Archive | August, 2011

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict-Courageous Peace Leaders Wanted

30 Aug

In the lull after the media frenzy around Irene, it is a good time to reflect on the Israeli-Palestinian situation. In a few weeks, the Palestinians will submit a resolution to the UN General Assembly that asks that Palestine be declared a new nation-state. Regardless of where you might stand on this issue, there are a lot of practical problems with the resolution. Besides the fact that the US will veto it in the Security Council, it is politically meaningless as long as Hamas and Fatah remain irrconciliably opposed to each other on fundamental issues of economic reform, governance, and recognition of Israel’s right to exist. It’s pretty hard to organize a nation-state when there are two bitterly opposed parties that cannot agree on what that state will look like.
Khaled Mashaal, who leads Hamas as its political bureau chief, must be wondering what the future will bring. Although safely enscounced in Damascus, he is at the epicenter of the Syrian uprising. He has been watching the revo
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Israeli-Palestinian Conflict-Courageous Peace Leaders Wanted

28 Aug

In the lull after the media frenzy around Irene, it is a good time to reflect on the Israeli-Palestinian situation. In a few weeks, the Palestinians will submit a resolution to the UN General Assembly that asks that Palestine be declared a new nation-state. Regardless of where you might stand on this issue, there are a lot of practical problems with the resolution. Besides the fact that the US will veto it in the Security Council, it is politically meaningless as long as Hamas and Fatah remain irrconciliably opposed to each other on fundamental issues of economic reform, governance, and recognition of Israel’s right to exist. It’s pretty hard to organize a nation-state when there are two bitterly opposed parties that cannot agree on what that state will look like.
Khaled Mashaal, who leads Hamas as its political bureau chief, must be wondering what the future will bring. Although safely enscounced in Damascus, he is at the epicenter of the Syrian uprising. He has been watching the revolutions in the Arab world as one corrupt regime after another is challenged by the people. In his Damascus headquarters, he has a front row seat to the violent and brutal repression of the Sunni majority by the al-Assad brothers. Maschaal appears to be a smart man, so he must be aware that the uprisings have had some effect on the Palestinian people in Gaza. Is Hamas’ rule strong or tenuous? Hard to say, but life is not improving in Gaza due to Hamas. I wonder how long the Palestinian people will put up with the deprivation? Mashaal’s power is based on war and violence, not peace. He is able to hold up the Israelis has evil oppressors, occupiers of sacred homeland, and opposed to justice for the Palestinian people. Take away the conflict and his power evaporates.
Fatah, in the West Bank, is slightly better off. Its non-elected “prime minister” Salam Fayyad has worked hard to created the beginning of a nation state, with economic reforms, a vastly improved security system, and relatively clean government. The head of Fatah, Mamoud Abbas, continues to take criticism for Fayyad. Despite the incursions of Israeli settlements, the Palestinians in the West Bank seem much better off than their counter parts in Gaza. Abbas and Fayyad seem to be the moderates in the triangle. While not overt peace leaders, they will endorse any agreement that is decent, fair, and sensible.
The Palestinian Authority, the nominal “government” of a nascent Palestinian state, has limited capacity as a self-governing body, both in policy and implementation. It lacks control over natural resources, borders, revenue generation, and the movement of persons, goods, and services within its walled, fragmented, and colonized territory. It lacks the material resources and institutional infrastructure to be a redistributive and interventionist state. Most of its public revenue comes from other countries, notably the United States (about $600 million per year), and its economy remains under the grip of Israel.
Netanyahu’s government in Israel is facing economic protests over policies that have made the Israeli rich wealthier and have decimated the middle and lower economic classes. Netanyahu has used the conflict with the Palestinians as justification for many of his policies. In addition, Israel sucks up 20 percent of the total US foreign aid dollar. In 2011, the US will give Israel $3 billion in direct foreign aid or about $500 per Israeli citizen. This suggests to me that, like Mashaal, he cannot make peace with the Palestinians for the simple reason that his biggest reason for political existence will disappear with a decent peace agreement. Yes, the Zionist extremists are trying to drive the Israeli bus. At the end of the day, however, a strong peace leader will tell them to shut up, sit down, and behave themselves, and they will.
In the larger context, word is coming out of Egypt that a segment of the Egyptian population wants to revisit the Israeli peace accords. Other countries in the region are struggling with post-regime change reality or are on the verge of dealing with the problems of popular governance. Iran has spies everywhere, doing its best to stir up trouble for its Arab and Israeli enemies.
As the news media moves towards the next international feeding frenzy, which absent some unexpect international catastrophe or political incident, I predict will be the UN Assembly vote on Palestinian statehood, keep in mind that peace only comes with the installation of courageous peace leaders. Neither Israel nor the Palestinians have strong peace leaders. They are led by men who see continued violence and conflict, if properly contained, as serving their personal, political, and economic interests. Thus, for peace to occur, there will have to be regime changes instigated by the people, either through elections or protests, or both. There is no hope for peace as long as the current triumvirate of leaders is in the political mix of Israeli-Palestinian politics.
The UN Assembly vote, if it comes to pass, will be like Hurricane Irene, a lot of wind, water, and froth, but no real significance in the long term prospects for peace. The real hurricane rests with the people, and when they decide to move, change will happen suddenly, forcefully, and in a big storm surge of peace.

Doug Noll is a professional mediator and peacemaker. His latest book is Elusive Peace: How Modern Diplomatic Strategies Could Better Resolve World Conflicts (Prometheus Books, 2011)

Prevent Genocide or Civil War in Libya by Following International Peace Consultant Douglas E. Noll’s Advice

25 Aug

Fresno, CA (PRWEB) August 24, 2011

International Peace Consultant and author Douglas E. Noll has developed procedural and preventative measures for Libya to avoid genocide and civil war. “The Libyan people must put together a new form of self-governance, rebuild their infrastructure, create jobs, and provide basic services as quickly as possible. This is the turning point. If these steps are not taken in a timely manner, bedlam is sure to follow. Chaos will slip in when leadership leaves a void unless strategic key steps are taken. This is an urgent warning,” Noll explains.

Without major efforts spurred by U.S. leadership, the Libyan revolt would not have succeeded. Authorizing assistance to ‘prevent a humanitarian catastrophe’ President Barack Obama committed millions of dollars in military exercises through NATO to assist rebels in overthrowing Libyan dictator Gadhafi.

“Helping and then standing by hoping is not a responsible U.S. or allied strategy,” Noll says. “L
http://elusivepeace.com

To Prevent Genocide and Civil War in Libya Follow International Peace Consultant Douglas E. Noll’s Advice

23 Aug

PRESS RELEASE
August 23, 2011
dianeden@centurytel.net

Fresno, Ca…………………International Peace Consultant and author Douglas E. Noll has developed procedural and preventative measures for Libya to avoid genocide and civil war. “The Libyan people must put together a new form of self-governance, rebuild their infrastructure, create jobs, and provide basic services as quickly as possible. This is the turning point. If these steps are not taken in a timely manner, bedlam is sure to follow. Chaos will slip in when leadership leaves a void unless strategic key steps are taken. This is an urgent warning,” Noll explains.

Without major efforts spurred by U.S. leadership, the Libyan revolt would not have succeeded. Authorizing assistance to ‘prevent a humanitarian catastrophe’ President Barack Obama committed millions of dollars in military exercises through NATO to assist rebels in overthrowing Libyan dictator Gadhafi.

“Helping and then standing by hoping is not a resp
http://www.elusivepeace.com

Libya at the Cross Roads: Genocidal Civil War or Peace?

23 Aug

I just read a paper by Rotary Peace Scholar Duncan Autry that paralleled the ideas I present in my latest book Elusive Peace: How Modern Diplomatic Strategies Could Better Resolve World Conflicts. What we concluded from entirely different approaches is that the traditional means of achieving peace is doomed to fail. This is especially true if applied to Libya. Libya has a choice, and the wrong choice will lead to disintegration of its fragile civil society and a dive into chaos and genocide. Unfortunately, the wrong choice would be to follow the traditional strategy offered by international diplomats.

First, let’s look at the traditional strategy. In conflict situations, the international community views its peacemaking tools as military intervention, diplomacy, and legal action. These can be effective in some circumstances. In Libya, they are worse than inadequate; they will make matters worse.

The military option has already been exercised. While the Ghadafi regime is on the verge of being removed, there are serious unintended consequences. First, major elements of Ghadafi loyalists, armed to the teeth, will remain in country. There is little likelihood of surrender without a bloody, long term, low level insurgency fought by the loyalists. Second, the rebels are now armed as well. The rebel force, rather than being a disciplined military group, is an ad hoc mixture of tribal and militia elements that are not under a central command and control structure. There is no simple, expedient way of disarming these people. In effect, a second group of highly armed elements is loose in Libya. Whether they lay down arms or choose become warlords, criminal gangs, or insurrectionists remains to be seen. Third, the NATO strikes have pretty much destroyed the infrastructure of the country.

The diplomatic option is ill suited for the problems facing the Libyan people. Diplomacy is predicated upon a horizontal negotiation where foreign ministers negotiate with foreign ministers, generals with generals, heads of state with heads of state, and so forth. It is very status conscious and precludes vertical negotiation within layers of a society or culture. In Libya’s case, there are bound to be decades of injustice, injury, anger, and conflict that permeate through society that must be reconciled. Diplomatic efforts and so-called “political solutions” cannot and will not solve those underlying structural conflicts. In fact, negotiating a “political solution” often makes things worse because the solution leaves in place all of the problems that caused the conflict in the first place.

Legal action is likewise not a viable peace process. Generally speaking, legal actions, whether civil or criminal, deal with specific conflicts between individuals. Legal action is poorly suited to addressing structural conflict. In addition, legal action only works if there is an independent judiciary with the enforcement powers of an executive branch willing to support it, attorneys trained and capable of representing the parties, and a respected tradition of the rule of law that allows losers to accept defeat without violence. Obviously, Libya is ill-equipped for effective legal action as a peacemaking tool.

So what should the Libyans do to prevent social collapse, civil war, and genocide after Ghadafi? Here are some ideas:

First, the Trans National Council should recognize that it may not have the voice of all of the people. It should approach the task of rebuilding Libya with deep humility.

Second, it should provide basic services to the people as quickly as possible. Electricity, communications, transportation, food distribution, clean water, sanitation, and public safety (community-based policing) should be at the top of the first 60 days To Do list.

Third, create a clean government. Since a huge amount of money will be spent in this process, patronage and corruption should be stamped out and utter transparency should be the credo of the day. The opportunity and temptation for graft will be very difficult to reject. The TNC should use every means to stop dishonesty and establish ethical conduct in government. Want the counter-example and results–look at Hamid Karzai and the incredible corruption of the central government of Afghanistan.

Fourth, create jobs that pay working people decent wages so that they can begin to provide a decent standard of living for their families.

Fifth, and most important, bring in international consultants, mediators, and facilitators to design and implement a national dialogue process. The TNC has unveiled a new constitution that has many admirable virtues. However, not everyone is buying into it. This is the problem of top-down political solutions. There has to be a bottom-up piece too.

Train the best and brightest Libyans in mediation, conflict resolution, negotiation, and facilitation across the country. Intervene in every conflict at the lowest level possible with skill intervention when possible and appropriate. Support the tribal sheiks and their indigenous peacemaking processes. Get people talking about their vision and hope for the new Libya. Start the process of building a national consensus around that vision.

This dialogue process should not be mired down in bureaucracy, and should begin as soon as possible. It should be a vertical and horizontal process so that the very high and mighty are listening and talking to the lowliest farmer, women are being heard, young people are being given a voice, the professional class is being respected, and tribal leaders feel enfranchised. In short, the dialogue process, as a massive conflict resolution and transformation project, should touch the entire Libyan population up, down, across, and through social, economic, tribal, ethnic, familial, and political sectors.

Libya has the good fortune of having significant oil resources. It can afford to pay for some outside help. This not “how its done.” However, “how its done” gave us Iraq, Afghanistan, the Ivory Coast, Zimbabwe, and host of other failed situations and states. The Libyans have an enormous opportunity to show the world how to create real peace. Not the absence of conflict, but the resolution of conflict through respectful processes that engage everyone.

 

Doug Noll is a lawyer turned peacemaker, professional mediator, and author of Elusive Peace: How Modern Diplomatic Strategies Could Better Resolve World Conflicts (Prometheus Books, 2011). www.elusivepeace.com

Where the US Republican Presidential Candidates Stand On Peace

22 Aug

I am interested in where the Republican presidential candidates stand on negotiation, mediation, and diplomacy as a means of solving intractable international conflicts. As I read reports about Governors Perry and Romney and Representative Michelle Bachman as the leading Republican candidates, I saw very little about their foreign policy positions, their negotiating skills, or their positions on war and peace. Some digging around the Internet provides early indications, based on past public statements, of how each would respond to an international conflict crisis. Here are some selected statements and my analysis where each candidate seems to stand on the issue of peace. I also include Senator Ron Paul because he has such a startling different position from the other candidates and therefore provides a useful contrast of philosophy about peace.

Rick Perry

“I see an America that has the strongest defense in the world, by an insurmountable order of magnitude. I see defense technology that is miles beyond our allies or adversaries, and servicemen and women who are better trained and equipped than anyone. I see a functional missile defense system protecting us and our allies, and I see modernized fleets of ships and aircraft that are unsurpassed in their ability to overwhelm the enemy. I see a world where America promotes peace through the strength of her forces, which continue to be used to protect freedom rather than in conquest.”  November 15, 2010

“There is no reason to believe that armed conflict with any major power is imminent, but the world is rapidly changing, and the US must be prepared for the ramifications of shifting balances of power.

North Korea and Iran, in contrast, are utterly unpredictable and do present an imminent threat with their nuclear ambitions. Kim Jon Il’s regime sunk a South Korean ship, the “Cheonan”, for no apparent reason, killing 46 sailors. Iran is rattling its sabers and developing nuclear technology with impunity. Hugo Chavez is harboring communist rebels in Venezuela. All of these issues require our attention and investment in defense capabilities.

Yet it is clear that after decades of ignoring the constitutional division of authority, our bloated national government is distracted and running thin on resources to perform its central mission.

Defense spending is not being squeezed out of the budget because of the explosion in entitlement spending.” November 15, 2010

“Today we remember those sacrifices and pay homage to Americans who gave their lives in defense of freedoms we too often take for granted. But we also know that a black thread is woven into the complex fabric of human nature, a seam of depravity that feed a hunger for power, a willingness to violate every rule of decency to attain it, and cold-blooded commitment to maintaining it with an iron grip.

For that reason, we must always maintain a robust military capability, led by principled, decisive leaders who will employ it when necessary where freedom and security are threatened. Since the founding of our democracy, the threats to our freedom have shifted in their appearance and approach. But the guiding principles have remained the same. With our inherent sense of fairness, Americans do not like bullies and will stand up to defend what is right, no matter where in the world the threat exists.” Memorial Day speech to veteran’s group May 26, 2008

Governor Perry advocates for the strongest possible military force. This seems inconsistent with his desire for a much smaller, leaner federal government. There is nothing in Governor Perry’s public statements so far that indicates that he would prefer patient, long term, diplomacy over military action. Like President George W. Bush, Governor Perry appears to believe that military strength solves the difficult problems of foreign affairs.

Interestingly, these statements seem inconsistent with Governor Perry’s professed faith of Christianity. He is a self-declared evangelical Christian, which focuses on one’s personal relationship with Jesus.  He seems to have formed his beliefs primarily on selective Christian principles that ignore the social commandments of caring about neighbors and loving enemies. His views seem contradictory to many of the teachings of Jesus, who advocated for a radical vision of peace.I think that Governor Perry would rather feel safe and secure behind a wall of military superiority than engage enemies at a deep emotional, intellectual, and spiritual level as equal human beings. He finds it easier to demonize and stereotype enemies as evil. He seems to lack the patience needed for peace, opting instead for the adrenalin of action. I would expect Governor Perry to to choose war over peace when the call is close.

Michelle Bachman

“Our courageous men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan are on the frontlines in the war on terror, but the horrific attack on 9/11 demonstrated that terrorists can bring the battlefield to our shores. For this reason, we must remain continually vigilant and ready with a broad based strategy that includes military action when necessary but also enhanced overseas intelligence capabilities, strengthened coalitions with willing partners and more effective and efficient homeland security.” Campaign website, www.michelebachmann.com, “Issues” Nov 7, 2006

I was frankly surprised. This statement, along with her opposition to President Bush’s troop surge in Iraq in 2007, indicates a more thoughtful and balanced approach to military action. Her vote against the troop surge was because she felt the American public did not have enough information to justify the increase in troops. She seems willing to require a higher standard of necessity before engaging in war. What is absent is any indication of her preference for negotiation and diplomacy over military action.

MItt Romney

“To battle the threat of radical Jihadists, we have sent the most courageous and brave soldiers in the world. But their numbers have been depleted by the Clinton years when troops were reduced by 500,000, when 80 ships were retired from the Navy, and when our human intelligence was slashed by 25%. We were told that we were getting a peace dividend. We got the dividend, but we didn’t get the peace. In the face of evil in radical Jihad and given the inevitable military ambitions of China, we must act to rebuild our military might–raise military spending to 4% of our GDP, purchase the most modern armament, re-shape our fighting forces for the asymmetric demands we now face, and give the veterans the care they deserve.
Source: Speeches to 2008 Conservative Political Action Conference Feb 7, 2008

“Q: In one of your recent debates, you refused to say whether waterboarding was torture. The director of national intelligence said flatly: “Whether it is torture by anybody else’s definition, for me it would be torture.” I wonder if that would influence you to conclude that waterboarding is torture, because you and McCain debated on that. McCain came down very, very firmly, saying waterboarding is torture.

A: You know, I just don’t think it’s productive for presidents to lay out a list of what is specifically referred to as torture. One of the reasons is that that term is used in the Geneva accord. And once you lay that list out, you are forever prohibiting the US from ever employing that technique, even in a circumstance where a city might be subject to a potential nuclear attack. And so we have found it wise, in the past, not to describe precisely the techniques of interrogation that are used here; also, so that people who are captured don’t know what might be used against them. ” CNN Late Edition: 2008 presidential series with Wolf Blitzer Jan 13, 2008

“Q: You had said that the government should wiretap some mosques to keep tabs on Islamic extremists. Even without a judge’s approval?

A: No, of course not. But use the law to follow people who are teaching doctrines of terror & hate, and make sure that if they’re doing that in a mosque, in a school, in a playground, wherever it’s being done, we know what’s going on. There’s no question but that we’re under threat from people who want to attack our country in this global effort. We need to know about that, track them, follow them, and make sure that in every way we can, we know what they’re doing and where they’re doing it. And if it means we have to go into a mosque to wiretap or a church, then that’s exactly where we’re going to go. I hear from time to time people say, hey, wait a second. We have civil liberties we have to worry about. But don’t forget, the most important civil liberty I expect from my government is my right to be kept alive, & that’s what we’re going to have to do.
Source: 2007 GOP debate at UNH, sponsored by Fox News Sep 5, 2007

”    America’s #1 Threat–Jihad: “The defeat of this radical and violent faction of Islam must be achieved through a combination of American resolve, international effort, and the rejection of violence by moderate, modern, mainstream Muslims.”
    Radical Islam’s Plan: “I think many of us still fail to comprehend the extent of the threat posed by radical Islam. Jihad is much bigger than any one nation. For radical Islam, there is one conflict and one goal–replacing all modern Islamic states with a caliphate, destroying America, and conquering the world.“
    Strength against Jihad: ”We need a stronger military. I propose that we sharply increase our investment in national defense. I want to see at least 100,000 more troops. I want to see us finally make the long overdue investment in equipment, armament, weapons systems, and strategic defense. We should commit to spent a minimum of 4% of GDP on our national defense. But increased spending must not mean increased waste.“
Source: The Man, His Values, & His Vision, p.109-10 Aug 31, 2007

“I asked Romney if he had considered what presidents are sometimes called to do, which is order attacks that kill lots of people. Romney replied, “America must remain the world’s economic and military superpower, and the best friend peace has is a strong America. You can’t be strong if you’re never willing to exercise that strength and show that strength. A 150-pound kid has to get in a lot of fights. A 250-pound kid covered with muscles who knows judo rarely has to fight.”

“If you have a strong enough military, no one will test you, and I think one of the reasons we face the challenges we do and we’re being tested on so many fronts is that people see we haven’t done a great job in the post-major conflict period in Iraq,“ he continued. ”We’ve been tested and have been found a little wanting. I think we need to be stronger. I don’t shrink at all from the need to protect this country and our sovereignty and our pre-eminence in the world.“
Source: A Mormon in the White House?, by Hugh Hewitt, p.190-191 Mar 12, 2007

Governor Romney seems to have an aggressive attitude towards the world. He dodges the difficult morality of torture. He sees the world in binary terms as black and white and good and evil. He demonstrates a primitive, school yard view of conflict when he says that size and strength equate to power and deterrence. He somehow misses the point of assymetrical warfare, which allows small, dispersed, “weak” forces to dominate a war zone. His statements about Islam indicate a view of force projection as the only means to peace. Instead of engaging those who violently differ with us, Romney appears to prefer military action. I see in his statements deep fear of engaging those he considers enemies at the deeper levels necessary for lasting peace.
 
Ron Paul

“Our Constitution gives us no authority to be the policemen of the world. All great nations end for financial reasons, and that is what’s happening today. We can’t afford it any longer. We spend a trillion dollars a year maintaining an empire. The Founders said: Be friends; trade with people; mix with people; don’t fight with people; don’t tell them what to do; practice diplomacy. But we are in this endless streak of interfering, involving, and dictating. We have two choices: we go to a country and we say “Do it our way or we’ll bomb you.” Then if they do it our way, we give them money. But we’re broke. We’re broke and we just can’t continue to do this. That’s what the dollar is telling us. The debt is too high, the dollar is weakening, the middle class is being wiped out, the international debt is so big, and we’re dependent on others, our good jobs are overseas. Who’s going to pick up the pieces? Are we going to restore REAL, conservative, Constitutional values to our country?” Source: Speeches to 2008 Conservative Political Action Conference Feb 7, 2008

“Q: You recommend this: “I’d start bringing our troops home, not only from the Middle East but from Korea, Japan and Europe and save enough money to slash the deficit.” How much money would that save?

A: To operate our total foreign policy, when you add up everything, it’s nearly a trillion dollars a year. So I would think if you brought our troops home, you could save hundreds of billions of dollars. You can start saving immediately by changing the foreign policy and not be the policeman over the world. We should have the foreign policy that George Bush ran on. You know, no nation building, no policing of the world, a humble foreign policy. We don’t need to be starting wars. That’s my argument.” Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series Dec 23, 2007

“Q: What motivates Al Qaeda?

It’s not because we are wealthy & prosperous & free. They come here because we are in their country. Permanent bases [in Iraq & elsewhere in the Arab world] just mean that we have expanded the opportunity for the terrorists to come here because there is greater motivation. So, if we want to protect ourselves against terrorism, we have to understand what motivates them. Even Wolfowitz admitted this. He said that the base in Saudi Arabia was an instrumental part of what motivated Osama bin Laden. So if we ignore that, it is at our own folly.

Q: When you made that point at the debate the other night, there were some boos that came out from that Republican audience. Are you in step with Republican voters?

A: I would say that since 70% of the American people want out of the war, and they are tired of it, the Republicans better pick somebody who is opposed to the war or have a new foreign policy, or they can’t win. Source: CNN Late Edition: 2007 presidential series with Wolf Blitzer Dec 2, 2007

There is a lot in these statements to appreciate if you are a peacemaker. Senator Paul is obviously opposed the idea of America’s military as a world police force, mostly because of the cost to the US taxpayer. He seems to be moving in the direction of peace, but perhaps for the wrong reasons. Withdrawing in the way that he suggests is not pragmatic. However, he may be open to balancing a drawdown of forces with increased funding of the State Department, the US Institute of Peace, and the the USAID. Even if the balancing were 100:1 so that for every hundred dollars in reduction of military spending there would be an increase in funding for peace, the investment in peace would far exceed today’s minimalist levels of funding.

In summary, at this stage in the presidential primary campaign, it appears that Governors Perry and Romney are strong hawks with little interest in peace through negotiation, mediation, or diplomacy. Representative Bachman is slightly more moderate in that she requires a fairly high standard of necessity before she will commit to war. Senator Paul is by far the most likely to embrace techniques and processes of peace, but only because it is less costly and less intrusive on the American taxpayer.

Doug Noll is the author of Elusive Peace: How Modern Diplomatic Strategies Could Better Resolve World Conflicts (Prometheus Books, 2011).

If You Liked Iraq and Afghanistan, You Will Love Somalia

21 Aug

If you liked Iraq and Afhganistan, you will love Somalia. I wonder what will be necessary for the elites in the diplomatic and international community to wake up to the fact that the system is not working. How many Rwandas, Bosnias, Iraqs, Afghanistans, and now Somalia, will it take to shift the way the world addresses deep conflicts and the crises that emmanate from them?
Somalia is a text book example of international failure. The warning signs for drought, famine, poverty, and death of tens of thousands of children have been well-known and documented for months, if not years. South-central Somalia is controlled by the militant semi-organization al-Shabaab. Al-Shabaab is paranoid about international NGOs, and a year ago, banned aid agencies from helping the Somali people in that region. In southern Somalia, there is no government; no sense of any authority, except for al-Shabaab. Al-Shabaab has no experience in managing humanitarian disasters because it is not truly a governmental organization.Nevertheless, al-Shabaab appeals to many Somalis, not because of an affinity for the radical Islamic goals of the organization, but because of economic and social interests. Like the Taliban in 1991, al-Shabaab ended the reign of the secular warlords. Unlike the Taliban, al-Shabaab has not been able to consolidate power or influence under a unified front. Its many factions only  unite against the Transitional Federal Government, another extraordinarily weak and ineffective organization. Other than the common enemy, it’s every group for itself.
Even if NGOs could get in, daunting logistical problems exist. Only one port in the country is open to aid agencies, which is Mogadishu. Kismayo is not open because it is controlled by al-Shabaab. Port facilities are nonexistent; there is no machinery in place, and the port, roads, and transportation infrastructure has not been rehabilitated in the last twenty years. The region is full of checkpoints manned by local militias extorting money from anyone delivering food, water, and supplies to the people. Somalia is about as anarchic as a “country” can be.
The international system fails in this situation because it continues to make the false assumption that each nation is sovereign. Under the Treaty of Westphalia, each sovereign nation is represented by a “head of state” presumed to have the power to speak and negotiate with other “heads of state.” Al-Shabaab is not cohesive; it is a string of loosely aligned factions. No “head of state” speaks for al-Shabaab. No one person speaks with one voice for al-Shabaab. The traditional model of diplomatic negotiation is simply not well-adapted to anarchy of this type.
So what should be done? If you want a radical solution that will surely offend most of the international community and politicians of all persuasions, have the UN Security Council declare Somalia a failed state and impose a UN Protectorate status on the country. It would be nice if the African Union endorsed this plan, but not essential. Bring in a powerful, well-funded, and well-trained UN military force with a broad mandate to restore order with force wihen necessary, followed by a civil service bureacracy to set up and run a government, an interim court system to establish the rule of law, humanitarian relief, health care, and education. Plan on a 20 to 30 year mission, maybe longer; hopefully shorter. Rebuild the country from the ground up, trying to be as sensitive to the cultural, clan, and tribal ties as possible. Fnd the best and brightest young people, educate them, and groom them as potential political and civil society leaders. Be prepared for resistance, push back, and localized terrorism. Don’t have a timeframe and don’t withdraw when the project becomes politically unpalatable. Deal with corruption quickly, making clear that it will not be tolerated. Teach people the essentials of nonviolent conflict resolution, leadership, and consensus-building, using as much of the indigenous knowledge as possible. Use common sense and compassion whenever possible in making decisions. Put smart people in place with full authority and don’t second guess them. Insulate them from the inevitable influencers looking for personal advantage. Try not to make decsions based on the lowest political common denominator.
As a professional peacemaker, I can’t see any other way out of the quagmire of Somalia. My nose wrinkles at the idea of nation-building (look at Iraq and Afghanistan), but what other options are there? If anyone has some, let me know.

 

Doug Noll, Lawyer Turned Peacemaker, is the author of Elusive Peace: How Modern Diplomatic Strategies Could Better Resolve World Conflicts.