N. Luttwak: “Give War a Chance” Analysis

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“Give War a Chance” is an article written by the American economist, historian and military strategist Edward Nicolae Luttwak in 1999, in the American magazine Foreign Affairs. It make an easily understandable “buzz”, since its main assumption is that most kind of peacekeeping or humanitarian operations are, in an objective point of view, a bad thing for the peace, and that it tends, paradoxically, to slower its establishment. We will analyze here the main hypothesis that Luttwak is developing among the article, the first one being the destruction of the legitimacy usually accorded to peacekeeping operations, led by the UN or by other military organizations, and the second one being the obstacle to a durable peace establishment, created unwillingly by humanitarian help during conflicts. We will conclude on the suggestions made by the author on the evolution of international organizations’ way of intervening in nowadays conflicts. For that, we will articulate our analysis on the following problématique: how peace-turned foreign interventions among conflicts end up being an obstacle for peace establishment? The analysis will follow the same path used by Luttwak, demonstrating how peacekeeping often turns into peace blocking, then how humanitarian interventions also do, and concluding on the position international organizations and NGOs should adopt to promote a durable peace more easily, according to the author.

Problems and paradoxes of peacekeeping
The main idea here is quite simple to understand: forced peace is no good peace, since the only viable peace is the one established in the postwar era, which means there has to be a war, and it has to end “naturally”, by its own. There has to be a climax of violence so that there can be a decrease of it, ending to peace. Thus, interventions become, more than useless, obstacles to real peace establishment. Moreover, there is an inefficiency of military organizations regarding peace establishment as well as local population protection.

Forced peace is no good peace
This idea is sustained by the argumentation that during a cease-fire or even after a forced peace signature between the belligerent camps can’t lead to peace « because no path to peace is even visible, [and] the dominant priority is to prepare for future war rather than to reconstruct devastated economies and ravages societies”. Indeed, if there’s no obvious winner in a war, there can’t be a coherent outcome since it would require an “imbalance of strength sufficient to end the fighting”. If uninterrupted war means death, suffering, etc, it leads to a stable situation and let the postwar era begin. As examples, the author uses the cases of the Arab-Israeli war of 1948-49 that could have come to an end in a matter of weeks, and also the recent cases in the Balkans.

The inefficient protection of populations
The main problem of UN peacekeeping operations, according to Edward Luttwak, is the inherent avoiding of violence of these operations, which leads to three main problems: No durable peace establishment as we just saw it

No real involvement in the conflict, giving the peacekeepers the status of spectators rather than actors, at best, or bad actors at worst. As we’ve seen it in class, “multinationals commands […] find it difficult to control the quality and conduct of member states’ troop” which can lead to “dead, mutilated, raped and tortured victims” during an operation. The perverse effect caused by the very presence of U.N. forces. According to Luttwak, it “inhibits the normal remedy of endangered civilians, which is to escape from the combat zone”, without, however, guaranteeing them a safe protection. As an example, the author relates the disastrous consequence of the maintaining of local populations on the conflict zone, due to a cease-fire agreement settled with the locally dominant Bosnian Serbs in Sarajevo In 1992, settlement that was violated by the Serbs, leading to the killing of the...
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