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Thread: Humanitarian Aid: Winning the Terror War

  1. #21
    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post
    Hey LV,
    I think it would take a major change in perception by the NGOs and world at large. While folks are often happy to receive $$$ and other types of Aid, they are not always so thrilled to have us tell them how to use it, maybe even less so if it involves US forces on their soil. What would be required is and Informational and Diplomatic strategy that clearly articulated both our goals and means to the local, regional & global interests what we were trying to accomplish and why, generally how we were going to do it so that our actions on the ground were put into context, and that we perceived the actions as a partnership of equality, not one that necessarily was to our political and economic advantage. We'd also need the diplomatic and informational means to ensure that it was a 2 way dialouge that allowed for changes in the situation. I think this is no where near as easy as it sounds.

    The PMCs and other contractors are not a perfect answer. Certainly introducing a 3rd or consecutive party agent can work against the requirements laid out above. However, if you do not have the means because they are engaged elsewhere, and no volunteer agent (such as another regional state or NGO) with the capability disposes themselves to the solution, PMCs and other contracts may be required. I think much of it resides in the way the contract is written in terms, of scope, duration, responsibilities, penalties and authority. However, any contract that does not provide favorable conditions to the contractor is likely to go unfilled since they are profit and not humanitarian based. The trick is to find the happy medium - perhaps allowing the HN you are trying to assist with a role and some oversight?
    A large number of NGOs use PMCs for security in conflict zones now.

  2. #22
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    I don't see a relationship between humanitarian aid and terrorism, but if humanitarian aid would really improve the income in specific areas, it could certainly help the overall international peace situation and the reputation of western states.

  3. #23
    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Last Dingo - some of this is spilling over into the New Paradigm thread. Regards, Rob

  4. #24
    Council Member redbullets's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
    A large number of NGOs use PMCs for security in conflict zones now.
    This is not accurate, at least in my experience. There are certainly some NGOs (I'm speaking about humanitarian not-for-profits, not the State Department and USAID beltway bandits, who as commercials are less inhibited by activities that might impact a constituency of individual, left-leaning donors) that use PMCs, but this is very limited. My own NGO "used" a PMC for some of our ongoing activities in Iraq (haven't even thought about using one for our ongoing activities in Afghanistan, or anywhere else, and we work in dicey places), but that service was provided as an umbrella service by the State Department. In other words, we weren't directly "tainted" by engaging a PMC. Other NGOs, including some of the "biggies" had similar arrangements provided by USAID.

    However, there are currently so few "real" NGOs operating in Iraq (or "really" operating in Iraq - leave Iraqi Kurdistan out of this - operationally, its safer there than SW Washington, D. C., so that's where many NGOs and companies are hiding out so they don't have to stop spending on the contracts and IQCs they're sitting on) that this is probably not worth adding into the discussion. So many of the NGO and UN agencies are working from offices in Amman, Jordan and completely relying upon Iraqi national staff who coordinate and report via e-mail and telephone. That's great, nationalizing the solution, but there's almost no way to monitor what the national staff are doing. Very difficult to tell whether or not there's an NGO equivalent going on of radioing in one's patrol checkpoints from one's hooch.

    Iraq is viewed as an exception by the relief and development community leadership folks I communicate with on a regular basis. It's not necessarily going to be real productive in the long run to base future behaviors on the Iraq experience - the UN and NGOs aren't going to go along.

    On the bigger discussion, I have no problem with MEDCAPs and such by military forces. However, there are a couple of rules it took me some time to learn as a guy who left military/SOF to join the humanitarian community - it's always better to find a local (and often much less technologically sexy/sterile/effective) solution to whatever the relief or development problem than to use air and/or sea lift to move (a smaller amount, more expensively) of the needed services and/or supplies to the point they're needed. And, its always a peachy relationship between the military and UN/NGO community during a natural disaster like the south Asian tsunami or the Pakistan earthquake, as opposed to a conflict like southern Lebanon last summer where we humanitarians have to operate amongst a menu of combatants.

    I'm brand new to the forum, and apologize in advance for when I will inevitably violate protocol - I'll pay attention and learn the culture of this site as quickly as I can.

    Cheers,

    Joe

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    Council Member Backwards Observer's Avatar
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    Default Mercy Class Hospital Ships

    Even in photos, the USNS Mercy seems to emanate significant waves of positive soft power. Simply awesome.

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    CSS, 25 Sep 08: Security and Development: Convergence or Competition?
    ....The terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 and the experiences gained since in the fight against terrorism have reinforced the security-development nexus. However, due to the campaign against terrorism, the logic of security policy today dominates within this nexus. This logic places a premium on the preventive character of development cooperation and demands that it be subordinated to security-relevant goals. The underlying rationale is that development aid should contribute to creating an environment devoid of breeding grounds for terrorism. Development cooperation is also seen as a key instrument in stabilizing fragile states.....

  7. #27
    Council Member TheCurmudgeon's Avatar
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    Default Syncing Efforts

    I am a bit of a ... Grinch I suppose would be appropriate for this time of year. I have always felt that UNICEF has been one of the greatest contributors to instability and war in Africa. Through their fru-fru feel good efforts to save children who normally would have died because the environment/country could not support them naturally, without any assistance to give these additional young adults jobs or homes or help of any kind, they create breading grounds of young, homeless, jobless disgruntled young adults that gravitate towards crime and/or rebellion. Unless you have a complete plan for security, poverty reduction, employment, infrastructure, you are going to have instability.

    Merry Christmas.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
    I have always felt that UNICEF has been one of the greatest contributors to instability and war in Africa. Through their fru-fru feel good efforts to save children who normally would have died because the environment/country could not support them naturally, without any assistance to give these additional young adults jobs or homes or help of any kind, they create breading grounds of young, homeless, jobless disgruntled young adults that gravitate towards crime and/or rebellion. Unless you have a complete plan for security, poverty reduction, employment, infrastructure, you are going to have instability.
    I've never been much of a believer, on either ethical or practical grounds, of letting people die because "a country can't support them naturally." Most children in sub-Saharan Africa do not die because of some sort of Malthusian absolute limits on food or other resources, but because of preventable disease and, in the case of wars, man-made disaster.

    Nor do the majority of UNICEF field workers that I know have anything particularly "fru fru" about them. Some of them see, and deal with, stunning degrees of human suffering on a daily basis.

    Finally, while UNICEF is certainly engaged in immediate short-term humanitarian assistance, the vast bulk of that organization's efforts are directed at longer term and sustainable change. This is particularly true with regard to child immunization (where UNICEF has played a key role both in technical assistance and, through partnerships, in implementation), and in improving education (which is generally accepted to be the single best was to improve living conditions and reduce mortality rates in the longer term).

    To cite but one example:

    ATLANTA/GENEVA/NEW YORK/WASHINGTON, 4 December 2008 – Measles deaths worldwide fell by 74 per cent between 2000 and 2007, from an estimated 750 000 to 197 000. In addition, the Eastern Mediterranean region* which includes countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and the Sudan has cut measles deaths by a remarkable 90 per cent — from an estimated 96 000 to 10 000 — during the same period, thus achieving the United Nations goal to reduce measles deaths by 90 per cent by 2010, three years early.

    The progress was announced today by the founding partners of the Measles Initiative: the American Red Cross, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United Nations Foundation (UN Foundation), UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO). The data will be published in the 5 December edition of WHO’s Weekly Epidemiological Record and CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
    Issues of post-childhood employment typically fall outside UNICEF's mandate, and are taken up by other agencies--UNDP, the World Bank, bilateral donor assistance, etc. Obviously, however, the healthier and better educated children are, the more likely they are to make a successful transition into the job market. In Africa in particular, poor economic performance and high youth unemployment are often a product of poor political leadership and corruption, not a lack of natural resources. Do we let kids in Zimbabwe die of cholera because Mugabe is evil? Or should UNICEF being doing what it should to prevent these wholly preventable deaths?

    Obviously, the aid and humanitarian assistance community is far from perfect. There are many example of poorly-planned and implemented projects, and incompetent staff. However, there are also many cases of successful projects—and its important not to lose sight of the bigger picture.
    Last edited by Rex Brynen; 12-20-2008 at 08:47 PM. Reason: my usual quota of typos

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Answer most excellent, Rex, I agree with most of what you say.

    I will however admit to frustration with certain cultures that generate children as cannon fodder. I have met humanitarian workers who have voiced similar concerns/angst.

    Of course before we blame such cultures for their mistakes we have to look at our own. As an Africanist I grew very frustrated with the limitations placed on our--US--efforts toward population control, limitations 100% driven by religious pressure against birth control. The Pope's proclamations against condoms were especially galling as they offered excuses for unprotected sex and at the same time created more children who would themselves be orphaned and possibly killed by the disease.

    Like all things in life the answers are not simple, no matter how much we might wish them to be.

    Tom
    Last edited by Tom Odom; 12-21-2008 at 01:20 AM.

  10. #30
    Council Member TheCurmudgeon's Avatar
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    Default A Modest Proposal

    Rex,

    First off I am glad to see that I got someone’s goad ... and for the thoughtful and information filled reply. Even though this season brings out the Nietzsche in me and I personally do believe that certain environments have a Malthusian limit on the size of the population it can sustain, I am really not advocating letting children needlessly die (and then using their skins for gloves ... hence the title of this entry).

    What I am advocating is a coherent, congruent approach to a systems level problem rather than piecemealing solutions that tend to concentrate on what makes westerners feel good about ourselves; solutions that tend to invoke the law of unintended consequences.

    The article cited by Jedburgh discussed trying to create a system where security and development work together similar to what is advocated in many nation-building references. Rand “A Beginner’s Guide To Nation Building” http://www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/2007/RAND_MG557.pdf. A holistic, nation or state building approach is what I would advocate. How to get the various organizations, each with their own mandate and agenda, to work together in this fashion is the problem.

    Two other points that are closely related. First, whatever we do must meet the needs and desires of the target population or it may all be for naught. What they see as important must be take into consideration or our meddling will be viewed with contempt. Where and when it fails, regardless of why, the backlash will be targeted at similar efforts in the future or at the west in general.

    Second, whenever we intercede to assist a portion of the population (children, women, etc.) we are, in fact, injecting our values and morals into the target population, potentially subverting existing cultural systems. This is an arrogant approach. As outsiders how and why traditional approaches work may not always be clear to us. They MAY in fact NEED to be replaced if development is going to proceed. But if we plan on fooling with another cultures system potentially subverting traditional values we had better be ready to replace them in total or watch entire cultures slowly degenerate into chaos and then incorrectly blame it on whichever warlord ends up in control.

    There are of course exceptions where immediate and targeted action is required; the genocide in Rwanda being the most obvious. But wherever possible our efforts need to be designed to put the entire country on a long term (plans should be based on a twenty to fifty year time frame) development into a stable, self-sustaining state.

    Again, Happy Holidays.

    PS I would wish you “Peace on Earth” but that would put me out of a job
    Last edited by TheCurmudgeon; 12-21-2008 at 12:55 AM.
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    Just as militaries have their doctrines, so too the humanitarian aid community has its principles and best practices. Like military doctrine, it can be imperfect, poorly understood, unevenly accepted, and badly interpreted and implemented, but they do provide some indication of how things should be done--including the issues that Curmudgeon raises (need, coherence, coordination, stakeholder consultation, host country ownership, not imposing external values).

    Some links and light reading,for those so inclined:

    Principles and Good Practice of Humanitarian Donorship (the "Stockholm Declaration," 2003).

    Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness (2005).

    OECD, Guidelines on Helping Prevent Violent Conflict, Principles for Good International Engagement in Fragile States, among many others.

    On top of this, almost every specialized international agency has a "lessons learned" or "best practices" department, and many of their publications and reports can be found online.

    What we tend to be missing is a systematic examination of "worst practices" and why they occur and reoccur. I've always thought that understanding the pathology of repeated errors is critical to correcting them.

  12. #32
    Council Member Surferbeetle's Avatar
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    Default Unity of Command vs. Stovepiping

    Rex,

    Your well-timed post the other day on the Iraq Reconstruction Experience is certainly a systematic examination and so is the Rand Nation Building paper authored by Amb. Dobbins and referenced by TC.

    It would seem that many of us in the small wars/nation building arena are aware of these issues but as we often joke, getting everybody on the same page is akin to herding cats or perhaps as easy as running with the squirrels.

    All jokes aside when will the 'fusion cell' idea come to fruition in our coalitions nation building efforts? I am well aware that doctrinally the CMOC or CMIC is where this is supposed to happen, however I have yet to run across an effective vertically and horizontally integrated effort which truly synchronizes coalition efforts in the nation building/CA/PSYOP/IO arena. Have you?

    Hope springs eternal and maybe this next year in Afghanistan will be when it all finally comes together for us...

    Regards,

    Steve
    Last edited by Surferbeetle; 12-21-2008 at 05:07 AM.
    Sapere Aude

  13. #33
    Council Member TheCurmudgeon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Surferbeetle View Post
    All jokes aside when will the 'fusion cell' idea come to fruition in our coalitions nation building efforts? I am well aware that doctrinally the CMOC or CMIC is where this is supposed to happen, however I have yet to run across an effective vertically and horizontally integrated effort which truly synchronizes coalition efforts in the nation building/CA/PSYOP/IO arena. Have you?
    As much as I love the US Military as an organization capable of handling any mission given the right support, I think this one is outside of our realm. With the possible exception of Afghanistan any fusion at this level needs to come from the UN (or possibly the African Union on that continent). Even if the target country sees our actions as legitimate and accepts our help its neighbors may view it as neocolonialism and use it as grounds for their own intervention into the country either presently or at some future date (ala Iran in Iraq).

    I would like to see the UN create license bureau (so to speak) for IGOs. Calling it what it would be, this new, additional bureaucracy would have the mission of coordinating efforts in target countries. At some future date I would even advocate giving it the power to bar IGOs from entering a country where that IGOs intended actions in the country run counter to other efforts.
    Last edited by TheCurmudgeon; 12-21-2008 at 06:08 PM.
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  14. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
    would like to see the UN create license bureau (so to speak) for IGOs. Calling it what it would be, this new, additional bureaucracy would have the mission of coordinating efforts in target countries.
    I think licensing would be a political nightmare, to be honest.

    The UN does have an agency dedicated to coordinating humanitarian assistance, OCHA. It tends to be eclipsed in peace and stabilization operations by whatever UN SRSG or PKO body has been established (such as UNAMA in the Afghan case). Moreover OCHA specializes in humanitarian assistance, not so much longer-term development.

    The ideal case is that donor coordination is undertaken, even imposed, by the host country—after all, they are the ones who have to live with the long-term consequences of assistance. Of course, countries suffering from major insurgencies usually have weak governance to begin with, and lack human and technical capacities. Ministers and ministries may be biased by ethnic or political preferences, corrupt, have little sense of conditions of the rural and poor (and be reluctant to consult or listen), and/or be engaged in empire-building constant bureaucratic warfare with each other. BUT the whole point of the process is to get the locals to take eventual ownership, and all to often donors (and foreign military forces engaged in local aid efforts) short-circuit host governments in the name of short-term efficiency, with deliterious long term effects.

    Effective donor coordination across multiple international organizations, NGOs, host governments, donors, and others is, I think, is less based on structures and organigrams than it is on incentives, attitudes, personalities, and leadership. All the meetings in the world won't result in harmony of effort if the participants use them as little more as an opportunity to tell each other what it is they have already decided to do. The coordination process has to benefit the participants—whether through the provision of information that wouldn't otherwise be available, access to technical support services, or whatever. It also requires human resource systems that identify the kinds of individuals that can deal with 20 people in a room, each of whom has different views, mandates and specializations, independent budgets, and personal idiosyncricies —hence Surferbeetle's apt reference to herding cats.

    I'm not sure we do this very well, whether in civilian agencies or in the military. Indeed, I think in some cases the established promotion system for normal and peacetime settings might actually select the wrong kind of people—those who go by the book (even when the book is wrong, or doesn't apply), are risk averse, don't reach outside their own organization, and can spout organizational ideology better than they can examine a problem from multiple competing perspectives.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Too true...

    Quote Originally Posted by Rex Brynen View Post
    I think licensing would be a political nightmare, to be honest.
    . . .
    I'm not sure we do this very well, whether in civilian agencies or in the military. Indeed, I think in some cases the established promotion system for normal and peacetime settings might actually select the wrong kind of people— those who go by the book (even when the book is wrong, or doesn't apply), are risk averse, don't reach outside their own organization, and can spout organizational ideology better than they can examine a problem from multiple competing perspectives. (emphasis added /kw)
    Both. Not only true but sad...

  16. #36
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rex Brynen View Post
    I think licensing would be a political nightmare, to be honest.
    ...
    I'm not sure we do this very well, whether in civilian agencies or in the military. Indeed, I think in some cases the established promotion system for normal and peacetime settings might actually select the wrong kind of people—those who go by the book (even when the book is wrong, or doesn't apply), are risk averse, don't reach outside their own organization, and can spout organizational ideology better than they can examine a problem from multiple competing perspectives.
    Ken WhiteToo true...
    Both. Not only true but sad...
    Amen to those comments, brothers Rex and Ken. That is why practical experience is the ultimate arbiter of effectiveness; for all the rules, regs, laws, or guidelines--and the frigging UN has more than most bureacracies--the truth is that effective leaders who can flex mentally get the jobs done--and most critically get others to do the same.

    Tom

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