R2P vs Facades of Interventions

Article published on Sept. 7, 2011
Article published on Sept. 7, 2011
The Responsibility to Protect (R2P) is a relatively new international security and human rights norm to address international community's failure to prevent and stop genocides, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.  When and where to intervene has came more and more actual question during last decades in western foreign policy.
  The wars in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya have been claimed to be justified attacks in name of humaniatarian intervention or recently due the R2P norm. On the other hand there is questions why the same nor has not been applied in Syria, Somalia, Burma, Sudan etc.  Official high-flown statements are normally dealing R2P issue from perspective of humanitarian need or to build a democratic state in intervention region. In my opinion an opposite approach is more dominating on the ground – approach where intervention logic is traced from needs and motivations of intervener not from those in mission theatre.

From my point of view the key question is whom the interventions are protecting. The answer may be related to three issues:

Does the implementing power have economical, military and/or political interests in the intervention region? Is the possible intervention region on border zone of sphere of economical, military and/or political influence? Is some party in possible intervention region enough rich or skilful to manipulate public opinion in intervener countries to get them on their side?

Looking interventions during last twenty years most of the mentioned three issues have been driving force for attacks. Balkans draw new lines in sphere of influence between great powers, same with Afghanistan in addition that country has also raw materials, in Libya and Iraq oil and gas fields were good motivation as they are also with possible attack to Iran in near future. In all cases the biggest beneficiary has been U.S. military-industrial complex. One could estimate that humanitarian interventions in Africa will start immediately when enough big oilfield will be discovered in conflict region.

Excerpt

R2P - Responsibility To Protect

The term Responsibility To Protect ("RtoP" or "R2P") was first presented in the report of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) in December 2001. As the UN debated major reforms of its human rights system, the idea of committing to an international R2P gained support from many governments and civil society organizations from all regions. UN Security Council's Resolution 1674 on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict includes the first official Security Council reference to the Responsibility to Protect. On January 2009, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a report entitled Implementing the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP). The report outlines measures and actors involved in implementing the three-pillar approach as follows:

- Pillar One stresses that States have the primary responsibility to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

- Pillar Two addresses the commitment of the international community to provide assistance to States in building capacity to protect their populations related to issues mentioned in 1st pillar.

- Pillar Three focuses on the responsibility of international community to take timely and decisive action to prevent and halt issues mentioned in 1st pillar.

Creating the facade

Manipulation of public opinion is effective way to get wider support for wars – and their huge costs – abroad. Terrorist and criminal organizations transform without delay into allies and/or freedom fighters (al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Bosnia, KLA in Kosovo, Saddam Hussein in Iraq, al-Qaedea figures now power in Tripoli) while the enemy will be demonized (Serbs, Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda). Number game with deaths is easy way to get attention in nearby regions. So in Bosnia the numbers needed were planned already some two years before Srebrenica, in case of Kosovo U.S. officials claimed that from 100,000 up to 500,000 Albanians had been massacred. When the figure later was near 10.000 from all ethnic groups together the bombings were already over.

With cases more far away from western civilization other fabrications - than number game - have been useful such as WMD's in case of Iraq, safe haven for terrorists in Afghanistan and probably possible bombings against Iran will be justified with nuclear thread. One should also note that interventions can (secretly) begin before any public decisions (e.g. in Bosnia with operation “Storm” and in Libya special forces operated months before UN decisions).

The used operational chart with last big conflicts has been following:

1st creating imaginary thread (Iraq/WMD, Afghanistan/Taliban, Balkan Wars/ethnic cleansing…),

2nd destroying the enemy by cluster bombs, depleted uranium war heads, contract killing, torture etc.,

3rd bringing democracy and stability in form of puppet governments and ousting local more or less selected authorities.

Official high flown statement of course are speaking humanitarian intervention, R2P, peace enforcement, defending democracy etc to hide real motivations.

Not even the foggiest idea what's next

One problem is that intervention plans cover only the first stage concentrating to get justification for attack and to get fast tactical military win and forgetting what to do after military success (or especially without it). In my opinion most of the problems in Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan are based to poor planning before intervention. For example in Bosnia despite international community’s state building efforts the country is splitting parts. Since war 15 years ago foreign aid has exceed USD 80 bn for artificial creature designed in Dayton agreement aiming multi-ethnic state with EU perspective. As a result Bosnia is now even more divided, with less national identity, 20 percent of population living under the poverty line, with a nightmare triple administration plus international supervising governor.

In Kosovo since intervention international community has worked over ten years with capacity building of Kosovo administration. First idea was to develop standards (of democratic state) before status (after being UN protectorate), then after couple of years the slogan transformed to “standards and status” and again after a couple of years “status before standards”; now after unilateral declaration of independence the standards have not been any significant issue in Kosovo and the outcome I have summarized as follows:

“as Serbian province, occupied and now international protectorate administrated by UN Kosovo mission; as quasi-independent pseudo-state has good change to become next “failed” or “captured” state; today’s Kosovo is already safe-heaven for war criminals, drug traffickers, international money laundry and radical Wahhabists – unfortunately all are also allies of western powers”.

What will be the result with last intervention to Libya remains to seen but something tells the situation now in Tripoli where members of the Al Qaeda-linked Libyan Islamic Fighting Group – LIFG, are now in control. Their commander Abd Al-Hakim Belhadj, an al Qaeda veteran from Afghanistan, now calls himself "Commander of the Tripoli Military Council." So when U.S in the name of “war on terror” just killed al-Qaeda leader OBL it now helps radical Islam groups gain power In Libya in the name of humanitarian intervention.

One reason for failures of R2P might be poor situation analysis due lack of reliable information or as an intentional practice to avoid unwanted deductions.

Intervener problem

My conclusion is that the great powers implement interventions whenever and wherever they see it beneficial for their military, economical and/or political interests with or without UN approval while humanitarian and legal aspects are serving only nothing but a facade. One of the main problems with implementation of R2P is – in my opinion – that so far U.S and NATO have been the main actors with or without UN authorization. Public missions included e.g. the Implementation Force (IFOR) and Stabilization Force (SFOR) in Bosnia from 1995 to 2004, Operation Allied Force in Kosovo from March to June 1999 , the Kosovo Force (KFOR) from June 1999, and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan since 2001 and the latest one is Operation Unified Protector in Libya which began on 27 March 2011. In this framework R2P has reduced to one extension of U.S foreign policy and its needs and interests.

For increasing credibility of R2P principle the role of NATO should be minimized by strengthening capabilities of some wider organizations. The most important actor should be UN with its related bodies.

From European perspective the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) forms good base to develop R2P capacity; OSCE is the world’s largest regional security organization and the most inclusive playing an essential non-military role in promoting peace and stability and advancing democracy and human rights in Europe. The OSCE offers a forum for political negotiations and decision-making in the fields of early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation.

It is sad that EU has outsourced its foreign policy to U.S., it is blindly following U.S. military suspicious strategies and cowboy policy only to have good transatlantic relations - this keeps EU always as bystander in international politics. However despite this the fact is that the EU already belongs to the world’s largest providers of international assistance so it could have a great role to play in responding more effectively to protect civilians from mass atrocities and in assisting other states and institutions to develop the capacity to do so.

Intervention logic should be applied

 From my perspective developing R2P from slogan to practice an intervention logic should be obligatory and it should be transparent as only through outside critics it can be justified as meaningful tool. I have some doubts if intervention logic even exists related (humanitarian) interventions during last decades.

In my opinion R2P is similar like other development programs or projects. There is identified crisis, problem that should be solved; objectives are defined, outputs, activities, resources (inputs) are planned to achieve immediate and finally overall objectives. This both ways vertical logic should be checked at each level by the horizontal logic specifying result indicators, control methods for achieving results, and the assumptions and risks which will affect outcomes. This procedure and its further developed forms – called as Logical Framework matrix or LogFrame – is normal practice e.g. while channeling international aid into field.

The core problem from my perspective with R2P is that the slogan is serving as facade of interventions not as principle supposed applied on the ground. The logic will be thrown away when real aims of activities are hidden. When the implementing power has economical, military and/or political interests in the intervention region – in the operational theatre – the problems and needs of supposed beneficiaries are minor points similar way than collateral damages are only regrettable side-effects during main mission. By applying logical framework approach to R2P it is possible achieve more comprehensive approach to conflicts including not only immediate intervention but also life after that. 

LogFrame for R2P figure can be found from LogFrameR2P

More e.g. in my related articles:

Interventions in general: Multifaceted Intervention Practices , Is Peace more than absence of the War? and Peacemaking – How about solving Conflicts too?

U.S. practising intervention first in the Bosnian War 1992-95 and selecting terrorist/OC-groups to U.S. allies (More e.g. Srebrenica again – Hoax or Massacre? and Krajina – Victory with Ethnic Cleansing and the outcome Bosnia on the road to the EU, sorry to Dissolution )

Racak fabrication and “humanitarian intervention” aka since WWII first ever full scale bombing operation in center of Europe 1999 ( High pressure to fabricate Racak reports and 10th anniversary of Nato’s attack on Serbia)

About U.S. strategy in Afghanistan: Will COIN work in Afghanistan?

Other related articles: Libya Intervention is creating problems instead of solving them and Some framework to Syrian crisis