The Resiliency of Military Non-Intervention: When to Apply it and When not

By Con George-Kotzabasis

Robert Haddick, the managing editor of Small Wars Journal, argues in his piece in the Foreign Policy magazine, March 4, 2011, of the uselessness of a no-fly zone in the Balkans, as an example that could also apply in Libya. But the ineffectiveness of a no-fly zone in Bosnia cannot be used as an argument in the totally different circumstances in Libya. Milosevic was fighting a nationalist war for a greater Serbia and his relatively powerful military forces were involved ardently in this ‘great’ goal of Serbia. By contrast, Gaddafi is fighting for his own survival with a weakened army, due to defections from its ranks, and compelled to import mercenaries to kill his own people, which in turn increases and exacerbates the divide between the regime and the Libyan people. This is the fundamental difference between Milosevic and Gaddafi. The former was fighting with a united army an ethnic war, whereas the latter is fighting a civil war with a disunited and weak army.

I think the following quote from Charles Maurice Talleyrand depicts, with his customary profound perception in matters of diplomacy, peace, and war, perfectly well the principle of non-intervention:”The principle of non-intervention, very convenient in itself, and very appropriate to a given circumstance, becomes very little better than an absurdity, when regarded as an absolute and when it is desired to apply it under conditions widely different. This principle is a matter of judgment, when to set it aside, and when to apply it.”

As to the concerns of Secretary of Defence Robert Gates, that a no-fly zone would entail the destruction of Libya’s air defences and therefore would involve grave risk to U.S. air-combat missions, a cogent answer is given by British Defence Secretary Liam Fox. He remarks, “rather than taking out air defences, you can say that if your air defence radar locks on to any of our aircraft, we regard that as a hostile act and take subsequent action.” What is more surprising, however, is that the public declaration of Secretary Gates about the difficulties of a no-fly zone and the aversion of the U.S. to countenance them, has unwisely given advance notice to Colonel Gaddafi and his armed forces of America’s reluctance to engage militarily in Libya. This in itself has put wind to the sails of Gaddafi loyalists to sally forth against the insurgents. Gates absurdly and utterly flunked Clausewitz’s principle to keep close to one’s chest one’s response to a situation and never reveal it to the enemy. His predecessor, the too much maligned Donald Rumsfeld, would have never done that.

LEADERS MADE UP ON THE ROLL OF THE DICE

 By Con George Kotzabasis

The folowing is an extract from my book Unveiling The War Against Terror, written on September 24, 2003 
                                                   

There was always a lurking suspicion that Gareth Evans’ projection on the firmament of Australian politics as Foreign Minister was not propelled by the force of egregious merit but by the force of the “roll of the dice”, as played in the numbers game of the “witless men” of the Labor Party. This suspicion was confirmed by the former Minister himself, by his intellectually tasteless and insipid, not to say brutal and banal, Hawke Lecture, mocking and deriding American Foreign Policy in the bombastiloquent, colorful, and jesting terms of a court jester. Obviously, your Chairman was more concerned with entertaining and beguiling his audience than enlightening it, although one must admit, that enlightenment cannot burst forth from an ‘eclipsed star’.

His “hors d’ oeuvres”,  to quote him, was the most eclectically bitter anti-Americanism one could taste. It was either the reaction of a prima donna who had been shunned, or of a political guru whose advice and pearls of wisdom were not allowed to trespass the corridors of power. After a litany of syndromes of medical and clinical psychology, which are so alluring and beloved by the progressive intelligentsia, after an array of run-of-the-mill accusations against the Bush Administration, such as “current enemies used to be friends” etc., which seem to reveal more the caliber of his diplomatic and political acumen, than the fault lines of the Administration’s foreign policy, and after his crude and brutish metaphors, such as “the top dog on the global block” (one can only ask about such a literary creation, was it an outcome of a syndrome of deprived imagination?), oblivious of the fact or shuffling it away, that it was this “dog” who saved the world from the twin miasma of Nazism and Communism, and that it will be the same dog who has the means and will to defeat global terrorism. At the end of this drivel, although he concedes that all these accusations might be “unfair”, he nonetheless does not abstain from the ignominious temptation to make a ‘big fair’ out of them.

The English essayist Chesterton observed, “where is the best place to hide a leaf? In a tree.” Mr. Evans, apparently observes, where is the best place to hide a truth? Paint it in the colors of failure. The truth about global terrorism is that you cannot defeat it without also fighting the rogue states that directly and indirectly support it. It is therefore preeminently a two front war. And Iraq was a quintessential part of this strategy. Furthermore, only one nation in the world has the technological and military power, and will, to defeat global terrorism. The free nations of the world depend on America’s triumph in this deadly contest with the terrorists. And as in all critical contests, there have to be tradeoffs between independence and dependence. Your Chairman would have known this, since he reads Isaiah Berlin.

This is the truth that the liberal intelligentsia is so abhorrent of and runs away from. All the accusations against the Howard Government’s erosion of Australia’s independence are, therefore, grossly erroneous and lack historical insight. As for his criticism of pre-emption, your Chairman completely disregards the fine distinction between pre-emption as an option,  which is applicable to a world that is under discontinuous threats, and pre-emption as a doctrine, which is applicable to a world that is under continuous threats, as presently posed by the terrorists. And as for his hypocritical statement of standing with America, “but when we were needed on the big issues, we were always there”, one is tempted to ask, is global terrorism not a big issue?

Lastly, all his expatiations about international rules and laws that bring order in an anarchic world are totally inutile. Only when peoples and nations abide by these rules and laws, can the latter be effective. The trouble is that neither the terrorists nor the rogue states are prepared to submit to such a legalistic regime. Recent examples of this are Rwanda, Serbia, Kosovo, and Iraq.

All the colorful bubbles that your Chairman presented in the guise of serious arguments in his lecture, will not survive the Aeolian winds that erupted on September 11.Your Chairman, for his own reasons, is a fugitive from reality. History has shown, that in hard times only the “hard men” can prevail. The wets and the wimps are cast aside. Alas, one can only summon the squatter diplomat, Gareth Evans, to “remove his belongings” from the domain of Talleyrand.

I rest on my oars: Your turn now