UN Standing Army Daily Update

UN too slow and ineffective; the Ukraine proves

Anne Applebaum and Jeffrey Goldberg, April 15, 2022, The Atlantic, Liberation without Victory, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2022/04/zelensky-kyiv-russia-war-ukrainian-survival-interview/629570/

Zelensky understands that his task is not merely to issue weapons requests and express urgency, but also to overcome old stereotypes of Ukraine as corrupt and incompetent, as well as the Russian propaganda that denies Ukraine the right to statehood. He wants to present an image of Ukraine as a modern and liberal state, one unified by a civic, as opposed to a purely ethnic, nationalism. “The U.S., Britain, the EU, and European countries have always been skeptical of our development, of our ‘Europeanness,’” he said. But now “many of them have changed their view of Ukraine and see us as equals.” He has no time at all for international institutions. When he is asked about the role of the United Nations in defending Ukraine, one of its member states, from Russia, a member of the UN Security Council, he rolls his eyes and grimaces tragicomically. “Good thing we don’t have a video,” he says. “Just describe with words what you see on my face.” Both Zelensky and Yermak have been thinking and talking about what alternative international institutions might look like. Perhaps there should be a list of human-rights violations or war crimes that trigger automatic responses, Yermak suggested to us. Right now, the process of issuing statements, announcing sanctions, providing responses of any kind is too complex, too bureaucratic, and above all too slow.

Ukraine prove the UN is paralized

Ashley Semler, CNN, 4-15, 22, Why isn’t the UN doing more to stop what’s happening in Ukraine?, https://www.cnn.com/2022/04/15/politics/united-nations-ukraine-russia/index.html

(CNN)Watching the brutal images of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has many people around the world asking, why isn’t the United Nations doing more to stop the war? Among them, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky himself “You need to act immediately,” Zelensky implored the UN Security Council during a live-streamed address April 6 to its members. He begged them to do something to stop the war in his country, criticizing the Security Council’s inaction directly. And he called out the elephant in the room: Russia, one of the five permanent members of the Council, whose status gives it the ability to veto any action it disagrees with. “We are dealing with a state that turns the right of veto in the UN Security Council into a right to die,” Zelensky said. It was a blunt message urging the Council to reform, and if that won’t work, he said, “the next option would be to dissolve yourself altogether. And I know you can admit that if there is nothing you can do besides conversation.” Many people who have watched the UN for years agree that the UN Security Council looks impotent in this moment, with the world watching. The Security Council was designed in a different era, after World War II, with a membership and veto system that have ultimately restricted its effectiveness in dealing with this global conflict. Other parts of the UN have responded more effectively to the humanitarian and refugee crises the war has created. Former US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton, who served under Republican Presidents including George W. Bush and Donald Trump, agreed with Zelensky’s assessment. “I thought he was absolutely right,” Bolton told CNN’s chief political analyst Gloria Borger. “And I thought one more convert to understanding what’s wrong with the United Nations. Its political institutions are fundamentally broken.” Bolton has never been a big fan of the UN. He’s famous for saying, back in 1994, that if the UN Secretariat building in New York “lost 10 stories, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference.” There have been many moments of deadlock before in the Security Council when the big powers disagree. But this moment has drawn outsized attention globally. “This is the single biggest crisis to hit the UN since the end of the Cold War,” said Richard Gowan, the UN Director for the International Crisis Group. “It is possible that this does mark the beginning of a sort of fundamental rupture amongst the great powers that will make UN diplomacy see vastly harder going forward.” The system was designed this way: to prevent global conflict but also to reward the main winners of World War II, according to Gowan. Key veto power When the United Nations charter was signed in 1945, it established the Security Council with five permanent members and six nonpermanent members. The permanent members — the US, the UK, France, the Soviet Union, and the Republic of China — were each given the power to veto any resolutions they opposed. “It was Franklin Roosevelt who wanted to set up an organization that would police the world after the defeat of Nazi Germany,” Gowan said. “But the only way he could get Russia and other powers to agree to that deal, was if they had the ability to block any actions against themselves.” The late Soviet Union leader Joseph Stalin himself insisted on that power as a way for his state to protect itself. Today, the Security Council has 15 members, but the five permanent members have remained the same, with Russia holding the former Soviet Union’s seat and China taking the seat of the Republic of China. And the veto hasn’t changed either. “What we’re seeing is, when there’s a fundamental disagreement among the permanent members, nothing happens,” Bolton said. The UN charter also makes it impossible to do another thing Zelensky suggested: kick Russia off the Security Council, because the country can veto that too. Over the years, countries and diplomats have suggested to reform the council by adding more permanent members to make it better reflect the contemporary geopolitical reality, or even try to take away the veto power. But no country wants to dilute its power. “I’m being honest with you, I don’t think anyone’s going to want to give up their veto,” former US Ambassador to the UN Bill Richardson, who served under former Democratic President Bill Clinton, told Borger. Richardson points out that the United States has used the veto to protect its own interests — and may need to again. “It helped us in the Iraq War. It helped us in Bosnia. It helps us in conflicts in Africa,” he said. “So no country that is a permanent member wants to give up their veto. And I would be against the US giving up their veto right now, just so that we take action on another issue.” In theory, the Security Council “could impose even more sweeping global economic sanctions on Moscow than we have already seen. It could technically authorize military action to push back Russian forces in Ukraine,” according to Gowan. But with Russia and likely China set to veto any action taken against the war, the Security Council is deadlocked. A massive global organization The UN is bigger than just the Security Council, and other areas of the body — which has six main organs — have been more active since Russia invaded Ukraine. “The UN is for airing publicly the tragedies of the world. Like the refugee crisis in Ukraine, like the possible war crimes, like so many other human costs that are taking place,” Richardson said. “At the same time, the UN is providing food. The UN is providing refugee assistance.” The UN General Assembly has condemned Russia twice over the war in Ukraine; those resolutions are nonbinding but carry symbolic weight. Russia was also suspended from the Human Rights Council, which requires a two-thirds vote. But Bolton said the math behind that vote shows Russia has significant support around the world; the voting result was 93 in favor, 24 against and 58 abstentions. A remaining 18 member states were not included in that result. “So here’s the real headline … A majority of the members of the United Nations, did not vote to expel Russia,” he told Borger. Russian President Vladimir Putin likely expected these kinds of condemnations, but what he really cares about is the status and power that being on the Security Council gives Russia. “After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Moscow clung on to its seat in the Security Council essentially as proof that it was still a big power,” Gowan of the International Crisis Group said. “Now, in the real world … Russia is not that important. It’s China and the US that are the dominant players, but in the Security Council, the Russians stand as equal to the US. And they’re very, very proud of having that status.” And Richardson knows firsthand from his time at the UN in the 1990s, Russia knows how to play the system. “When I became UN ambassador for the US, Lavrov, Foreign Minister had been there 10 years already. So he was very skillful,” Richardson said. “He knew how to maneuver in the Security Council. He was very formidable. And so we have Russia right now, very knowledgeable about UN operations so that’s an advantage that they have.” And so the Security Council could only watch as Russia invaded Ukraine. And in a bizarre split-screen moment, Russia held the rotating presidency of the Security Council and even chaired the meeting as the invasion began and diplomacy failed. Bolton doesn’t see any way to change the system. “Unless unicorns break free and sweetness and light prevails, where there are disagreements among the (permanent) five, there will be no action,” he said.

Vietnam, Somalia, Iraq, Ukraine all prove foreign military intervention fails

Thompson, 4-14, 22, I focus on the strategic, economic and business implications of defense spending as the Chief Operating Officer of the non-profit Lexington Institute and Chief Executive Officer of Source Associates. Prior to holding my present positions, I was Deputy Director of the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University and taught graduate-level courses in strategy, technology and media affairs at Georgetown. I have also taught at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. I hold doctoral and masters degrees in government from Georgetown University and a bachelor of science degree in political science from Northeastern University. Disclosure: The Lexington Institute receives funding from many of the nation’s leading defense contractors, including Boeing, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon Technologies, Putin Learns A Lesson Washington Knows All Too Well: Military Power Can Kill People, But It Can’t Change Them, https://www.forbes.com/sites/lorenthompson/2022/04/14/putin-learns-a-lesson-washington-knows-all-too-well-military-power-can-kill-people-but-it-cant-change-them/?sh=4f95df2eee4e

Some will emigrate and some will stay during the current crisis, but either way they will remain Ukrainians, not people who share an ethnic bond with Mother Russia. Even in parts of the country where Russian speakers are concentrated, such as the Donbas, it is far from obvious that the locals want to be reabsorbed into Russia after enjoying three decades of independence. This isn’t just a sociological insight; it is a major military lesson—one that Washington has learned the hard way in a series of failed military campaigns over the last 50 years. The Vietnam War, still the greatest debacle in American military history, demonstrated the resilience of cultural factors in the face of overwhelming military force. Over a ten-year period, the U.S. spent the equivalent in today’s terms of a trillion dollars trying to defeat an insurgency supported by the communist North. It dropped more bombs on Vietnam than it had in all of World War II, defoliated hundreds of thousands of acres of jungle to eliminate enemy sanctuaries, and lost 58,000 U.S. soldiers in what ultimately proved to be a failed effort. Racing Returns To Historic Nascar Speedway This Season At the height of American involvement, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara complained to President Johnson that a thousand Vietnamese noncombatants (civilians) were being killed every week. And yet despite the massive application of force both above and below the demilitarized zone dividing the country, the U.S. was never able to raise friendly forces to the level of proficiency required to defeat the insurgency. U.S. military personnel embedded in the army of the Republic of Vietnam found the locals were largely impervious to training due to a variety of factors that seem to have been mainly cultural. The U.S. suffered a similar experience two decades later when it led a United Nations effort to restore stability and democracy to Somalia. That campaign, which culminated in the tactical defeat depicted in the movie Black Hawk Down, was unable to end a long-running civil war that had killed half a million Somalis because the country’s clan-based political culture was incompatible with Western standards of governance. Despite the vigorous application of force, the U.S. ended up withdrawing all its forces in a move that Osama bin Laden later said demonstrated American weakness, and the Somali civil war continues to this day. It is hardly necessary to recount the cultural barriers to military success that Washington encountered more recently in Afghanistan and Iraq. Twenty years of continuous engagement in Afghanistan did little to eliminate the cultural traits that precluded creation of a stable democracy, despite the manifest benefits that might have accrued to most of the population. The Iraq campaign, which began with the false premise that Saddam Hussein was pursuing weapons of mass destruction, soon demonstrated that many of the other assumptions underpinning the effort were similarly fallacious—particularly the assessment of Iraq’s receptivity to non-sectarian governance. The now absurd-sounding belief harbored by Vice President Cheney and others that Iraqi culture was moderate and cosmopolitan proved utterly misguided; massive military and economic aid did little to change the cultural features of the country. In the end, Washington relearned a lesson about Iraq that British occupiers had learned in the aftermath of World War I — as Sir Arnold Wilson put it in 1920, “What we are up against is anarchy plus fanaticism. There is little or no Nationalism” (See David Fromkin, A Peace To End All Peace, page 453). Nearly a century later, Iraq remained too riven with ethnic and sectarian frictions to support anything resembling a Western-style democracy. Which brings me back to Ukraine today. Vladimir Putin began his ill-fated invasion of Ukraine with a series of misconceptions, among them that many locals had little loyalty to indigenous institutions, and felt a strong affinity for Russian culture. He now knows differently: Ukrainians will fight tenaciously to resist Russian dominance as long as they have the means to do so, and no amount of military force will shake their belief in the uniqueness of their nation. So of course the public narrative coming out of Moscow sounds increasingly genocidal, because the Russians now realize the only way of pacifying Ukraine is to wipe out much of its population. Putin might have learned the underlying lesson sooner by reviewing the history of Russian efforts to dominate Afghanistan in the 1980s, or its more recent intervention in Syria. No amount of military force can wipe out deeply rooted cultural features of a people. If an aggressor is determined to prevail, all military force provides is the means to wipe out the people themselves. Putin now must decide whether he is really willing to pursue a genocidal strategy in Ukraine, or desist in his geopolitical designs.