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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

An Alternative way to the UN?

Since the end of the Cold War, the United Nations has been increasingly involved in complex peace operations raging from pre-conflict stability operations, through the low-intensity combat to post-conflict reconstruction. These operations have met with mixed success. Is there a realistic alternative to the United Nations for such situations? Why or why not?

     In Rwanda, close to a million civilians were slaughtered. A year later, in Bosnia,  thousand civilians were executed. In Congo, rebels killed one hundred and fifty civilians near where the United Nations troops were stationed. It is reasonable for people to think that the United Nations is an ineffective and irrelevant organization. Why was the United Nations failing in peacekeeping operations? Why it was not perceived doing better? It can be inferred that, perhaps the more important question is how can the international community improve the United Nations as a legitimate international institution?
     Any suggestion may beg many other issues, in part because the United Nations owes its origin and inspiration to the system of sovereign states. However, in large measure, developing the United Nations into a more authoritative institution is the only plausible choice to protect not only the human rights of the people in desperate needs but also to secure peace all over the world and future generations.
     Strengthening the United Nations with more authority and legitimacy must be worldwide commitments beyond national interests to resolve the security dilemma in the face of severe environmental pressure. Such commitments include consensus on the exercise of greater political authority beyond individual sovereignty and the establishment of peace enforcement units or of a United Nations standing army.
     Fundamental challenges to these approaches are the perception of American people to the United Nations. Some American people criticize the United Nations for its role and function are uncertain so that the United Nations wastes the American taxpayer’s money. However, it is inconsistent with the evidence that because the United States is the nation that actually would not provide the United Nations with enough troops to effectively conduct peacekeeping operations. The United States currently holds about 700 million overdue payments and supplies only 29 troops. Susan Rice, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, also admitted that the number of complex challenges the United Nations is trying to tackle are far greater than its capability. She also stressed that there is a growing gap in supply and demand upon which the number and quality of troops and missions are overstretched. It seems evident that the United Nations is deeply in need of support from the United States and renewed commitment from member states to leadership.
     Therefore, it is a false choice if we attempt either to create another institution or to close the United Nations. The only answer to this divided world must be improved the United Nations with stronger leadership and authority.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Would the Founding Fathers recognize the United States today?

     “Would the Founders recognize the United States today?” “Yes, I believe so.” “Does it matter if they would recognize it?” “Yes, because they created the government for the good of the people and not for the good of the government.” People make a country, not a monarchy, republic, or democracy. If the people give the government power, then the people control the fate of the country.
     James Madison believed the principle of divided power protects the rights of the minority (or the individual) from the majority (or the dominators) within the States. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were divided over the form of government. For example, “[T]he House of Representatives will derive its powers from the people of America… So far the government is NATIONAL, not FEDERAL. The Senate will derive its power from the State… the government is FEDERAL, not NATIONAL. … [Thus,] the government appears to be of a mixed character, presenting at least as many FEDERAL as NATIONAL features (italics added for emphasis).”
     The Founders acknowledged they were not perfect, and admitted they were politicians.  Although the Founders fought on certain issues, they ultimately compromised on the Constitution through the political processes for the people of the United States. Adams and Hamilton were Federalist; Jefferson was a democratic Republican; and Madison switched his belief from Federalist to Republican. Each had different views on democratic values and virtues. However, they ultimately established the underpinnings for the greatest legal document the United States has today-the superpower democratic nation in human history. These beliefs became the legacy of and stands for the United States today: for the people, by the people, and of the people.
     “Would the Founders recognize the United States today?” “Yes, I believe so.” “Does it matter if they would recognize it?” “Yes, definitely.”  

Civilian-Military Relations

     The question becomes "How do you fulfill your oath of office to the Constitution in your role and responsibility as a military leader?”  You appear to be the only hope in the government for American people avoiding another unnecessary bloodbath with Bobsvillians who have little power to attack us. It is your responsibility to communicate with the civilian leaders about ends, ways, and means of the war. At worst, if the President decides to go to the war, you will  betray your honor, your country, your oath, and your men and women on the battlefield.  Say "No" to the Chairman of JCS who can make the same mistakes as the military leaders made incompetently remaining silent during the Vietnam War. Say “Yes” to the civilian leaders that you have better options from your professional views avoiding unnecessary war with Bobsvillians while accomplishing national interests.
     Although the civilian leadership is accountable for the ultimate decision on waging war, military leadership should approach the line without crossing it. You are convinced that the information about “training camps in Bobsville” is not credible and completely inaccurate at worst. You are confident that the force to be unsuitable for achieving the mission requiring not only removal of the terrorist camps, but regime change. As the goal of the war against Bobsvillans is at the moment not clear enough, furthermore you are not satisfied with the manpower that is the most important resource for conducting the war. You believe that the plan will not work with those resources, and that it can result in another disaster for the young Americans sent to fight after the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
     War as a means of political purpose must be the last resort for national interests along with the publicly announced goal and intent. Military leaders are obliged to the people of America by the lessons learned from the Vietnam War to make no mistakes in civilian-military relations, and make no excuse by saying, “I was just following orders.” Let your civilian leaders know that you will no longer dishonor your role and responsibility to the Constitution, and that you will not grant civilian leaders the authority to bend the intent of the Constitution for their own selfish purposes.

Just War Theory in Iraq War

     What circumstances legitimize a just war in the cause and conduct?  The principles in making conditions for a war to be just are closely connected to the question: why and how are wars fought? In light of just war tradition (Jus ad bellum), the question of why wars are fought is about the question of what conditions meet the criteria in order for a sovereign nation to engage a war against another nation. This argument, to be sure, is open to broad interpretations. Thrasymachus, the Greek philosopher, argued that what is just or right is the interest of the stronger party so that the weaker should subject to the stronger.[i] After September 11 attacks, the President Bush asserted the right of the United States to act militarily whenever and wherever necessary to prevent future violent attacks upon the United States and its citizens.[ii] In this view, morality has no place in wars or politics because a nation that has justifiable reasoning can be whenever and wherever engaging in war if necessary conditions arise. Is this framework still useful for the contemporary war on terror and the war in Iraq?  I argue that the conditions made by the Bush administration for war against Iraq hardly meet the criteria necessary for fighting in just war tradition (just ad bellum).
     The purpose of this paper is to discuss the United States' decision to go to war on Iraq in the context of traditional just war theory (just ad bellum): necessary conditions that arise in order for a state to go to the war.  The principle six criteria for just war are commonly held to be: just cause (self-defense and preemptive strike); explained by proper authority; possessing right intention; a reasonable possibility for military success; the ends being proportional to the means used; and a last resort.[iii]  This is, obviously, a prewar condition for just war. Once a war is considered justified, its conduct must be judged according to jus in bello criteria: proportionality and discrimination. 

Just cause: self-defense and preemptive strikes (so called Bush doctrine)
     Possessing just cause is the first and arguably the most important condition of jus ad bellum. One aspect of just cause is self-defense. Self-defense has to be clear ground and demonstration that the aggressor made a preemptive physical attack against us. Therefore, the physical response under self-defense is held for just cause, and its purpose is not to retaliate against crimes wrong doers already committed. Some conditions are likely to meet this criteria, for example, if a war is to pursue and punish an aggressor, or to pre-empt an anticipated attack, or be a response to a violation of territory, or an insult (an aggression against national honor), or a trade embargo (an aggression against economic activity), or even to a neighbor’s prosperity (a violation of social justice).[iv]
     With respect to self-defense perspective, the September 11 attacks were obviously understood and framed in self-defense because the attacks were a violation of territory and an aggression against national honor killing thousands of innocent civilians. The issues, however, is that there was scant evidence to tie Saddam to terrorist organizations, and even less to the September 11 attacks. Although the Bush administration claimed that Iraq was aggressive and harboring terrorists in its nation, indeed Saddam's goals had little in common with the terrorists who threaten American people, and there was little incentive for him to make common cause with them.[v]
     Another aspect of just cause is preemptive strikes (so called Bush doctrine). In a nut shell, the concept of preemptive strikes is attacks by one state on the other state, recognizing necessary conditions of imminent threats, to prevent the other state from using weapons of mass destruction. How much evidence is necessary to justify preemption? The President Bush asserted in his speech outlining how Iraqi threat is urgent to America and world that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and the danger was already significant, and it would only grow worse with time.[vi] Vice President Dick Cheney made also such an argument that deliverable weapons of mass destruction in the hands of a murderous dictator [Saddam Hussein] constitutes as grave a threat as can be imagined.[vii] Furthermore, in article 51 of the United Nations charter, preemption is recognized as the right of any nation to defend itself, including the right in some circumstances to take preemptive actions in order to deal with imminent threats.[viii] Arguably, in light of this view, the preemption strategy is accessible to the United States.
     However, the problem with preemption is that it is not needed in order to give the United States the means to act in its own defense against terrorism in general or Iraq in particular. There are also plenty of potential imitators: South/North Korea; India/Pakistan; China/Taiwan; Israel/Iran; and others.[ix] Therefore, the line between preemption and self-defense becomes blurred to the point where the threats (which may not risk the territorial integrity or political independence of a state) and uncertainty are used to justify preemptive attacks.

Proper authority
     Congress has the power to raise armies to provide for the military and to declare war, according to the U.S. Constitution. The President Bush demanded that Congress speedily affirm that he has the necessary authority to proceed immediately against Iraq.[x] Although debates in Congress were disputed, Congress gave authorization for use of military force against Iraq.[xi]   
     However, such processes between the Bush executive and the legislative raised fundamental issues of the ethical leadership for using military forces. Although the Congress ultimately decides a war-related question, the American people should decide whether or not to accept the statesmen's judgments.[xii] Furthermore, the Bush administration made less effort to dispel concerns about the months and years after a regime change.[xiii]

Right Intention
     Right intention is the most problematic criteria because of its nature that something existed in my mind that I can't disclose: how do you demonstrate intent? Acting with proper intent requires us to think about what is proper, and it is not certain that whether he or she is acting in self-interest or not. President Bush introduced his concept of an axis of evil, during his State of the Union address, "Our cause is just, and it continues... Iraq continues to flaunt its hostility toward America and to support terror...States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world.”[xiv] He also defined the world in either/or terms: you are either with us or with the terrorists.[xv] The President Bush expressed his ethical concerns through his rhetoric.[xvi]
     However, the issue in this view was on his purposeful intention in the politics. The President George Bush pushed for a vote in the Congress immediately before the election. His political strategy clearly described in a White House aide's misplaced computer disk, which advised Republican operatives that their principal game plan for success in the election was to focus on the war. [xvii]

Reasonable possibility for military success
     The United States has learned lessons in the context of military success, especially in Vietnam War. As the United States made under estimation on Vietnam that consequently the war led to blood war, the President Bush made the same mistakes in Iraq. About six years later after his announcement of victory over Iraq, ironically, the President Bush admitted, just before his departure of the White House, that the decision to go to war against Saddam Hussein on the basis of flawed intelligence was the biggest regret of his presidency.[xviii]
     The Machivavelli expressed in the “Prince” that the prince ought to read history and study the actions of eminent men to imitate the causes of the great victory and to avoid the defeat. He also articulated, “[a] prince must guard against as a rock of danger, and so contrive that his actions show grandeur, spirit, gravity, and fortitude.”[xix] I do not argue that the President of the United States should think and act like a king in democratic society, but the principles presumably will remain the same. The President Bush seemed more concerned with not being despised or hated by the American people and the world, than avoiding the defeat. 

     This criterion of proportionality is whether to practice unjust uses of force to meet the just ends of war. In other words, if the ends are to make a better world and the means call for killing all the people in an enemy territory, the means are justifiable? In light of the proportionality, the concept of proportionality in jus ad bellum is distinguished from the proportionality in jus in bella. Means, such as weapons or violence, in jus in bella must be used in proportion of perceived threat, and moral and legal obligations must abide by what proclaimed prior to war.[xx]
     In this view, although the President Bush announced publicly the goal of Iraq war was to prevent the terrorists and regimes who seek weapons of mass destruction from threatening the United States and the world, the issues, in terms of means, is whether the death of soldiers and marines is just or not. [xxi] According to Michael Walzer, just war requires morally pressing to win, and a soldier who dies in just war does not die in vain.[xxii] Pew Research Center released its survey result, “Thirty-three percent of the post-9/11 veterans who took part in the poll said neither of those two wars was worthwhile considering the costs versus the benefits to the United States.”[xxiii] In response to the nature of September 11 attacks, the United States had initially responded with a mix of law enforcement, intelligence gathering, financial asset tracking, and asset seizure. In light of the concept of limited wars and unlimited wars in means and ends relations, the Bush policy on terror could have been the limited ways of war with a mix of civilian-military resources to achieve the just ends.

Last resort
     No matter what under circumstances, the use of military forces must be the last resort. In every war, we must ask if all other methods to resolve conflict were tried and failed. The Bush administration demanded that Iraqi regime turn over Osama bin Laden and other al Qaeda leaders who plotted September 11 attacks, and gave them a second chance a few days after the bombing in Afghanistan began.[xxiv]
     However, the issues are, in light of the criteria, on the US official policy in that it has long been not to make concessions to, or negotiate with, terrorists and those who harbored them. The President Bush defined clearly the world in either/or terms: you are either with us or with the terrorists-last resort is truncated.[xxv]  I believe that we should be pacifist, and acknowledge that most leaders would not use diplomacy because it is not easy to use and it is difficult to understand different culture, and mostly hard to be humble oneself to prevent conflicts.

Evaluating just war theory (jus ad bellum) in Iraqi war
     Recall that this paper argued that the conditions for war against Iraq do not meet the criteria in a given nature of just war tradition (just ad bellum). It is arguable that morality has no place in wars or politics, yet to be sure, the argument is open to broad interpretations. Just war theory traditions are not checklist or tools for evaluating options and assessing for going into the war, rather it is an art of ethical leadership on using military forces for just ends.    

[i] Willian Ebenstein and Alan Ebenstein, Great Political Thinkers: Plato to the Present, 6th edition, (Wadsworth Cengage Learning), 31~33.

[ii] Craig L. Carr and David Kinsella, “Preemption, Prevention, And Jus Ad Bellum (2006), (International Studies Association), 1.

[iii] Alexander Moseley, “Just War Theory,”  (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 16 October),

[iv] Alexander Moseley, “Just War Theory,”  (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 16 October),

[v] John Ehrenberg, J. Patrice McSherry, Jose Ramon Sanchez, and Caroleen Marji Sayej,  Ed.  The Iraq Papers, (Oxford University Press, 2010), 70.

[vi] John Ehrenberg, J. Patrice McSherry, Jose Ramon Sanchez, and Caroleen Marji Sayej,  Ed.  The Iraq Papers, (Oxford University Press, 2010), 86.

[vii] Neta C. Crawford, "Just War Theory and the U.S. Counterterror War," Perspectives on Politics, Vol. 1, No. 1, (JSTOR, March, 2003), 15.

[viii] Micah L. Sifry and Christopher Cerf, Ed. The Iraq War Reader: History, Documents, Opinions, (Touchstone Rockefeller Center, 2003), 330.

[ix] Micah L. Sifry and Christopher Cerf, Ed. The Iraq War Reader: History, Documents, Opinions, (Touchstone Rockefeller Center, 2003), 331.

[x] Micah L. Sifry and Christopher Cerf, Ed. The Iraq War Reader: History, Documents, Opinions, (Touchstone Rockefeller Center, 2003), 326.

[xi] Micah L. Sifry and Christopher Cerf, Ed. The Iraq War Reader: History, Documents, Opinions, (Touchstone Rockefeller Center, 2003), 378.

[xii] Richard J. Regan, Just War: principles and cases, (The Catholic University of America Press, 1996), 23.

[xiii] Micah L. Sifry and Christopher Cerf, Ed. The Iraq War Reader: History, Documents, Opinions, (Touchstone Rockefeller Center, 2003), 327.

[xiv] Micah L. Sifry and Christopher Cerf, Ed. The Iraq War Reader: History, Documents, Opinions, (Touchstone Rockefeller Center, 2003), 251.

[xv] “Text of the President's speech,”

[xvi] Neta C. Crawford, "Just War Theory and the U.S. Counterterror War," Perspectives on Politics, Vol. 1, No. 1, (JSTOR, March, 2003), 15.

[xvii] Micah L. Sifry and Christopher Cerf, Ed. The Iraq War Reader: History, Documents, Opinions, (Touchstone Rockefeller Center, 2003), 327.

[xix] Willian Ebenstein and Alan Ebenstein, Great Political Thinkers: Plato to the Present, 6th edition, (Wadsworth Cengage Learning), 292.

[xx] Jason Campbell, “What is just war theory?,”

[xxi] Micah L. Sifry and Christopher Cerf, Ed. The Iraq War Reader: History, Documents, Opinions, (Touchstone Rockefeller Center, 2003), 251.

[xxii] Michael Walzer, Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument with Historical Illustrations, 4th Ed. xv.

[xxiii] Will Dunham, “Many U.S. veterans say Iraq, Afghan wars not worth it,”

[xxiv] Neta C. Crawford, "Just War Theory and the U.S. Counterterror War," Perspectives on Politics, Vol. 1, No. 1, (JSTOR, March, 2003), 12.

[xxv] “Text of the President's speech,”

What are the crucial economic challenges and opportunities that confront the United States in the near to medium term, and how must our national defense strategies be adjusted to account for these strategies and opportunities?

     The US is currently struggling in the aftermath of one of the worst economic downturns since the Great Depression. Millions of individuals have been laid off and businesses are just too uncertain about the future to begin hiring. Households do not want to spend because they don’t have sufficient income, and businesses do not want to hire because there is insufficient demand. American people no longer trust government policies on the economic sectors. According to the survey of The Hill,  69% responded that the US is now in decline, 57% presented that the children won't live better lives than their parents, and 83% indicated that they worry about the future of the nation with 49% very worried. These public perceptions are presenting the most pressing near term challenges for policymakers. How did we get into the crisis?
     The fundamental problem is the collapse of the middle classes because of the systematic problems in banking sectors with government policy errors. In 2000, the Federal Reserve lowered the interest rates to keep the economy strong upon miscalculation of the dot-come bust. The government didn’t recognize that lowering interest rates caused banks to borrow money from other countries such as China, Japan, and countries in Middle East. With leverage and CDO (Collateralized Debt Obligation), banks were able to make millions of money. However, such behaviors brought down the subprime mortgage problems resulting in the collapse of the middle classes. The banking sectors changed into a perforated jar so that banks are too big to allow bankrupting.
     Upon collapsing of the middle classes, the inequality between the very rich people and the middle classes are getting more serious. The people who could have become middle classes have dropped into the bottom and changed into the poverty. These gaps forced the price of foods and energy to rise, which again affected the middle classes whom the United States relies on to supply the growth to pay the debt.         
     Despite these tremendous near term challenges, the United States has even more pressing underlying structural challenges. By far, some challenges for the United States are the aging of the population and natural resource security. Simply put, the United States public sector has promised far more than it can deliver to the coming retirement of the baby boomers. The cost overruns swamp any of the near term fiscal issues so something needs to change with hard choices: reduce benefits, increase revenues, or reduce spending in other areas of the budget. 
     The world just witnessed its 7 billionth person born last week. The demands being placed on the planet are extreme. The things we take for granted, grain, water, fossil fuels are becoming more and more limited, while the demand is increasing. Paul Ehrlich wrote the population bomb in 1968, where he projected the world would see mass starvations in the coming decades. This did not happen owing to the green revolution that dramatically increased crop yields. Since then the population has gone from 3.5 billion  and is now 7billion. Will we see another green revolution? Who knows? But securing the resources to sustain national populations’ increasing demands will be the largest challenge in the coming 50 years.
     With respect to the military concerns, the government had engaged to cut military budget between $400 billion and $1.15 trillion dollars over the next decade. It is a very challenging time for the defense budget and for the national security needs. How do military strategists to  make the case to save the defense budgets so that the military is able provide the national security in effective ways?
     In terms of ‘ends, ways, means,’ the Pentagon must find effective ‘ways’ to meet the ‘ends’ without necessarily jeopardizing ‘means’. For example, with regards to the skill sets, if we cut the defense budget and stop building submarines or fighters, we might not be able to bring the capability back several years later. The skilled engineers and innovate ideas for the national security coming out of the manufacturing of the defense industry place enormously positive role in the national economy.
     The military also should admit that savings can be found within the defense budget. Some factors must be considered for that purpose: how can we reshape force presence in key areas, such as Asia, the Middle East, and Africa? What type of forces are we going to need for future challenges? What kind of programs we might need?
     With regards to the risks, the Chairmen of Joint Chiefs of Staff addressed that the military would not go to the civilian leadership with simple priorities, rather the military will recommend to the civilian leadership the strategic options the military can do and need to do in terms of time. His approaches to the risks and challenges amid economic crisis will lead us to another opportunity for both the military leadership and the civilian leadership.
     The fundamental question regarding opportunities is, “How does the United Sates to  get it back to the way it used to be?” Broadly speaking, the United States must reverse the Capitalism with expansion of policy on globalization. There is some distance between what the market is doing in its own zone and where the government wants to be in terms of optimal use of resources. The government has power to pull the market all the way to that efficient point with surgically precise regulation and intervention.