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Dec 27, 2006 by DAVID SCHRAUB, Assistant Editor
The UN is considering calling for a halt to combat in Somalia.
I’m a bit surprised to see you agreeing with Luttwak. I read his book “Strategy: The logic of war and peace”" a while ago, and I agreed with a lot of it. Part of it’s reasoning was why I thought allowing the hizbollah-israeli conflict to continue for a while was a good idea (jury’s still out on that as far as these things go).
You do of course realize that in order for this sort of thing to work, you not only have to let the war go on, but you also can’t allow for things like untouchable refugee camps and such. The key is not only allowing the war to go on, but to allow the populace to experience the war in such a way that peace will come from the fatigue of dealing with it.
I only kind of agree with it. First, I think it only works in some cases (for example, in cases of genocide it breaks down because what’s “on the table” is the survival or extermination of an entire group). For JGWaC to work, we have to be willing to accept either side getting its maximalist position, which isn’t true in every case. Second, as I pointed out in my post, it’s an awfully risky bet with some very high collateral. JGWaC strikes me as a last-ditch strategy where nothing else has worked in breaking parties out of a spiral of violence.
But I do think it is an important theory to keep in mind, at any rate. I just feel like a jerk suggesting it.
I wouldn’t feel like a jerk. Ideas are just ideas. It’s brainstorming. Plus, one should have military options at least on the table (one must look like there might be a willingness to go to war, even if there’s not), otherwise a lot of diplomacy is ineffectual.
Somalia is a place where war and banditry are often the rule, not the exception. It’s only natural to want to let the fight go on.
LGWaC actually fits well into the “Schoolyard Theory” or international politics, as I like to call it. Basically, everybody’s like a little kid, and there isn’t effectively anyone above them. While a bigger kid or adult can intervene, it usually won’t solve underlying issues. Sometimes, the best way is just to let them bloody each other’s noses.
However, I don’t know how I feel about getting rid of the Islamic courts down there. Every report I’ve seen talks about them actually establishing order and stopping a lot of the intercene tribal warfare that’s been going on for a long time. For much the same reason, I was actually a bit disappointed to see the Taliban gone as well, since they too had established order (of an undoubtedly draconian sort) in an area where order hasn’t really exist since something like the time of Nadir Shah. Generally, I think it’s better to have a very tough government which is fair within its set of rules than it is to have a bunch of warlords who do as they please.
David, bellisaurius, what you are contemplating is a solution that China went through, a period of warlords then unification. It was brutal but China did eventually move forward under Mao. With the advent of a capitalist society the last vestige of the reunification of China is the Communist party, already showing signs of deterioration. The problem is that this process can take a long time, it is usually brutal in order to keep the warring factions at peace, and sometimes the underlying factions never really reconcile and are ready to split apart as soon as the fear of the central authority is gone, like Yugoslavia. I have felt that it is better to split apart factions into separate enclaves, no one enclave having enough power to enforce itâ€™s will on the others but also being large enough to carry on as some sort of nation. Once the parties have separated then the issues become more pedestrian, going from violently opposing the other groups to building roads and setting up schools.
Can there be more proof that the UN is on the side of the enemies of civilation? Anytime someone finally fights back against the islamists, it is only then that the UN decides to call a halt to the fighting. Meanwhile the UN is silent while the islamists maim and slaughter at will.
The key is to draw the proverbial line-in-the-sand. War for the purpose of changing sovereignty (or resisting such change) should be permitted – but deliberate extermination of civilian populace should not. If the UN is going to step in, it should do so to prevent genocide, but not simply to prevent combat. As it is, it favors guerilla warfare and terrorism, because it never really threatens sanctions on those – only on the exercise of organized military power.
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