Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.
Deterring Ethno-Nationalist Conflicts
|A version of this article appeared in
under the title: Conventional Deterrence in Ethno-Nationalist Conflicts
In Europe, and a significant part of the world, the "scourge" of ethno-nationalist conflict is once again on the rise.1 One need only consider the former USSR and Yugoslavia to understand its potential destructiveness if the international community is unable to stop it early--or at least slow its spread. As difficult as it is to focus on the problems at hand, to focus simultaneously on the longer-term need to deter may seem to some futile and a clear mis-ordering of one's priorities. Nothing, however, could be further from the truth.
Even while we struggle to understand, manage and remedy today's ethno-nationalist conflagrations, we must simultaneously search for ways to deter those of tomorrow. If we wait for a respite to address longer-term questions, we will never do so, for no respite is in sight. Therefore, the international community must exploit the history of, and past experience with, ethno-nationalist conflicts, balance-of-power systems, and war prevention and deterrence, to best achieve this desired end. In the final analysis, history and theory show that ethno-nationalist conflict can only be effectively deterred if the international community's collective security system works. Only by collective action can the community have any durable chance of effectively deterring ethnic conflicts without permitting them to tear the international order asunder.
It is just as important, however, for the international community to back up its wish to deter with the preparedness, readiness and will to sustain a deterrent force and, if necessary, "validate" that deterrent through active use of its combined armed forces in either a defensive or compellent role. Today's international security organ--the UN--is not well organized to carry out this new role effectively. However, by re-energizing old concepts and organizations, and reforming certain aspects of its operating procedures, it can fulfill its expected and necessary role. Even this will take a great deal of will power on the part of the international community; however, if the community lacks the will to accomplish that, it will lack the will necessary to deter ethno-nationalist conflicts. If the latter holds true, the world will be condemned to such conflicts until the next era of Cold War-type bi-polarity comes along once again to suppress them. Unfortunately, such a world simultaneously brings with it the possibility of collapse into sudden mass destruction. Since we know not how destructive the next world conflict may be, our best bet is to take the necessary steps for preventing it from ever taking place. The first step towards this end is devising a collective conventional deterrent against ethno-nationalist conflicts.
I. The Situation: States, Nations and Stability in the post-Cold War World.
The current international situation did not arise overnight, nor even in the past year or two since the outbreak of war in former Yugoslavia. The root causes of ethnic conflicts are deep and aged, and the first inklings that they were about to reappear on the world stage came well before Slovenia started the charge towards independence.
In 1989, then Deputy Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger noted that "we are moving into . . . a world in which power and influence is diffused among a multiplicity of states." Such a world, he later continued, will not necessarily be a
safer place than the Cold War era from which we are merging . . . . For all of its risks and uncertainties, the Cold War was characterized by a remarkably stable and predictable set of relations among the great powers. A brief look at the history books will tell us that we can not say as much about the period leading from the birth of the European nation states up through the outbreak of the Second World War.2
Eagleburger seemed to recognize that a multi-polar world would serve to promote nationalism, and that the changes that were then ongoing in central and eastern Europe were "bringing long-suppressed ethnic antagonisms and national rivalries to the surface."3
The entity that bears the burden of contending with this diffusion of power and influence is the state itself. This fact lies at the very heart of the problem, however, since the record of states in this regard is not altogether positive. The state, Jack Snyder has explained, must simultaneously struggle to accomplish three things that effect both its domestic and international stability: "defend itself against other states, . . . maintain its monopoly of violence against would-be domestic opponents, . . . and extract resources from its society for both purposes."4 To accomplish all three things, they must often rely "above all on powerful military bureaucracies and nationalist mythmaking."5 It is these "twin pillars of the modern state [that] form a domestic order that is prone to nationalistic international aggression."6
An even more significant international actor than the "state," however, is the "nation-state," whose formation combined the trappings, responsibilities and motives of statehood with the emotions of ethno-nationalism. The nation-state is "the actor that represents and executes both creative and destructive tendencies of its members,"7 regardless of what ideology or other factor provides motivation. The nation-state provides both definition and structure for the "legal, cultural and behavioral values of its members."8 It is nationalism that provides a member with a "sentiment of identification" for a particular nation-state and has come to represent, perhaps, "the single most important form of ideology in the twentieth century."9 Indeed, the existence of the nation-state, and the nationalism that it evokes, has "tended to broaden involvement in war to include total populations."10
One political analyst has defined nationalism as "a set of political beliefs which holds that a nation--a body of individuals with characteristics that purportedly distinguish them from other individuals--should have its own state."11 Nationalism need not be malevolent in nature, but may simply remain a benevolent (soft) nationalism, in which a nation is merely taking pride in its accomplishments, characteristics, etc. However, benevolent nationalism has frequently been turned into malevolent (or hyper-) nationalism by government elites in order to mobilize the masses in support of national security policies--particularly when they will require sacrifice on the part of those same masses. This hypernationalism can best be described as "the belief that other nations or nation-states are both inferior and threatening and must therefore be dealt with harshly."12
European nationalism was restrained during the Cold War by two forces. In eastern Europe, the authoritarian communism of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact achieved this end. In western Europe and the Mediterranean, nationalism was "discouraged" by the circumstances of the Cold War, during which "the mutual need to contain the Soviet Union moderated old animosities."13 The end of the Cold War has not brought with it "an end to threats, but rather a diffusion of them, [since] one can no longer point to a single source of danger . . . ."14 Consequently, one should bear firmly in mind in this post-USSR era that "the absence of imminent threat is no guarantee that threats do not exist."15
Yugoslavia is the painfully classic case in point. During the Cold War era it experienced east European authoritarianism, but also made use of the same "mutual need" of western Europe to "contain" the USSR. "With the death of Tito and the demise of communism and the Cold War, there was nothing to hold the Federation of the South Slavs together."16 Only "brute force" nationalism was left as an option for action.
The reader should give due consideration to the reasons given above for Yugoslavia's rupture. Although Tito's death came almost a decade before, Yugoslavia began to fall apart immediately after the "demise of communism" and the end of the Cold War. In Yugoslavia, the "mutual need" that the ethnic groups shared was to prevent Soviet domination. This also moderated ethnic animosities. Once this incentive for moderation passed, however, so too did the "mutual need" that brought about the "moderation of animosities." Given Europe's history of ethnically-based animosities and wars, if the international community does not define a new "mutual need" providing new incentives to moderate animosities, repercussions could be disastrous.
The Current Challenge
The new leaders of eastern Europe face three challenges. Simultaneously, they must develop a new basis for national security, institutionalize democracy within their respective states, and create free markets. All the while, they must contend with the challenges of ethno-nationalism, which serve to debilitate the spread of democracy. Furthermore, the potential certainly exists for Balkan ethno-nationalist conflicts to spread to other states and possibly develop into inter-state skirmishes or small-scale wars.17 Even the introduction of "democracy" will not guarantee relief from ethnic turmoil. Democratic elections can cause ethnic conflict if an ethnically-pure majority uses its electoral mandate to suppress defeated minorities.18
The danger in eastern Europe today, then, is not that Poland, for example, will attempt to seize parts of Lithuania, Ukraine or some other state. It is that the situation--due to economic strife and unfulfilled expectations--will deteriorate to such a point that different regimes and dynamics will result. In essence, "the danger is a Yugoslavia writ large."19 As Snyder noted, "the structural deformities of multi-polarity mean that small disturbances will reverberate into major clashes, . . . [resulting] from the militarism and nationalism fostered by multipolar insecurity."20 Nationalism, he assured his reader, can become a powerful tool in the "anarchic conditions" that characterize eastern Europe.
Some Basic Facts to Consider on Ethno-Nationalist Conflicts
Some superb models exist for defining the dynamics of ethnic conflicts, particularly protracted ones.21 One model argues that ethnic conflicts are "identity driven", and result from a " 'fear of extinction' that grows out of the experience of being a vulnerable ethnic group living with memories of persecution and massacre." Furthermore, these fears are not reserved for ethnic minorities alone, but may also be felt, and acted upon, by ethnic pluralities, and even majority groups. The processes that these fears have the potential for setting into motion can lead to the destruction of public order, sometimes irrevocably.
The first process arises when one ethnic group dominates society by seizing control of the institutions that insure its future dominance and identity. These dominant institutions tend to conduct themselves in the manner of " 'coercive regimes,'which enjoy high compliance but low support." Since these key institutions are dominated by the ruling ethnic group, they are ill-prepared--other than by coercion--to deal with the second process common to ethnic conflict: social and political mobilization by non-dominant ethnic groups. Such a mobilization places "great strain on institutions never designed to absorb such change so rapidly," and normally leads to countermobilization by conservative members of the dominant ethnic group. This in turn "only fans the flames of ethnic conflict." The violence that both the dominant and non-dominant ethnic groups direct against one another only serves to fuel the initial "fear of extinction" that both experienced in the first place, and can eventually lead to the complete breakdown of public order.
This model offers several general conclusions, which seem to apply to events in Yugoslavia and similar places:22
1. Protracted ethnic conflict is more likely to occur if the fear of extinction is deeply and widely shared within an ethnic populace.
2. In societies with a hierarchical order of ethnic relations, the various ethnic groups are more apt to experience some fear of extinction. These societies will be more likely to become involved in ethnic conflict.
3. If the dominant ethnic group in a given state is, however, a minority regionally, than its fear of extinction will be greater. This fear is exacerbated if the regionally dominant group(s) have a proclivity towards irredentism.
4. The greater a non-dominant ethnic group mobilizes its population, the more insecure, and consequently repressive, the dominant group will become. This, in turn, increases the probability of ethnic conflict.
Another analyst described the understandable concern of ethnic groups--small and large--over their independence, individual and group rights, and the need to find "someone" to protect them. "If a new security order transcending tribalism is not found, then the much-vaunted 'New World Order' will differ little from those of the past."23 If individuals are to resist the emotional tug for security that nationalism--and other ideologies--provide, a new system must be developed that allows them to feel secure individually, outside of any particular nationalist pack.24 Consequently, just as law enforcement officers in our streets help citizens feel secure as individuals, without needing to rely on groups for their physical security, so too must a system be developed that provides a similar sense of security in the international realm. A credible system of collective security that serves to deter--and if necessary oppose--ethno-nationalist aggression of any type, will contribute significantly to individual security and regional peace.25
In the final analysis, the resolution of protracted ethnic conflicts must address the security needs of both non-dominant and dominant groups at both the local and regional levels.26 The role the international community must play is to insure that these needs are pursued without resorting to force, and/or that they are not repressed by the armed opposition of a locally- or regionally-dominant group. Thus, it is incumbent upon the international community to establish some system for evaluating the legitimacy of these nationalist agendas in order to facilitate their non-violent achievement. Evaluating legitimacy will ultimately require the international community to determine who is right and who is wrong; who the community should support, and who it should oppose. In this new environment, we must begin by defining the "enemy" in a way we have never successfully done before.
In a world of ethno-nationalist conflicts, the "enemy" that we must deter--and, if need be, oppose-- is not "who", but "what." We must shift from deterring actors to deterring actions. These actions--the "what" that needs deterring--is the use of ethno-nationalist differences in history, culture, religion or any other ethnically-based identifiers, to justify or rationalize repression or conquest, particularly when either reaches the level of genocide. The international community will not be able to oppose--with the force of arms--every human rights violation. However noble such a cause might be, the practical tools for implementing such a policy are not presently available. Tools for preventing the repression, conquest and/or extermination of an entire nation are, however, available. Nonetheless, they will only be effective if the international community organizes itself properly to make use of them. What, then, are these tools, and how should they be organized to best serve the community's interests?
II. Who should act?: Competing Balance-of-Power Systems and Their Impact on an Ethno-Nationalist World.
While the international community is certain that it is leaving the Cold War period, it is not quite certain what period it is entering. Will this age produce another Concert of Europe, or economic, ethnic and political instability, as existed during inter-war period? Although much remains to be seen in this regard, now is the time for the international community to decide how it will organize itself to reign in the potentially destructive forces of ethno-nationalist conflict before they careen out of control.
There are two realistic ways force can be used to preserve international order: "accepting and utilizing statist force as a means of preserving order, [and] restraining force through various mechanisms and processes outside of the state itself."27 The former tends more towards alliance building, while the latter involves collective security. The choice of direction states make in this regard will ultimately define who the primary actor will be in the effort to combat and deter ethno-nationalist conflict.
The Available and Competing Choices
In an international system that some describe as "semi-organized anarchy," states will seek various forms of cooperative behavior and relationships with other states to "generate strength and reduce risk," thereby taking the steps necessary for insuring their own security interests in an international system where "power tends to be the common denominator."28 With these security ends in mind, states will join alliances for three power-based motives. First, if the state's own capabilities are insufficient to achieve a particular foreign policy goal, then joining an alliance will enable them to aggregate the needed capabilities with other states. Second, a state may find that, to achieve a particular objective out of a broader-based policy, it must expend a disproportionate amount of its resources; therefore, it will seek collective action. Finally, a state may simply "go along to get along," thereby setting itself up for more favorable international treatment in the future. In short, "nations selectively join alliances to gain coldly calculated advantages in the pursuit of present and future national goals."29
The process by which nations "selectively join alliances" in pursuit of "coldly calculated advantages," however, eventually leads to the creation of balance-of-power systems for achieving states' goals and providing for a "stable" international environment. The degree of "stability" that a balance-of-power system provides, however, will vary with the perspective of each individual state.
In an illuminating discussion on balance-of-power theories, one authority outlined four distinct balance-of-power systems, each based on a combination of two distinct dimensions:30 a distribution of capabilities and a distribution of attitudes. Distribution of capabilities is best described as the degree to which the means to wage war are distributed among states. Those means can be concentrated in the hands of only a few, such as was the case in the bi-polar world, or relatively well distributed among many states, with no single state or group of states maintaining the preponderance of these means. The latter characterizes a multipolar world. Distribution of attitudes refers to the degree to which individual states share the same values and goals, and also touches upon state expectations of other states around it. Where state value systems and expectations coincide, the distribution is considered low; whereas, high distribution of attitudes usually means low consensus concerning values and expectations and, therefore, greater potential for conflict.
Of the four possible combinations of distributions, a "tight bi-polar world," in which there is a low distribution of power and a high distribution of attitudes, holds the greatest potential for highly destructive conflict.31 This was characterized by the Cold War when it was at its height in the 1950's and 60's. In these instances, minor conflicts can turn into major struggles for survival. These, in turn, can unleash enormously violent and destructive wars. The combination which appears to be most stable and leads toward consensus and away from conflict is the balance-of-power system that evidences a high distribution of capabilities, yet a low distribution of attitudes. This is exemplified by a genuine multipolar world, or a system similar to the 19th Century Concert of Europe.
The shift from the Concert of Europe system to a tight bipolar system during the years immediately preceding WWI played a significant role in causing that war. The authors of this text left the precise cause of such a shift unclear, except to say that "movement away from a balance of power system usually starts with some nation or nations violating the accepted rules of the game."32 One could credibly argue that the "tight bipolar" system that characterized pre-WWI--oriented around the Triple Entente (British-French-Russian) and the Triple Alliance (German-Italian-Austro-Hungarian)--was immediately preceded by an "entente" balance of power system, where both a high distribution of capabilities and attitudes existed. This was the situation after the Congress of Berlin, but before the major powers began coalescing in the alliance systems that would eventually fight the World War. Suffice to say that the "entente" balance-of-power system, while not the most potentially destructive, was the least stable principally because of its high distribution of both capabilities and attitudes. Ultimately, attempts to bring more "order" and perceived "stability" to the international situation eventually caused the international community to move into the tight bi-polar system of alliances that existed immediately preceding WWI.
Today, we have just emerged from a period of loose bi-polarity and are entering a period in which the distribution of capabilities among states is clearly at the higher end of the spectrum. While one could argue that the relatively low distribution of nuclear and high technology weaponry signifies that the distribution of capabilities is low, this would only be true if measured and judged at the macro-level. At the micro-level, however, where ethno-nationalist conflicts will almost entirely (if we are lucky) take place, the distribution of capabilities is high indeed and, given current capabilities of arms merchants, distribution is likely to stay high for some time.
Furthermore, ethnic tensions that now seem to permeate much of the world--and in particular Europe--by definition signify that a high distribution of attitudes exist. This return to an "entente" balance-of-power system is just as it was at the end of the 19th Century--the least stable situation. Thus, the main challenge is to rectify this unstable situation. Will we return to the tight bi-polar world that immediately preceded WWI, or will we opt for a Concert of Europe solution? It is unlikely that we will move to a tight bi-polar system any time in the near future. If, however, by choosing the Concert of Europe system the community will ultimately evolve into bi-polarity in the mid- to long-term as it did in the 19th Century, then the international community should consider another option.
The Concert of Europe mechanism for maintaining peace has proven historically to be much less reliable for handling tensions than some seem to think. The narrowness of views that the alliances were beginning to take during the digressive "entente" years leading up to 1914 and the bi-polar rigidity of the alignments that eventually developed during those same years, robbed the balance-of-power security system "of the fluidity that theory--and apparently practice--required for [its] effective operation."33 Given the potential for irrationality and miscalculation in state decision-making, "a system in which coalescence of states depended on the coincidence of particular national interests, rather than recognition of general interest in keeping the peace,"34 could not then, and can not now, be relied upon to deter aggression. In effect, the much-vaunted Concert of Europe "was more a state of mind than an organized security system," and the inconsistent manner in which it was put to use proved "indifferently effective."35
Furthermore, while the age of the Concert was void of world war, it was anything but a period of peace. The period 1815-1914 was filled with colonial and civil wars, and "the revolutions of 1830 and 1848 showed that forces of nationalism were building within the womb of dynastic legitimacy . . . , [and] would eventually require all governments to justify themselves on the basis of appeals to nationalism and mass patriotism."36
Finally, the most fundamental problem with seeking a Concert of Europe balance-of-power solution in a multi-polar world is that this approach tends to assume--even seek--the existence of opposing coalitions that balance one another's power. Such a Concert can, ultimately, drive states towards confrontation instead of away from it and can ultimately lead to the relatively sudden creation of a tight bi-polar world, as it did in the years leading up to WWI. Such a path seems to be eliminating any attempt to seek common ground as an international community. The only way to seek this international common ground and still oppose any aggressor state that would violate collective agreements would be to seek a broad collective security system. Under such a system the two opposing forces become those states that violated the common ground, on the one hand, and those who will act collectively to oppose such violation on the other. The UN is the only focal point for further international integration of security operations.
The UN as the Agent of International Action
The UN's raison d'etre is to safeguard international peace and stability. Its founders' aspiration " 'to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war' is enshrined in the opening lines of the UN Charter."37 Consequently, the primary responsibility of the UN, as outlined in the UN Charter, is first and foremost security. Although primarily a political body, its original rationale was to enforce all laws prohibiting war and the use of force in international relations.38
The UN Charter authorizes collective action to restore international peace, "with or without the consent of the parties to a conflict."39 Chapter 7 of the UN Charter provides "an effective set of teeth" for carrying out the concept of collective security. Specifically, Art 42 empowers the Security Council to "take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security."40
From the beginning, this collective security concept presupposed the existence of an effective Security Council. While Cold War realities limited the Council's effectiveness, the post-cold war environment, lacking ideological differences and clashing superpower national interests, should be more conducive to these original expectations and intentions. The major challenge for today, then, is to convince the international community that it is in each state's mid- to long-term national interest to support collective security, even if in the short- term this may not always appear to be the case.
This support for collective security should not be tied exclusively, or even primarily, to the conduct of peacekeeping operations, even though they may appear to some to be the primary UN mode of operation. The UN founders initially intended for peace enforcement (Chapter 7) to be the primary collective security action of the UN; however, this shifted to peacekeeping (Chapter 6) as a result of the ideological differences among the superpowers on the Security Council.41 If the new environment can be preserved, then, can the international community revert to the UN's original emphasis on peace enforcement?
The two classic examples of UN peace enforcement operations are Korea and the Gulf War.42 Even while some authors may classify the Gulf War as an "errant example" of the UN's potential role in the new world order, others see it as an example of what the UN can accomplish when it acts collectively.43 UN-sanctioned operations like the Gulf War clearly fulfill the expectations of Art 1 of the UN Charter by providing for "effective collective measures" to remove "threats to peace" and suppress "acts of aggression."44
Perhaps the most important aspect of the Gulf War, however, was that it was possible only because the US and USSR--the two permanent members of the Security Council primarily responsible for years of Security Council stalemate--cooperated. This type of cooperation is vital for establishing a "new world order"; or, as two noteworthy analysts wrote, "a world in which nations will be secure because of the capacity of the United Nations to guarantee their security through collective [security] measures."45
It is important to make some distinctions here concerning the UN Charter and the UN perspective on the use of force in international relations. Because the UN Charter prohibits the use of force in international relations, it does not distinguish between periods of war and periods of peace. Instead, it describes the state of international relations using the actions of states as its basis.
Under the Charter, there is only one legal situation in international relations, that of sovereign equality of states, each entitled to freedom from either aggression against its territory or intervention in its domestic affairs. Acts are to be characterized as legal or illegal according as they are consistent with, or violative of, these conditions of peaceful co-existence established by the Charter.46
Should hostilities break out, the Charter authorizes UN organs to determine the aggressor, recognize the rights of the defender, and exercise such powers as are necessary to restore peace, to include belligerent intervention in hostilities themselves.
One observer correctly asked whether or not the UN is authorized to intervene in the internal affairs of sovereign states. Even in cases of "humanitarian intervention," he noted, to do so requires explicitly recognizable and unambiguous reasons, and must be carefully carried out. Nonetheless, he also acknowledged that, in certain circumstances, only UN intervention is appropriate, and may even be labeled as obligatory.47
Regarding legal conflicts between intervention and domestic jurisdiction, which is generally protected under the UN Charter, the UN has authority where states do not simply because it has access to means and ends not available to individual states. The UN is authorized to intervene in situations that might otherwise be labeled as "domestic jurisdiction" when it sees "minority oppression" as constituting a threat to international peace.48 Not only does the Charter preclude individual states from intervention, or any other enforcement action (defined as "the use of diplomatic, economic or military sanctions"), but Article 53 of the Charter also specifically precludes regional organizations and agencies from undertaking such actions without express authorization by the Security Council.49
Thus, the only legal way to intervene in a sovereign state's affairs to prevent civil strive from turning into international hostilities, is through collective action under the auspices of the UN. Such action is provided for, and authorized, by the UN Charter. However, principally because individual states are precluded from intervening in the affairs of other states, such a prohibition "imposes the burden upon the states collectively to intervene through the United Nations to stop civil strife whenever, in the judgement of the United Nations, it threatens international peace."50 Failure to live up to this obligation invites intervention and counter-intervention by individual states or alliances that are concerned--legitimately or otherwise--with the situation at hand. Nevertheless, UN planners must insure that the political goal of intervention is clearly defined before the intervention begins, even if the reasons appear to be clearly based on the need to "step into civil war for reasons of international security."51
Even though the UN appears to possess a clear mandate to address these types of security issues, it has hitherto not dealt with ethnic-based, domestic issues to any significant degree. In addition to Cold War influences, another factor restricting UN actions is the relationship between nations and states. Since the UN is primarily an organization of states and not nations, and those same states often feel "threatened" by the claims of nations (minorities), it has generally been states' policy to keep "national" issues off the UN agenda. Ethnic issues have made it onto the UN agenda, however, and the UN has become involved by passing resolutions regarding ethnic conflicts. Nonetheless, the UN has lacked mechanisms for enforcing those resolutions; therefore, as one Secretary General has admitted, it "often finds itself unable to take decisive action to resolve conflicts and its resolutions are increasingly ignored by those who feel themselves strong enough to do so."52
More importantly, the UN has decided to deal with ethnic issues on an individual, and not a group, level. In other words, individuals have a right to linguistic and cultural development, as well as the right not to be discriminated against; however, minority groups, as such, are not granted the same rights as a group by UN declarations and mandates."53
While genocide seems to be an exception to this rule, the UN record on taking firm action in this regard is abysmal. Now, however, documented support exists for collective UN action against the crime of genocide--described as any "actions with the intent to destroy, in whole or part, a 'national, ethnic, racial or religious group.' "54 Actions deemed criminal in nature would include: "killing members of a group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to a group; deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated to result in the physical destruction of a group; and actions to prevent births within a group or the physical transfer of children out of a group."55 To accomplish this, however, will require a much more potent UN.
Clearly, such a characterization of UN authorizations and of domestic treatment of ethnic minorities makes the UN the only legally and internationally sanctioned body that can take firm action against ethno-nationalist conflict. Only the UN has the international authority to deter or, if necessary, act against this newfound "enemy".
Perhaps the natural state of the international system best explains why a stronger UN is necessary to achieve stability--especially in this time of ethno-nationalist conflicts. The international system "creates powerful incentives for aggression," with its anarchic nature serving as the root cause. Further, "in anarchy, there is no higher body or sovereign that protects states from one another."56 Consequently, every state does what it must to fend for itself in a potentially hostile world. Therefore, to avoid every state in the world from bankrupting itself while maintaining a military capability that will indeed enable it to "fend for itself," more must be done in the way of collective security.
Some have rejected the notion that collective security--particularly, universal collective security--was ever the original intent of the UN founders, or that it was ever genuinely feasible. They have argued that the UN has never consisted "of states eager to take part in a collective security system," and that there have always been certain aspects involving the obligations of these actions that statesmen have found unacceptable. Consequently, for statesmen to find these obligations now acceptable, their respective states must find the self-motivation that makes them "convinced of the wisdom of, and willing to pay the price of participation in, the universal enforcement of the antiaggression rule."57
Without necessarily agreeing with this interpretation of the original intent of the UN founders, one must nonetheless acknowledge the accuracy of the last statement. Certainly, the UN Secretary General, the Security Council, or the General Assembly will never, as individual actors, succeed in bringing about a stronger UN collective security role. Such a measure must be initiated by the states themselves, particularly the five permanent members. Consequently, since the cost of agreeing to such a loss of "sovereignty" is potentially very high, states must first be convinced that for legal, moral, and--most illusive of all--"pragmatic" reasons, it is in their own best national interest to oppose any "enemy," as defined for this age of ethno-nationalist conflict, and that the best vehicle for doing so is the UN.
III. Should We Act? Is It Really in Our Best National Interest?
Before a state will commit forces, as one critic has noted, four conditions must be addressed: is there a moral premise; is the military action in the state's national interest; does a reasonable chance of success exist; and, can the state muster sufficient domestic support for the action? Accordingly, in the current Balkans crisis only the condition of moral outrage clearly exists, but this is not enough for statesmen to act. "When they command the youth of their countries to face death in battle, there must be compelling national interests to justify the sacrifice."58 Indeed, this statement goes to the very heart of the matter at hand. Even if statesmen are morally outraged by what they see, should they commit the very life-blood of their nation to a cause that is not in the best interests of their nation? Could they ever gain domestic support if it were not? Indeed, without that domestic support, could they accurately consider any such action as being within the national interest if, at one in the same time, it tears the nation asunder domestically?
In this age of ethno-nationalist conflict, we will need to ask ourselves such questions repeatedly. Certainly, ethno-nationalist conflict is not a phenomenon that will voluntarily go its merry way back down the path of history from whence it came. Instead, it is destined to remain like a leprous sore that will fester and eat away at the core of the international community if that same community does not take firm steps to cleanse itself of the filth that continues to contaminate the sore. While the answer to this problem does not lie entirely within the realm of armed security measures (as economics have certainly played a major role in the history of ethno-nationalist problems), internationally-sanctioned deterrence and, when necessary, armed intervention will necessarily play a significant role in quelling the current wave of ethno-nationalist violence. Whether or not such action is in the best interest of the "international community" is not the question; most observers are certain that it is. What is substantially less certain, however, is whether such action is in the national interest of any given individual state that is not already directly involved in the conflict itself. History shows that, while it may not always appear so in the short-term, in the mid- to long-term, international action to deter and, if necessary, oppose the "enemies" of ethno-nationalist conflict, is clearly in the national interest of individual states. If these states wish to salvage the very international community whose best interest they clearly see as being threatened, then no other conclusion can be reached.
The International Community and the Minority Issue in History.
The international community has been grappling with the issue of minority rights since 1878, although relatively ineffectively. The minority treaties concluded after WWI to cover the successor states in eastern Europe did little to resolve this issue. As a result, "powerful states assumed the task of protecting their national minorities living under the authority of other states . . . ." In the case of Nazi Germany, "minority rights were a stepping stone to the creation of . . . a Europe dominated by the Third Reich."59
Woodrow Wilson was among the first to see the direct linkage between defending ethnic minority rights and providing for security and stability of the international community as a whole. Wilson felt that the Great Powers had a significant role to play in this regard. He pointed out that insuring such rights was not simply for "humanitarian" reasons. Instead, it was for the very pragmatic reason that, to fail to do so would adversely affect the stability and security of the European continent, the maintaining of which was clearly in the national interest of the Great Powers. To quote Wilson:
We are trying to make a peaceful settlement, that is to say, to eliminate those elements of disturbance so far as possible which may interfere with the peace of the world, and we are trying to make an equitable distribution of territories according to the race, the ethnographical character of the people inhabiting these territories . . . . We can not afford to guarantee territorial settlements which we do not believe to be right, and we can not agree to leave elements of disturbance unremoved, which we believe will disturb the peace of the world. Take the rights of minorities. Nothing I venture to say is more likely to disturb the peace of the world than the treatment which might, in certain cases, be meted out to minorities. And therefore, if the Great Powers are to guarantee the peace of the world in any sense is it unjust that they should be satisfied that the proper and necessary guarantees have been given?60
The minority treaties established in the wake of the Treaties ending WWI sought to put into place, and then insure, the very minority rights that Wilson spoke of. It was "assuredly, a forward-looking procedure, [that] attempted to make it possible for peoples of different races, nationalities, and religions to live together in one state and still enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."61 From the very start, however, many of the signatories of the various minority treaties tried to sabotage these treaties, as they "irked their national pride", and the signatories viewed them as an "infringement of their sovereignty." More importantly, when the signatories began intentionally violating these treaties, neither the League as a collective, nor any other state or organization, attempted to uphold their provisions. "From then on the whole minority system went into a rapid decline. Instead of reason and consultation, force became the arbiter."62
The purpose of the League was first and foremost to preserve peace, initially through a collective security system. With the failure of the Geneva Protocol (an attempt to link security decisions to decisions made by the World Court, or through arbitration), however, attempts to strengthen the League through multilateral action came to an end. Instead, "a host of bilateral nonaggression pacts and treaties of friendship, of neutrality, of arbitration, of conciliation, or of mutual assistance now came into being."63
That the League did not succeed in preventing violence in the inter-war years, nor in preventing the initiation of WWII, should not lead to its cynical dismissal as a model for the contemporary world. Failure of the League of Nations to deal effectively with German, Japanese and Italian violations of the world order of the day neither proves nor disproves the viability of UN collective security. "The League of Nations may have failed because it was never sincerely tried." In the final analysis, "states dissatisfied with the status quo in the 1930's did not fear either major power or League collective counterintervention to discourage their ambitions."64 Most important, however, it was the states that comprised the League--together with an isolationist United States--that provided Germany, Japan and Italy with an international environment, within which they could feel free to operate. It was the states, and not the League as an organization, that created this environment by never genuinely supporting the League's authority. This is a lesson that the UN as an organization, as well as the states that comprise it, should pay close attention to as the UN's credibility and authority fall into ill-repute in the face of nationalist-inspired aggression.
Ethnicity, Nationalism and Fascism in the Interwar Period.
It is important to acknowledge up front that global economic nationalism, both before and after the onslaught of the Great Depression in America, played a significant role in fostering the political nationalism and authoritarianism that was to experience significant growth throughout the poorer parts of Europe during the 1920's and 30's.65 As today's international community attempts to deal with the recent spate of ethno-nationalist tensions and conflicts, this lesson should not go unnoticed. Dictators can indeed rise to power on the empty bellies of their "constituencies," although this is by no means their only source of rallying support. Through the cunning use of history, the nationalist dictator can gain or solidify his rise to power, with the result far too often being detrimental to the international community at large. This was the case with the inter-war period and rise to power of expansionist fascism.
Part of the problem of responding against Hitler, and others, was that the upsurge of malevolent nationalism did not lie entirely within the borders of Japan, Italy and Germany, nor even solely in the person of Hitler. Historians have pointed out that, even without the likes of Hitler, the makings existed in the world at that time for the sorts of wars that began to spread in 1939-1941. While Hitler certainly performed brilliantly in fostering his particular brand of ethnic fervor, the performances would have gone for nought had the ground in Germany at that time not been extremely fertile for Hitler to plant the seeds of malevolent nationalism. Hitler, the reader should never forget, "was the supremely disgusting example of something which was not so alien to the European mentality: the tendency to put different kinds of people into different sealed categories and then treat them differently."66 Current events leave one hard pressed to conclude that this particular characteristic has sufficiently changed, or that it is a characteristic peculiar to Europe.
Another historian characterized the hard nationalism and fascism that Hitler personified as "a movement of nationalist and racial violence," and noted when writing his book in the late 1960's that "in an age of economic stability in which nationalist and racial hatreds are declining in Europe, [Fascism] is not likely to recur as a mass movement."67 One should ask, however, what the likelihood is of fascism recurring "as a mass movement," now that significant parts of Europe are in an age of economic instability, and nationalist and racial hatreds are again on the rise?
Fascists of the inter-war period hated democracy, liberalism and the political parties that came with them. In fact, they wanted to eliminate them all and replace them with authoritarian and corporative states. Fascist parties were characteristically elitist in nature, and instituted single-party states in which the state and party hierarchies overlapped significantly. Many fascists considered themselves to be "called upon to save and to lead their nation," and made significant use of para-military organizations and militias to achieve this destiny. These fascist movements made use of an ideology that served as a "powerful myth, a myth of the nation and their race." Internationally, these movements "usually took the form of territorial expansion as the greater goal, . . . [and] glorified and venerated the past . . . ."68
In retrospect, once an authoritarian state reached this condition, the international community should have acted; not just to halt or hinder any single dictator, but also to signal other espousing dictators, together with those states that wished to remain at peace, that nationalist-inspired aggression would not be condoned. Failing to take this stand in the inter-war years resulted in bloodshed far beyond that which may very well have happened had a common stand been taken. Failing to do so again can lead to a repeat of history in the not-too-distant future. In both cases, the loss of credibility associated with failure to take a stand against nationalist territorial expansion (or repression) will lead others to become bolder in their actions, and less concerned with the pressures of the international community. As the reader will see in the next section, the key factor has been, and will become again, maintaining international will--a not so easy task to achieve.
Maintaining the Will and Unity to Oppose Aggression.
The problem of maintaining peace after a war is not so such keeping down the defeated and disarmed nation as it is a problem of holding together the victorious coalition.69
Such was a major problem for the victorious WWI allies when it came to opposing the rise of aggressive nationalism during the interwar period. Many complex factors interacted to collapse the victorious WWI coalition, "among them jealousies, unfulfilled national desires, conflicting . . . demands, [and] insistence upon equality."70 Furthermore, even while the League members watched as several fledgling democracies fell victim to dictatorship and authoritarianism, they never had, nor devised, some method for dealing with them. These, they felt, "were a matter of internal concern."71
British foreign policy throughout the interwar period can be summed up in the word "appeasement." Over the course of that period, however, its foundation changed from one of compassion to one of fear. It was "a range of attitudes stretching from the desire to be fair and decent to a defeated foe to the policy of buying off a resurgent one."72 While the object of British appeasement in the 1920's was Weimar Germany, in the 1930's it was Nazi Germany; its aim went from achieving justice to merely safety; while it meant reducing reparations and fostering equal rights for Germans in the 1920's, the consequence of appeasement in the 1930's was "turning a blind eye to German ambitions and what these cost other people (especially Czechoslovakia). Munich, where Czechoslovakia was sacrificed, became synonymous with betrayal . . . ."73
The only man in Neville Chamberlain's government who opposed an appeasement strategy was the Foreign Secretary, Anthony Eden. "Equally desirous of avoiding war, Eden believed that this could be achieved not by appeasing the dictators, but by rallying together all of the nations of Europe . . . in firm resistance . . . ."74 In the final analysis, however, Chamberlain wholeheartedly disagreed with his Foreign Secretary and chose appeasement over collective opposition. Chamberlain feared that "collective action would provoke the dictators to war, whereas . . . appeasement would lead to a workable peaceful settlement."75
Although one can criticize the British for choosing appeasement, one must also acknowledge that they did so under conditions in which they were forced, in essence, to act alone. What they lacked, first and foremost, was commitment from France and the United States to support or join them in opposing Hitler. They also lacked any sort of workable European alliance system which they could look to for help.76
"To the ordinary American it appeared that, although there might be a moral case for helping the democracies to defeat Nazism, there were no strategic issues of self-interest which required the United States to make war."77 For France--to an extent much greater than that felt in Britain--the understandable post-WWI feeling was never overcome that "nothing could be solved by war and that almost any compromise was preferable to another conflagration."78 Furthermore, within both Great Britain and France, but particularly in France, there was no domestic support for "a vigorous foreign policy." Having lost a generation in WWI, France perceived itself as safe and secure behind the "impervious" Maginot Line--the ultimate guarantee of their "national interests."79 WWII, however, showed that the short-term views expressed above can be easily, and dangerously, turned on their heads in the mid- to long-term. It would be disastrous for today's international community to repeat this same mistake.
Some observers of pre-WWII Europe have identified the remilitarization of the Rhineland as the decisive point in the failure of the Great Powers to deter an expansionist-minded Hitler and not the 1938 Munich agreement on the fate of Czechoslovakia. England, historians have noted, "was unwilling to take a stand, and France reluctantly gave way," all of which, in turn, greatly encouraged Hitler.80 Furthermore, British and French reluctance to take a stand against expansionist Japan in the east was just as harmful. Since "the territorial integrity of China was not of paramount importance to them," and since their own vital national interests lay to the south, neither Britain nor France (nor the US, one must hasten to add) took decisive military action of any type to quell this wave of expansionism.81 Once again, the short-term view proved disastrous.
When faced with the choice of upholding the Covenant of the League of Nations by opposing the Italian conquest of Ethiopia, or appeasing Italian desires at the expense of Ethiopia in order to preclude Mussolini from joining Hitler (at that time still in question), Britain and France chose the latter option. Consequently, as a result of their unwillingness to see the matter of opposing Mussolini through, the latter gained Ethiopia, ultimate alliance with Hitler, and a free hand to operate, all without experiencing the costs of facing a determined opposition. In the end, attempts to resolve this matter by invoking only sanctions was a failure, and in turn "discredited the League and the mechanisms of collective security and created a mood of pessimism."82
Earlier statements notwithstanding, many historians still hold that it was the failure of Britain and France to support Czechoslovakia in 1938 that provided Hitler with the go-ahead signal that he was looking for in Europe. Convinced that they were unprepared to act in support of Czechoslovakia, Britain demurred.83 War could only be averted, British policy-makers felt, if Germany and Czechoslovakia came to an agreement. As the weaker state, Czechoslovakia was to be pressured by Great Britain.84 "The logic of British policy was to inflict the consequences of war and defeat on Czechoslovakia in the hope of saving everybody else."85
But this rationale has never had complete and utter--or even strong--support, and the reasoning behind it has failed the test of historical scrutiny. The authors of Total War have made the case that, had Britain and France decided to join Czechoslovakia in defending her territorial integrity, events in Europe could have been quite different. That all was not as hopeless as many had apparently convinced themselves at the crucial moment.86 Furthermore, "no less an authority then Churchill" concluded that "in terms of military strength, 'the year's breathing-space said to be 'gained' by Munich left Britain and France in a much worse position compared to Hitler's Germany than they had been at the Munich crisis.' "87
Consequently, with this clear record of appeasement in mind, it should be no surprise to the reader that Hitler was not deterred by later British-French guarantees of Polish national sovereignty. Well aware of the British determination to reach a peaceful settlement over the question of Danzig, Hitler was not deterred from attempting to fulfill his intentions vis-a-vis Poland. Naively, the French and British never intended to exercise this guarantee, and viewed it merely as a means for gaining time and "deterring" Hitler.88 It was this misperception that deterrence could somehow be separated from a demonstrated willingness and capability to engage in battle that brought Britain and France face to face with the choice between living up to their guarantee, or suffering irreparable damage to what little was left of their credibility.
However, French and British appeasement not only influenced Hitler's decisions; appeasement of nationalist expansionism also led to nationalist expansionism by other states. The dismemberment of Czechoslovakia after the Munich agreement involved not only Germany but Poland and Hungary as well--in direct contravention of decisions previously implemented under the League of Nations.89 Furthermore, there is compelling evidence that British and French appeasement of Hitler convinced the Soviet leadership that they would be unreliable "allies" against Hitler, and consequently prompted Stalin to conclude the non-aggression pact with Hitler.90 Finally, it did much to undermine the confidence of minor European states that they would receive any help in opposing Hitler. "If France did not fight to stop the remilitarization of the Rhineland, would she move to prevent Hitler's march eastward?"91 As the international community faces the renewed challenge of ethno-nationalism today, it should bear in mind that these types of indirect, and obviously unintended, consequences can result from a lack of committed action.
Linking History to the Present.
If we are to exploit these lessons of the past, we must determine the linkages and commonalities with today. The dangers and conflicts that nationalism brought about in the first half of this century are also explained by the "Macedonian syndrome," in which "weak, modernizing states . . . were often captured by ethnic groups, the military and intellectuals touting nationalist themes as tools for their parochial purposes."92 The "irredentist nationalism" that ensued often embroiled them in international conflicts with their neighbors, which in turn helped to spread the fire of nationalism in various nation-states. This self-feeding cycle of nationalism and international conflict is apparently much stronger, historically, in eastern Europe than in other parts of the world, probably as a result of the "prevalence of ethnic irredenta" that existed in this region--a pattern that exists today as well.
John Mearsheimer argued in early 1990 that the end of the Cold War would lead to the end of the bi-polar world and its replacement by a multi-polar world much more prone to violence than its predecessor.93 In his view, it was the multi-polarity of the interwar years, and "the existence of many dyads of potential conflict [that] provided many possible ways to light the fuse to war in Europe."94 More importantly, however, he provided a compelling argument that US, British and French failure to take decisive actions to deter and oppose Germany did much to bring on Hitler's drive towards expansionism.
Mearsheimer also emphasized the role of the existing international multi-polar structure and concluded that the hyper-nationalism that helped bring about the wars of pre-1945 "was caused in large part by security competition among the European states, which compelled European elites to mobilize publics to support national defense efforts."95 Consequently, so-called "soft nationalism" could indeed be turned into "hard nationalism" as a result of the interworkings and structure of the international security system. As the international community struggles to define new interworkings and a new structure for the modern-day international security system, this lesson from history should not be forgotten. As discussed earlier in this paper, a new system must aspire to become one based on mutual need and support, and not counterbalancing coalitions.
In an earlier work, Mearsheimer provided three reasons why France and Britain were not able to deter Germany from attacking France in 1940. The first seems most relevant to today's situation since it applies to communicating intent, capability and resolve. Conventional wisdom of the time was that the German Army enjoyed overwhelming military superiority vis-a-vis France and Britain. In the words of Marshal Petain, "when battle was joined, all we had to set against this superiority were words of encouragement and hope."96 In that post-war research has indicated that such superiority did not, in fact, exist, one must question the degree to which Petain's attitude prevailed, and to what degree Germany was aware of this perceived inferiority.
Obviously, Germany intended to nourish such a picture of French and British helplessness; consequently, French defeatism could not help but to encourage German aggressiveness. Furthermore, as Mearsheimer pointed out in his third reason for the failure of deterrence, French failure to fight effectively against German blitzkrieg tactics did much to bolster German resolve to shift from a strategy of achieving limited aims in France, to that of overwhelming victory and conquest.97 These two lessons underscore the need for today's states to maintain well-trained and well-equipped armed forces, together with a comprehensive plan for their employment, as a clear indicator of their resolve and capability to react effectively against aggression. These steps would do much to bolster the significance of deterrence, particularly if improvement could be achieved at the level of UN deployment planning, together with command and control.
The events and actions that directly or indirectly led to the outbreak of hostilities are only part of the question to be answered in this section linking national interests to collective international security. Moral issues are also important. We must ask ourselves, retrospectively, whether 50 million dead in WWII was a just price to pay to defeat Hitler, and if it was the "right" and moral thing to do. If one agrees that it was, then, "with hindsight, it would have been even more right if they had made their determination clear, and acted upon it, five years earlier. This is the case for deterrence."98 In other words, we should value deterrence based on the price to be paid in the event deterrence fails, or is never wholeheartedly tried. For deterrence to work effectively in this new age, the price we are willing to pay for it must match that which we are willing to pay should we go to war. In the long-term, the final costs will inevitably be lower.
An historical look at mankind's motives for waging war is also instructive. In his exhaustive study on The Causes of War, Geoffrey Blainey summarizes the factors that often bring about war, based upon an in-depth study of numerous and various instances when states turned to war to resolve their disputes. Three of his points are particularly cogent to the discussion in this paper(*). According to Blainey:
In deciding for war or peace national leaders appear to be strongly influenced by at least six factors:
1. military strength and the ability to apply that strength efficiently in the likely theater of war;
2. predictions of how outside nations will behave if war should occur*;
3. perceptions of whether there is internal unity or discord in their land and in the land of the enemy*;
4. nationalism and ideology*;
5. the state of the economy and also its ability to sustain the kind of war envisaged; and,
6. the personality and experience of those who shared in the decision.99
Further, Blainey noted that civil war was most likely to become internationalized when one side had "ideological, racial or other links with an outside nation," and that "the peace movement is . . . a double-edged sword and is capable, even with the noblest of intentions, of promoting war as well as peace."100
Similarly, in the summary of his highly acclaimed work, Man, The State, and War, Kenneth N. Waltz pointed out that just "as the Western democracies became more inclined to peace, [and] Hitler became more belligerent, [so too] the increased propensity to peace of some participants of international politics [today] may increase, rather than decrease, the likelihood of war."101 Some may see the road to war prevention paved by pacification; however, while such action "might be a real contribution to world peace, . . . it might as easily hasten the coming of another major war."102
Waltz went on to describe Rousseau's image of war. In essence, war among states, like people committing bank robbery, is likely to increase as the level of prohibition decreases, and as fewer people and other states fight to prevent it. According to Waltz, "wars occur because there is nothing to prevent them." In general, there are numerous man- and state-made "causes" of war that are always present, but these are applied only when a state feels "inclined to put their proficiency [at warfighting] to the test."103 The inclination to test this warfighting ability will surely increase as the international community decreases its resolve to oppose such experimentation.
While some apparently have concluded that the new age of highly destructive weaponry has brought about war's extinction, Waltz has warned that "the fear of modern weapons, [and] of the danger of destroying the civilizations of the world, is not sufficient to establish the conditions of peace . . . ." As John Foster Dulles often warned, "peace can be a cover whereby evil men perpetuate diabolical wrongs."104 And not to be outdone by his 20th Century fellow-statesman, Alexander Hamilton wrote in the Federalist Papers, "to presume a lack of hostile motives among states is to forget that men are 'ambitious, vindictive, and rapacious.' "105
Waltz concluded that as long as these shortcomings exist in the nature of states and the men who run them, then "war will be perpetually associated with the existence of separate sovereign states."106 Waltz later added that, "no matter how good their intentions, policy makers must bear in mind the implications" of the world of international anarchy in which they live. To wit, "Each state pursues its own interests, however defined, in ways it judges best. Force is a means of achieving the external ends of states because there exists no consistent, reliable process of reconciling the conflicts of interest that inevitably arise among similar units in a condition of anarchy."107
What Blainey and Waltz are both highlighting is that the use of force will never become extinct. Accepting that, the only means for keeping it under control, then, is to oppose it. To do otherwise can result in its running rampant, with exacerbated potentialities when associated with ethno-nationalism. That being the case, the international community must work hard to develop an effective deterrent, or be ready to deal with the resultant bloodshed of other, possibly large, conflagrations. With this in mind, a quick historical overview of the effectiveness of deterrent forces would be instructive.
One aggregate study of seven case studies on US use of military forces as an extension of political or diplomatic suasion, drew the following two conclusions: when previous use of military force in a region was only political in nature, its subsequent use as a deterrent had little effect on the target state; however, when the previous use of military force in a region included actual involvement in conflicts, then subsequent discrete uses for deterrent effect proved to show favorable outcomes. The results of this study showed that "the willingness to engage in violence seems to have been the key" to establishing the credibility of a deterrent force.108
More recently, one analyst has pointed out that stability in western Europe since 1945 has "had much to do with war weariness and the absence of unresolved irredentist and nationalist grievances, except . . . between Greece and Turkey in Southern Europe."109 The economics of security, however, particularly as it relates to domestic concerns, has also been important. Certainly, " a state that cannot guarantee welfare to its citizens cannot count on the loyalty of its armed forces in an age of nationalism, economic interdependency, and mass communications."110 In this sense, the "absence of unresolved . . . nationalist grievances" is as much a result of the economic stability achieved in western Europe, as it is an after affect of war weariness. In fact, one might argue that successful economic growth ultimately played the greatest, and most significant, role in this regard. Obviously, war weariness did not prevent nationalist grievances from erupting into war in the 1930's, whereas economic nationalism (isolationism), as noted above, did have a good deal to do with setting the stage for those eruptions. Therefore, one must consider what factors have come into place that have enabled western Europe to experience this last period of sufficiently peaceful economic growth.
While there have been several contributing factors, among the most prominent is that emphasized by Cimballa: "US security commitments to western Europe were necessary conditions for the development of a larger than statist sense of economic interdependency and political community."111 Consequently, if economic stability is a key to preventing, or at least retarding, the malevolent spread of nationalism throughout economically distraught eastern Europe, then a key to providing the conditions for such economic growth lie in providing physical security as the US and NATO on the whole have done for western Europe since 1945. Now, however, that security must be provided in a different manner and with a different focus than in the previous half century.
In other words, "under what security umbrella, and supported by which security guarantees, will eastern Europe enter the twenty-first century?"112 Since military security and political stability are greatly dependent upon affordable defense, adequate welfare, and economic growth, devising systems that help bring about these conditions is key to achieving and maintaining future stability. Consequently, such an effort should be the long-term focus of the international community's most prestigious body--the UN.113 While adequate welfare and economic growth are not direct topics of this paper, that of affordable defense clearly is. To survive, the new democracies must rely, in part, on a collective security system if they are to avoid using up their scarce economic wealth on defense out of a fear of vulnerability. It is up to the international community to assist them in eliminating any such fear. The community must be careful, however, to do so as an international instrument, and not as any exclusive part thereof, lest it risk provoking the very confrontation it seeks to avoid.
This provides a "pragmatic" reason why the international community must become directly involved in guaranteeing security for individual states. Other reasons, while not as tangible, are certainly as important (if not more so) in the long-term. The primary reason why eastern and southeastern Europe are important to US and west European interests must lie in the belief that the "security for individuals, groups, nations and states" in these parts of Europe are just as important as in western Europe. For it to be otherwise would weaken "the whole fabric of a 'Europe whole and free.' "114
Finally, the ultimate link between history and the present lies in determining whether history has rendered deterrence a futile gesture, as some appear to have concluded. If all attempts at deterrence are nothing more than futile gestures, then they are doomed to failure. Dealing with the aftermath of this failure will require combat ready armed forces. Regardless, it is senseless to think one can attempt to deter in order to avoid the need for combat preparedness. One historian's retrospective view of deterrence and its impact upon Hitler is instructive in this regard.
According to Donald Cameron Watt, nothing could have deterred or stopped Hitler from carrying out his aggressive desires except his own generals (other evidence to the contrary notwithstanding). "Hitler willed, wanted, craved war and the destruction wrought by war. He did not want the war he got. Its origins lay through his own miscalculations and misperceptions, as much as through those of his eventual opponents, not least in their belief that he was bluffing, that he would recoil . . . ." Consequently, "neither firmness nor appeasement, the piling up of more armaments nor the demonstration of more determination would stop him . . . ."115
Even if the reader accepts this historical analysis as accurate, closer consideration of these lines only reinforces the fact that "to deter" one must simultaneously reflect a capability and a willingness "to fight", for without the latter the former is useless. And if one is not ready and willing to fight, then in those instances when deterrence fails, the battlefield results will be disastrous.
The overarching significance of this and other evidence is that we may no longer view deterrence as "an apparatus sufficient in size and performance, always up to date, always at a high state of readiness, but never used and never even fully tested."116 Today, to "validate" a deterrent force, one must be willing to use force. As contradictory as this may seem, it is the paradox that we must come to grips with. This is especially true in the current age, when the validity of deterrence will receive so many challenges.
IV. How we should act: Validating a Credible Deterrent.
Once convinced that active and aggressive international action is both necessary and appropriate to settle ethno-nationalist conflicts and that the UN should be the primary agent, then the next logical question one must ask is how this action should be undertaken. Implicit in defining the UN as the primary agent is acknowledgement that collective international action is at least part of the answer to that question. Certainly, some may argue that the very history used above to show the need for action simultaneously did much to prove the futility of collective action, as evidence by the failed League of Nations. To quote John Lewis Gaddis, however,
Woodrow Wilson's vision of collective international action to deter aggression failed to materialize after 1919 because of European appeasement and American isolationism, and after 1945 because of great power rivalries that produced the Cold War. [Now] the world has a third chance to give Wilson's plan the fair test it has never received . . . .117
Some Views and Misperceptions
Many analysts have reservations about the ability of the international community to uphold the commitments of collective security. One in particular has warned that we should not confuse the concepts of collective security and collective defense. The former is characterized as "an idealistic, almost utopian notion on which no nation could reliably place its survival."118 The essence of collective security lies in the commitment by all members that aggression against a member state by another member state would be "resisted by the collective action of other members. Aggression is deterred by the credible promise of overwhelming collective resistance."119 This is the antithesis to collective defense, which involves security through competing military alliances. In the analyst's view, collective security must work in tandem with collective defense since "no nation can be relied upon to consistently put collective interests above its national interests."120
Others have described collective security, however, as inward-looking and mutually-deterring. Thus, any state that becomes an aggressor against another member state, "then becomes the 'enemy' of all the others until the threat of aggression has been removed."121 This definition becomes particularly important in a world of ethno-nationalist conflict, where a fixed group of adversaries cannot be determined, and therefore a fixed actor can not be targeted by the deterrent force of a collective defense organization. On the contrary, only a set of aggressive actions can be spelled out which are the actual destabilizing elements to international stability in this new age. This situation begs for a collective security apparatus through which all members will need to act in order to maintain the international collective stability required to maintain peace.
As is always the case when the decision to go to war is being considered, the collective membership of the organization will need to convince itself and each other that intervention into any given conflict is indeed in their respective states' national interest. This does not mean, however, that collective security necessarily "requires every violation of the peace to be treated as if it were the beginning of World War III."122 Indeed, the entire reasoning behind collective security, and the historical support laid out above, is that by exercising such a security system, the conditions "necessary" for bringing about a WWIII-starting violation of the peace can be avoided.
Some analysts have ultimately come down on the side of "selective" collective security or peace enforcement, which provides statesmen with the ability to exercise due consideration of their respective national interests before committing to involvement and action. This was much preferred to the attitude of collective security "champions" who, according to one analyst, "automatically assume that the national interest requires involvement in every case of international aggression."123 On the other hand, selective collective defense will bode poorly for the UN's ability to deter ethno-nationalist conflicts since, by its very nature, it "fails the test of deterrence." It may, in fact, become counterproductive to the very ends desired since "a principle with just enough life to rally defenders but not enough to deter violators is a particular danger to world stability, leading to unpredictability and potentially lethal miscalculations."124
Certainly, several practical difficulties with collective security arise when it comes time to act: determining political and military objectives; identifying what constitutes victory/success and who decides; and, most offensive of all, what do we do if deterrence fails? For many, the use of the term "deterrence" as the primary goal of collective security seems to exclude (naively or ignorantly, one can not be certain) the use of force when deterrence fails.125
Indicative of the last view is the claim by one analyst that the more valuable role for the UN may not be in collective security, but in collective deterrence instead.126 This, however, misses the point entirely. Without a viable collective security system no collective deterrent, particularly one based on denial instead of punishment, can exist. This point is particularly important since it is deterrence by denial that the UN must seek to establish in order to be most effective in a world of ethno-nationalist conflicts.
Yet another school of thought acknowledges that military capability is an absolute necessity for having a credible military deterrent, but does not grasp the need for "validating" this capability. This view emphasizes the battlefield superiority of modern munitions, such as precision-guided munitions (PGM), and the deterrent role they can play in all instances, including small regional conflicts. Unlike small tactical nuclear weapons which could never be employed, PGM's can be employed and, therefore, have a potential deterrent value. In the author's view, this technological capability could become the foundation of a future US strategy that would preclude involvement in future regional conflicts. "Clearly the United States does not want to spend the rest of the decade fighting regional conflicts. The key to avoiding such entanglements is to use its new strength to deter these conflicts rather than fight them."127
This view also misses history's lesson that, without the will to periodically and consistently use that same capability in its intended warfighting mode, it will deter no one. Unfortunately, and again paradoxically for the US and the international community at large, ethno-nationalist-based regional conflicts of today must be firmly opposed. If they are not opposed today, then others will not be deterred tomorrow, nor for a long time to come. Indeed, if the international community does not want to spend the next several decades engulfed in regional and ethno-nationalist conflicts or in a large-scale war that can result from them, then it must begin to act now to build up a capable warfighting force--both in muscle and resolve--that can ultimately serve as a credible deterrent force in the future. Such a level of credibility, however, will take a decade of international involvement in regional conflicts to achieve. Now is not the time to sit on the sidelines with the naive hope, expectation or assumption that our superior, yet inconsistently used, technology is going to deter anyone.
John Mearsheimer has defined deterrence as a means for "persuading an opponent not to initiate a specific action because the perceived benefits do not justify the estimated costs and risks."128 He specified two forms of deterrence: deterrence by punishment, and deterrence by denial. Punishment is normally associated with the use of nuclear weapons, and denial with conventional weapons; however, in this day of modern weaponry that is capable of achieving a destructiveness that approximates nuclear weapons, one must wonder if conventional forces are not now capable of providing--at the regional and ethno-nationalist conflict level--both forms of deterrence.
Another analyst's definition of "deterrence" is also instructive. He defines deterrence as the ability to retaliate and inflict unacceptable losses upon the enemy, even if it is unable to preclude the enemy from accomplishing what it sets out to accomplish--a combination of punishment while attempting to deny. Although the actual use of force would, in the classical sense, mean the failure of deterrence, this retaliatory function does not fall under any of the other three rubrics this same analyst earlier defined as the four functions of military power.129 This observation alone should make it clear that the factors which distinguish between "successful" or "failed" deterrence are not nearly as clear-cut as some would have us believe. Clearly, if statesmen do not come to grips with having to employ the military force which they are using to deter, then that deterrent force will lack credibility. Consequently, whether the passive use of military force--known as deterrence--turns into the active use of that force--known as defense or compellence--or not, depends a great deal on how the enemy views the credibility of that deterrent. This, history clearly shows, is directly dependent upon how the enemy views the capability and willingness of the deterrer to either defend or compel. Consequently, the passive and active uses of force, regardless of how much many may desire otherwise, are inextricably linked.
What Makes a Good Deterrent?
Three components of deterrence are necessary for it to be successful:130
Capability - "the acquisition and deployment of military forces able to carry out plausible military threats to retaliate;"
Credibility - "the declared intent and believable resolve to protect a given interest;"
Communication - "relaying to the potential aggressor, in an unmistakable manner, the capability and will to carry out the deterrent threat."
While it may be true that "to deter, an ounce of will is worth a pound of muscle," the exhibition of that will must be directly linked to a set of muscle (a military force structure) that can be effectively employed on the battlefield. Secondly, both the existence of this force structure and the will to employ it must be clearly communicated to the intended deterrees if it is going to have that affect. Thirdly, the deterrers must not only have a well-communicated and credible war-fighting force structure, but it must be highly capable on the field of battle as well and they must be able to exhibit that capability beforehand.131
Quite possibly the most cogent comment on determining the credibility of a deterrent force is that the force must be measured through the eyes of the intended deterrees and not through those of the deterrer.132 In a world of ethno-nationalist conflict, in which collective security is the only viable means for building international common ground, and where the specific target of said deterrence is never known in advance, evaluating the deterrent force through the eyes of the deterree becomes extremely difficult to accomplish. However, this is not cause for abandoning the collective path, but for seeking ways in which one can make both happen.
Flexibility, change and--dare I say it--reform are indeed necessary to make the collective actor an effective actor as well. Mearsheimer quotes Clausewitz on the requirement that a deterrent force be tailored to the needs and requirements of the time. As Clausewitz wrote: "Every age had its own kind of war, its own limiting conditions, and its own peculiar preconceptions. Each period, therefore, would have held to its own theory of war, even if the urge had always and universally existed to work things out on scientific principles. It follows that the events of every age must be judged in the light of its own peculiarities."133
Mearsheimer also noted that in conventional deterrence, cost--in terms of military and civilian casualties and other forms of destruction both on the battlefield and in the towns and cities--is not as paramount a factor as it is in nuclear deterrence. A primary reason for this, he pointed out, is that since costs in conventional wars "accumulate in a gradual manner" the expectation of such costs are not as easily appreciated beforehand. WWI, he concluded, is "the classic example" of this reasoning.134
While this may indeed be the case when looking at WWI from 1914, when looking at it from 1938 it was indeed a classic example of the costs of conventional war serving as a strong deterrent against British and French involvement against German and Italian aggression. One can see the same influence on US and Russia from the costs associated with their respective experiences in Vietnam and Afghanistan. This relationship speaks to the idea that cost--as a variable in determining a viable deterrent force--must be made vividly clear to the potential aggressors who might decide to test the credibility of that deterrent.
The other variable, which is directly linked to the cost variable, is that of probable success. Particularly in the conventional sense, the degree to which an aggressor can be denied rapid achievement of his objectives, the more prolonged the conventional conflict may become, the greater the costs of aggression, and the greater the effect of the deterrent force.135 Once again, however, the viability of that deterrent force must be clearly demonstrated to the potential aggressor. As demonstrated above, history shows us that the only certain way to demonstrate the credibility of a deterrent force for the future, is to use that same deterrent force in its defense or compellence role today.
Specifically, history suggests that aggressors are more successfully deterred when the deterrer can demonstrate the ability to deny them a desired gain then they can by demonstrating an ability to punish by retaliation. Further, the evidence also suggests that deterrence is more likely to be effective if "it is used early, before an adversary becomes committed to a use of force and becomes correspondingly insensitive to warnings and threats."136
Simultaneously, however, the deterring entity must develop a strategy for employing its own forces such that costs are not incurred that will ultimately deter its own actions. For both the aggressor and the deterrer, then, the strategy for military employment plays a significant role in the credibility of the deterrent. Will the aggressor seek limited aims or will he seek grander aims only achievable through strategies of attrition or blitzkrieg? In sum, Mearsheimer considers an aggressor policy of blitzkrieg or limited aims as much more difficult to deter. On the other hand, if he adopts a strategy of attrition, it is much more likely that he can be deterred.137 Given the level of collective deterrent forces now readily available, however, this bodes poorly for being able to maintain a viable UN deterrent force. Establishing a system to facilitate mobilization of a deterrent force, and a military strategy that precludes the aggressor from deterring the collective action of the international community should deterrence necessarily be turned into compellence, will greatly increase the viability and credibility of the deterrent force.
The Focus of the Deterrent Effort
In support of a more diverse principle of extended deterrence in the post-Cold War era, the US is attempting to shift from "the global deterrence of a single adversary on a regional basis, . . . to the regional deterrence of multiple actors on a global basis."138 The same could be said for the needed direction of a UN collective conventional deterrence as well.
There are generally four types of deterrence: direct- immediate, direct-general, extended-general, and extended-immediate. It is the failure of extended-immediate deterrence (whereby the deterring force is opposing an actual threat of aggression in support of a third party) that has led to the outbreak of major war in this century. In that it is also extended-immediate deterrence that will characterize the employment of a deterrent force in a collective security system, this will be the primary focus of attention for a world in which the international community is attempting to deter ethno-nationalist conflict.139
Extended deterrence, however, is doubly tough for any actor. The ability to convince a potential aggressor of one's resolve to act against aggression is made more difficult when this opposition to aggression is not in direct support of one's own homeland.140 This situation is only exacerbated at the collective level.
The military balance between aggressor and defender/deterrer is a key variable in determining a deterrent's expected effectiveness. One observer concluded, on the basis of historical example, that a deterrer who has a favorable immediate balance of forces vis-a-vis an aggressor seeking limited territorial gains will have a higher probability of deterring that aggressor. In order to successfully deter an aggressor who is capable of decisively defeating immediate deterring forces, as well as those of the third party state it is helping to protect, the deterring force must exhibit the capability to establish a favorable short-term balance of forces to defeat any rapid attack. Finally, the deterrer must exhibit the capability to build up a long-term balance of forces in order to deter an aggressor that is determined to use an attrition strategy as part of its war of aggression.141
These conclusions once again support the view that being able to exhibit a favorable immediate or short-term balance of forces vis-a-vis a potential aggressor will greatly facilitate successful deterrence. It again reflects the belief that "deterrence based on the threat of denial is much more effective than the threat of punishment in a protracted war."142
In the final analysis, even if a deterring party does everything "by the book" to increase its chances of successfully deterring a given aggressor, hostilities may not be avoidable. The requirements for achieving deterrence are, at best, uncertain, and possibly even indeterminate. There are four basic reasons why intended deterrees may still fight: they do not believe the threat that the deterrent force represents; they are (correctly or incorrectly) self-confident in their own ability to achieve victory; they believe (accurately or not) that war is inevitable; and, they are indifferent to any threat, regardless of type and apparent credibility.143 This is the best reason for basing any deterrent force on the foundation of a credible warfighting force. History indicates that, if one is not capable or willing to back up the deterrent with combat, then the deterrent itself--if it ever had any credible status to begin with--will lose that credibility and become virtually worthless as a future deterrent.
Validating a Deterrent
One observer has asked--somewhat rhetorically--how, in a "new world order," can we communicate a credible conventional deterrent and still justify a supporting force structure and strategy to make deterrence work? It may indeed be necessary, he concluded, to have a deterrent "failure" in order to establish the acceptability, credibility, and probable success of a future deterrent. In other words, "to communicate a credible deterrent threat, capable conventional military force must first be used."144 More to the point, "the use of conventional force should be judged, rather than as a failure of conventional deterrence in a singular case, as an important element of establishing the credibility of a general, extended conventional deterrent in future crises."145 It is this new perception of what constitutes deterrence and its failure that is, by far, the "greatest departure from cold war formulations of conventional deterrence theory."146
Indeed, if that is true, then it might also be instructive for one to consider what options exist for playing a deterrent out. Towards this end, there are six distinct uses of military force that can "validate" the credibility of a deterrent: show of force; punitive raid; police action; air superiority; halting, delaying or disrupting a cross-border invasion; and, conducting an intense, coordinated coherent campaign (what he calls "parallel warfare").147
There are also three general policies of military escalation in support of deterrence:148 a policy of strength, in which the deterrer responds to aggressive threats with a greater amount of force; a policy of tit-for-tat, in which the response is with equal levels of force; and a policy of caution, in which a deterrer responds with something less than the force being threatened with. One observer held the view that the most appropriate response is a policy of strength, since "once [the defender] is committed . . . his obligation is to end the confrontation rapidly." To accomplish this "he must be prepared to escalate rapidly and brutally."149 While agreeing that "a policy of military strength puts the defender in a favorable position to intervene if deterrence fails," another observer nonetheless concluded that the most effective overall strategy, based on his own experimental research, is that a tit-for-tat military strategy is the most effective for attaining deterrence.150 What is most important to note here is that the cautious approach is not recommended, except in a very limited number of cases not involving ethno-nationalist conflicts.
This same observer also identified three variations of diplomatic strategy that should accompany military strategy, and which closely parallel them. These include: a bullying strategy; a firm-but-flexible strategy; and the conciliatory strategy. The recommended course of action was the firm-but-flexible strategy, which would go very well with the tit-for-tat military strategy.151
Further, past military and diplomatic activity involving both the current aggressor and deterring/defending parties, during which the latter behaved firmly vis-a-vis the aggressor's actions, is inclined to have a strong deterrent effect on the aggressor. On the other hand, if past firm actions by the deterrer were against a different aggressor, then the deterrent impact upon this new aggressor will not be as great.152
This same observer later maintained that "short term military and diplomatic actions do have a strong impact on crisis outcomes."153 Furthermore, while re-emphasizing that the best strategies to employ are the tit-for-tat and firm-but-flexible strategies, even more important is maintaining consistency in their employment. Alternating strategies is not only less effective, it can also be counterproductive to the overall deterrence effort. With the inclination by some to exercise only "selective" collective security, however, the danger clearly exists that the resultant inconsistency in deterrence techniques, if not on the decision to deter itself, will only result in bringing about conflict instead of deterring it.
The Strategic Goal of Deterrence
Strategically, deterrence has a longer termgoal than simply preventing hostilities. NATO's overall policies had two components that greatly added to their credibility and ultimate success: deterrence and reconciliation. The former was the military component and the latter a political component. As one analyst put it:154
The short-run aim of preventing war through military deterrence was eventually to be superseded by the longer-term objective of removal of the political causes of war. The political causes of war were assumed to lie in the jealousies of states and in their competitive rivalries for territory, resources, and other desired values. . . . In short, NATO had both transcendent political objectives and immediate military ones. Ultimately, the success of its military deterrence system would prepare the way for the more important transformation of Europe into a unified security community.
For the NATO deterrent described above, however, its success was based on its long term warfighting capability. Since "strategies" are the "connection between war and politics,or . . . between force and policy," then "the strategies open to global powers, regional powers, or individual states seeking minimal self-defense," generally fall under two rubrics: strategies of decision, and strategies of coercion.155 Three strategies of decision exist: strategy of annihilation, achieved by the physical destruction of the enemy's fighting forces; strategy of vexation, achieved by denying the enemy "the cohesive use of his combat forces;" and, strategy of the stunning blow, through which the enemy is "thrown off balance and too discouraged to continue fighting."
Unlike the strategies of decision, which are primarily warfighting strategies, the primary purpose of strategies of coercion is to attain political objectives short of war, including through deterrence. Nonetheless, even with strategies of coercion, the threat of war is a very important component; consequently, these strategies--like their warfighting cousins, the strategies of decision--are very "dependent upon armed forces prepared for fighting," if, and when, necessary.
Finally, together with considering various deterrence strategies, one should also consider strategies of "reassurance". For deterrence to work "the defender must carefully define the unacceptable action, communicate the commitment to punish transgressors or to deny them their objectives, posses the capability to carry out this threat, and demonstrate the resolve to do so."156 Unlike deterrence strategies, however, strategies of reassurance do not look for the source of an adversary's aggression in their attempt to take advantage of opportunity, but rather attempt to address a genuine need or weakness. Reassurance should be seen as a partner to deterrence, not as an alternative.157
This discussion applies directly to the world of ethno-nationalist conflict. By deterring repressive actions the international community can demonstrate a shared concern for the legitimate security concerns of ethnic minorities that are brethren to a parent nation-state. Deterrence of such actions, and the simultaneous solidarity it shows with the parent ethnic group, reassures that ethnic group of genuine international concern over the fate of their ethnic brethren. Simultaneously, deterrence of expansionist/conquest actions reassures other states that the ethnic minorities within their borders will not be able to exploit the ethnic factor to draw in their parent-ethnic states without international opposition--be the parent-ethnic intervention direct or indirect.
Whatever deterrence course of action the UN may choose to follow, in the final analysis the effectiveness of that deterrent will boil down to the three components mentioned earlier: capability, credibility and communication. While one would be hard pressed to determine the priority and importance of each component, in a UN scenario even matters dealing purely with capability, not to mention the more obvious credibility and communication factors, depend upon massive international support. Consequently, garnering the international support needed to make a UN deterrent credible is just as important when it comes to making it a capable force--particularly over the long haul. In this regard, one can make several points concerning the difficulty of instituting collective security. As one author put it, the great desire for collective security is normally a phenomenon experienced by victors of grand coalitions immediately after achieving victory. As the "thrill of victory" fades, however, the victors, hitherto willing to be involved in collective security, become increasingly ambivalent about their commitments. "Negotiation becomes the magic word," and the collective security approach--i.e., resort to armed force--tends to become considered "rigid," "bellicose," and "hard line." In the final analysis, maintaining unfailing support for collective security is "highly problematic," since the key factor in collective security is for member states to undertake the "obligation to join in collective resistance to aggression."158 Maintaining that support, however, might be more realizable if the international community worked to establish a credible system and structure for collective conventional deterrence.
V. Collective Security, the UN, and Conventional Deterrence.
For a new collective security system to succeed it must overcome any apathy among its member-states concerning their obligations. This, however, is not the only factor retarding effective UN deterrent operations. UN reform is just as needed today, as reform of the League of Nations concept was required in the immediate post-war period when the UN was being established. As two UN specialists wrote, "the League system did not work well because the disposition of members to view their own security as separable from that of others was reinforced by weak legal commitments and ineffective decision-making procedures."159 While much has been improved since the League failed as an effective collective security system, the UN nonetheless has significant room for further improvement in both of these two areas. Adding to these challenges, however, is that of establishing and maintaining a credible deterrent force within the context of a UN force. This task is already sufficiently difficult for individual states who "own" their armed forces. Consequently, there is much for the international community to overcome before being ready to employ a credible UN deterrent.
The Challenges of Change and Reform at the UN
When analyzing the capability of a nation's armed forces, the following factors must be considered: force size/structure; weapons systems; mobility; logistics (supply); strategic and tactical doctrines; training; military leadership; morale; industry; technology; popular will; alliance; and, national leadership.160 These same factors also affect the capability of any UN deterrent force to perform its mission. Some of the more critical factors, particularly as they apply to establishing and maintaining an effective UN deterrent, require elaboration.
Once again, first among the challenges that the UN must overcome is that of maintaining cohesion--indicative of popular will in the respective states. As one observer warned regarding expectations of UN intervention, the UN may have the force of "international legitimacy" on its side, but aggressors will have the "asymmetries of civil war" on their's; to wit, "parties win by not losing; the will of those who intervene will wane over the long term if resource and human costs run high (itself a threat aggressors use to try and deter retaliatory or denial actions); and intervention will be one of many commitments for outsiders, whereas internal actors will be singleminded in their dedication."161
Indeed, this view covers the entire litany of why the UN is ill-suited to intervene effectively. This, in turn, greatly limits its ability to provide any type of deterrent effect. The UN's large bureaucracy is prone to deliberation, while its slowness, inefficiency and potential for clashes among national interests preclude otherwise constructive collective action. "A confusion of demands, the need for consensus in decision-making and the tendency toward incremental action rob the United Nations of coherent strategy when approaching intervention."162
What is given very short shrift, however, is why intervention is the wrong thing to do. Nor do many authors cover when it may be correct; not just from an emotional perspective, but from a more pragmatic one--assessing the expansion of ethnic conflicts into greater or more numerous wars that can themselves most assuredly engulf the international community, particularly in Europe.
This discussion leads directly to the main issue at hand. This is not the time to determine if the UN is well disposed to conduct deterrence and, if necessary, intervention operations. It most certainly is not given how it is currently organized and operates. It is, however, the organization that should be conducting these operations if we are to succeed in deterring ethno-nationalist conflict and prevent them from bringing on large-scale warfare. Consequently, we must now focus on determining how we can make this most appropriate organization--the UN--also capable of organizing a credible deterrent force.
The Question of Leadership
To effectively deter, a "leadership elite" must provide direction and guidance for a state's readiness. This elite consists of government decision-makers and their immediate subordinates, official councillors in the form of "executive agency" leaders (such as the military); suppliers of information (i.e., the intelligence community), and outside groups that can influence government decision-makers.163 In every respect the UN has significant ground to cover to improve upon the leadership aspects of establishing a credible deterrent. To implement an effective military strategy as part of one's deterrent, cohesive political leadership must be high.164
In the view of two experts on the UN, "in both the planning and writing of the UN Charter, the primacy [i.e., leadership] of the Security Council was generally accepted."165 Since the primary responsibility of the UN was to keep the peace, and this was mainly a function of the great powers who occupied permanent positions on the Security Council, then the Security Council was "the logical focus for this responsibility." With this in mind, the Security Council has had two primary functions: to settle disputes in a peaceful manner, and to meet threats to peace by organizing concerted action by UN members.
The effectiveness with which the UN Security Council, as a collective entity, can lead the states that occupy positions on it, however, is in considerable doubt. For the Security Council to act effectively and provide effective leadership itself, it must be led by one of its members--in particular a permanent member. History shows that only then has the UN acted decisively. Who should assume this leadership role is another question altogether. One observer judged that, "while other leaders may emerge in the United Nations, for the foreseeable future the United States, the sole remaining superpower, is the only one available for ventures in collective enforcement."166 One might conclude that as the self-proclaimed "leader of the free world"--a position the US has every reason to claim--the US should lead; indeed, one could even argue that it has an obligation to lead. This should not be confused with "going it alone", or shouldering all of the responsibility. However, when it comes to being the driving force for setting the standard, and "leading by example" to carry out the necessary actions in support of that standard, the US is clearly the most capable member of the UN. Nonetheless, the privilege of leadership need not, and should not, fall solely to the US. Margaret Thatcher and Winston Churchill have both shown that leadership can and, indeed, sometimes should, come from those states or individuals not necessarily initially looked to for filling that role.
Nonetheless, according to one analyst the mood in the UN today is not one of "do it yourself," but is instead "let the Americans do it." For this and several other reasons, the future holds not for "collective security," but for selective antiaggression--blessed by the UN, but primarily mobilized by the U.S..167 If this is an accurate appraisal, then such a situation--even if only an American perception--would seem destined to lead to a repeat of the British Empire's perspective on collective security in the interwar years, with the same potential for developing inclinations towards non-involvement in "others'" affairs. The U.S., therefore, must not come to feel like "a reserve force to be used to redeem the imbalance of power in Europe,"168 or elsewhere, as England did before the last world war. A resulting isolationist America would doom any efforts at collective security.
Finally, the technical ability of the UN to organize and guide (command and control) any type of deterrence-oriented coalition (for denial or punishment) will greatly influence the value and credibility of any UN deterrent force. Consequently, a great deal of work must be done on organizational matters to improve and upgrade this technical capability if the UN is to play its proper role in deterring conflict in the "new world order." In this regard, the role and operations of the UN Military Staff Committee may be the best place to start.169
One must bear in mind that the UN and its Security Council are simultaneously legislator, judge and executive. Consequently, precisely because its members have "adverse national interests as well as the common ones" reflected in the UN, its judgements will be political in nature and not juridical. It may condemn an action where a court of law would not do so, and it may not condemn where certainly a violation of the Charter's law has occurred.170 This may be the very best reason why decisions of the World Court are not nearly as important as those of the Security Council, since in the former impartial jurists are deciding matters in a seemingly impartial manner. On the other hand, Security Council representatives are correctly invoking all the politics that is necessary for the given situation. The world does not, and should not, run on impartial decision-making.
While the Security Council carries the primary responsibility and authority for insuring international peace and stability, the General Assembly also has a dispute-settlement role. While that role is normally carried out through discussions and recommendations, or by making use of its good offices for mediation, conciliation and other facilitating services, it can also play a direct decision-making role. This normally occurs when the Security Council is unable to function due to a full agenda or, more importantly, due to a deadlock among its permanent members. The authority to decide security issues was given to the General Assembly through the Uniting for Peace resolution of November 1950 and would require a two-thirds majority in the General Assembly. While this resolution came into force initially as a tool for overcoming the Soviet (and later Chinese) vetoes, a growing number of Third World states in the General Assembly have made great use of it to serve their own interests. In the future it may need to be re-energized as a means for overcoming deadlock; however, realistically, without the support of the Security Council permanent members, such resolutions will not be very effective unless agreed to beforehand as a manner of "binding arbitration" to settle permanent member disagreements.171
The states that make up the UN must examine the leadership and decision-making processes within the UN, and investigate reforms that would provide a greater capability to act decisively, without abdicating major portions of their sovereignty. In the final analysis, however, such reforms--like UN leadership in general--will only come about if pushed for by the states. The formal UN leadership--i.e., the Secretary General, the Commissioners, etc--will not be able to lead the states through these reforms; they will only be able to facilitate the process. Somewhat paradoxically, to increase UN leadership capability, states must exercise leadership in the area of reform.
Some Other Factors Needing Attention
Leadership is not the only component in need of reform in order to have a more effective UN deterrent force. The ability of UN collective leadership to determine who the next potential aggressor might be, design a deterrent force applicable to that aggressor, deploy it and continue other business simultaneously will be a significant challenge for future UN Security Councils. These and other challenges must be met, however, if collective security is to play a role in bringing about stability in an ethno-nationalist world.
The value of a deterrent must be measured in terms of how well it can stop or punish the potential aggressor, but it should also attempt to reduce the aggressors motivation for considering aggression in the first place. Military superiority alone will not deter a determined aggressor, since it can be potentially overcome--even in the best of deterrent situations--by deception and surprise. Once again, the two-sided aspect of the definition for an "enemy" in a world of ethno-nationalist conflict was created with this consideration precisely in mind. By showing international concern over the fate of ethnic minorities in states away from their parent nation-state, the parent state is robbed, to a degree, of its motivation--or rationalization--for unilateral intervention. The same mentality holds true for the intervention of parent states and justification of minority repression.172
Deterrence, nevertheless, primarily involves opposing potential aggressors. It is sure to eventually fail, however, if it is based on the expectation of always having rational decisionmakers in potentially aggressive states. Indeed "irrationality" can be assumed when decisionmakers conclude that "the risk of losing a war is preferable to living with the status quo." Deterrence must not only aim for the prevention of maximum achievements like preventing the destruction of one's country, but must also be focused on preventing conflicts waged for more limited aims.173 UN deterrence must not be focused only on preventing WWIII, but also on the prevention of limited ethno-nationalist conflicts. However, since irrationality is usually the norm in ethno-nationalist conflicts, the UN ability to predict such action will be greatly undermined. This challenge emphasizes the need for UN compellent action to reverse aggressor limited gains as the re-validation of the deterrent threat. While denial by prevention may be the best form of denial deterrence, it is not the only form. Denial exercised by regaining territory seized by the enemy could also set a deterrent precedent.
An aggressor may indeed achieve surprise because it has acted irrationally against an undefeatable opposition, if they are not fully aware of the credibility of a given deterrent, turned warfighting, force. One author mused that Egypt may have achieved initial surprise and success versus Israel in 1973 precisely because it did not foresee its ultimate inability to achieve success. Such an act of aggression seemed incomprehensible to Israel since it knew its own military capabilities. Consequently, when Egypt acted in spite of these overwhelming odds, simply because they were unaware of that same capability, it was able to achieve surprise and initial limited success. It could not, however, achieve overall victory.174 This factor not only reinforces the need to have strong and capable warfighting forces to back up deterrent threats, but also reinforces the need to communicate and demonstrate clearly the willingness and capability of that warfighting threat, and one's willingness to use it. At the collective, UN, level, this is especially critical.
Devising and displaying the deterrent must, in part, be based on accurate intelligence of what the enemy is thinking and doing in order for it to be effective. Furthermore, intelligence must take into account both capability and intent in a well-balanced fashion. Finally, to base a rejection of potential aggressive action only on a lack of capability is to disregard the ability to multiply the effectiveness of that capability by achieving surprise.175
Since immediate deterrence requires early warning to enable the deterrer to focus appropriate force in a manner that will enable it to deter the impending aggression successfully, the success or failure of that early warning is very key. More often than not, the failure of early warning lies not in a lack of information, but rather in mis-analysis of that information. There are six factors that hinder proper analysis of information: the difficulty associated with picking out the key signals that warn of impending danger from those that are superfluous "noise;" enemy employment of deception; personal shortcomings of intelligence analysts, such as biases; shortcoming of the intelligence group, that "looks with disfavor upon distortions" from the group's "consensus view;" bureaucratic shortcomings within the intelligence community that come about as a result of mismanagement or professional jealousies; and, conceptual shortcomings, which take place at the point where senior intelligence officials are briefing policy makers, and they rely too heavily on only one particular concept, to the exclusion of all others.176 These six "hindering" factors will only be exacerbated at the UN level, but must be overcome.
Added problems in the maintenance of a credible deterrent are physical, financial, psychological, morale, and readiness costs associated with the "false alarms" that are sure to occur when attempting to provide an immediate deterrent against what appears to be an imminent threat of aggression. When these types of pressures begin to build, the intelligence chief--in charge of that most important aspect of early warning--starts to become more concerned with the prospect of causing a false alarm than with guarding against being surprised.177 Such pressures will again only be exacerbated when a UN immediate extended deterrence turns into a false alarm.
Further lessons are also available to the UN from Israeli experiences in 1973. Some observers contend that Israeli deterrence against the Arab states failed in 1973 primarily because Israel was "content to preserve the status quo."178 Israeli force designers and organizers discovered that a deterrent force must not be structured and organized only to serve as a retaliatory deterrent force. This may very well turn it into a less ready force, incapable of opposing or compelling the aggressor should deterrence fail.179 Finally, and possibly most importantly, Israel determined from the Yom Kippur experience of 1973 that it was a mistake to conclude that "the higher the level of deterrence, the lower need be the level of readiness."180 As mentioned numerous times above, readiness and deterrence go hand-in-glove.
As noted earlier, "deterrence based on the threat of denial is much more effective than the threat of punishment in a protracted war."181 Consequently, the balances of military forces will have a great impact on the credibility of the deterrent threat, particularly in the immediate and short term. This, however, will greatly complicate the international community's ability to deter by preventive denial since, at the present time, it is always lacking in the balance of military forces in these time frames. Consequently, that denial force must, by necessity, be based on a credible warfighting force, capable of denying enemy gains by taking them away.182
A Framework for Future Evolution
One framework for designing and evaluating a simultaneous deterrent and warfighting force for the UN is to look at it in terms of what one author calls Preparedness, Readiness, and Will (PRW). Preparedness involves the systemic requirements for insuring that both a military and a civil capacity exists for providing security (i.e., intelligence, early warning, mobilization base, leadership, etc.). Readiness, on the other hand, refers to the ability to defeat the enemy on the battlefield, and all that involves the maintenance of a strong military capacity. Will, finally, "refers to the continuing resolve . . . to bear the burdens of preparedness and readiness--to endure situations of tension and, if unavoidable, war."183 While each of these three parts is essential for effective deterrence, it is important to note that for the fullest effect they must be considered as a single "element"--PRW--the essence of which is that "the whole is greater then the sum of the parts."
PRW not only provides a framework for evaluating one's own deterrent capability, but it also serves as a useful framework for evaluating the overall balance between the potential aggressor and defending forces. "PRW is not a factor for the prevention of surprise, but rather a factor for limiting the penalties and damage caused by surprise."184 As one saying apparently goes, to preserve peace one must not simply react at times of crisis, but must always "stand, prepared with readiness and will."185
Finally, recent warnings about the future of the US Army and its officer corps serve just as appropriately to the international community's manner of dealing with regional conflicts through a collective security mechanism. Writing on the German Army's failure to adapt to changes on the battlefield, one observer noted that its failure serves as a warning . . . with particular relevance to times such as our own. The essence of that failure was hubris. Instead of adapting . . . to the evolving character of warfare, . . . military leaders insisted that war conform to their own self-defined needs. . . . such an effort was doomed.186
Similarly, if UN methods of operation go unreformed, and the international community does not "adapt to the evolving character" of changing ethno-nationalist conflict, then efforts to deal with this phenomenon are doomed to fail, as the current system's PRW is miserably low.
Viscount Cecil, an authority on the League of Nations and its demise, noted in 1946 that no British Prime Minister adequately supported the League of Nation's collective security apparatus. "Not one of them was prepared to put the whole strength of the United Kingdom behind it as they would have done to protect the independence and integrity of the British Commonwealth. That is the standard by which international collaboration for peace must be judged."187
While these comments were directed towards Britain, there is no doubt that they pertained to all members and significant non-members of the League of that day and, likewise, pertain to the members of the United Nations today. The system as it currently operates leaves much to be desired, and is probably incapable of dealing with the requirements of deterrence--particularly in such a complicated set of circumstances as those involving ethno-nationalist conflicts. Indeed, for the UN to attempt to do so without considerable reform could significantly compound the problem instead of resolving it. This, however, is no reason to stand on the sidelines as anguished, yet passive, spectators. History clearly indicates that balance-of-power arrangements are painfully vulnerable to forces capable of bringing on massive conflicts. History is also clear on the need to oppose nationalistically-violent movements, because of their direct or indirect ability to spark something even more destructive and violent. Consequently, the international community should give a reformed collective security system a third try. To do otherwise could have long-term disastrous consequences.
Until we return to a Cold War-type world of bi-polarity in which we tottered on the edge between relative stability and global mass destruction; or, until we turn into a world in which the international community joins forces to deter the expansionist or repressive tendencies of ethnic peoples; we, as that international community, will be doomed to a world of potential, even probable, ethno-nationalist conflicts. A shift to deterrence is preferable by far to a return to the Cold War. Achievement of that end, however, will require a much greater commitment of effort, resources and will than we have heretofore been willing to make.
25. This leads one to the recall the questioned posed by Francis Fukuyama in a recent article on the Russian diaspora; to wit, "If Russia does not take into account the interests of Russians, who will?" He later urged Sergei Stankevich (a senior advisor to President Yeltsin and a leading advocate of Russia's obligation to protect the rights of ethnic-Russians outside her borders), that Russia should rely more on the international community to play a role in resolving any problems that might arise regarding the Russian diaspora throughout the former Soviet Union. See: Francis Fukuyama, "The Vagueness of 'National' Interest," Nezavisimaya Gazeta, 16 October 1992; as translated in FBIS-USR-92-151, pp. 54-5. BACK
31. The authors also discussed the concept of a loose bi-polar world as well--which is similar to the east-west relation of the 1970's and 1980's that we are just now leaving. In a loose bi-polar world, the distribution of capabilities is still low, but that of attitudes is low as well, thus making the threat of conflict less probable.BACK
57. Inis L. Claude, Jr., "Collective Security After the Cold War," in Collective Security in Europe and Asia, Gary L. Guertner, ed. (Carlisle Barracks, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, 1992), pp. 9-11.BACK
59. Kipp and Thomas, pp. 4. With contemporary states making similar declarations about the fate of their respective ethnic brethren in other (usually neighboring) states, the potential for creating modern-day "stepping stones" should not be overlooked.BACK
78. Black and Helmreich, pp. 517-18. The interesting parallel in contemporary discussion to the key word of "conflagration" used then, appears to be that of "quagmire" and its representation of "another Vietnam," or "another Afghanistan"--two impressions which are just as effectively serving to deter both sides of the former Iron Curtain from involvement in Yugoslavia.BACK
79. Ibid. Is the present-day "Maginot Line" for the international community our reliance on a perceived grand superiority in technology and overall security systems? Will the "blitzkrieg" that penetrates this new Maginot Line come in the form of spreading nationalist spearheads that drive unchecked by the international community into the strategic rear of our current societies?BACK
88. Calvocoressi and Wint, p. 84. Such a conclusion on their part--that deterrence could have somehow been separated from a willingness and capability to fight--is indicative of the manner in which "deterrence" is often misunderstood.BACK
116. Sir John Winthrop Hackett, "The Military in the Service of the State," in War, Morality, and the Military Profession, 2nd edition, ed. Malham M. Walkin, (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1986), p. 110.BACK
130. Robert P. Haffa, Jr., "The Future of Conventional deterrence: Strategies and Forces to Underwrite A New World Order," in Conventional Forces and the Future of Deterrence, (Carlisle Barracks, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, 1992), p. 8.BACK