Review: Stability Operations and State-Building–Continuities and Contingencies: Colloquium Report

5 Star, Stabilization & Reconstruction

A Gem, Free Online, Worth Buying Just for the Book Form, October 22, 2008

Army War College

I have long recommended that the Strategic Studies Institute (SSI) of the U.S. Army offer its many publications on Amazon, and I am very glad to see that finally happening. SSI, to which I contribute when asked, is my single best source of free serious books, and a real national asset. The URL for their online version is in the comment, but I do recommend purchase as it will then reach you in book form.

This is a reader, the result of a conference held in February 2008. We are fortunate to have the published record so soon.

The most important contribution of the gathering, drawing from over 70 submitted “principles of peace,” was its final consensus on the following six:

1. Ensure rule of law
2. Seek security: civil, military, economic
3. Pursue legitimacy
4. Encourage development
5. Foster self-empowerment and self-sufficiency
6. Foster communications

Appendix II, nine individual submissions of distinct principles of peace, is alone worth the time and money for the book, and ample cause for reflection. Appendix III offering six break-out group distillations, and then Appendex IV offers the six principles above.

Appendix V offers 15 “Policies and Procedures,” and with apologies to those that hate lists, I believe I serve the group by listing them here in short form. I am impressed. This is useful good stuff.

1. Be ready for a fight after the fight
2. Enlist reconciliable groups
3. Control population
4. Advise, rather than force, when appropriate
5. Prevent disease and unrest
6. Be an honest broker
7. Punish egregious violators insofar as it promotes national healing
8. Reconstruct institutions so that abuses will not be repeated
9. Secure sacred places, relics, and cultural features
10. Empower a culturally-nuanced judiciary
11. Facilitate appropriate sustainable development
12. Facilitate coordinated efforts with lead agency (both national and international
13. Respect culture
14. Define a clear, concise national mission with associated objectives
15. Pursue bottom-up policies where applicable, thereby creating self-sufficiency through individual empowerment.

[It is natural for the reader to wonder why we don’t do this at home.]

I found roughly half the pieces arresting enough to demand attention.

10 Questions Before You Go by Marc Tyrrell of Carlton University

Question 1: What is the Mission?
Question 2: What is the Ongoing Moral Justification of the Mission?
Question 3: What is the Source of Legitimacy for the Mission?
Question 4: What Social Institutions Have Failed and Why?
Question 5: What Social Institutions Does Mission Success Require and Desire?
Question 6: What Cultural Institutions Support *Required* Social Institutions?
Question 7: What Are the Basic Narratives of the Culture?
Question 8: What Are the Basics of the Culture?
Question 9: What are the Core Narratives of the Culture That Relate to the Mission?
Question 10: Not offered–the Socratic open-ended inquiry.

Dr. Dewey Browder from Austin Peay State University (host of the event)


On the latter point, I was impressed by several contributors who pointed out that “democracy” for many is based on tribal and other network forms of consensus, not on majority voting (and of course we have our own tyranny of fraudulent parties disenfranchising two thirds of the public).

Dr. Albert Randall, also with the host university, got my attention on religion, after pointing out that our failure to take this into account cost us heavily in Iraq. [I was told directly by Civil Affairs officers that the first few years they were told to ignore the imams and the tribal leaders, now of course we know better.] Here are his truncated six points (the last two complete):

1. Religion adds a higher intensity…
2. Religion offers a stronger identity…
3. Religion can motivate the masses quickly and cheaply…
4. Religion offers an ideology or a platform for an ideology…
5. Religious leaders are often the last leaders left when states fail, and they offer a voice to the disempowered or oppressed.
6. Religious leaders are often the first to seek peace and reconciliation after conflict.

Other contributions earned my attention, but the last I want to mention here is the early intervention of Jordy Rocheleau, also from the host institution, “Ethical Principles for State-Building.” This one chapter of 14 pages could usefully be integrated “as is” into our concepts and doctrine. After discussion, he provided sentences, I will only list the key word here (get the PDF or buy the book):

1. Necessity
2. Human Rights
3. Peace and Security
4. National Self-Determination
5. Rule of Law
6. International Legality/Legitimacy
7. Beneficience/Non-exploitation
8. Limited Retribution
9. Restorative Justice
10.. Reconciliation

I put the book down at peace, pleased with this intellectual construct, disappointed that I missed the event itself, and most impressed with Austin Peay State University, proven to be world-class in this volume.


Here are some other books to complement this one (other than Irregular War, which I am not ready to list yet).
The Search for Security: A U.S. Grand Strategy for the Twenty-First Century
Policing the New World Disorder: Peace Operations and Public Security
Faith- Based Diplomacy Trumping Realpolitik
The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence, and the Will of the People
A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility–Report of the Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change (This one is free online as well but color is best bought)
Wilson’s Ghost: Reducing the Risk of Conflict, Killing, and Catastrophe in the 21st Century
The leadership of civilization building: Administrative and civilization theory, symbolic dialogue, and citizen skills for the 21st century
How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas, Updated Edition
Deliver Us from Evil: Peacekeepers, Warlords and a World of Endless Conflict
Peacekeeping Intelligence: Emerging Concepts for the Future

See the slide (image) above, it is still valid and available as a model, the 1976 paper is at my web site (last portal page, under Early Papers).