Ending Wars Well: Order, Justice, and Conciliation in Contemporary Post-Conflict

Ending Wars Well: Order, Justice, and Conciliation in Contemporary Post-Conflict

by Eric D. Patterson

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300171136
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 08/21/2012
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Eric D. Patterson is associate director of the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs and visiting assistant professor in the department of government at Georgetown University. He lives in Alexandria, VA.

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Order, Justice, and Conciliation in Contemporary Post-Conflict
By Eric D. Patterson


Copyright © 2012 Eric D. Patterson
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-300-17113-6

Chapter One

Ending Wars Well

The defining conflict of our time is the 2003 Iraq war. Iraq's multidimensionality of issues—preemption, prevention, sovereignty, terrorism, religion, the obligations of post-war reconstruction, the role of the UN, and the like—combined with the visceral, personal effect it has had on millions of people makes it more than a regional conflict or historical footnote. Iraq is the illustrative case of our generation, the war from which historians, academics, policymakers, and students will draw analogies, comparisons, and lessons for the foreseeable future. Many debates continue concerning the decision to use force, how the military instrument was employed, or the preparation for, and implementation of, post-conflict activities (what the military calls "Phase 4" operations and what the U.S. Department of State calls "reconstruction and stabilization ops").

Today we know a great deal about the strategic and operational assumptions made in planning for post-conflict Iraq. We know, for instance, that the U.S. military was prepared for a longer, harsher, bloodier "hot war" against the Iraqi military than actually occurred, and that it even was equipped for a war that would likely include biological and/or chemical weapons. Nonetheless, the senior leadership, such as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, believed that the "use of force" would not last longer than five months. Expecting a liberation, not an occupation, Rumsfeld told reporters in November 2002, "I can't tell you if the use of force in Iraq today will last five days, five weeks or five months, but it won't last any longer than that." This attitude shared a basic philosophy articulated a decade earlier by then-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Colin Powell, that the purpose of the U.S. military is to act on behalf of American interests: to "fight and win the nation's wars." Battlefield victory culminating in regime change was the goal in Iraq.

The goal was met; Iraq's military and political apparatus crumbled in six weeks before a fifty-four-nation invasion led by the U.S. and Great Britain. However, both supporters and opponents of the war were horrified to see the chaos that followed the toppling of the Ba'athist regime, and many in America could not understand how those Iraqis who greeted Coalition troops as liberators in May 2003 were murdering their neighbors and blowing up Americans just a few weeks later. The next eighteen months were a time of ongoing sectarian violence, cunning insurgency, and opportunistic criminality claiming thousands of Iraqi lives. The "post-conflict" environment refused to improve, ultimately verging on a civil war in 2006 after (Sunni) terrorists affiliated with al Qaeda-in-Iraq blew up the golden-domed Samarra mosque, a historic and holy Shia site. As counter-terrorism expert David Kilcullen writes, it took four months for the U.S. military to realize what Iraqi politicians knew from day one: "that Samarra was a disaster that fundamentally and irrevocably altered the nature of the war."

It is too simplistic to look back and say that the U.S.-led coalition failed to plan for the aftermath of the hot war. Tactical and operational planning did occur in the U.S. at both the Departments of State and Defense. In fact, the planning resulted in some successes, such as preserving Iraq's oil infrastructure from the kind of destruction that followed the liberation of Kuwait in 1991. Nonetheless, the real failure was the lack of a strategic and moral framework for post-conflict, not just for Iraq, but also for places like Haiti, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. This is not simply the failure of leaders in Washington, but also of those in London, Paris, Madrid, Berlin, Geneva, Turtle Bay, and elsewhere.

This book is not a critique of those failures, but it is a response to them. The argument that follows is that policymakers need a parsimonious framework—a way of thinking about—post-conflict obligations and priorities rooted in prudence and ethics. Such an approach should be simple enough to be applied on a case-by-case basis to a diversity of real-world scenarios, yet rich enough to provide a range of theoretical and practical answers to the difficult questions of post-conflict. And the questions are pressing: What is the moral nature of security? Can there be a just post-conflict, even if the war itself was unjust in some way? Do liberators have some obligation to provide a "just" occupation? How can we resolve tensions between national security and justice? Between justice and reconciliation?

Why Wars Do Not End Well

Before proposing some answers to these questions, consider an essential fact of contemporary warfare: wars rarely end well. "Ending well" suggests that security is achieved and that the past, present, and future have been taken into account: What caused the war, and can these causes be ameliorated or redressed? How was the war fought? Are there legitimate claims for justice due to the conduct of the war? How will the settlement and its implementation create a just and durable peace?

A quick survey of contemporary warfare—Sudan, Rwanda, Kashmir, Colombia, Afghanistan, the Arab-Israeli conflict, and elsewhere—suggests that wars rarely end well. Rather, they grind on and on, often sputtering out in a short-term peace deal that one or both sides renege on after a short breather. How is it that the characteristic of modern warfare is that wars do not end well?

Thomas Hobbes, author of the seventeenth-century political treatise Leviathan, wrote about warfare and governance while his own country was racked by civil war and while Europe bled itself dry in the Thirty Years War. Hobbes well describes a fundamental dilemma of post-conflict: "For war consisteth not in battle only, or the act of fighting; but in a tract of time, wherein the will to contend by battle is sufficiently known: and therefore the notion of time, is to be considered in the nature of war; as it is in the nature of weather. For as the nature of foul weather lieth not in a shower or two of rain; but in an inclination thereto of many days together: so the nature of war, consisteth not in actual fighting; but in the known disposition thereto, during all the time there is no assurance to the contrary. All other time is peace."

Hobbes was not arguing that states exist in a general condition of peace most of the time. Quite the opposite, his quip, "all other time is peace" is sarcastic, meaning that states in anarchy (no central authority) are always in a state of war, be it "hot" war or periods that we might today call pre- or post-conflict. In other words, at all times political units must expect a forecast of "rain" and must continually concern themselves with the vital matter of security.

When we look at the past half-century of European integration, the vital North Atlantic alliance, the peaceful demise of the Warsaw Pact and its former members' adoption of Western democratic capitalism, and the absence of major war west of the Danube since 1945, we might conclude that we live in a post-Hobbesian world, where the lessons of World War I and World War II resulted in new commitment to a just and durable peace. However, just a few miles beyond the Danube, Hobbes remains the prophet. Just east of the river is the still unstable scene of ethnic cleansing in the Balkans. Just south is Cyprus, where a tense stalemate between Turks and Greeks continues unabated. Were one to trace a finger slightly south or east on the map, one would cover conflict-scarred regions that Hobbes, writing in 1611, would well have understood: Israel, the Palestinian territories, and Lebanon to the east; Sudan, Somalia, Rwanda, and the Congo further south.

The United States and its allies rightly congratulate themselves on achieving a stable post–World War II and post–Cold War consensus, but at the same time are flummoxed by the intractability of contemporary conflict. Why don't wars end well? Perhaps one would do better to ask, why should one expect them to—why is there a gap between expectations and post-conflict realities? There are a number of reasons that few wars have "ended well" since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Perhaps first and foremost is that the developing world has plenty of unfinished business to attend to, not unlike the violent clashes of the "new monarchies" and new states of Hobbes's day. Africa provides numerous cases in point, where European imperialists lumped disparate groups of people together within "national" borders, and/or favored one tribe over others, cementing hierarchy, inequality, and ultimately grievance. This is true of perpetually unstable Nigeria, created by the British and composed today of about 50 percent Muslims and 50 percent Christians representing hundreds of distinct cultural groups. The same is true of Sudan, which was historically two autonomous political units, but was merged under colonialism. Today countries like Sudan and Nigeria are wracked by political competition for scarce resources, exacerbated by differences of culture, language, religion, and ethnicity. In short, while Ottawa, Washington, and Oslo congratulate themselves on social welfare and the democratic peace, the people of Sudan and Nigeria are traumatized in the ongoing historical process of working out their internal contradictions, in much the same way that European states were in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

A second thing that Americans seem not to notice is that many parts of the world have experienced conflict that burns on interminably. In contrast with our three years of involvement in World War II and one year of involvement in World War I—both entirely fought far from the continental U.S.—many Cold War–era proxy wars, such as those in Angola (1975–2002) and Afghanistan (1978–1996), were lived on a daily basis by their citizens over decades. Sudan has spent 40 of its 54 years since independence in civil war, and South Sudan's secession in July 2011 did not stop violence in Abeyi and Darfur. Colombia has spent most of the past sixty years in some form of civil conflict. Long-running wars slowly yet inexorably debilitate the possibility of a real security framework and peaceful coexistence among neighbors, such as in the aftermath of the decade-long Iran-Iraq feud. A related point is that many of the new wars since the fall of the Berlin Wall have been fought at home, by neighbors butchering one another. In contrast to American experience in the world wars, when "the Yanks are coming!" meant crossing an ocean to meet the enemy and then returning home shortly after V-E or V-J day, "going home" for most people in Nicaragua, Rwanda, or Mozambique meant living across the street from the perpetrator who raped and murdered their sister. And many of these wars, rooted in Cold War conflicts, were resourced by the ideological contexts and armaments of both the East and West.

Another reason that we lack a framework for ending wars well has to do with the myths of international relations. Such "myths" are organizing narratives that underlie international relations, which may or may not be true at all times and in all places, but that provide a conceptual orderliness to the consideration of international life. One of those myths is the idea that international relations is defined solely in terms of national governments ("states"), without other actors (for example, NGOs). Such a myth is characterized by state monopoly on the use of force within a given set of boundaries, and thus implies that a state should be free of intervention from its neighbors. This creates an unhelpful dichotomization between international and intra-state war. This fiction, however useful in the past, means that until recently attention was focused only on those conflicts that spilled out of their boundaries, thereby failing to notice massive depredations by governments and local warring actors against one another and their populace. It is true that since 1945 most conflicts have been civil wars, but a more nuanced analysis reveals that the wars/interventions the U.S. and its Western allies have participated in since 1945 were generally hybrid wars. The conflicts had definitive local sides egged on by outsiders, making them—like most wars in history—a hybrid of intra- and inter-national war. The same has largely been true since the end of the Cold War: many conflicts which have grabbed the attention of the West may have started as a "civil war" but were nonetheless clearly international in scope (the Balkans ultimately involved Russia, the U.S., the UN, and Western Europe; Rwanda destabilized, and plays power politics in, neighboring Congo; and Afghanistan is certainly such a hybrid). Whenever gross human rights violations result in international humanitarian intervention such as in the Balkans, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, Liberia, or elsewhere, the conflict is no longer a civil war but has rather taken on elements of an international conflict. Hence, we need a general framework for approaching post-conflict.

Another area where the West has a short memory is about the effectiveness of international intervention at comprehensively stopping the violence. Were one to look back before 1989 at instances of UN-led military interventions we would see that there were actually only two major cases: Korea in 1951 and the Congo in the 1960s. Both were large-scale, potent interventions involving tens of thousands of troops. These were the only cases of a major deployment of UN troops in wartime conditions, in contrast to puny "observer" missions like those in Cyprus and the Sinai. Indeed, when one looks at the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations' list of operations, it is laughable—but not funny. Some of these impotent missions remain open, including: the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (1949–), the UN Peacekeeping force in Cyprus (1964–), the UN Disengagement Observer Force (Sinai, 1974–), the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (1978–), and the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (1991–The international community has decided nearly fifty times since the unraveling of the Cold War to deploy peacekeeping troops. Again, however, those deployments usually are small, have handicapping mandates (for example, Srebrenica), and lack punch to impose or ensure security for the local populace.

Since the end of the Cold War we have vastly expanded Western and UN involvement in late- and post-conflict, from Bosnia to East Timor to Iraq. The higher level of engagement in post-conflict situations has raised the awareness of citizens and leaders around the world that many people still live in a Hobbesian world. The level of violence compels us to do something, but we have not done a good job at ending these wars well. Perhaps we were unable to do so in the 1990s. That is what this book is about.

Furthermore, the West has been flabbergasted by the persistence of war because we cherish the idea that democracy and capitalism—in other words, human liberty—is the answer. This book is sympathetic to this view, and survey data report that the vast majority of people around the world want some culturally relevant form of political and economic freedom. That being said, this cannot happen all at once. Conflict zones do not become high-tech corridors overnight. What happens instead, in the aftermath of decolonization, conflict, or regime change, as described by Samuel Huntington in his 1968 book Political Order in Changing Societies, is that the thrill of decolonization or conflict termination evaporates quickly when Western political institutions, such as elections, parties, constitutions, and representative government, fail to rapidly deliver Western-level economic benefits. This is a recipe for the unraveling of fragile new institutions and ruling coalitions, particularly because there are always spoilers and demagogues willing to leverage any uncertainty to their benefit. This was true in post-colonial states; it is likewise true at the end of most modern wars in the developing world. Moreover the success of the 1991 Persian Gulf War and liberation of Kuwait, coinciding with the end of the Cold War, blinded many to the fact that the war did not create a New World Order. Although Kuwait was liberated, the Gulf War resulted in a simmering sub-conflict that lasted for more than a decade, replete with a military confrontation, sanctions, scandals, and ultimately a second war twelve years later.


Excerpted from ENDING WARS WELL by Eric D. Patterson Copyright © 2012 by Eric D. Patterson. Excerpted by permission of Yale UNIVERSITY PRESS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents

Preface ix

Chapter 1 Ending Wars Well 1

Chapter 2 New Just War Thinking on Post-Conflict 20

Chapter 3 The Primacy of Order 38

Chapter 4 Justice: incurring What Is Deserved 67

Chapter 5 Conciliation: Coming to Terms with the Past 102

Chapter 6 Connections and Contradictions: Just War Thinking vs. Other Post-Conflict Approaches 132

Chapter 7 21st-century Challenges: R2P, Stability Ops, Afghanistan, and Beyond 161

Afterword 180

Notes l83

Index 203

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