Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity: The Military Response
Daniel R. Schroeder: Why do those who introduce me always go back to hairstyles and my lack of? In reality what my wife would tell you is that it is because we are the parents of four daughters and that would make any man go bald!
Sitting here looking at you, I have to commend you for your perseverance in remaining through this part of the day. It is not unlike doing the early Mass on Sundays and you look out and you see the hard core participants. Our distribution today is about the same. However, we are not going to pass a basket. That was meant to lighten you up a little.
Having said that, I have to tell you that I am moved and impressed with the wealth of thought presented today. I am frustrated by my own inadequacies to address the issues adequately this afternoon. In fact, I would submit that this topic dealing with early warning and prevention of genocide and the military response, or the military implications thereof, is worthy of two days’ worth of exchange and interaction. I truly appreciate the fact that you have included me and my two colleagues in this conference. I think that is important.
The other thing of which I am aware is that I am the last thing between you and dinner and the bus, so I am going to abbreviate some very elegant and lengthy remarks in order to try to keep them focused and to get you to the bus on time. I will wind up with some points about my experience in Rwanda and then we will have questions and answers.
To reiterate something that Bill Nash mentioned earlier, liberal democracies’ militaries exist for what purpose? Basically, to fight and win the nation’s wars. In the Cold War context it was expressed as the deterrence of war, and if deterrence fails, to fight and win the war.
Apropos our title for this conference, early warning and prevention, I would modify the phrase and say: how do you deter those interests out there that would like to resort to the crime of genocide to achieve their goals? That is the deterrence piece in this modern context. I was gratified to learn of the International Criminal Court because I think accountability of these criminals is a key part of the deterrence.
Pre-1989, nation building and economic development were vital components to the strategy to contain Communism. The thought also was that idealistic approaches to capitalism and economic prosperity and liberal democratic values would create free societies with a level of political maturity measured more by loyalty to a state than to a narrower ethnic group.
I would suggest that one of the things this pre-1989 strategy did was that it obscured the issues that were going on around the fringes of this bi-polar relationship that prevailed at the time. What you see today, expressed as the euphemism “ethnic corrections” to artificially imposed state boundaries, are corrections being made through the violent use of military capabilities in support of genocidal policies. Some would say the conflicts are ancient in their origin and there are many historical examples.
The key point is that even today in this enlightened age these “corrections” have as their object the territorial displacement of entire ethnic groups—displacement if not annihilation. Such conflicts by their very nature defy efforts at mediation from the outside because they are fed by passions that do not yield to rational political compromise nor to expressed highly-held values. Thus, the military dimension or the implications for the use of military force to mitigate those conflicts.
Historically, there have been probably three waves of this kind of behavior in this century. The first, in the wake of the collapsing Ottoman, Russian and Austro-Hungarian empires, came as a climax after World War I. The second followed World War II and gave rise to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, whose anniversary we commemorate with this conference.
In each of those instances the military response was long in coming and was reactive and very profound. Again, apropos our conference heading, the early warning signals were there. I would assert that we are now in the third wave of this ethnic nationalism which came about with the demise of European Communism and the Soviet Union. Again, I would submit that the warning signals are there.
History has shown that these violent trends tend to be cyclical, following failed empires or failed states, economic scarcity, epidemics and mass migrations. There is a post-Cold War uniqueness to the character of these trends that creates more unpredictability in the world today. Global transparency, communications mobility and the proliferation of military technologies, including weapons of mass effects, exacerbates that unpredictability. Anarchy of the pre-nation state era appears to be emerging. As Martin Creveld tells us, conflicting or warring factions wrest the legal monopoly of armed force from official, legitimate hands and obscure the difference between war and crime. Somalia, Bosnia, Haiti, Peru, Rwanda, Sudan, Chad, Liberia, Chechnya and now the Balkans provide evidence to support this hypothesis.
The implications are clear I think. The United States is the only global superpower. Therefore it must a leading role in the promotion of collective security and the protection of Human Rights. To that end military leadership must be more active in the interagency decision-making and deliberation processes.
Sovereignty issues abound. Enforcement of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is problematic; apprehension issues, the rule of law, common law versus what the literature describes as three other different types of law, and the authorities to enforce the convention are vested in what agencies?
In microcosm we saw all that in Rwanda. Those conflicts, as we have heard today, have had ethnic, historical and social components, but they also had a strong immediate political component. And I would agree with the Ambassador to the United States when he says the seeds for this are not centuries old but probably go back to the late 1950’s.
The leaders involved within the factions steered that conflict toward violence, tapping into long standing, deep rooted ethnic tensions as an accelerator. These leaders exploited the history, but in the political context the political incentive began in the late 50’s experience.
If the proximate causal factors were political, then the violence began as the result of choice, and such choices can be influenced! I go back then to the role of the military and the dimensions of how do you influence those kinds of choices.
In Rwanda, April 1994 is a key period, but you have to go back to the 1993 Arusha Accords. Who facilitated the Arusha agreement, and how did the international community respond for the enforcement and the execution of the agreement? UNOMUR—the United Nations Observer Mission Uganda/Rwanda—was created to monitor the Uganda - Rwanda from the Ugandan side and assist in the reduction of weapons traffic and violent incidents. Following the Arusha Accords, the UN established the United Nations Mission in Rwanda (UNAMIR) and directed that it be commanded by the commander of UNOMUR. From a military perspective, this kind of mission change for essentially the same organization may well be counter-productive.
Canadian Brigadier General Romeo Dallaire was made the commander of UNAMIR as well as of UNOMUR. His mandate was established at two thousand seven hundred and fifty soldiers, or three battalions. Was that sufficient to do the task at hand? I believe military judgment would conclude, no, it was not. It is much better (and more deterrent) for a military force to be overwhelming on the front end of such an operation and to reduce the force later, than it is to have to deal with consequence management on the back end. Because it is a coercive role, notwithstanding the desires of both parties, what you are doing is interposing yourself between two, what have heretofore been uncooperative parties, in trying to coerce a solution to a very difficult situation. Thus, I would conclude UNAMIR was not properly resourced nor was General Dallaire given the proper authorities at the outset.
The French operation Turquoise was mentioned earlier. It took place in the southwest of Rwanda. In June of 1994 that French military personnel presence demonstrated the effect a credible force can have on dampening a volatile situation. The tragedy taking place in the northwest would have been replicated had it not been for the presence of the French troops. The key to their presence was the clear understanding that they would brook no interference, read that “rules of engagement.” Consequently, when we talk about conclusions think about precision of language in Chapter Six and Chapter Seven types of operations.
The direction of Rwanda’s genocide actually had its start in February 1994 with a single homicide. The perpetrators got away with that and then the technique intensified in April. The objective was the decapitation of the moderate leadership in Kigali. I would submit that there has been no end to it. If you look closely at what transpired in June through early August, what you see is the evacuation of the population with the then-government hidden within the mass movement of people. There was no capitulation on the battlefield; there was no cease-fire agreement. Therefore, there was no termination of the hostilities and no resolution of the issues.
The mistake made at that point in time was the failure to separate that government faction from the bona fide refugees. Could Turquoise have done that? I do not think so because of where they were geographically and because the French interests may have conflicted with their ability to force such a separation. That effort would have taken a larger, more competent intervention force. In retrospect, the failure to separate the political leadership and interahamwe from the legitimate refugees was a mistake.
So, what happened basically was that those who prosecuted the genocide, the small group who started it and then those who executed it, evacuated the country and took their constituency—the people—with them. It was startling in that period to fly over the country and just see a countryside totally vacated.
Notwithstanding the value of Clausewitz’s theory to us Cold War soldiers, I believe that what we saw in Rwanda was more like Sun Tzu’s philosophy about the indirect approach. That is, start with a little effort, accrete your way to the objective and if you get resisted in one direction, go in another direction. While that is different from the Cold War paradigm of confrontation, both theorists assert in essence that war is an extension of politics.
The other thing to keep in mind is that a military intervention in that kind of an environment can set conditions but cannot solve the causal problem. The same holds true in the Balkans. To put artificial timelines on interventions without describing the desired outcome tends to be misleading to those who expect something to occur. Again, it is the conditions within which the diplomats and politicians can operate that comes from military intervention.
To paraphrase Rene Cassin a long time ago: the high values of the universal declaration mean nothing without a constituency to bring them into effect. I think what I have heard today from a variety of sources makes a great constituency philosophically but somewhat less so politically. Further, there is also a military dimension to this constituency that has to be built.
Some conclusions. If in regard to Rwanda the question is could the early use of force have succeeded in preventing genocide, I would say yes. I think Romeo Dallaire agrees with that view. I would commend to you a preventing genocide report to the Carnegie Commission on Preventing Deadly Conflict produced April of 1998. While you may not agree with all of it, some useful thoughts on the use of military force are offered.
Some points: any intervening force requires strategic direction. That means giving the commander the latitude to increase or decrease the size of the force and, more importantly, giving him the rules of engagement that allow him to perform. Contrary to what many of my colleagues in the United States believed, we felt no threat from the RPF of from the forces in Rwanda. Rather, the threat we faced was from the Zarois (Zairean military) in eastern Zaire. The provincial governor had no authority over that force and anarchy typified their behavior. Consequently, in collaboration with our French colleagues, we devised our own rules of engagement and made it clear that would tolerate no interference with our force nor with the non-governmental organizations trying to bring relief to those suffering people.
The generation of force: one of the things modern technology has done is to compress time. Therefore, as you think about generating force in response to these situations, you have to have some of the mechanisms in place a priori. There is a division of labor involved in that. Who sets priorities; who provides what capabilities; and who coordinates efforts in this non-hierarchical operation are some issues that can be decided and put in place today. When you contemplate the use of military forces, you must consider the implications of Chapter six versus Chapter seven.
Another text that I would commend to you is the “Warning Response Problem and Missed Opportunities in Preventive Diplomacy,” which is another report to the Carnegie Institute. A paper by Patrick J. O’Halloran, “Humanitarian Intervention in the Genocide in Rwanda,” published in January of 1995 by the Research Institute for the Study of Conflict and Terrorism is another good source document.
On a final note, I believe that the United States needs a more clearly defined policy towards the Great Lakes region of Africa. That is because I believe values have to enter into the equation as we look at those policy choices. For those of you who are Americans, I would tell you that the values of your armed forces are of concern to you as well. The liberal democracies and the values they espouse and incorporate within their armed forces of integrity, concern for others, the Geneva Convention are all of importance to us. More importantly, they are relevant to the problem of how to prevent genocide.
Having said that, we are sometimes quick to say that we want the military to intervene in these activities. However, how well resourced are we to conduct these operations on a global basis. National security spending in the US amounts to about 2.7% of gross domestic product and that is not sufficient for today’s requirements. The bottom line is that while we may be quick to call for military intervention, the last thing you ccan afford is a half-hearted effort.
Finally, my compliments to all of you for enduring the day and particularly for staying with us. Thank you.