Address given to the`Aspects of Peacekeeping’ Conference Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, January 23, 1997

Jim Whitman

Cambridge University In the first months of 1996, the British Army initiated a recruitment campaign with a series of billboards. The first featured a photograph of a pitifully distraught refugee, with the caption, `Fifteen thousand caretakers required’. The second depicted a war-shattered urban centre and the words, `Fifteen thousand repairmen needed’. Finally, above a photograph of the planet itself, there appeared the words, `Wanted: Fifteen thousand security guards’.

Can or should the military be humanitarian? It certainly seems that someone thinks so. But who comprises this constituency? How large and how important is it? Is this passing fashion or the visible end of a more profound change? To ask the question at all is to invoke wider questions about the business of professional soldiering; about doctrine, training, equipment and financing. And at a deeper level, about public expectations, civil-military relations and about conceptions of the national interest and the place of the military in obtaining foreign policy goals.

Can the military be humanitarian? Should it? The `can’ part of the question can be divided between competence and capacity. It is difficult to muster a great deal of interest in the question of military competence to undertake or support humanitarian tasks. For all the differences between NGOs and armies, professionals at work on saving and protecting human life have little trouble recognising one another and the ability to distinguish a cargo manifest from a master’s thesis is always welcome. This is not to trivialise the seriousness of differences between professional militaries and civilian organisations in emergency operations; important as these are, competence is not on the agenda. But the question of the military’s capacity in view of the rapid contraction of this and other developed nations’ armed forces is quite another matter.

The `should’ question, although obviously linked to capacity is essentially political. To ask whether the military should be humanitarian is not to wonder over the possibilities for altruism in the field. In democratic states, militaries serve political purposes determined by elected governments. So the much more interesting question is, `How and why have humanitarian issues assumed such political importance?’ Indeed, to what extent does military involvement in humanitarian crises show that they have?

We are accustomed to a neat fit between a determination to dispatch soldiers to battle and the politics which inform such decisions. For all that war can fairly be characterised as a failure of policy, there is at least a visible logic if not a compelling need driving the commitment of troops in such instances, sufficient to ensure public support before the fact -and its willingness to brace itself for the possibility of casualties. Witness both the Falklands War and the Gulf War. Perhaps more importantly, we expect that behind such emergencies is a well-considered and carefully articulated national interest – those things which we employ our military to secure or defend in extremis. But how is it that a considerable degree of both public expectation and professional military energy is now devoted to the military acting in a humanitarian capacity? If, as is proper, the dispatch of soldiers abroad is understood as a political commitment of the utmost seriousness, what is its counterpart in the ordinary conduct of the nation’s affairs? The question `Can or should the military be humanitarian?’ is not free-standing then, but follows from the much larger and more compelling question, `Can or should our nation be humanitarian?’

To understand how we have come to this juncture and to try to decide whether it is a turning point or just a whistle-stop, it is worthwhile to consider some of the larger currents of History. The rich material of History supports an abundance of hardy perennials and if the `lessons’ seem ambiguous, there is the consolation that even those issues which seem wholly contemporary often have surprising precedents. Consider, for example, the debate concerning the possible formation of a UN Army or UN Rapid Reaction Force. Regarded as a theme, this might appear to extend back only as far as the legal provisions in the UN Charter; however:`As early as the year 1000, French princes of the Church declared their willingness to wage “war against war” by the intervention of collective military forces under religious leadership. A little later, Archbishop Aimon of Bourges…led a number of punitive expeditions with an international army of priests against groups of recalcitrant knights.’(1) Likewise, although the phrase, `humanitarianism and the military’ has quite specific contemporary meanings and raises a great many relatively novel practical issues, it comes to us lodged between long and by no means consistent historical trends.

One trend is the 5000 year history of efforts to bring force within the orbit of law. Today, we can see in our social and governmental structures and in our laws and norms the fruits of countless, often untold struggles of peoples to wrest absolute power from tyrants and to harness coercive power for collective purposes, collectively determined. Our willingness to distinguish lawful killing from unjustified slaughter is rooted in the ancient struggle to make power the instrument of law and is of a piece with our willingness to intervene to halt or prevent genocide. In our time, the natural counterpart of legal limits on the extent and conduct of war fighting is the military acting in humanitarian capacities. Much of this is rooted in the codification of human rights. Against the knowledge that human rights are frequently and sometimes grossly violated, the force of human rights as an idea and ideal is nevertheless undiminished – and universal. If once the struggle was largely to assert these rights against the militaries of unsavoury regimes – as it is currently in Burma – now, at least occasionally, we see fit to charge our soldiers with the defence the helpless or threatened.

The United Nations is more than simply an institutional convenience for this purpose: the Charter of the United Nations is international law. It hardly requires a cynical disposition to regard the Gulf War as a happy conjunction of international law, global responsibility and national interest; yet the imposition of sanctions and the use of force were acts of law enforcement. Beyond the letter of the Charter, the UN embodies and furthers a good deal of the normative architecture of international relations, while peacekeeping – now more commonly known as `traditional’ or `classic’ peacekeeping – has grown out of and in turn contributed to the UN’s non-legal authority – what some mean when they speak of the organisation’s `legitimacy’.

None of us would argue that UN peace support operations are the culmination of a stately progress of virtue in human affairs, yet they serve as an embarrassment to the `one damn thing after another’ school of history. But in condensing and simplifying for the purpose of describing a trend, there is a danger of appearing to falsify the past or to deny the present. Any decent newspaper will make plain that many millions have more to fear from the domestic security apparatus of their state than from any external force. And an historical trend sketched over centuries invites a sense of inevitability or irreversible progress. Against this notion, it is worth recalling that in 1933, the German polity turned its back on a deeply-rooted and well-articulated legal tradition for the persecution and eventual genocide of the Jews and other minorities.(2)

We are not on the History Train bound for the New Jerusalem, yet contrary to what was briefly a fashionable conviction, there is no end in sight to this history. After all, asking ourselves in 1997 whether or not the military should be humanitarian is hardly a pause on the banks of the Rubicon. And in pondering its possible extension, consolidation or institutionalisation, or by trying to get to grips with its practical implications, we are furthering and extending the long history of efforts to assert liberty and justice over tyranny and brute force; and law over chaos and barbarous competition. If our unwillingness or inability to act in so many instances seems more consequential than our efforts, the fact of them is nevertheless considerable in human as well as historical terms. And here, the military is on the front line.

For a second, conflicting trend, we need go back less than two hundred and fifty years to the Enlightenment. George Steiner’s single, poignant example will suffice: `Asked why he was seeking to arouse the whole of Europe over the judicial torture of one man, Voltaire answered, in March 1762, `C’est que je suis homme’. By that token, he would, today, be in vain and constant cry.’(3) This was written more than twenty years before `Sarajevo’ became shorthand for the return of slaughter and terror wreaked on civilian populations in Europe and for the stain it has left on public and political life well beyond the borders of the former Yugoslavia.

The looming millennium will no doubt give us a good many gloomy reflections on the blood-soaked history of this century. Behind the awful statistics, however, is something still more disturbing: our apparent ability as peoples, particularly within the political cultures we create, for a progressive accommodation of the worst products of human endeavour. Perhaps what is truly horrifying in twentieth century history is not the mechanisation of mass slaughter, but its rationalisation.(4) Possible courses of action once thought unconscionable now seem unremarkable – `news’ only for as long as such things now last. This was certainly the case with aerial bombardment of cities, for example, up to the eve of the second World War.

It is not only the weight of historical events which presses down on us, but the brutalising, numbing effect on our sensibilities and expectations of the collective insanity of the nuclear arms race; and the re-emergence of genocide in our lifetimes – most recently, as a lively debate ensued over whether there is a legal right of humanitarian intervention.

If the first trend described depicts the gradual articulation, enactment and formalisation of shared values, these find expression in a nation willing to dispatch its soldiers for the protection of a people against the genocidal intent of a tyrant. Yet the same British government which deployed its soldiers in defence of the Kurds had earlier sold weapons-making capacity to Sadam Hussain, after Halabja – that is, in the full knowledge that he was a genocidal killer. Our ability to accommodate both the inhumane and the humanitarian has many such expressions, by no means confined to a single state. We have all heard assertions as to the difficulty of `threading principle through the intricacies of the world’, but it won’t wash: such actions are an affront to our heritage and to what we profess to believe. These are not the `tough decisions that have to be made’ – they are an obscene scribble across the accomplishments of principle and law. And they have practical import: in the Gulf War, for example, British soldiers faced weapons purchased from British companies with money loaned by British banks and underwritten by export credit guarantees. British taxpayers are left with unpaid Iraqi debts of £652 million.

We know in detail that nations which have demonstrated as well as asserted their commitment to humanitarianism have at the same time pursued other goals which, because they cannot be publicly justified, are more commonly given a reassuring gloss or hidden from view altogether. But if the human rights records of Iraq and Indonesia did not debar them from purchasing weapons from this country, what values are evinced in the dispatch of soldiers to a humanitarian emergency? Should the military be humanitarian?

There is nothing in history or the news which obviates the need for defence of the realm, much though the particulars continue to change over time. Any number of new tasks might befall the military in the coming years and though most would probably be variations on familiar themes, these too would require a range of thinking and planning – and a juggling of resources – much as the demands of humanitarian remits do now. For example, the only novelty in the idea of the military playing a role in `protecting biodiversity’ is the phrase: In 1886, the management of Yellowstone Park was turned over to the US Army. So successful was it that `…Professor Charles S Sargent, an eminent dendrologist of Harvard, suggested that, because of the excellent example established in protecting the Yellowstone, the guardianship of all the nation’s forests should be confined to the Army and “that forestry should be taught at West Point.”‘(5)

There is considerable interest in the degree to which the British and American governments in particular have stressed the `green’ aspects of their militaries – most telling, if a little comical, in the US Marine Corps recycling its familiar `The Marines are looking for a few good men’ to `The Marines: we’re saving a few good species’(6) But a good deal of this is `passive’ – firing ranges and training grounds as conservation areas – or more at the level of environmental degradation having been perceived as a security threat and absorbed into broader `national security’ remits. This is not without beneficent initiatives – using military assets to help developing countries curb poaching of endangered species or to patrol fisheries – but all too easily shades into `strategic materials’, access to resources – and more familiar military roles.(7) But for all that there is a large and probably expanding range of tasks for the military, it is not difficult to understand why it is that humanitarian roles command such strength of feeling, within publics at large as well as within militaries themselves. I believe that only a part of this is the essentially moral character of the work. For the rest, in this and several other countries, I think it is connected to the common perception that our militaries embody a good deal of what we regard as best in ourselves as peoples.

This too has a long history. Behind the supposition of some that `military’ and `humanitarian’ are an oddly assorted pair lies the difficulty that it is not a simple matter to filter out qualities we revere from situations we abhor – to praise heroism in battle even as we feel revulsion over war – or to suppose that fighting skills and humane instincts are natural enemies. Yet beside a history of war replete with barbarity, cruelty, rapacity and wanton destructiveness, there emerged across centuries and cultures, notions of honour, laws regulating conduct, codes of humane decency and an acute sense of the shared humanity between antagonists in battle.(8) And as developed nations have abandoned conquest and colonialism, the extent to which professionalism in the military has come increasingly to embrace values, both formally and informally, has also increased. Little wonder then that professional militaries require men and women of character and humane instincts as well as competence and intelligence. Some years ago, the British Army ran an officer recruitment campaign in national magazines. In the manner beloved of copywriters, desirable traits of character were phrased as rhetorical questions and framed in a simple, multiple choice style. `A brave and passionate man will kill or be killed. A brave and calm man will always preserve life. Of the two, which is preferable?’ Such was the style, but these lines come from the Tao Te Ching, written in China 2,500 years ago.(9)

The changing disposition of professional militaries has its counterpart in civilian attitudes toward the military. While these are largely unexamined and even unremarked in Britain, they are nevertheless deep and enduring – and have considerably strengthened in this century. With World War I still on the periphery of living memory, the wholescale destruction of a generation of young manhood in a war of attrition is no longer conceivable – and most certainly, not 70,000 men in a single, pointless battle. Although we are accustomed to thinking about World War I as a war of the modern era – with the forces of industrialism on both sides being brought to bear – socially, it is of a wholly different milieu. It is obvious that this has more to do with changing public norms than changing standards of generalship or political direction – that is, with the advance of human rights.

There are those who doubt the substance as well as the efficacy of human rights and who might argue that human rights have made no difference to the business of professional soldiering, except to expand the range of its possible tasks. But how is it then that it is not only no longer done but no longer possible to regard soldiers as canon fodder? There is a good deal more to the Geneva Conventions than the letter and extent of the law – a splendid subject for reflection on the manner in which changing norms find expression in law and laws in their turn widen and strengthen norms.

It is in part because as societies we have come to individualise and cherish the lives of soldiers that missions which expose them to danger are strongly felt. This is much more acute in the United States, where sensitivity to casualties is such as to make the political risks of troop deployments ever more considerable – and problematic; but it is no less real in Britain for all that public expectations are perhaps a bit more realistic.

In both countries and beyond, because we do not ask service men and women to risk their lives except for our core values, the recourse to military means often brings these to the surface of public awareness and makes them a subject of reflection and debate as at almost no other time. Although war and its prosect is obviously more strongly felt, this is true of mercy missions as well as battles. Consider the following quotation: a high-minded prescription of political values for Great Britain. Who is addressing whom – and when?

`If we speak of democracy we do not mean a democracy which maintains the right to vote but forgets the right to work and the right to live. If we speak of freedom we do not mean a rugged individualism which excludes social organisation and economic planning. If we speak of equality we do not mean a political equality nullified by social and economic privilege. If we speak of economic reconstruction we think less of maximum production (though this too will be required) than of “equitable distribution”‘. This is not the 1997 election manifesto of the Labour Party but a leader in the Times, written a few weeks after the evacuation from Dunkirk.(10)

It is one of the hallmarks of a democratic nation that core societal values should find expression in the tasks given to the military; and it is genuinely heartening that values which extend beyond war and defence of the realm should also be accorded a place in our felt obligations. But how far do our humanitarian obligations extend? The significance of the phrase `War is a failure of policy’ is that soldiers must risk their lives picking up the pieces. If those same soldiers are to risk their lives in extending humanitarian assistance to the starving, threatened or dispossessed, what kind of failure engenders it? Are peace support operations a failure of policy – and if so, whose? Or is Britain and its affairs so removed from, say, Zaire and Rwanda that the commitment of troops there is essentially an act of charity? Of course, the phrase `in the national interest’ is a wonderful ministerial fall-back – but in every instance, we are entitled to expect that it contains some substance, particularly if soldiers are to be put in harm’s way. As it happens, it is perhaps more difficult for governments to justify their inconsistency than their choices: since there seems to be a considerable if not inexhaustible public willingness to act in some of the worst humanitarian tragedies, `not in the national interest’ will be the more telling pronouncement. Sometimes, this is shorthand for a calculation of political ends and military means which are not deemed acceptable. In fairness to our politicians, they bear the shouts of the chorus, `We must do something’, while shouldering their responsibility not to throw `blood and treasure’ at a problem. Sometimes, the answer has to be no.

We might also reasonably expect one or a number of other considerations – political, diplomatic, economic – to figure in such calculations. This is neither surprising nor necessarily malign. Overseas development assistance and disaster relief have political intent as well as humanitarian meaning and effect; nor is it a disjuncture that a government should have an agenda which accommodates but extends beyond the simpler and more straight-forward humanitarian impulses of many citizens.

But while there is much to be said for enhancing a nation’s diplomatic standing through assistance to the distressed, there are limits to the span of purposes which the full range of government initiatives can seek to achieve before its actions become dysfunctional. If we send in troops to pick up the pieces, we also look to our governments to take such non-emergency and non-military action as they are able to ensure that things do not fall apart again. The more astute and professional emergency and development charities work on this principle, as they seek to address the causes of poverty as well as alleviating the worst of it. In other words, we might expect that the dispatch of soldiers to humanitarian emergencies is only one expression, albeit the most serious, of a consistent, well-considered commitment to humanitarianism. In fact, there is much to suggest that the dispatch of troops to emergencies is, increasingly, a substitute for political engagement with the under-developed world.

It is not my intention to slight the contribution made by armed forces for the relief of human suffering. In the worst instances, it is the presence of military forces which makes the initiation or continuance of work by NGOs and UN Agencies possible. In Rwanda in 1994, I spent a day travelling with members of the British contingent, the 23rd Parachute Regiment, who were particularly well-regarded for their untrumpeted, quiet competence. Many NGO workers who have long been ambivalent at best about working closely with the military were deeply impressed with the paras’ willing cooperation and range of skills. They accomplished more than one kind of bridge-building – to say nothing of the great credit which accrues to this country by their professionalism.

But there is a limit to what the military can accomplish in such situations. We train, equip and sometimes require our armed forces to deal with the sharp end, but the blunt substance of humanitarian emergencies is considerable, daunting and long-term. Military logisticians can work wonders in feeding the starving and troops can protect food convoys, but it is not the Army’s job to address the causes of hunger; and they can build bridges and keep roads open during the rainy season, but what happens when they go home? Had British troops been sent to Zaire, the deployment would have been limited to a period of about four months. But the surge in refugee flows that prompted the pledge is only a symptom of deeply impacted conflicts and wide-spread chaos which grips the entire African Great Lakes region.

If we are to address a certain class of humanitarian disasters at all, the military is essential, but never will it be sufficient. That might seem obvious enough, but there is a trend in greatly reducing humanitarian provision, both before and after the fact, even as we continue occasionally to offer a military contribution. This and other nations’ humanitarianism is fast acquiring an emergency/charity ethos. The effect of raising the frequency and profile of peace support operations while reducing long-term assistance and development is to dilute humanitarian obligation into humanitarian commitments – belated, discrete, limited, palliative, while at the same time, high-profile, benign, low-cost and – as far as possible, low-risk. Put another way, we are taking from the human and material resources devoted to policy provision and placing a fraction of them in emergency provision. Employing a public health metaphor, it is rather as though greater emphasis (though not necessarily greater resources) was being given to surgery, at the expense of preventive, primary and convalescent care.

The evidence is abundant: `…the European Union [drew] on funds from its development budget to finance the Belgian peacekeeping contingent in Somalia. As the UN budget for peacekeeping has increased from $230 million in 1987 to $3.6 billion in 1994, the aggregate development assistance expenditure of OECD countries (albeit a larger absolute amount) has witnessed a stagnation… In general, there has been a notable decline in funding for development activities within the UN system in contrast to funding for emergency relief operations. In recent years, for example, there has been a fifteen per cent reduction in the core resources of the UN Development Programme as compared to an almost doubling of resources for the World Food Programme, the bulk of which has been devoted to relief food assistance.’(11)

Those for whom the words `peacekeeping’ and `United Nations’ are synonymous will not be surprised that in 1995 the UN’s peacekeeping expenditure was more than twice as much as the organisation’s regular budget. But the heart of the UN Charter is not law enforcement, emergency relief or even peacekeeping – but development. All of us applaud the strenuous efforts that have been made to make operations more efficient, better coordinated and more cost-effective. But the state of the world is now such that, in addition to asking how we can make ourselves better fire-fighters, isn’t it time to ask why it is there are so many fires to fight?

Such a question should not occasion the UK any embarrassment. After all, it pays its UN assessed contributions in full, has a well-respected Minister for Overseas Development and its military has a history of participation in peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance operations which is a justifiable source of pride to its citizenry. Yet beneath this shining surface is a peculiar, disturbing reality. Britain, together with the other 4 Permanent Members of the UN Security Council, accounts for 86% of all weapons sales to developing countries. Even Britain’s ODA has suffered manipulation: it is one thing to argue that a relatively prosperous country like Malaysia should have a call on Britain’s meagre and declining ODA budget against claims from genuinely impoverished regions; it is quite another matter that this should have been done for a quid pro quo in arms purchases from the UK. The action was found to have been illegal and the ODA budget duly compensated, but the following year, the ODA’s budget was cut, as it was again at the end of 1996.

UK Secretary of State for Defence Michael Portillo, announcing Britain’s willingness to send a contingent of troops to Zaire to ease the crisis there, preempted the question as to `…why Britain should become involved in a place far from home where there was no vital national interest.’ His answer was `…because Britain is a civilised nation. We can see that people are about to die in their thousands and we are one of the few nations on earth who have the military capability to help at least some of them.’ But why Zaire? And why a militarised emergency? Every day we can see that poverty, malnutrition and curable diseases are also about to kill people in their thousands – more an ambient roar than headline news, but audible to anyone who cares to listen. We have the spectacle of a nation which can send its soldiers into volatile and dangerous environments when there is no apparent national interest at stake – that is, for humanitarian reasons – but, faced with no end of worthwhile projects for the elimination of absolute poverty, instead gives millions in aid for the construction of a dam which the Malaysians themselves can afford, apparently because it is too embarrassed to subsidise Britain’s arms manufacturers directly. The nation shows a willingness to send its troops to a humanitarian emergency in Zaire, while at home, it is left to the Red Cross to feed asylum seekers.

Can the military be humanitarian? Should it? The military marches off under the banner of humanitarianism, but are what soldiers term `our political masters’ marching in step? The United States deployed its Marines in Somalia for the purpose of feeding the starving Somali people – and suffered some gruesome casualties while there. Yet the US government is now preparing to cut by two-thirds – and within three years eliminate – its funding for the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) This Fund represents one of the most comprehensive efforts to reduce poverty as well as malnutrition and is `…one of the few international agencies to attract virtual unanimous approval from the world’s governments, and even among the anti-UN Republican majority in the US Congress.’(12) What are the prospects for what the UN Charter terms `international peace and security’ with 800 million malnourished human beings? Where are our humanitarian obligations in all of this? The effect of our inconsistent, even dysfunctional humanitarianism at the level of government policy – here and elsewhere – is rather like the prayer of St Augustine, `Make me a good man, Lord, but not yet’. We appear humanitarian – intermittently, briefly, televisually -but the larger facts and mechanisms of our ways of life remain unchanged.

This is not advocacy for national self-denial; quite the opposite, since moral considerations and a sharp sense of self interest need not be antagonistic. For example, the motives behind America’s Marshall Plan from 1948 are instructive. In declining order of importance, these were: first, enabling Europeans to purchase American goods; second, ensuring that Western Europe was sufficiently strong and coherent to withstand external pressures; third, obviating the need for further direct US involvement; and finally, addressing humanitarian need. The greatest beneficiary of the Marshall Plan was the United States. The markets to be found in a stable and prosperous sub-Saharan Africa, Central America and elsewhere dwarf the sums now being earned by the morally odious sale of weapons to repressive regimes. Yet at the end of 1996 – the end of the International Year for the Eradication of Poverty – Britain’s ODA budget was cut by £180 million. Dolly Parton once remarked, `You’d be surprised how expensive it is to look this cheap.’

One is commonly met with the argument that it is fine to stand on the moral high ground so long as there are people prepared to deal with life’s hard realities. But to ask whether the military can or should be humanitarian is to engage both at once. Can the military be humanitarian? Should it? A large proportion of this and similar countries think it should and the strength of feeling behind it is, I think, linked to conceptions of morality and justice as much as to order and self interest: to an understanding that the strong have a responsibility to protect the weak; and that the best test of fitness for the possession of power is a certain reluctance to wield it – `those that have the power to hurt but would do none’, in Shakespeare’s wonderfully apposite phrase.

But note: if we hope and expect citizens to support military humanitarianism, we are asking them to engage public policy with humane values and broadly shared standards of moral worth. We should hardly be surprised, then, by the breadth and depth this engagement sometimes assumes. Last year, 4 women using household hammers disabled a Hawk military aircraft bound for export to Indonesia. Naturally, a prosecution was brought for criminal conspiracy and criminal damage. The women involved did not deny their action, but defended it under national and international law. They detailed the history of Indonesia’s genocidal campaign against East Timor, had eye-witness accounts that Hawk aircraft from a previous sale had been used to bomb villages, and explained the many appeals they and others had made to the British government and British Aerospace to halt the sale, to no avail. Citing law and precedent from the Criminal Law Act 1967 to the Tokyo and Nurenburg War Crimes Trials, the Genocide Convention and the Geneva Conventions, they argued that they had taken reasonable action to prevent the crime of genocide. A jury of their peers found them innocent.

Any number of fascinating discussions can spring from this tale – on behaviour aberrant or courageous as one judges it, on the applicability of international law in domestic courts, the perversity of juries, or what the verdict means in terms of public standards and expectations. But what about humanitarian principles, which were so readily brought to the fore to justify a deployment of troops to Zaire?

In 1995, the UK Statement on the Defence Estimates assured us that `Our success in winning export orders has been achieved against a background of very strict export controls. All exports are considered on a case-by case basis in the light of established criteria.’(13) In view of what we have subsequently learned, it is fair to wonder which is worse – the criteria themselves or the fact that they are `established’.

Can or should the military be humanitarian? Yes, of course. But it is not enough. Nor, in my view, is it decent that the military should be on the front line in a double sense. If we are willing to risk the lives of soldiers in the name of humanitarianism then it is right that they should be addressing the worst of our failed humanitarian initiatives, not our failure to enact humanitarian principles. We have work to do on the humanitarian disposition of our public bodies – the work of citizenship, of soldiers and civilians alike, as we go marching on.


1. Gabriella Rosner, The United Nations Emergency Force (New York: Columbia University Press, 1963) p.207.

2. Ian Kershaw, `The Extinction of Human Rights in Nazi Germany,’ in Olwen Hufton (Ed.), Historical Change and Human Rights: The Oxford Amnesty Lectures, 1994 (New York: Basic Book, 1995) pp.217-246.

3. George Steiner, In Bluebeard’s Castle: Some Notes Towards the Re-Definition of Culture (London: Faber, 1971) p.43.

4. Daniel Pick, War Machine: The Rationalisation of Slaughter in the Machine Age (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993); Michael S. Sherry, The Rise of American Air Power: The Creation of Armageddon (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987).

5. Quoted in Bruce A. Byers, `Armed Forces and the Conservation of Biological Diversity,’ in Jyrki Kakonen (Ed.), Green Security or Militarised Environment (Aldershot: Dartmouth Publishing Co., 1994) p.116.

6. Andrew Ross, `The Future is a Risky Business,’ in George Robertson et al (Eds.),FutureNatural (London: Routlege, 1996) p.9.

7. For a survey of United States DoD initiatives, see Kent Hughes Butts, `Why the Military is Good for the Environment,’ in Jyrki Kakonen, op. cit., pp.83-109. For a contrary perspective, see D. Deudney, `The Case Against Linking Environmental Degradation and National Security,’ Millennium, Vol.19, No.3 (1990).

8. A summary of useful sources are contained in Adam Roberts and Richard Guelff, Documents on the Laws of War (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989) p.2, footnotes 3-6.

9. Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching, translated by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English (New York: Random House, 1972).

10. Quoted in William De Maria, `Combat and Concern: The Warfare-Welfare Nexus,’ War and Society Vol.7, No.1 (May,1989) p.75.

11. Olara Otunnu, `The Peace and Security Agenda of the United Nations: From a Crossroads into the Next Century.’

12. Geoffrey Lean, `Clinton cut means that millions could starve,’ The Independent on Sunday, 17 November, 1996. p.4.

13. Statement of the Defence Estimates 1995 Cmd2800 (London: HMSO) p.78.

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