CIAO DATE: 06/05

The International Spectator

Volume XL No. 1 (January - March 2005)

IAI Library Notes

By Maritza Cricorian


The United Nations, the United States, the use of force

Capturing the 21st century security agenda: prospects for collective responses. - Muscatine : The Stanley Foundation, 2004. - 140 p.

This book assembles the summaries of six conferences on the United Nations organised by the Stanley Foundation in the first half of 2004, of which four were in collaboration with the United Nations Foundation, and the first and last belonged to different series of annual Stanley Foundation conferences. The conferences were designed to support the High-level Panel nominated by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in November 2003 and the UN research group set up to assist the panel contributed to their work. More in detail, the subject of the first conference, coinciding with the Stanley Foundation's 35th United Nations Issues Conference in January, was how the panel could optimise its work, starting out with a realistic approach to the problems, and how then to promote the panel's results, keeping its recommendations on the international agenda. The next four conferences, held between March and May, were dedicated respectively to the use of force, forceful humanitarian intervention, the traditional notion of security and the issue of "small arms and light weapons", "soft threats" such as persisting poverty. The sixth and last conference, coinciding with the Stanley Foundation's 39th Conference on the United Nations of the Next Decade, held in June, worked out specific proposals for dealing with certain threats and challenges, and the need for institutional change, as well as, once again addressing the question of how to promote the panel's results. The text can be found online at

Choosing your battles : American civil-military relations and the use of force / Peter D. Feaver and Christopher Gelpi. - Princeton : Princeton University Press, c2004. - xvi, 236 p. - ISBN 0-691-11584-2

This research study ensued from a project promoted by the TISS (Triangle Institute for Security Studies) and, ultimately, the debate in the United States in the mid-nineties on the divergence between civilian and military institutions on issues of security policy and the use of force. Methodologically, the book encompasses various approaches but it mainly applies statistical data analysis to a survey carried out between 1998 and 1999. In the survey, sponsored by the TISS, an impressive sample of 5000 people divided into three social-political groups (civilian elite, military elite, that is professional military, and the public) were asked 250 questions. The authors demonstrate that there is indeed a difference in the way civilians and the military see the use of forces and the humanitarian costs that it implies, and that these attitudes have influenced US choices regarding the use of force in international controversies as far back as 1816. In particular, it shows that the belief that Americans are sensitive - phobic about - loss of life, and that the sensitivity of the military to casualties is related to self-preservation is unfounded. Instead, in the former case, sensitivity is a function of rational factors and, in the second case, of age and rank and the attitude of politicians toward the missions. More specifically, after an initial introductory chapter, Chapter 2 surveys the opinions of civilians and the military on when and how force can be used, showing that the opinions of civilians and military and of the elite and masses predictably diverge. The third chapter is focused on US foreign policy and the use of force and shows that the greater the number of veterans present in the political elite, the less prone the US is to resort to the use of force. Yet, once the use of force has been undertaken, the presence of veterans in the political elite translates into more extensive use of force. Chapter 4 on casualties sensitivity demonstrates that the public is less sensitive to loss of life than the civilian and military elites as long as the leadership leads the country to victory. The fifth chapter examines the subject of casualty sensitivity in more depth, explaining the motivations mentioned earlier. Finally, the sixth chapter concludes with a summary of the survey's results and some suggestions for further research.

Cooperazione tra forze armate e organizzazioni non governative nelle operazioni militari di risposta alle crisi / direttore della ricerca Ten. Col. Massimo Panizzi. - Roma : Centro Militare di studi Strategici, c2004. - 461 p. - ([Collana del "Centro Militare di Studi Strategici"] ; 120)

The purpose of this book is to improve military personnel's knowledge of the activities of civilian humanitarian organisations in the framework of peace support operations and to make them more aware of the fact that cooperation with these organisations is necessary if the operations are to be a success. The idea arose from the experience of Italian contingents in recent peacekeeping missions where it was seen that, in the absence of effective coordination, the co-existence of military personnel and civilians can generate problems. Most of the book (pp. 143-461) is made up of documentation providing normative and factual data on the major Italian NGOs as well as the main institutional (and non) actors responsible for coordination ('civil military cooperation' to use NATO terminology) at the national, regional and international levels. The volume concludes with a series of considerations and proposals (Chap. VI) on the principal problems encountered at all levels for coordination of humanitarian activities.

The dark sides of virtue : reassessing international humanitarianism / David Kennedy. - Princeton : Princeton University Press, c2004. - xxx, 368 p. - ISBN 0-691-11686-5

An original and thought-provoking essay by an author who has both theoretical and practical competence in the field of humanitarianism. In it, he attempts to shed light on little known aspects of humanitarianism. In the first part of the book he focuses on the international movement of activists, individuals and institutions; in the second, on humanitarians in power and/or policy-making positions, showing how the two categories always seem to be mixed. More precisely, the first chapter investigates the dark side - the difficulties and costs - of humanitarian activism, that is, the critiques that are generally levelled against it. In the next two chapters, the author deals in particular with the advocacy and institution-building aspects of humanitarianism on the basis of personal experience. Chapter four, which ushers in the second part of the book, takes a look at the dark side of humanitarian policy-making. It is followed by three chapters in which particular projects (the rule of law as an economic development strategy, the liberalisation of eastern European markets, international refugee protection) are analysed from this perspective. The eighth chapter examines humanitarianism in the context of the use of force and the alliance of humanitarian and military interests. In the last chapter - part three of the book - the author invites all humanitarians like himself to be more aware of the dark sides of humanitarian governance in order to make humanitarian practice freer and more responsible.

The 'double democratic deficit' : parliamentary accountability and the use of force under international auspices / edited by Hans Born and Heiner Hänggi. - Aldershot : Ashgate, c2004. - xvi, 242 p. - ISBN 0-7546-3952-5

Presenting the results of a project launched in spring 2002 by the DCAF (Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces), this volume deals with the use of force in managing the international order and, namely, democratic control of the armed forces and the defence sector in general. In fact, as Solana states in the preface, "law and international law have to be backed by force, while, if it is to have lasting effect, force needs to be backed by legitimacy". The focus, therefore, is on the role of national parliaments and their responsibility towards the electorate. To this end, the notion of "double democratic deficit" is introduced to mean the dual responsibility of parliaments at the national and international levels. The scope of the investigation embraces the democracies of the Euro-Atlantic area.

The first chapter/part of the book provides the conceptual and empirical background for the analysis. The next parts study the aspects of "parliamentary accountability" in, respectively, a general context, the United Nations, NATO and the European Union. The sixth and last part concludes with a list of the possible opportunities and proposals for improving the situation by reducing the democratic deficit, but links them to more general progress in all aspects of parliamentary responsibility - authority, ability and attitude - on both the national and the international level. "It is difficult to imagine that [...] the use of force under international auspices is excluded from democratic decision-making processes", the author concludes, while at the same time "it is not be expected that these deficits will be transformed into a democratic surplus in the near future"!

Humanitarian space and international politics : the creation of safe areas / Hikaru Yamashita. - Aldershot : Ashgate, c2004. - xiv, 215 p. - ISBN 0-7546-4163-5

Based on a PhD thesis, this essay seeks to fill a gap in political science literature by studying various cases of "safe areas" and examining safe areas conceptually in terms of International Politics. The object of study sprang from the consideration that the nineties were the decade of humanitarianism and human rights and the beginning of their convergence. They witnessed the growth of NGOs and greater attention to the "root causes" of humanitarian emergencies. It is in this and the post-Cold War context that the instrument of safe areas emerged. The author tries first to establish the terminology, adopting the term safe area (vs safe zone or humanitarian area, etc.) to mean a "humanitarian space", that is, a space intended to protect those whose human rights are in danger. But above all, the author investigates the novelty of these safe areas in politological terms and the changes they may have brought about in the "tenets" of international politics, in the rules of international society.

The study is presented in five chapters: the first lays the conceptual bases for analysis of the humanitarian space; the next three chapters analyse three case studies - northern Iraq, Bosnia and in particular Srebrenica, and Rwanda. The fifth chapter, the conclusions, sheds light on the implications of safe areas for the spatial and normative organisation of international politics.

NATO and the European Union : new world, new Europe, new threats / edited by Hall Gardner. - Aldershot : Ashgate, c2004. - xviii, 324 p. - ISBN 0-7546-3801-4

Starting out from a conference organised in Paris by the American University and NATO on 7 December 2001, this book, conceived in the aftermath of 9/11 and in the midst of the Afghan war, was completed immediately after the second Gulf war of 2003. With the help of policy-makers, analysts and experts, it examines the political and military ramifications of 9/11 and US and NATO anti-terrorist policies in relation to those of the European Union and Russia. After a chapter introducing the political and strategic questions raised by "anti-state or state-supported" terrorism, the first part of the book analyses the strategic implications of the new threat, speculating on the real capability of the EU and NATO to manage the post-9/11 crisis and suggesting that the post-Cold War "imbalance" be corrected by replacing the strategy of deterrence with one of "multilateral dissuasion".

The second part focuses on the structural and political future of NATO and underlines the need for radical reform for both NATO itself and for the EU, the need for the allies to "muscle up" their forces alongside those of their partner in the US, the reasons why the EU should develop military and technological capabilities complementary to those of NATO. Turning to relations with Russia, while one author is in favour - from a Russian perspective - of closer relations between Russia and the EU than between Russia and NATO (Chap. 6), another proposes - from a US perspective - greater US-Russia interaction and the latter's integration in NATO through a new Membership Action Plan (Chap. 7).

The third part of the book examines, in four chapters, the practical aspects of the "war on terrorism" and the nature of the new threat from both perspectives, the European and the American. More specifically, Chapter 8 argues the need for the US, NATO and the EU to have closer and more lasting relations with Russia, greater regional integration and a stronger regional security "community" or "confederation" coordinated by a new "Transatlantic Political-Economic and Strategic Council". The next two chapters illustrate the European point of view, which claims that US and European policies are more complementary than one would think and analysing the crucial questions raised by anti-state or state terrorism. Chapter 11 examines the divergences between Europe and the US with regard to the fight against terrorism in terms of perceptions, capabilities, values and strategies.

The four chapters of the fourth part of the book examine the ramifications of the crisis: Chapter 12 centres on Sino-Russian influences in Central Asia; the next analyses the role of US-Russia inter-relations in the region. Chapter 14 looks at southern Asia and predicts a new Cold War in which the blocs lie on either side of the Kashmir divide. Chapter 15 focuses on the policies, past and future, of the US and EU towards Iran and the country's economic and political prospects. The last chapter, the 16th, starting out from the armed intervention in Iraq, describes the risks of a US geopolitical overstretch and underlines the need for a multilateral strategy to deal with the rising number of conflicts.

State failure, sovereignty and effectiveness : legal lessons from the decolonization of sub-Saharan Africa / by Gerard Kreijen. - Leiden : Martinus Nijhoff, c2004. - xvi, 386 p. - (Developments in international law ; 50). - ISBN 90-04-139656

This book, based on a doctoral thesis, seems to offer a new reading of the causes for the weakness and hence failure of certain states, namely those in sub-Saharan Africa. The reading is legal and statist, since the author approaches the subject in abstract legal terms, although taking account of historical aspects and international relations and philosophical theories. He is deeply convinced of the role of the state in international relations. The thesis is that the failure of these states is due to a normative revolution which, by giving more importance to legality than effectiveness, severed the fundamental link between law and power in the formation and recognition of the new African states.

In more detail, the second chapter - Chapter 1 is an introduction - presents the legal concept of the state and statehood and that of state failure, trying to determine the roots of the latter. Chapter 3 focuses on the normative revolution that accompanied the decolonisation process, allowing for the formation of intrinsically weak states. The fourth chapter is centred on the role of effectiveness in the international legal order as the link between reality and ideas, between law and power, without which the raison d'être of the law of this order is undermined. Chapter 5 illustrates the consequences of the establishment of intrinsically weak states and explains how this leads to failure. The sixth chapter suggests some possible remedies to the problem, ranging from the re-introduction of the principle of effectiveness in the concept of state, to the de-constitution of failed states, that is, withdrawal of recognition of an existing state and the institution of a UN trusteeship. Chapter 7 concludes with considerations on the future of the international order and law.

Transatlantic transformations: equipping NATO for the 21st century / Daniel S. Hamilton, Editor. - Washington D.C. : Center for Transatlantic Relations, c2004. - vi, 196 p.

This essay examines the relationship between transformation in the defence sector in the United States and its allies and transformation in NATO. The various contributions admirably reflect the difficulties and opportunities inherent in transformation of the Alliance. But, while they diverge and contrast on individual matters, they all seem to agree on one point: the need for NATO to carry its transformation beyond the military dimension and to transform "its scope and strategic rationale, its capabilities, its partnerships, its very ways of doing business".

Understanding the UN Security Council : coercion or consent? / Neil Fenton. - Aldershot : Ashgate, c2004. - x, 246 p. - ISBN 0-7546-4092-2

The aim of this book is to examine decision-making in the UN Security Council with particular reference to the use of force and national sovereignty, comparing the experience of the early nineties with the orientations recorded during the last Iraq crisis and assessing to what extent the doctrine of peacekeeping has changed. The cases prior to the second Gulf war taken into consideration are the peacekeeping interventions in northern Iraq (1991), Somalia, Haiti, Rwanda and Bosnia.

The study concludes that the UNSC's persistent preference for consent-based peacekeeping operations - rather than for a doctrine of humanitarian and pre-emptive intervention - reflects the preservation of national interests and a fear of negative consequences for international peace and security.