his own tribal minority of the Sunni minority in power). In logic and morality, one must therefore compare the current state of the country with the likely or probable state of it had Saddam and his sons been allowed to go on ruling.
At once, one sees that all the alternatives would have been infinitely worse, and would most likely have led to an implosion--as well as opportunistic invasions from Iran and Turkey and Saudi Arabia, on behalf of their respective interests or confessional clienteles. This would in turn have necessitated a more costly and bloody intervention by some kind of coalition, much too late and on even worse terms and conditions. This is the lesson of Bosnia and Rwanda yesterday, and of Darfur today. When I have made this point in public, I have never had anyone offer an answer to it. A broken Iraq was in our future no matter what, and was a responsibility (somewhat conditioned by our past blunders) that no decent person could shirk. The only unthinkable policy was one of abstention.
Two pieces of good fortune still attend those of us who go out on the road for this urgent and worthy cause. The first is contingent: There are an astounding number of plain frauds and charlatans (to phrase it at its highest) in charge of the propaganda of the other side. Just to tell off the names is to frighten children more than Saki ever could: Michael Moore, George Galloway, Jacques Chirac, Tim Robbins, Richard Clarke, Joseph Wilson . . . a roster of gargoyles that would send Ripley himself into early retirement. Some of these characters are flippant, and make heavy jokes about Halliburton, and some disdain to conceal their sympathy for the opposite side. So that's easy enough.
The second bit of luck is a certain fiber displayed by a huge number of anonymous Americans. Faced with a constant drizzle of bad news and purposely demoralizing commentary, millions of people stick out their jaws and hang tight. I am no fan of populism, but I surmise that these citizens are clear on the main point: It is out of the question--plainly and absolutely out of the question--that we should surrender the keystone state of the Middle East to a rotten, murderous alliance between Baathists and bin Ladenists. When they hear the fatuous insinuation that this alliance has only been created by the resistance to it, voters know in their intestines that those who say so are soft on crime and soft on fascism. The more temperate anti-warriors, such as Mark Danner and Harold Meyerson, like to employ the term "a war of choice." One should have no problem in accepting this concept. As they cannot and do not deny, there was going to be another round with Saddam Hussein no matter what. To whom, then, should the "choice" of time and place have fallen? The clear implication of the antichoice faction--if I may so dub them--is that this decision should have been left up to Saddam Hussein. As so often before ....
DOES THE PRESIDENT deserve the benefit of the reserve of fortitude that I just mentioned? Only just, if at all. We need not argue about the failures and the mistakes and even the crimes, because these in some ways argue themselves. But a positive accounting could be offered without braggartry, and would include:
(1) The overthrow of Talibanism and Baathism, and the exposure of many highly suggestive links between the two elements of this Hitler-Stalin pact. Abu Musab al Zarqawi, who moved from Afghanistan to Iraq before the coalition intervention, has even gone to the trouble of naming his organization al Qaeda in Mesopotamia.
(2) The subsequent capitulation of Qaddafi's Libya in point of weapons of mass destruction--a capitulation that was offered not to Kofi Annan or the E.U. but to Blair and Bush.
(3) The consequent unmasking of the A.Q. Khan network for the illicit transfer of nuclear technology to Libya, Iran, and North Korea.
(4) The agreement by the United Nations that its own reform is necessary and overdue, and the unmasking of a quasi-criminal network within its elite.
(5) The craven admission by President Chirac and Chancellor Schröder, when confronted with irrefutable evidence of cheating and concealment, respecting solemn treaties, on the part of Iran, that not even this will alter their commitment to neutralism. (One had already suspected as much in the Iraqi case.)
(6) The ability to certify Iraq as actually disarmed, rather than accept the word of a psychopathic autocrat.
(7) The immense gains made by the largest stateless minority in the region--the Kurds--and the spread of this example to other states.
(8) The related encouragement of democratic and civil society movements in Egypt, Syria, and most notably Lebanon, which has regained a version of its autonomy.
(9) The violent and ignominious death of thousands of bin Ladenist infiltrators into Iraq and Afghanistan, and the real prospect of greatly enlarging this number.
(10) The training and hardening of many thousands of American servicemen and women in a battle against the forces of nihilism and absolutism, which training and hardening will surely be of great use in future combat.
It would be admirable if the president could manage to make such a presentation. It would also be welcome if he and his deputies adopted a clear attitude toward the war within the war: in other words, stated plainly, that the secular and pluralist forces within Afghan and Iraqi society, while they are not our clients, can in no circumstance be allowed to wonder which outcome we favor.
The great point about Blair's 1999 speech was that it asserted the obvious. Coexistence with aggressive regimes or expansionist, theocratic, and totalitarian ideologies is not in fact possible. One should welcome this conclusion for the additional reason that such coexistence is not desirable, either. If the great effort to remake Iraq as a demilitarized federal and secular democracy should fail or be defeated, I shall lose sleep for the rest of my life in reproaching myself for doing too little. But at least I shall have the comfort of not having offered, so far as I can recall, any word or deed that contributed to a defeat.
Posted by KA at 11:13 AM
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Coming back from vacation, I found in my mailbox a reprint of a new and superb article by Tufts international law scholar Michael Glennon, "How International Rules Die," 93 Georgetown Law Journal 939 (March 2005), available at SSRN here. Professor Glennon has been working on this theme with respect to the Security Council and the use of force for several years, with important articles in Foreign Affairs and Policy Review, among other places. This new article is pathbreaking in international law in seeking to give a general account of how international rules fall into "desuetude" and lose their force. Here is the abstract from SSRN:
"A rule's abandonment through nonenforcement or noncompliance is known as desuetude. This article presents a theory of desuetude that applies to international legal regimes, taking into account the broader context of obligation, causation, and social norms in a consent-based system. The UN use-of-force regime is an example. The theory is that excessive violation of a rule, whether embodied in custom or treaty, causes the rule to be replaced by another rule that permits unrestricted freedom of action. The two rationales commonly given for obligation in the international order, the naturalist and positivist theories, are unconvincing. The rational choice model is a preferable explanatory tool because it provides practical reasons for supposing international rules to be obligatory, and it uses a more reliable means of assessing practical obligation, namely, frequency of violation. Two competing claims - that international legal rules are all that matter in shaping state conduct, and that those rules do not shape state conduct at all - are examined and rejected. Whether a particular rule falls into desuetude depends in part upon the presence of conditions necessary for international cooperation. Those conditions are associated with social norms that undermine or reinforce international legal rules, and also inject elements of coercion into a consent-based system; an infrastructure of reinforcing sub-legal norms is a necessary condition for law's effective operation. The article concludes by considering the dilemma faced by an international law scholar who recognizes that commenting upon the desuetude of a preferred rule can hasten the rule's demise."
Beyond the profound consequences of the theory itself, Professor Glennon explicitly recognizes, in the conclusion, that international law scholars face a tension between what they would like the law to be and what, if they are faithful to the facts of how international actors behave, the law is. He purports to be offering a descriptive account of how, in fact, international rules sometimes do fade and fade away. No one seems much worried in the case, for example, of the Third Geneva Convention's now-quaint requirement of payment of five Swiss francs per day to POWs under certain conditions. In the case of something seen by many to be as important to their dreams of world order - Article 2(4) of the UN Charter, for example - it seems to them necessary to perform whatever rhetorical ledgerdermain is required in order not to reach the point of actually acknowledging the rule as dead. Glennon objects to this as inconsistent with the obligation of scholars to acknowledge the facts in front of them. The theory is not likely to endear him to the traditional liberal internationalism of the academic international law community, and even less so the implication of Glennon's conclusion about the agenda driven nature of some purportedly descriptive international legal scholarship. Here is an excerpt from Glennon's extraordinarily powerful conclusion:
IV. THE SCHOLAR’S DILEMMA
In considering whether a preferred rule has
fallen into desuetude, international
law scholars sometimes confront a
dilemma. On the one hand they are,
like all scholars, expected to be truth
tellers. Their research describes what
international rules are and, sometimes,
explains how the rules got that way. If
the view of international law that I
have presented is correct, their research will
sometimes affect how states behave,
because states’ behavior is affected by
international law. But international law
scholars are also citizens. As citizens,
they have views about how states should
behave. Consequently, they might find
that their research as scholars leads states
to behave in ways that they might as
citizens oppose. Should they, therefore, mold
that research to promote the policies that
they favor as citizens? Which persona should
prevail, citizen or scholar? ....
As I have suggested in this article,
the moralists’ fears are not without
foundation. Reflexivity pervades
international law. Appearance alters reality and
reality alters appearance. Pretending that
a rule exists when it does not can, in
the short run, reinforce or even create a rule.
For at least a while, states may honor such
a rule. Sometimes, pretending works. But in
the end, that choice is the wrong one. In the
long run, if the conditions necessary for effective
law are not present, a rule will fail and the rule
of law will be the ultimate loser, for law reform
is not advanced by ignoring evidence of an old rule’s
collapse or of the absence of conditions needed
to make a new rule work. Humanity is not elevated
by the suppression of data, insight, and ideas,
either through self- or external censorship.
Moralist propaganda is not scholarship. Its aim
is not to expand the marketplace of ideas but to
contract it, not to enrich human understanding
but to evade it, not to serve the intellect but to
trick it. The contest, to paraphrase Hans Morgenthau,
is not, as the propagandists insist, between morality and
immorality, but between one type of political morality
and another type of political morality; one taking
its standard from subjective preference masquerading as
universal law, the other recognizing the inescapability
of relativity, contingency, situationality and
incommensurability; one viewing legal rules as
unaffected by power, the other recognizing that
legal rules are created by power; one viewing
obligation as preceding experience, the other viewing
obligation as flowing from experience; one marching to
the beat of presupposition, ideology, and dogma, the
other taking its cue from the possible, the practical,
and the pragmatic; one proceeding from certainty
and faith, the other from doubt and skepticism.
In the end, the moralists’ strategy is wrong because
it rests on a bad bet. The bad bet is that the increase
in long-range stability accomplished through delusion
will outweigh the discredit done to international law
by pretending that its rules are different than they
actually are. The bad bet is that tilting the table of
international law toward overspecification of rules
is more likely to benefit humanity than an honest,
more limited assessment of what the rules really do.
The bad bet is that relevant publics are not smart enough
or responsible enough or far-sighted enough
to deal with the truth.
My bet is that the big loser in this game will be
international law. It lost in the past, when legitimate
efforts at law reform were undercut by international law
scholars who “contracted the habit of pleading that a law
of peace which is continually ignored was none the less a
‘law’ of spotless character and beyond reproach;
what is more, these scholars adopted the tactics of
concealing from themselves the dangers of that situation.”
Those words were written three years before the
German invasion of Poland.
International law has lost enormously over the years
by overstating claims of its success. The result is that,
like a government that wrongly claims solid intelligence
of weapons of mass destruction when there is none,
international law is less likely to be taken seriously
when its claims are true. Better, it seems to me, for
international lawyers to be honest with themselves
and their clients and the public, painful as that might be ....
By all means read Professor Glennon's profound and provocative article.
Posted by KA at 9:34 PM
Sunday, August 21, 2005
My thanks for Nadezhda for the following comment adding more information on the bombings of NGO agencies in Bangladesh, including Grameen Bank, BRAC, and Caritas. This was posted as a comment to my original post, and I am putting it up here for greater visibility.
From what I can tell, reviewing the English-language Bangladesh press, the attacks on Grameen and BRAC were back in February. Caritas and another NGO were hit a few days later. It was at that time that the extremist group which is suspected in the recent bombing wave was banned.
The recent wave of bombs was targeted primarily at public buildings, so it underlined the political message in the pamphlets - join us to change Bangladesh to an Islamic republic. But the pamphlets included references to NGOs as targets of their disapproval.
As you point out, it is not surprising that the extremists would attack institutions that have been so successful in giving women economic opportunities and some personal autonomy. The penetration of financial services, even in rural areas, via the microfinance institutions in Bangladesh is remarkable and is studied by proponents of microfinance around the world. In Bangladesh, they've become far more than simple microcredit agencies. There's a lot of experimentation in delivering other complementary services for their clients -- e.g., some provide health information or basic care, but others get into some pretty innovative stuff like access to cell phones.
Bangladesh's social structure is being profoundly affected by those sorts of initiatives combined with urbanization and economic development more broadly. A key indicator is that the drop in number of births per woman in the last couple of decades has been dramatic.
All told, these changes -- especially those affecting gender roles -- are seen as enormously threatening to the fundamentalist worldview, and hence are likely to continue to be favorite targets of hostility.
(Posted by nadezhda at 8/20/2005)
I certainly agree with nadezhda that the impact has been profound. I was involved in the original cell phone arrangements - as a development finance lawyer acting on behalf of a large Western donor making funds available to Grameen to set up the cell phone businesses. I was initially skeptical either that the village cell phone business could make money, or at least enough money to exceed the levels of subsidy, or that the cell phone business would make much difference in development terms. I was entirely wrong - as the development world is realizing, cell phones much more than computers are a critical component in economic growth. That's quite apart from the impact on women and families.
Posted by KA at 8:48 AM
Saturday, August 20, 2005
(See my update, April 20, 2007, here, middle of the post. Also, I deleted one comment which I found not just intemperate but, after a little research, inaccurate in attributing remarks to Matt Waxman)
Matt Waxman, formerly of the NSC staff and now holder of the unenviable post of deputy assistant secretary of defense of detainee affairs, is both a man of great decency and a good friend. I am a great admirer of Matt's, in no small part for accepting a government post for which little good would be likely to come of it for one's reputation, when he could certainly have had government jobs that would look jolly on the resume. Matt took the tough job, and he is doing outstandingly at it. He writes in the Saturday, August 20, 2005, p. A17, Washington Post, on the moves to repatriate Guantanamo detainees, here.
(The op-ed is entirely right to stress just how novel the idea is that a state holding detainees captured on the battlefield should even consider releasing them while the war continues - and I do not mean the war on terror, but the traditional, conventional war on-going today in Afghanistan.)
By Matthew Waxman
Washington Post, Saturday, August 20, 2005; A17
This month the United States and the government of Afghanistan reached an understanding that will allow for the gradual transfer of Afghan detainees now held by the Defense Department at Guantanamo Bay and in Afghanistan to the control of Afghan authorities. This is not only a significant step forward in the U.S.-Afghan security relationship but the latest example of how the United States and its coalition partners can share the burdens in mitigating the dangers terrorist fighters pose.
Terrorists must be captured and prevented from returning to the global battlefield. But it need not -- nor in many cases should it -- be the United States that detains them for the long term. All nations that have joined forces in the global war on terrorism share responsibility for keeping captured terrorists from returning to violence.
American armed forces will continue to capture and detain terrorist fighters like the approximately 510 enemy combatants currently at Guantanamo. The principle that a state is legally entitled to detain enemy fighters until the enemy -- in this case, al Qaeda and its affiliates, including the Taliban -- is defeated is not a new one; it is deeply rooted in international law. The Geneva Convention, for example, reflects the well-established notion that captured enemy fighters can be kept off the battlefield until the war is over.
But at the same time, the United States has no interest in holding anyone unnecessarily. Besides the moral cost, unnecessary detentions would undermine our message of freedom and democracy, which is essential to combating violent extremism. And beyond these humanitarian and political reasons, detaining anyone unnecessarily would divert valuable military resources in the war on terrorism.
To balance these demands, the United States has taken the extraordinary step during an ongoing war of instituting individual review processes to release detainees assessed as no longer constituting a significant threat, and to transfer other detainees to their home countries or other countries for possible detention, investigation or prosecution as appropriate.
These reviews began soon after enemy combatants were first brought to Guantanamo, and they continue at least once a year for each detainee there. To date the United States has released or transferred close to 250 Guantanamo detainees, to about a dozen countries, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Australia, the United Kingdom and France.
Such releases and transfers during an ongoing war entail a significant calculated risk. Detainees at Guantanamo include terrorist trainers, bombmakers, recruiters, facilitators and potential suicide bombers. In fact, about a dozen of those who had been thought to pose little continuing threat and were released have returned to the fight and engaged in hostile activities against U.S. forces or our coalition partners. But given the unique characteristics of the war against al Qaeda -- including its likely long duration and global scope -- it is the right course so long as coalition partners effectively share the burden for mitigating this risk.
The United States is looking for ways to accelerate transfer of detainees to their home countries or to other countries that will take responsibility for them. But before doing so, we must be assured of two things.
First, receiving countries must commit to credible and effective steps, consistent with their own laws, to prevent transferred combatants from re-engaging in hostile activity. This includes options such as home-country or third-country investigation, prosecution, detention, or other security measures that mitigate the continuing threat these individuals pose.
Second, receiving countries must pledge to treat transferred detainees humanely. Consistent with the Convention Against Torture and its other international legal obligations, the United States will not transfer any detainee to a country where he is likely to be tortured. In transferring detainees we cannot compromise our commitment to humane treatment or U.S. efforts to promote human rights.
The pace and extent of transfers will depend in part on our coalition partners' ability and willingness to share the burden of preventing more terrorist activities. Where necessary, the United States will assist our partners to develop the legal and physical capacity to contain terrorist threats.
For example, as part of the transfer arrangement with the government of Afghanistan, the United States has committed to renovate facilities for holding enemy fighters. It will also train and equip Afghan personnel so they can assume this mission safely and humanely.
The war against al Qaeda and its supporters is not being fought by the United States alone but by a broad coalition of states facing a common threat. Arrangements such as the one just negotiated with Afghanistan mark significant advances in what is truly a global war on terrorism.
(The writer is deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs.)
Judith in London asks a good question concerning the traditional criteria of the just war. Where, she asks, does the "likelihood of success" criterion come from? The traditional criteria - they can be stated and parsed in different ways, of course - are (1) just cause (2) just authority (3) just intent (4) just conduct (5) likelihood of success (6) good outweighing evil consequences. You can state these differently and you can add several more, such as the requirement, popular nowadays in some circles, of a "just peace."
As I've stated them here, however, numbers 5 and 6 are consequences-based criteria. That is, they are concerned not with rights as such, but instead with the consequences that might occur even if one is, indeed, exercising one's moral rights. Christian just war theory has traditionally accepted that the criteria of the just war are "mixed" as between those which are about the enforcement and defense of one's rights and the rights of a political community - just cause, for example - and those which are about taking into account ultimate real world consequences. Sometimes the consequentialist criteria are referred to as "prudential," although that has seemed to me to underplay that they are indeed moral criteria, albeit of a different sort.
Likelihood of success matters, on traditional just war theory, because, it is said, if you can predict reliably in advance that your fight is suicidally destined to lose, then you should not engage in the evils that will inevitably result from the fact of fighting alone. The fight might be a just attempt to vindicate your moral and political and legal rights - but if it is obviously doomed from the start, then you should avoid it even at the price of injustice.
Judith asks why Michael Walzer (photo above) does not give an account of this in Just and Unjust Wars. In part the answer is that the book is not really concerned with accounting for the traditional criteria of the just war at all; it is a narrower theory than that (in a certain sense, and a wider one than just war theory, in another), a theory of resistance to aggression. More importantly, however, Walzer does not accept this traditional Christian constraint on the attempted vindication of rights. Walzer might say that this is because, as a factual matter, apparently lost causes turn out not to be lost after all - who would have thought, for example, that Churchill would come back to win and, for that matter, Europe was quite convinced that the North could never win the civil war and thought it a matter of moral obligation to intervene to end the killing.
But in fact Walzer means something much stronger in moral rights terms - his argument is not factual in principle, but a matter of basic moral principle. He says, at the opening of chapter 4, p. 51:
"The wrong the aggressor commits is to force men and women to risk their
lives for the sake of their rights .... Groups of citizens respond in different
ways to that choice, sometimes surrendering, sometimes fighting, depending on
the moral and material conditions of their state and army. But they are always justified in fighting; and in most cases, given that harsh choice, fighting is the preferred moral outcome." (italics added)
Walzer grants that citizens may decide not to fight, and likelihood of lack of success may be their motivating reason, but he reserves to them the right to fight absolutely and lauds the preference to fight no matter what. Indeed, he goes on to say that it is the "justification and the [moral] preference" for fighting that "account for the most remarkable features of the concept of aggression." (p. 51) (It is hard to believe that Walzer was not thinking in this passage of the failure of the French to fight in the Battle of France.)
Given this kind of language, it seems evident that Walzer does not regard the criterion of likelihood of success - a consequentialist criterion - as having the power to modify how people should act to vindicate rights in the way that the medieval Christian theologians did. Given that Christian theology is not exactly warm to consequentialist arguments much of the time, what might account for the fact that Christian theology accepts it here as against rights-language more than Walzer will allow?
The deepest reason, I believe, has to do with the moral viewpoint from which one views war - the moral place on which one stands to look at war. The Christian fathers, by the nature of their moral place, inevitably see war from the standpoint of God in Heaven, from above, and this "outside" of humanity standpoint makes it much easier for them - altogether curiously, I emphasize - to consider the costs and consequences of war without regard to rights, given that so many innocents in war suffer. It is easy to imagine the angels in heaven simply writing off the right and wrongs of war and instead seeing only the costs of war - calling for an end to the bloodshed as being the most important thing, even if there are indeed rights and wrongs - they, after all, will get sorted out later, in the final judgment of souls. (I am reminded just a little of the great Swiss playwright Friedrich Durrenmatt's 1950s play, An Angel Comes to Babylon.) Unsurprisingly, this is how Christian theologians of mainstream persuasion tend to see war today - they tend to leave aside the actual reasons for war in order to focus on the costs to innocents and hence rarely find war justified, finding nealry always that it fails that other test of consequences, greater good than evil.
Walzer, by contrast, is in his moral "location," if I can describe it as such, much more like the great secular moralistes, Albert Camus above all, and Rene Char as well, who refuse to depart, as it were, to the heavens, but remain on earth and locate themselves morally in the struggle between right and wrong, good and evil. In that case, the consequentialist considerations about war, so easily visible from the remoteness of heaven, seem much less important than the nearby, concrete causes of war here on earth.
Yet we want it both ways - and this is true of Walzer as it is true of the ancient theologians. The differences are in degree - profound differences of degree - but certainly Walzer will not say that consequences are irrelevant, nor do the ancient theologians write off the discourse of rights which is, after all, the natural language of natural law. Far from it; all hands admit it is a mixed theory, seeking to vindicate plural moral goods.
Posted by KA at 11:19 AM
Friday, August 19, 2005
My dear friend David Rieff (and co-author, I am proud to say, of a chapter expressing skepticism of "global civil society," in Mary Kaldor, et al., Global Civil Society 2005) has written a short, must-read essay in the New York Times magazine of August 14, 2005, here. David was thinking and writing about immigration and population migration long before Muslim migration hit the big-think radar screen - he wrote books on the immigrant experience clear back in the 1980s and 90s. He, along with Christopher Caldwell and, in an academic demography sense, Nicholas Eberstadt, are the people to watch writing in the United States on this topic. (It is striking, and appropriate, too, that David would emphatically praise the bravery of the murdered Theo van Gogh in challenging the reactionary assertion of the multiculturalist left that the "real" problem was permitting blasphemy.) This is a genuinely must-read short essay.
An Islamic Alienation
By DAVID RIEFF
New York Times Magazine
August 14, 2005
Even if they produced no other positive result, the attacks on the London Underground have compelled Europeans of all faiths to think with new urgency about the Continent's Muslim minority. Such a reckoning was long overdue. Some left-wing politicians, like London's mayor, Ken Livingstone, have chosen to emphasize the proximate causes of Muslim anger, focusing on the outrage widely felt in Islamic immigrant communities over the war in Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But the harsh reality is that the crisis in relations between the European mainstream and the Islamic diaspora has far deeper roots, consoling as it might be to pretend otherwise.
COUNTING FAITH: Percentage of Muslims in E.U.-member populations: Greece 1.3%Denmark 2% Slovenia 2.4% Britain 2.7% Germany 3.7% Austria 4.2% The Netherlands 5.5% France 5-10% Cyprus 18% World 19.9%
(Source: C.I.A. World Factbook)]
Indeed, the news could scarcely be worse. What Europeans are waking up to is a difficult truth: the immigrants who perform the Continent's menial jobs, and, as is often forgotten, began coming to Europe in the 1950's because European governments and businesses encouraged their mass migration, are profoundly alienated from European society for reasons that have little to do with the Middle East and everything to do with Europe. This alienation is cultural, historical and above all religious, as much if not more than it is political. Immigrants who were drawn to Europe because of the Continent's economic success are in rebellion against the cultural, social and even psychological sources of that success.
In a sense, Europe's bad fortune is that Islam is in crisis. Imagine that Mexican Catholicism was in a similar state, and that a powerful, well-financed minority of anti-modern purists was doing its most successful proselytizing among Mexican immigrants in places like Los Angeles, Phoenix and Chicago, above all among the discontented, underemployed youth of the barrios. The predictable, perhaps even the inevitable, result would be the same sort of estrangement between Hispanics and the American mainstream.
Whatever the roots of the present troubles, what is undeniable is that many immigrant Muslims and their children remain unreconciled to their situation in Europe. Some find their traditional religious values scorned, while others find themselves alienated by the independence of women, with all its implications for the future of the ''traditional'' Muslim family. In response, many have turned to the most obscurantist interpretation of the Islamic faith as a salve. At the fringes of the diaspora, some have turned to violence.
So far, at least, neither the carrot nor the stick has worked. Politicians talk of tighter immigration controls. Yet the reality is that a Europe in demographic freefall needs more, not fewer, immigrants if it is to maintain its prosperity. Tony Blair just proposed new laws allowing the deportation of radical mullahs and the shutting of mosques and other sites associated with Islamic extremism. But given the sheer size of the Muslim population in England and throughout the rest of Europe, the security services are always going to be playing catch-up. Working together, and in a much more favorable political and security context, French and Spanish authorities have, after more than 20 years, been unable to put an end to the terrorism of the Basque separatist group ETA. And there are at least twice as many Muslims in France as there are Basques in Spain.
At the same time, it is difficult to see how the extremists' grievances can ever be placated by conciliatory gestures. It is doubtful that the British government's proposed ban on blasphemy against Islam and other religions will have a demonstrable effect. (What would have happened to Salman Rushdie had such a ban been in force when ''The Satanic Verses'' was published?) Meanwhile, the French government has tried to create an ''official'' state-sanctioned French Islam. This approach may be worth the effort, but the chances of success are uncertain. It will require the enthusiastic participation of an Islamic religious establishment whose influence over disaffected youth is unclear. What seems clearer is that European governments have very little time and nowhere near enough knowledge about which members of the Islamic community really are ''preachers of hate'' and which, however unpalatable their views, are part of the immigrant mainstream.
The multicultural fantasy in Europe -- its eclipse can be seen most poignantly in Holland, that most self-definedly liberal of all European countries -- was that, in due course, assuming that the proper resources were committed and benevolence deployed, Islamic and other immigrants would eventually become liberals. As it's said, they would come to ''accept'' the values of their new countries. It was never clear how this vision was supposed to coexist with multiculturalism's other main assumption, which was that group identity should be maintained. But by now that question is largely academic: the European vision of multiculturalism, in all its simultaneous good will and self-congratulation, is no longer sustainable. And most Europeans know it. What they don't know is what to do next. If the broad-brush anti-Muslim discourse of Jean-Marie Le Pen's National Front in France or the Vlaams Belang Party in Belgium entered the political mainstream, it would only turn the Islamic diaspora in Europe into the fifth column that, for the moment, it certainly is not. But Europeans can hardly accept an immigrant veto over their own mores, whether those mores involve women's rights or, for that matter, the right to blaspheme, which the Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh so bravely asserted -- and died for.
Figuring out how to prevent Europe's multicultural reality from becoming a war of all against all is the challenge that confronts the Continent. It makes all of Europe's other problems, from the economy to the euro to the sclerosis of social democracy, seem trivial by comparison. Unfortunately, unlike those challenges, this one is existential and urgent and has no obvious answer.
(David Rieff, a contributing writer, is the author, most recently, of ''At the Point of a Gun: Democratic Dreams and Armed Intervention.'')
Posted by KA at 5:12 PM
There have been many announcements in recent months of the collapse of any kind of strategic vision of the Bush administration in the war on terror; many articles and pundit pieces declaring that there is no war, that if there was a war it is long over, and of course the perennial claims that Iraq was always a distraction from combating terrorism. Gideon Rose of Foreign Affairs pontificated yesterday in the New York Times op-ed page that the latest gush of idealism in foreign policy - in this case neo-con idealism about democracy and so forth - had spent itself and we would now return to a more modest pragmatic realism. And then there were Robin Wright's claims that the Bush administration itself had ratcheted down its expectations about what could be accomplished in Iraq - as with all Robin Wright material, however, equal parts expression of fervent hope and reportage. So I was curious to see this piece by Hoover Institution research fellow Peter Schweitzer in USA Today, of all places, arguing that there is indeed a grand strategy - in the formal sense of uniting highest level military strategy and political strategy - at work in the Bush administration foreign policy, and that it bears enough resemblance to Rooseveltian grand strategy that wishfully skeptical liberals should have some care in rejecting it out of hand.
In general, I am skeptical of partisans in any direction trying to draw genuinely historical parallels, lessons of history, out of a struggle which has really only just begun and is far from over - even though policy makers and the rest of us surely have to try to find what we think history teaches us for this particular struggle, we also have to recognize that it is far too early to offer any truly "historical" assessments. Yes, we have to seek to apply historical lessons, and figure out which ones we think are relevant. We have to act; we have to draw on history and we believe its lessons to be. What we should not do is think that enough time has elapsed for this to be a genuine exercise in history, and that definitive historical answers can be given - a certain modesty all the way around in claiming to have the lessons of history on any side is in order.
Strategies or diversions?
By Peter Schweizer
USA Today, August 17, 2005
Critics have assailed President Bush for his strategy on terrorism, calling the war in Iraq a diversion from the main task of defeating al-Qaeda. But just days after the 60th anniversary of victory in World War II, it is striking to note how Franklin D. Roosevelt faced very similar critics and how President Bush has adopted a grand strategy very much in the Roosevelt tradition.
With a logic that Bush would find familiar, FDR was lambasted by his critics for his WWII military strategy of defeating Germany first before focusing on Japan. They considered Germany a diversion. Wasn't it Japan and not Germany that had attacked us at Pearl Harbor, asked Sens. Arthur Vandenberg and A.B. Chandler? One foreign minister called the idea "suicidal heresy."
By 1942, American generals were complaining that precious resources were being diverted to fight Germans in North Africa, hardly a direct strategic concern. All of this should sound familiar in the debate over Iraq and the war on terrorism.
Conspiracy theories abounded then as they do today. Jon Meacham, in his book Franklin and Winston, writes about how FDR's critics believed that his Germany-first strategy was a result of excessive British influence. It wasn't a conspiracy involving Israel-loving neocons back then, but Anglophiles, who were manipulating the White House to serve British ends.
Both presidents also faced wild conspiracy theories that they manipulated intelligence to start a war: If Bush distorted intelligence to invade Iraq, FDR purposely ignored evidence that Japan was going to attack Pearl Harbor.
Then and now: Cries of politics
Democratic Sen. Millard Tydings essentially accused Roosevelt of ignoring his military advisers. Republican heavyweight Thomas Dewey, sounding like some of Bush's critics today, claimed that FDR's strategy of Germany first was really about domestic politics: FDR wanted to make sure that Pacific commander and potential GOP presidential candidate Gen. Douglas MacArthur didn't get the glory.
In a very strict and narrow military sense, FDR's critics were correct, just as Bush's are today. Germany did not pose an immediate military threat to the United States the way that Japan did.
In a fascinating parallel to Bush and Iraq, part of FDR's motivation for defeating Germany first was fear that the Nazis were working on atomic weapons. Alas, postwar intelligence revealed that Germany (like Saddam Hussein's Iraq) did not have much of a program. But military victory led most to ignore this massive intelligence failure.
FDR was not concerned with just the narrow military question of threats. Like Islamist extremists and secular Saddam, Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany were opportunistic allies. Though the Nazis considered the Japanese racially inferior, no better than mongrels, they were part of a worldwide movement. Using the same logic that Bush does today, FDR understood the need for a grand strategy that destroyed the movement, not just certain military aggressors that were part of it.
Grand strategy is not only about defeating enemies, but also defeating them in a sequence and a manner that leads to a favorable postwar situation. Can anyone seriously doubt that defeating al-Qaeda but leaving the political situation in the Middle East the same is at best a temporary victory? Bush, as FDR did, understands that only with political transformation will the postwar prospects for peace improve.
The threat we face today is more amorphous and less easy to define than it was during World War II. But the strategic principles remain the same. Bush's critics, like Roosevelt's, are flawed in their thinking because they lack a grand strategy. Concerned only (or so they say) with the military defeat of al-Qaeda, they have nothing to say about defeating a worldwide movement or how to build a foundation for a successful postwar world.
There have been numerous tactical mistakes made in the war on terrorism, just as there were under Roosevelt 60 years ago. Nonetheless, we cannot let tragic, tactical setbacks, like the recent deaths of 20 Marines from one unit, lead us to abandon the grand strategy. Allied errors at the Battle of the Bulge didn't mean the sweep across Europe was wrong.
Bush is in many ways FDR's strategic soul mate. His war on terror is a total global war against a movement comprised of terrorist groups and their state sponsors. By ousting both Saddam and the Taliban, he has removed two important components of the worldwide terrorist movement. And his grand strategy is slowly achieving results.
The forces of reform in the Middle East have been strengthened; the terrorist movement has been psychologically shaken. By destroying Saddam's military machine overnight, he has completely changed the psychology of the war on terrorism. Bush's strategy is one that FDR would understand well.
(Peter Schweizer is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and author of the forthcoming book Do as I Say (Not as I Do).)
Posted by KA at 9:36 AM
As someone who works in development finance as well as international law, I was both curious and highly concerned at this report that recent bombings in Bangladesh have targeted offices of the Grameen Bank and BRAC. Both are microcredit development agencies - Grameen, of course, being the most famous example of the microcredit development model (my general views on microfinance are found here, an academic article in the Yale Human Rights and Development Law Journal, Vol. 5, 2002).
Why Grameen and BRAC? First, it must be pointed out that many different institutional targets have been bombed, so there may not be any very important answer to that question as a matter of terrorist ideology. Still, one seemingly plausible answer is that these NGOs specifically aim to assist women, aim to assist them to become economically self-sufficient. (There has gradually developed sound criticism of that strategy, on the grounds that while it might make Western feminists feel good, in fact it makes far better sense to seek to increase household wealth, rather than focusing on women as though they were not typically part of larger family units including men, women, and children. On the other hand, the evidence is overwhelming that men in these circumstances have a much higher predilection for missending microloans and defaulting than women in the same socio-economic strata - drinking away the loan money.)
Although one has to be very cautious in attributing complicated motives to terrorists without a lot of evidence - e.g., a manifesto saying women should be barefoot and pregnant - and although Grameen could be seen as a generic example of an international aid agency, despite the fact that it is the homegrown product of a brilliant and dedicated Bangladeshi economist, there is something to consider in the targeting of an agency so widely identified with women's development issues.
I don't have a lot of information, although, as I indicated, I am curious and very concerned. I picked up this account via Austin Bay (and Instapundit), here.
Posted by KA at 8:55 AM
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
A second important article on Sudan and its conflicts appeared a couple of weeks back in the London Times Literary Supplement, by the ever-astute and indefatigable Alex de Waal. The full article is behind a subscriber wall, here, but below is the publicly available opening:
Clashes in Darfur
Alex de Waal
Times Literary Supplement
DARFUR: The ambiguous genocide
by Gerard Prunier
176pp. Hurst. £15.95. US: Cornell University Press. $24.
ISBN 0 8014 4450 0 1 8506 5700 X
Amat Acyl Aghbash is known to few, and then mostly for his grisly end: he stepped backwards into the spinning propellers of his Cessan aeroplane in 1982. The plane was a gift from Libya’s Colonel Muammar Gaddafi; for ten years, Ahmat Acyl was both a commander in Libya’s multinational pan-Sahelian “Islamic Legion” and the leader of a Chadian Arab militia known as the Volcano Brigade. Today, Acyl’s fighters from the Salamat of south- central Chad, and the Sudanese intermediaries who smuggled their weapons, can stake a good claim to be the original Janjawiid – the Sudan Government-backed militia now infamous for genocidal atrocity in Darfur.
Acyl’s name crops up in most histories of the long-running wars between Libya, Chad and Sudan. His supplier’s name doesn’t. It was Sheikh Hilal Mohamed Abdalla, whose Um Jalul clan’s yearly migration routes took them from the pastures on the edge of the Libyan desert in Northern Darfur to the upper reaches of the Salamat River where it crosses from Sudan into Chad. Renowned for their traditionalism, their camels and the vast reach of their semi-nomadism, the Um Jalul were a logical intermediary for Libya’s gun-running. Their encounter with the Salamat militia, first social, then commercial and finally military, forged the Janjawiid, which is now headed by the Sheikh’s younger son, Musa Hilal.
Acyl preached an Arab supremacist ideology, advocating the rule of the lineal descendants of the Prophet Muhammad and his Koreish tribe over Muslim lands. Specifically, the Juhayna Arabs, a group that includes both Salamat and Um Jalul, should control the territories from the Nile to Lake Chad. Darfur, an independent Sultanate until just ninety years ago, lies in the centre of this land, with its fertile massif and access to the headwaters of the Salamat River. The Koreishi ideology, mobilized via a shadowy group known as the “Arab Alliance” or “Arab Gathering”, motivates some of those involved in today’s vicious war for Darfur. Understanding this hideous violence demands a grasp of complex local histories that is possessed by few Sudanese and fewer foreigners. Generally relegated to a footnote of Sudanese history, as Gerard Prunier explains in Darfur: The ambiguous genocide, Darfur warrants its own political ethnography. Without this, it is not possible to understand the events of the past two years, nor the weighty moral and legal questions that surround them.
Darfur’s is indeed an ambiguous genocide. Between 60,000 and 150,000 are said to have died during the crisis and some 2 million now live in camps. But the crudity of the violence obscures fine-grained particularities of motive that only make sense within the unique history of Darfur and its neighbours. Theirs is no centralized blueprint for racial annihilation, but rather a shading of different agendas and opportunistic alliances, facilitated by a cruelty that has become routine. The pivot of these is the Um Jalul, and its aspiring leaders’ links with Chadian Arab militias, Libya’s grandiose ambitions and – more recently – Khartoum’s security cabal.
The Um Jalul are a clan of the Mahamid, who are in turn a section of the Abbala (“camel-herding”) Rizeigat tribe of Northern Darfur and Chad. Their Bedouin roots can be traced back at least five centuries, when their patrilineal ancestors crossed the Libyan desert, entering Darfur from the north-west. The Abbala Rizeigat were thus in Darfur when the Fur Sultanate emerged in the early seventeenth century and a part of its bilingual Arab-Fur identity from the outset. In the mid-eighteenth century, the Sultan granted the Baggara (“cattle-herding”) Rizeigat jurisdiction over a huge area of land south-east of the Sultanate’s heartlands. Known as hawakir, such territorial grants are the basis of Darfur’s land tenure today; who controls them is the subject of bitter political struggle. The Baggara’s Abbala cousins, more mobile and living in the more densely administered northern lands, were less fortunate. Until today, many Abbala Rizeigat ascribe their role in the current conflict to the fact that they weren’t given territory a quarter of a millennium ago. The Baggara Rizeigat by contrast are neutral.
Other Abbala also did not receive hawakir. After annexing Darfur on January 1, 1917 – almost the last territory to be added to the Empire – British colonial officials attempted to tidy up the confusion of Darfur’s ethnic geography. Another Northern Darfur Arab group, the Beni Hussein, were collected in one district over which they were given control. The Abbala Rizeigat had their eyes on a territory north of the region’s centre; but the leading families of their two main sections – Mahamid (including Um Jalul) and Mahariya – could not agree on who should be paramount chief, or nazir. Since 1925, there have been at least six attempts to unify the different sections under a single leader. None has succeeded. One stratagem used by the rival sheikhs to increase their chances was to enlarge their numbers by attracting followers from Chadout to the West. The Um Jalul had an advantage here: there are more Mahamid than Mahariya clans in Chad, and in the 1970s the Chadian sections were armed by Libya and organized by Acyl. It was this warlord who He began to enmeshed Darfur in Chad’s racial war; and, pursuing his provincial ambition, Sheikh Hilal inadvertently led the Um Jalul into a maelstrom.
As we turn the political ethnographic lens, we find that the contours of Janjawiid mobilization correspond to the political fractures and family power struggles within the Abbala Rizeigat. Heads of Mahamid lineages have key positions, while most leading Mahariya families are uninvolved. Meanwhile a third section, the Ereigat, plays a different but equally critical role.
After British annexation, in the 1920s, the Ereigat had few camels of their own. Some got jobs at the colonial police stables, and their sons in turn went to school and joined the police and Army. One of these boys, Abdalla Safi el Nur, rose to become an Air Force general and was Governor of Northern Darfur at the time when the Janjawiid mutated from a tribal militia tolerated by the Sudan Government into brigades organized under Government Military Intelligence. Another scion of the Ereigat became an army general and, now retired,heads Sudan’s parliamentary defence committee. Meanwhile, the Baggara Rizeigat (the southern cattle-owning branch), who are far more numerous and powerful, are themselves divided. Though several are leading lights in the Arab Gathering. But , the paramount chief, Nazir Saeed Madibu, is trying to steer a neutral course.
This is far from the whole story of the origins of the Janjawiid; but it is a means to understanding who is fighting on one side of this war and why, and for recognizing that extreme violence is the choice of a small minority. Such is the poor state of basic documentation of Darfur that these facts have not been narrated. Unfortunately, this is still the case. Prunier’s account makes not asingle mention of these key figures, Ahmat Acyl, Hilal Abdalla and his son, Musa, nor of the Koreish and its manifestos, nor indeed of the Abbala Rizeigat and the Um Jalulthough all are essential to understanding Darfur’s descent into war and atrocity.
The history of the Darfur rebels, the eventual enemies of the Janjawiid, is equally important and also little documented. They spring from convergent resistance movements based among Darfur’s three largest non-Arab groups – the Fur, the Zaghawa and the Masalit. Multiple versions exist of the origins of the two main rebel groups, the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), not least among the members of the two groups themselves. All concur that the SLA has sympathies with the Southern Sudan-based Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), and took both arms and advice from the latter in 2003, but that it emerged independently of the SPLA two years earlier from an alliance of Fur militiamen and Zaghawa desert fighters. The SPLA’s late leader, John Garang, who was made Sudan’s First Vice-President five weeks ago and has since died in a helicopter crash, fought for a secular, pluralist and united Sudan dominated by Sudan’s non-Arabs – an alliance of Southerners and the marginalized groups in the North – though many in his movement have made the case for a separate Southern state. Until 2003 – when SPLA members helped to write the SLA manifesto – the main SPLA role had been to train Masalit volunteers, who crossed from Sudan into Eritrea. A couple of battalions of these Darfurian rebels were transferred to Southern Sudan, from where they planned to return home to bolster local self-defence units.
Thwarted by the Government, many deserted and went back home in 2001. The SPLA then lost interest in Darfur, while the local rebellion quietly gathered force. After reconnecting, in January 2003, Garang and Darfur’s guerrillas regarded each other with ambivalence. The SLA could indeed become part of a grand alliance of Sudan’s marginalized peoples; but Darfurian leaders fear that they will be manipulated – and with good cause. The SLA was catapulted to prominence before it could develop internal political institutions, so that it is an amalgam of village militias and rural intellectuals marshalled by indigenous warrior tradition and the discipline of former Army NCOs. The Fur and Zaghawa wings have often disagreed; and on one occasion even fought each other.
The origins of JEM are even more controversial. The leadership is drawn from the ranks of Darfurian Islamists, widely believed to have received funds from Islamists abroad. In contrast to the amateur public relations machinery of the SLA, JEM runs a sophisticated political bureau. JEM’s roots lie in the fragmentation of Sudan’s Islamist movement in the late 1990s, as the twin dreams of national development as an Islamic state, and the emancipation of all Muslims as equal citizens, regardless of race or colour, , disintegrated into internal squabbling. The implosion of the Islamic project was clear when, in December 1999, President Omar al Bashir dismissed the Government’s éminence grise, Hassan al Turabi, sheikh of the Sudanese Islamists, and later put him in jail. Darfur’s Islamist leaders were already disaffected. . . . .
Posted by KA at 12:23 PM
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
John Ryle, a close friend and chair of the Rift Valley Institute, which does some of the best research and work on Sudan, sent me this piece by him in the Financial Times of August 2, 2005; I am taking the liberty of reposting it as it is very important. It bears close reading for its discussion of the prospects of peace in Sudan (particularly the fragile North-South peace, which is sometimes ignored by American commentators focused almost exclusively on the horrors of Darfur in the west), following the death of south Sudanese leader John Garang in a helicopter accident in July:
Peace still has future in Sudan after death of Garang
By John Ryle
Published: August 2 2005 20:32
The death of John Garang de Mabior, the southern Sudanese leader, in a helicopter crash has raised fears for the future of the peace process inAfrica's largest - and most conflict-ridden - country. Garang's deathsparked riots and inter-ethnic violence on Monday in Juba, the southern capital, and in Khartoum, fanning concerns that his death could jeopardise the peace agreement between the former southern rebels and the government inthe north.
The violence in Khartoum is alarming, but in the south there are reasons for hope - if not for the long-term prospects of wider peace in Sudan, at least for the immediate future of the agreement and the south's internal stability. First, the crash in which Garang died was almost certainly an accident: he was flying in a rainstorm over territory controlled by his Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army, in the personal helicopter of his long-time ally, Yoweri Museveni, the Ugandan president, and there is little reason to suspect foul play. Second, the leadership succession was uncontested: Salva Kiir Mayardit, Garang's long-time deputy, took over with the consent of other SPLA commanders the following day. Third, althoughGarang had a key role in the agreement, the overall process mainly has been driven not by internal forces but by western powers, primarily the US, whose interest in its success remains undiminished.
John Garang led the SPLM from its inception in 1983 until the peace agreement was signed early this year. He ruled as a "Big Man" in the classic African mould, controlling every appointment and seeing off challenges with autocratic ruthlessness. Under the peace agreement he became first vice-president of Sudan in a new national government. His arrival in Khartoum at the head of an SPLM/A delegation last month was greeted with elation by war-displaced southerners living there, who number at least a million, and also by western Sudanese displaced from Darfur, where hundreds of thousands have died in a separate insurgency.
A paradoxical aspect of Garang's leadership of the SPLM/A was his insistence throughout the conflict that the solution to Sudan's problems was not separation of north and south, but a transformation in relations between underdeveloped areas of the country - the west and the east as well as the south - and the dominant ethnic groups of the centre. The phrase he used to summarise his vision of the country's future was "New Sudan".
His analysis of the pattern of political and economic grievances in the country was confirmed by the Darfur uprising. Yet the rank and file of theSPLA - and southerners in general - have remained unambiguously separatist throughout the conflict. For most of them "New Sudan" signified - and still signifies - an independent south. This contradiction between Garang's stated position and popular sentiment among southerners was resolved in the demand for self-determination: a central clause of the peace agreement is a referendum on north-south separation, due to take place in six years' time.
Few doubt that a majority of southerners would vote for separation in any referendum, but the peace agreement also contains provisions designed to make unity attractive, making it easier for the northern government to stomach compromises forced on them.
Will the new leadership of the SPLA maintain this studied ambiguity? The reported appointment of Riek Machar Teny-Dhurgon to the vice-presidency of the south makes the question more pressing. Dr Riek mounted the first challenge to Garang's SPLM/A leadership in the early 1990s, a split only resolved when he rejoined the group in 2002. Both Riek Machar and Salva Kiirare more closely identified with a separatist position than was Garang, but they have also declared support for the existing peace agreement.
The presence of Riek Machar as Salva Kiir's deputy augurs well for the cohesion of the SPLM/A: Mr Kiir, like Garang, is a Dinka, from southernSudan's largest ethnic group, while Dr Riek is a Nuer, from the second or third largest. Between them they have a good chance of neutralising one threat to peace in the south: the continuing presence of government-backed militias.
It is to be hoped that the coming months will also see the emergence of a more representative and effective southern administration. Such a development would benefit the country as a whole: a stable southwould free the western powers to concentrate on resolving Sudan's other crises: the violence in Khartoum and the continuing conflict in Darfur.
(The writer chairs the Rift Valley Institute, a research organisation working in eastern Africa.)
Posted by KA at 7:46 PM
Thanks Professor Reynolds, for the link at Instapundit!
Responding to a couple of the very kind comments people left ... I am a complete gun novice. I shot a little bit at boyscout camp and once or twice went out shooting with a couple of uncles when I was a boy, but that was about it. I don't think hunting would interest me very much, but I enjoyed target shooting on this trip a great deal, as did my daughter and wife.
Jim, the fellow teaching us, is in law enforcement, and is a locally recognized expert. Since I didn't know him in advance, I wanted to hire someone I knew would know the rules of gun safety - turned out he was a great guy and a terrific teacher for my family. He normally wore eye and ear protection while we were shooting. I found him by contacting gun and fishing stores in the small town where we were staying; he was understandably surprised to have someone contact him out of the blue, and he had initial concerns that we were crazies. He made a point of stopping by our hotel the day before we went out with him to get acquainted with us and make sure, as he said, that he was comfortable with us. During the first hour or so of our session, he actually wore a police vest. Since he didn't know us from Adam, that struck me as very sensible. I'm not sure what kind of a pistol my daughter is shooting - I know it was a .22, small, with what I think you call a slide (she had to keep her hand below the sliding mechanism) and it had very little kick. It was a good weapon for her.
We learned a lot, had a lot of fun, and knowing we were in the hands of a careful, expert instructor was very important to this family of complete novices. We'll definitely do it again.
Posted by KA at 8:56 AM