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The Fog of Peace: Finding the End-State of Hostilities

Authored by Mr. Manfred K. Rotermund. | November 1999

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I asked two questions at the beginning of the discussion of the Context of Peace. Now is the time to review whether the questions have been answered.

The first question was: What should be the objective of this military involvement? The answer to this question is simple, yet it has built-in complexity. It is simple in that everyone accepts the purpose of intervention as establishment of something beyond the status quo ante. The United States did not occupy Germany and Japan to return them to their imperialistic ways. Neither have the U.N., NATO or the United States intervened in places such as Haiti, Bosnia, or Kosovo to reestablish in power the preexisting governing elites. The goal has been to establish democracy.

Unfortunately, as Robert Dahl amply documents (see Endnote 1, Chapter 1), democracy is not a very well-defined term. Countries that are counted as democracies share few central values. Some countries elect dictators (Kazakhstan), while others allow leaders to become dictators (Peru). Still others, many parliamentary countries, elect Prime Ministers who are, in effect, temporary dictators (England). After World War II, the United States tried to impose democratic institutions and mores in Germany and Japan. By some measures, e.g., elections, we have been successful in doing so. By other measures, however, the result has been more equivocal. Much of the pre-war elite is still active in ruling these countries. Institutions such as Deutsche Bank, Krupps, and Mitsubishi continue to dominate these countries.

Such elites exist in all countries. If their influence is to be minimized, then intervention must be designed to break up the monopolies that they represent. Holding elections in Bosnia so soon after the Dayton Accords were signed was probably not the way to achieve this end. The only group well enough organized to campaign in that election was the group involved in prosecuting the war against the Serbians. Their reason for existence is their high ideological commitment, not necessarily a plus for a post-hostilities government that should move beyond that conflict.

The need to overcome pre-intervention monopolies is a part of the question raised above and the second question on the determinants of a successful intervention. Given the weaknesses inherent in the concept of democracy, I have suggested the concept of plurascity as a replacement. The process of fostering a plurascity is much more straight forward than the process of installing democracy. There are two plurascitic catchphrases: eliminate monopolies and encourage competition. One initiative recommended for post-hostilities use in military operations other than war is the establishment of fully functioning local governments. Independent local government with its own sphere of influence is a rare thing in the world. Most countries have one government, the national government, that reaches all the way down to the local level. The beauty in setting up all these governments is that they can compare their performance against that of their neighbors: the beginning of competition. Furthermore, they can serve as a training ground for more pragmatic political leaders. Once these governments are functioning, then comes the time to think about regional or national governments.

Unfortunately, the elites that ?won? the war?ignoring the effect of the intervening powers?will want to assume power right at the conclusion of hostilities. Preventing them from doing so is a military task that is a part of demobilization. Unlike civil administrations, the intervening military force has the power to accomplish this task without compromise.

The second question I asked was: What is the measure of the end-state that permits military disengagement with confidence that a repeat of the military/humanitarian campaign will not be necessary? All monopolies that are disabled as part of the occupation count as positives in this regard. Also to be counted as positives are the creation of competitive situations where none existed in the past (e.g., local vs. national government; independent smaller utility companies vs. one large state-owned utility). But is there an absolute endpoint to this process that guarantees the prevention of future conflicts?

Preventing the hostilities leadership from automatically becoming the post-conflict leadership without a contest is perhaps the best message the intervening force can send to the rest of the world. Potential conflicts may be forestalled if it is known that an intervening force will stay around long enough for the development of competition for leadership in the post-hostilities phase. The hostilities leadership will always have the credential that it ?won? the war. Sufficient time must be allowed to pass to permit the struggle for leadership to once again become competitive. Others must have the opportunity to develop a resumé of accomplishments. Reestablishing local life in an area certainly would qualify as a strong credential.

The intervening force will go home sometime. If it leaves right after the end of hostilities, then the conflict will surely re-ignite. The initial military occupation should remain in place long enough to demobilize the combatants and to prevent establishment of a de facto national government. Once these tasks are accomplished, and the population has been turned to the task of reestablishing local life through reconstruction, then the occupation role may be transitioned to a civilian governor.

At a minimum, economic activity should resume before the transition to a national government. One element to be avoided, of course, is that newly installed government will try to fill an economic vacuum with state or crony-run businesses.

The civilian governor can extend local government to the national level once local and national life has been established. If we are to assign any sanctity to elections, however, then the governor?s tenure ends with the installation of a newly elected national government.

All this suggests that military disengagement can begin after local development is well underway; that is, when community level life has been reestablished, local government is functioning, and businesses and other community institutions have started operations. At this point in time, the people should have a sufficient investment in their new lives to minimize the probability that they will rearm and head for the hills.

The elements of plurascitic life will be visible now. Communities will be able to see how neighboring communities are handling reconstruction. Businesses may be one to a community but residents will be able to go to the next village if the local merchant is not responsive. Parents in one community will be able to assess the quality of schools by visiting the next town. In short, local level development or redevelopment will bring considerable information down to the level of the individual. That information becomes knowledge when acted upon. The actions, in turn, create freedom?the freedom of making decisions and accomplishing results.

Complete military disengagement depends on a number of factors. One of the most important is the quality of the civilian police force that is installed. Combat troops should not be removed until a police force has been demonstrated to be competent and effective. Engineering troops may need to remain throughout the external civilian government term to provide quality assurance as the infrastructure is replaced. A single concept that might encompass the point in time when military disengagement is warranted may be the comfort of women in their ability to meet their families? needs.

Such a measure should indicate that the reconstructed environment is now rich enough in knowledge to permit comparisons among goods and services. That is also a measure of the degree of plurascity introduced into the environment.