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Genocide and the Global Village

Genocide and the Global Village

by K. Campbell

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A half-century ago, the international community made a solemn promise to 'never again' allow genocide to go unchallenged. In the early days of the Post-Cold War 'New World Order,' though, international leaders failed to stop horrific genocides in Bosnia and Rwanda, chiefly because Western leaders lack the 'political will' to use decisive force to suppress ongoing


A half-century ago, the international community made a solemn promise to 'never again' allow genocide to go unchallenged. In the early days of the Post-Cold War 'New World Order,' though, international leaders failed to stop horrific genocides in Bosnia and Rwanda, chiefly because Western leaders lack the 'political will' to use decisive force to suppress ongoing genocide. Despite increased attention to war crimes issues in the Clinton Administration, and increased rhetoric about its commitment to halting genocide, American military force policy still gives lowest priority to responding to gross abuses of human rights. In Genocide and the Global Village , Kenneth Campbell explains why the international community fails so miserably to prevent, suppress, and punish contemporary genocide. The book integrates the scattered pieces of this complex problem - political, military, legal, and ethical - into a more complete, clearer picture of the challenge facing the world today. Campbell engages in a complex, multi-level analysis of genocide's impact upon world order, and the inter-play of politics and morality in the international community's determination of the appropriate role for military force in halting genocide and securing an emerging global civil society. Campbell recommends practical steps the international community can take to greatly improve its response the next time genocide occurs - a next time that will occur.

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'Mr Campbell argues that stepping in to prevent or stop genocide is more than a moral obligation...[it is] a national interest.' - The Economist

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Chapter 1

The Grand Strategic Context

No political society, national or international, can exist unless people submit to certain rules of conduct.--E. H. Carr1

In an ever more interdependent world the need for control mechanisms outstrips the capacity or readiness of national governments to provide them . . . not only have states lost some of their earlier dominance of the governance system, but also the lessening of their ability to evoke compliance and govern effectively is in part due to the growing relevance and potential of control mechanisms sustained by transnational and subnational systems of rule.--James Rosenau2

The paradox and novelty of the globalization of violence today is that national security has become a multilateral affair. . . . [It] can now be protected only if nation-states come together and pool resources, technology, intelligence, and sovereignty.--David Held, et al.3

In today's increasingly interdependent world, the process of globalization--open societies, open technologies, and open markets--is producing effects that are both good and bad; globalization is giving us both progress and problems.4 Globalization itself is not new. As a historical process, it has been occurring for a long time. However, in this age of information technology, globalization is proceeding at an unprecedented speed, which is in turn changing the very nature of world politics by increasing the vulnerability of states and peoples to distant threats.5

Although we enjoy many positive effects of globalization, its negative effects have outstripped the ability of sovereign states and intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), such as the United Nations, to manage them adequately. These transnational (or "transsovereign") threats spill over from one global function to another--economic, military, social, environmental, and the like--increasing in speed and intensity.6 Consequently, a fundamental contradiction has emerged between the growth of transnational problems and the decline of sovereign state power in managing these problems. This has created a global "governance gap" regarding transnational threats.7 As Raimo Vayrynen explains:

There is in the present international society an enforcement gap that needs to be filled if global governance is to be effective at all. Norms of security, democracy, and human rights cannot be upheld in the absence of international institutions and other capabilities by which to address the problem of compliance. The United Nations obviously has done better than many of its critics acknowledge in coping with security and monetary relations and international public "bads." Yet, the United Nations as an institution is only a partial answer to the contemporary challenge of global governance.8

Global Governance

Global governance is a political process intended to address the gap created by globalization between the proliferation of transsovereign threats and the relative decline of state power. As Karen Mingst explains:

The first (troublesome dilemma) is the increasing demand for policy to address global problems versus the recognized weakness of contemporary international organizations and states. . . . Adherents of global governance generally acknowledge that the need for governance emerges out of the globalization process.9

Global governance is defined here as a complex process of global cooperative management intended to maximize the advantages of globalization and minimize its threats, especially threats to the fundamental integrity of the global system.10 Global governance is based upon shared values, principles, rules, and institutions. It includes states, IGOs, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), multinational corporations (MNCs), communities of scientific experts ("epistemic communities"), the global mass media, and prominent individuals. It is a relatively new development, which seeks to go beyond reliance upon state-dominated international regimes, which are proving increasingly inadequate, and build a complex, dense web of international networks to govern an emerging global civil society.11 Global governance is but the latest chapter in the development of international organization and, if mismanaged, may permit or produce global catastrophe, as the failure of earlier international organizational schemes has done.12

Historical Cycles of Learning-By-Catastrophe

For the Westphalian system of nation-states, innovation in the maintenance of international order has always come in the wake of catastrophic war. In every case, the collapse of the prevailing international order brought on general war so devastating to all parties that even the "winners" suffered catastrophic losses. After each of these general wars, the victorious nation-states attempted to construct a new international order that improved their chances of preventing a repetition of catastrophic war while continuing to maintain an essentially decentralized system of independent states. It was a fine line to walk.

The catastrophe of the Thirty Years' War produced the Westphalian classical European balance-of-power system, resting on the Adam Smith-like assumption that competing national interests would somehow produce a natural balance that would ensure peace and stability. The collapse of this classical balance-of-power system brought the catastrophe of the Napoleonic Wars, which was then followed by the Concert of Europe. The collapse of the Concert of Europe triggered the catastrophe of World War I and produced the League of Nations. The failure of the League brought the catastrophe of World War II and produced the United Nations. In each new cycle of breakdown, catastrophic war, and new international order, institutional learning driven by trauma produced innovations in international organization that were intended to avoid a repeat of the previous catastrophe. However, once implemented, these innovations in international organization were eventually outstripped by accelerating change. The result was a "governance gap" that permitted the emergence of new challengers, eventual systemic breakdown, and greater catastrophe.

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, it was the classical, laissez-faire balance-of-power system that eventually proved inadequate and permitted the rise of Napoleon. In the nineteenth century it was an ad hoc system of conferences and conventions that eventually proved inadequate and permitted the outbreak of the Great War. In the twentieth century "interwar" period, it was a halfhearted collective security system that quickly proved inadequate, thus permitting the outbreak of World War II. During the Cold War, it was a more sophisticated collective security system that attempted to prevent World War III. As Inis Claude has explained:

The collapse of world order [in 1939] produced not so much a sense of futility and hopelessness of international organization as a vivid awareness of the need for a resolute determination to achieve an improved system of international organization. It became clear that the modern world had developed the habit of responding to catastrophe by intensifying its quest for effective organization.13

However, the United Nations' collective security system quickly proved inadequate. Its efforts to preserve peace and security were frozen by a fifty-year Cold War between the two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union.

The Unicycle Moment

The Cold War came to a sudden end a decade ago and the current post - Cold War era seems to have many decisionmakers, policy analysts, and scholars confused and uncertain. However, in this period of great turbulence and complexity, we should be clear about one large, simple, but critically important fact: this transition era is completely unique in the historical cycles of rising and falling international orders. In two critical respects this is so: first, this transition is occurring (so far) without the general catastrophe typically associated with such periods.14 Second, in no previous transition era did the prevailing powers charged with creating an improved international order possess the scientific and technical capacity--as the leading powers now do--to destroy the entire international system along with everyone in it. This is the first time in the cyclical creation of new international orders that the great powers possess the power to end the "great game" for all players, for all time! In no previous transition period from one international order to another has this been the case. In this sense, the present cycle is truly singular.

These two critical peculiarities should give pause to the architects of our new emerging global order. For the above factors seem to indicate that our leaders maximize their efforts to break with this cycle of "learning-by-catastrophe" and make a leap in institutional learning without waiting for a breakdown of the international order and a systemic catastrophe from which none of us might recover. The unique characteristics of this critical transition period seem to place a premium on state cooperation at least regarding those core problems which, if not managed or mitigated, threaten to unravel the entire international order. The main task in this period of transition, in the midst of globalization, is to consolidate, reinforce, and extend the present, post - Cold War liberal international order.15 At the heart of this effort at global governance must be the prevention of genocide and crimes against humanity.16

Contemporary Genocide as a Transsovereign Threat

Genocide is a transsovereign problem facing the international community. Indeed, it is the worst problem. Although the practice of genocide is not new, the contemporary process of globalization has rendered it a transnational threat that outstrips the ability of states, and state-based international governmental organizations, to prevent, suppress, or punish this crime.17 The harm that genocide causes cannot remain within sovereign boundaries, nor can this grave human rights problem keep from spilling over into regional functions such as traditional security, political stability, and economic prosperity. The impact of genocide is global and multidimensional, dense and complex. Hence, in an era of rapid globalization, state foreign policies based upon narrowly defined "national" interests are conceptually obsolete and structurally inadequate to the task of stopping the transsovereign threat of genocide.

The unprecedented violence of the twentieth century has produced three great global prohibitions: first, the prohibition of aggression; second, the prohibition of genocide; and third, the prohibition of nuclear war. If not enforced, they threaten to bring the entire international system crashing down around us all. The international community has been largely successful in prohibiting aggression and nuclear war over the last half- decade, but it has been very unsuccessful in prohibiting genocide during the post - Cold War era. Unless this failure is remedied, unchecked genocide could destroy the very fabric that holds together our present international system.

Great Power Responsibilities

No international order can long exist without the most powerful state within that order defending and preserving it. In fact, every international order that has existed since the emergence of the Westphalian state system in 1648 has been the product largely of one leading state, whether it was France during the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, Britain during the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, or America during the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. The international order promulgated by the leading state is an extension of the national values, power, and interests of that state. Consequently, a condition of strategic interdependence naturally develops between the leading state and the larger international order it has constructed. As Inis Claude has explained:

The idea of international responsibility is generally associated, primarily if not exclusively, with great powers. Indeed, it might be argued that a great power or a world power is by definition a state that has interests and responsibilities beyond both its own boundaries and its immediate neighborhood. . . . Great powers are singled out, because it is presumed that their capability, unlike that of lesser states, is not likely to be exhausted by the requirements of national interest; they are expected to have a surplus of resources that can be devoted to the needs of the system at large. . . . [W]e take it as axiomatic that great powers are fundamentally responsible for the international system as a whole. . . . It is their task to protect the weak and to feed the poor. The prospects of political freedom, human rights, and social justice--indeed, the future of human civilization-- depend largely upon what they do and refrain from doing.18

The critical implications of this strategic reality are that the leading state must assume the structural obligation to defend and extend the prevailing international order, and it must redefine its own national interests to include the core interests of the international system. If the leading state fails to do this--if it fails to lead--then it invites relative or absolute decline and the disintegration and collapse of the prevailing international order from which it has benefited disproportionately. This is the situation we face at the cusp of a new millennium.

In the early twenty-first century, the United States is far and away the most powerful state in the international system. In a recent article in Foreign Affairs, W. Bowman Cutter, Joan Spero, and Laura Tyson wrote: "As a power of unrivaled dominance, prosperity, and security, [the U.S.] must now lead the peaceful evolution of this system through an era of significant changes."19 Evidence of U.S. globalism is ubiquitous. For instance, 30 percent of the growth experienced by the United States over the last six years came from expanding global markets, while Americans represent 40 percent of all international travelers.20

How important, though, is it for the U.S. to contribute its own military power to stop genocide in a distant foreign land? In point of fact, it is critically important! The United States is the "indispensable nation" in any significant global military intervention. As Brown and Rosecrance explain:

The United States is particularly key: it alone has the firepower, transport, command and control, communications, intelligence, logistics, and power projection capabilities needed for large-scale operations.21

What, then, should a wise global leader have done when faced with contemporary genocide? First, wise leadership should have accurately and publicly framed the issue as genocide, citing the overwhelming evidence gathered by the competent UN organs. Second, the global leader should have pressed the UN Security Council to determine genocide to be a core threat to the peace and security of the international system and therefore absolutely vital to halt! Third, the global leader should have urged the Security Council to define clear objectives for UN forces, such as defeating the perpetrators, rescuing the victims, and detaining the leaders of this great crime for possible trial and punishment. Fourth, the global leader should have urged that UN forces be properly sized and mandated for war-fighting, not peacekeeping, with ground troops given primacy in a robust "AirLand" campaign against the genocidaires. Fifth, the global leader should have rallied domestic political support for the risks and potential sacrifices--in blood and treasure--inherent in such a decisive use of force. Finally, the global leader should have urged the Security Council to issue a diplomatic warning to the perpetrators of genocide to cease immediately their criminal actions or face the application of overwhelming force. Simultaneously, they should have been preparing those military forces for use "with all deliberate speed," thereby reinforcing the credibility of the diplomatic warning.

When actually faced with the horror of contemporary genocide, however, the global system's predominant power--the United States--not only failed to provide enlightened leadership, it actively blocked others from doing so! In all three cases of contemporary genocide--Bosnia, Rwanda, and Kosovo--the United States refused to consider using its own ground troops to prevent or suppress ongoing genocide, and prevented others in NATO and the UN from doing so. This inaction and obstruction regarding the suppression of contemporary genocide--a core threat to the viability of the international system--was the greatest failure of international leadership since Munich, 1938.


Chapter 1 1. Edward Hallett Carr, The Twenty Years' Crisis, 1919 - 1939 (New York: Harper & Row, 1964), 41.
2. James N. Rosenau, Along the Domestic-Foreign Frontier: Exploring Governance in a Turbulent World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 172-173.
3. David Held and Anthony McGrew, with David Goldblatt and Jonathan Perraton, "Managing the Challenge of Globalization and Institutionalizing Cooperation through Global Governance," in The Global Agenda: Issues and Perspectives, 6th ed., edited by Charles W. Kegley Jr., and Eugene R. Wittkopf (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2001), 141.
4. See, for example, Maryann K. Cusimano, ed., Beyond Sovereignty: Issues for a Global Agenda (Boston/New York: Bedford/St. Martin's Press, 2000); Rosenau, Along the Domestic-Foreign Frontier; Richard Falk, On Humane Governance: Toward a New Global Politics (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1995); Robert O. Keohane and Joseph S. Nye Jr., "Globalization: What's New? What's Not? (And So What?)," Foreign Policy 118 (spring 2000): 104-119; Princeton N. Lyman, "Globalization and the Demands of Governance," Georgetown Journal of International Affairs 1 (winter/spring 2000): 89-97; and Raimo Vayrynen, ed., Globalization and Global Governance (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1999)
5. Keohane and Nye, "Globalization," 104.
6. Ibid., 128-129.
7. Rosenau, Along the Domestic-Foreign Frontier, 172; Karen A. Mingst, "Global Governance: The American Perspective," in Vayrynen, Globalization, 92.
8. Vayrynen, "Preface," in Globalization, xi.
9. Mingst, "Global Governance," 92, 94.
10. I use here a hybrid of several definitions put forward in the leading literature, but acknowledge that the definition of global governance is continually contested in this period. See Mingst, "Global Governance," 94.
11. Ibid., 92-93.
12. Keohane and Nye, "Globalization," 113, 118.
13. See Inis L. Claude Jr., Swords into Plowshares: The Problems and Progress of International Organization, 4th ed. (New York: Random House, 1971), 57.
14. See Robert Gilpin, War and Change in World Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981), especially chapter 5, "Hegemonic War and International Change."
15. John G. Ikenberry, "The Myth of Post - Cold War Chaos," Foreign Affairs 75 (May/June 1996): 90-91.
16. Christian P. Scherrer, "Preventing Genocide: The Role of the International Community," Prevent Genocide International, www.preventgenocide.org (accessed 1 April 2000).
17. For the historical roots of genocide, see Frank Chalk and Kurt Jonassohn, The History and Sociology of Genocide (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990).
18. Inis L. Claude Jr., "The Common Defense and Great Power Responsibilities," Political Science Quarterly 101 (1986): 724, 726-727. Also see Hedley Bull, The Anarchical Society (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995), 194-222.
19. W. Bowman Cutter, Joan Spero, and Laura D'Andrea Tyson, "New World, New Deal," Foreign Affairs 79 (March/April 2000): 80.
20. Lyman, "Globalization," 90, 96.
21. Michael E. Brown and Richard N. Rosecrance, "Comparing Costs of Prevention and Costs of Conflict: Toward a New Methodology," in The Costs of Conflict: Prevention and Cure in the Global Arena, edited by Michael E. Brown and Richard N. Rosecrance (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield/Carnegie Commission on Preventing Deadly Conflict, 1999), 17.

--From Genocide and the Global Village by Kenneth J. Campbell. (c) 2001, Palgrave USA used by permission

Meet the Author

Kenneth J. Campbell is Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Relations at the University of Delaware.

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