INTERNATIONAL CONFLICT AND ORDER IN THE 21st CENTURY

chaired by Prof. R. Eatwell, Professor of European Politics, University of Bath, on 12 June 1999

INTERNATIONAL SECURITY IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY

Prof. Geoffrey Lee Williams, Director of Inst. of Economic & Political Studies, Cambridge

Although we cannot predict the future we can see trends _ a multi-polar world is developing. The number of nation-states is expected to rise from around 200 now to around 350 by 2025. The number of trans-national, multi-national and international institutions and non-governmental institutions will increase greatly; in 1970 there were 7-8,000 multinational companies, now there are over 40,000. Our weak self-regulating system, which fosters anarchic relationships, rogue states and international terrorism, embraces three types of states _ `suburbs, precincts and ghettos'. All OECD and NATO states are suburban, exemplifying post-modern democratic ideals, favouring diplomacy over war, which is seen only as deterrence, and seeking an international society of nations. Precinct states _ OPEC, Central/Eastern Europe, Pacific Rim countries (except Japan) , China, the residual Soviet Union _ are moving towards post-modernism, but they have traditional views on balance of power and war. Ghetto states _ much of Africa, South-East Asia ,Latin America, etc. _ are pre-modern and also pose pollution concerns. Although precinct and ghetto states are likely war arenas, the speaker expected movement over 25 years towards liberal democracy and `societal' views.

Of 83 current conflicts all but three are intrastate rather than interstate. Europe may federate, despite its coherence problems; China and a reviving Russian federation are likely superpowers by 2025; US superpower will be enhanced through technology. Many potentially unstable nuclear powers are also likely, however. The scientific and technological revolutions "will shape and drive the international system", which will affect particularly transaction speeds and notions of sovereignty. Collective defence will be redefined and interdependencies will dominate. "We live in a strategic enclosure".

THE ROLE OF THE UNITED NATIONS

Sir Donald Maitland, GCMG, OBE, Hon. Ll.D. Pro-Chancellor, University of Bath

After 1918 it was accepted that Wilson's proposed `general association of nations' should aim to guarantee peace, but following the late entry of the US into the war and its failure to ratify League of Nations membership, a vital lack of commitment weakened the system. After it was attacked in 1941, the US did join the allies and then sought a regional arrangement through the Atlantic Charter. Russia, however, urged global cover and the United Nations was founded post-war.

Throughout the Cold War period vetoes inhibited Security Council action, but after the 1956 invasion of Egypt, initiatives by the General Assembly and Secretary-General brought some successes, mostly through mediation. The UN is now expected to intervene where threats to human rights or international peace are evident. Thus peacekeeping costs have sharply increased to around 3 billion dollars annually, whereas 800 million dollars are owed, mainly by theUS. In 1992 the Secretary-General issued a report on preventive diplomacy, peacekeeping and peacemaking, entitled `Agenda for Peace'. In 1997, Kofi Annan's report _ `Renewing the UN' _ proposed fundamental reforms. Since timely preventive efforts and long-term peace building need to be supplemented by firm collective action through both global and regional organisations, War Crimes Tribunals, sanctions, etc., and through Security Council commitments, those two reports indicate the way forward. Without political will by its members the United Nations cannot be wholly effective.
NATO AND THE TRANSATLANTIC ALLIANCE

Alan Lee Williams, OBE, D.Litt. Director of the Atlantic Council

NATO was conceived as a deterrent to war, based upon its nuclear shield. After the end of the Cold War the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence disputed on its future, but the Balkans problems intervened. This year's planned debate upon its 50th anniversary was frustrated by the Kosovo conflict. Although the U.S.would not commit ground troops, it did commit technological support. The implication for greater European defence spending is not popular ,but it is being addressed. While the UK generally supports Atlantic Alliance action, some disquiet was exhibited on the Kosovo intervention. NATO's future is thus uncertain, since countries seeking membership require US involvement and even Russia and the Ukraine have become `Partners for Peace'. So Atlanticists continue to dominate debate, despite other moves for European defence policies. Long standing anti-US-`imperialism' fears foster views that NATO is its instrument. The debate on NATO's future is yet to come.

EUROPEAN DEFENCE POLICY

Prof. Jolyon Howorth, Jean Monnet Professor of European Political Union, University of Bath

Since the 1940s European security negotiations have been based on the Atlantic Alliance. In the 1970s Eurostates developed political co-operation and, with occasional US encouragement, Franco-German links and WEU revitalisation. French initiatives for a European `security identity' did not provide blueprints and the Gulf War emphasised both European divisions on relationships and policies and the US reliance on NATO. In 1993, pressure from 19 leaders of European countries secured US approval for NATO enlargement. After 1993, however, a President uninterested in foreign policy, French involvement in the Bosnian conflict and pressure from Britain led to a North Atlantic Council meeting in January l994 when ESDI (European Security and Defence Identity) and CJTF (Combined Joint Task Forces) were accepted. By June 1996 details had been worked out, but French ambition for Southern Command control was refused, NATO enlargement took precedence and Blair's veto at Amsterdam in June 1997 of an EU/WEU merger stopped further development. In 1998 the Balkans problems and US reluctance to be involved changed Blair's mind.
At St.Malo in December a Franco-British declaration of a long-term commitment to a European defence and security organisation was made. Despite French suspicions of Britain's `special relationship' and British fear of US reactive isolationism, further moves are evident. A merger of EU and WEU and a defence council, political, security and military committees have been agreed, together with the significant appointment of Javier Solana as President.

Discussions will also involve non-EU members of NATO and non-NATO members of EU. So, institutions will emerge, but political and economic problems involving cost, harmonisation, etc., may delay implementation of programmes.

DOES WAR HAVE A FUTURE?

Professor Geoffrey Lee Williams, Senior Research Fellow of the Atlantic Council and Director of the Institute of Economic & Political Studies, Cambridge

After 1914 the view that war is ruinously destructive fostered an assumption that future wars would be accidental rather than intended. Later, technological superiority was considered a deterrent to war. After 1945 deterrence based upon mutually-assured destruction became policy. When the Soviet threat apparently went, it was argued that such policy is effective. There are flaws _ governments do not always behave rationally, ideologies are powerful, pre-emptive strikes are considered, miscalculations occur as do accidents, command collapses, etc. Thus, post-war confidence is not soundly based. Other inexperienced nuclear powers are emerging, such as India, Pakistan and China. Complexes of diplomacy, arms control and even military intervention (such as the Israeli destruction of Iraqi nuclear bases in 1981) may be tried. So war is clearly not obsolete and both defence spending and deterrence policies are rational.

The Russians could go to war over the Ukraine, the Chinese over Taiwan and NATO's action in Kosovo may be regarded variously by others. The US may be inhibited by Vietnam. Wars are now relatively short, however, and their nature is changing. While the Iraq war was arguably `semi-smart', the Kosovo conflict was the first `smart' war. Now, technological developments raise a "dreadful possibility" of some utterly devastating pre-emptive strikes. Diplomacy may be effective, but we must note the distinctions between suburbs, precincts and ghettos.

OPEN FORUM

(Question / Answer session)

Q. Can international law be strengthened?

G.L.W. Democracies may favour justice with order, but others do not; history provides lessons. Dictators may only be assassinated if threats dominate. Although arms races do not cause wars, inadequate defences encourage aggressors. Despite embargos, arms will be procured.

J.M.H. Although trade wars may develop, he is optimistic that interdependence networking will minimise war risks. He accepts that body-bag fears may limit democracies' actions.

(D.M. adds terrorism)

(G.L.W. concedes that public opinion is now powerful, world-wide)

 

Q.How effective are sanctions?

 

G.L.W. After risk is assessed against effectiveness, discrimination can be helpful.

 

Q. How may U.S. and European policies differ?

 

J.M.H. The US seeks influence rather than direct involvement in flashpoints.

D.M. Europe is often less suspect than the US - eg .with the Arab world.

Q. How may borders problems be solved?

J.M.H. Very carefully - the issues are "explosive".

Q. Is NATO's action in Kosovo controversial?

G.L.W. Yes, but intervention under the UN as supreme authority is now legitimised where both scale of need and responsibility for action are clear.

Q. What should be the British attitude and role in Europe?

D.M. Disagreement between France and Britain has brought undesirable outcomes, such as the Common Agricultural Policy.

A.L.W. Now that political unity in the UK is absent, we need clear leadership.

 

FINAL STATEMENTS FROM SPEAKERS

 

A.L.W. When diplomacy and time run out, action is needed, but he is fairly optimistic, so long as Russia and China remain involved with the West.

D.M. Also optimistic, providing that Europe enlarges and reforms effectively and if the UN is supported by visionary leaders.

J.M.H. Despite cautious optimism, politics and cultural attitudes will affect outcomes. Without effective consultation, EU enlargement may destabilise, as may events south of the Mediterranean.
G.L.W. "We have to make a stand somewhere". We are at a turning point between traditional great power agendas and international security backed effectively by law. Under UN articles peacekeeping and peace enforcement is possible and the necessary organs do exist.

Geoffrey Catchpole