Nation Building in Iraq and Afghanistan

Post-Conflict, Peace/Nation Building in Iraq and Afghanistan

Somehow, within a forty year span of time, the United States has found itself ensnared in multiple wars in Asia at the same time. Again, unless we can influence the postwar nation building process, powers that are inimical to United States interests (in the present Iran) will fill the vacuum upon the American withdrawal. In this short essay, this author will list two lessons learned from our wars apply it to the defacto American raj in Afghanistan and Iraq. First is not to become too closely associated with present unpopular regimes as it is doing with the present administrations in the countries in which we are “nation-building.” Also, staying engaged in a never ending guerrilla war that has no foreseeable end is an obvious lesson, something we have had the odious distinction of doing in both cases. Unfortunately, for all involved, the deed has been done. In the case of Afghanistan, the deed has been done twice (if one counts the CIA effort against the Soviets). In that case, it is a question of whether or not round two will also comprise a failure in nation-building.

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What is disturbing about the war in Afghanistan and Iraq as is that the comparisons to Vietnam end at the energy question. For all of its problems that conflagration did not include oil and natural gas. Obviously, energy is at the heart of these wars, if not in their origin, then in their duration. After all, nation states (especially hegemonic unipolar super powers like America) do not spend trillions of dollars defending nonessentials. Americans have died for many years at the hands of terrorists, yet we had no widespread war against it before 2001. By plumbing the depths of what is different between the present conflicts about why the present is different and why our Afghan and Iraqi efforts have failed can find out how not to repeat such mistakes in places such as Libya. By examining the depleted state of the United States economy, we certainly know that the present course is definitely not the way to go. Unless we engage the people of all these countries on all levels on a civil affairs basis, including culturally, economically and democratically, we will lose the wars of hearts of minds to the Iranians.

For the above reasons, this author proposes an out of the “out of the box” solution that can be added onto U.N. conventions that have been part and partial of international law since the early 1990’s in the wake of the first Gulf War and the humanitarian intervention in Somalia. This is an old solution with a number of notable, yet little know successes and it has complemented U.N. Efforts admirably in the difficult cause of peacekeeping: international arbitration under the auspices of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague. The efforts of the Hague conventions of 1899 and 1907 have given us long-lasting international institutions that promote peace and understanding among nations. These conventions, were among the first formal international statements concerning the laws of war and war crimes in international law.1 In order to defeat the psychological assaults of radicals in the Taliban and Al-Qaeda and to counter Iranian propaganda, we will need to examine this option as a way of engaging the people of these countries to get their acquiescence in the nation building efforts.

2-Post Conflict and Peace-building — the Took Kit

In this section of the essay, we will define what post conflict strategies and peace building operations entail and why this all is important in the rebuilding of nations that have been destroyed by War. Before we even speak about peacekeeping or nation building, we need to define the state a country is in. In a 2002 Foreign Affairs article, Robert Rotberg defines rogue states and failed states and explains that sometimes these are, but are not always the same thing. In such an estimation, a failed state is one where the central government has completely collapsed. These can include countries such as Afghanistan where the government was not fully in control or Somalia where there was no central government. Certainly, Afghanistan could have been considered a rogue state due to its sponsorship of Osama bin Laden. While Iraq had a working central government, it would be considered a rogue state.2

Certainly, the original organization that comes to mind when post conflict and peace-building are mentioned is the United Nations. After the first Iraq War and the U.N. sanctioned intervention, specific U.N. policy guidelines were promulgated in order to make sure that their member states got it right on peacekeeping missions. As then U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Ghali defined it:

Post-conflict peace-building seeks to prevent the resurgence of conflict and to create the conditions necessary for a sustainable peace in war-torn societies. It is a holistic process involving broad-based inter-agency cooperation across a wide range of issues. It encompasses activities as diverse as traditional peacekeeping and electoral assistance.3

As will be examined in this section of the essay, the then Secretary General laid out structural prevention/strategies to address the root causes of deadly conflict so that wars do not happen in a region again. This includes meeting peoples’ basic economic, social, cultural and humanitarian needs by rebuilding societies that have been shattered by war or major crises. He emphasized that this new peacekeeping will be based upon information and fact-finding.4 For this, there would need to be an unprecedented sharing of information among U.N. departments to inform the Secretary General and the Security Council as to options. He points to Articles 36 and 37 of the Charter that give the Secretary-General “to recommend to the U.N. Member States the submission of a dispute to the International Court of Justice, arbitration or other dispute-settlement mechanisms.”5 This would then determine the type of peacekeeping mission that the U.N. Or its constituent states would be involved in. Peace-building and options short of war need to be considered first. Peace-building strategies are of two broad types: 1)The development by governments acting cooperatively, or alternately by international regimes in order to manage the interactions of states (this idea will be developed further in the case of international arbitration). 2) the development by individual states (with the help of outsiders if necessary) of political mechanisms to ensure bedrock security, well-being and justice for their citizens) 6 Basically, the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) of the U.N. does this.7 The PBC is an intergovernmental advisory body of the U.N. that supports peace efforts in countries that are emerging from conflict. It is a key addition to coordinating the capacities of the International Community to promote the broad peace agenda (coordination of troops, finances, governments, etc.)8

Robert C. Orr reflects upon the effectiveness of the U.N. As an instrument for peacekeeping by looking at the effectiveness of its chief provider of forces for peacekeeping missions, the United States.

For Orr, there is not question bu that the United States is a force in the world for stability. It is simply a question of how that stability is to be best achieved. For Orr, there are three fundamental questions to answer with regard to this issue. These questions can be listed as follows: 1) What is needed to rebuild countries after war? 2) How can the United States improve its capacity to succeed at post-conflict reconstruction? 3) When and how should the United States use this capacity?9 Orr posits further that weak or failed states engaged in war and revolution are a threat to the United States and the entire world because of the threat that they present to the world in general and the United States in particular due to destabilization of world order. This is due to the operation of criminal and terrorist networks from such countries.10

In James Dobbins book regarding America’s nation-building efforts since World War 2.

While there have been armed United States interventions, the focus is upon political peacebuilding. These include structural peace-building, such as activities that create middle-level peace structures such as in Haiti, Bosnia and Kosovo11 The United States addresses all aspects of public safety, especially with regard to the establishment of a safe and secure environment and development of legitimate and stable security institutions. This includes the provision of individual and collective security.12 However, the United States is not doing this on its own, but is turning to multilateral partners as well.

James Notter and Louise Diamond call for a different strategy that they label structural prevention or peace building. According to Notter and Diamond, peace-building comprises strategies that address the root causes of wars. They call it conflict transformation to imply the deep, foundational types of changes that need to be made in order to prevent war.13 Notter and Diamond however differ considerably Ghali’s approach. They feel his emphasis is based upon his concentration upon the violence and military conflict. They further feel that prevention is also the key here so as that crises do not happen in the first place, or at least are not as badly as before. This includes putting in place international legal systems, dispute resolution mechanisms as well as cooperative arrangements.14 The call this approach social peace-building or structural peace-building. Such peace-building involves “creating structures — systems of behavior, institutions, concerted actions — that support the embodiment or implementation of a peace culture.”15

This is what the author’s call multi-track diplomacy. It involves individuals who are not normally involved in the peace process, particularly business people or other professionals (e.g., academics, sports teams, etc.). In such a situation, it is important to create structures and systems of behavior, institutions and concerted actions that support the embodiment or implementation of a peace culture. It is about building an economic, military and community infrastructure and providing concrete and realistic avenues through which a new peace system might express itself. Structures are terribly necessary because political peacebuilding cannot accomplish conflict transformation by itself. After all, a signed treaty by itself does not create peace. It only creates a basis for peace, or a legal infrastructure to support peace).16

Activities include economic development programs, strengthening democracy and governance, and supporting the creation of indigenous NGOs that support peace.17 Social peacebuilding is the missing link, seeking to build upon the human infrastructure that can support the political agreements and societal institutions. Trying to prepare the system to be able to implement political agreements without the further loss of life (activities: e. g. conflict resolution workshops; reconciliation activities; mediation efforts between different societal/ethnic groups etc.).18

There is a governance and participation pillar that addresses the need for a legitimate, effective political and administrative institutions with participatory processes. This is most often guaranteed through a representative constitutional structure. In terms of social and economic well-being pillar, this addresses fundamental social and economic needs of the population. In particular, the provision of emergency relief, restoration of essential services, laying the foundation for a viable economy and the initiation of an inclusive, sustainable development program.19 In terms of the justice and reconciliation pillar, this addresses the need for an impartial and accountable legal system and for ways to deal with past abuses. In particular, there is a necessity for the creation of effective law enforcement, an open judicial system, fair laws, humane corrections systems and also formal and informal mechanisms for resolving grievances that arise from conflict.20

Before we go on, we should look briefly at the possibility of international arbitration under the auspices of the Permanent Court on Arbitration (PCA) at the Hague.21 The Iran-United States Claims Tribunal was created as a measure that was taken to resolve the crisis in relations between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran arising in the wake of the Iranian Hostage Crisis. At that time, the Iranian Revolution was in full swing and 52 American nationals at the United States Embassy in Tehran had been detained since November 1979. Subsequently Iranian assets were frozen by the United States as an economic sanction by America against the Islamic Republic to secure the hostages’ release in January of 1981. The resolved cases on the Tribunal legal document that deal with law suits between the two countries represent the only issues that the United States and Iran have resolved over 30 years.22 This is a tremendous accomplishment. The arbitration option will be looked at later as another valuable tool to add to a sparse tool kit of diplomatic options between the United States and the countries of Iraq and Afghanistan.


The best description of the situation in Iraq and the fact that the invasion was made for reasons other than for that of weapons of mass destruction. According to former General Wesley Clark, he was contacted by former colleagues at the Pentagon ten days on or about the 20th of September, 2001 that the decision had been made to attack Iraq.23 What is so prescient about General Clark’s analysis is his colleague’s analysis of the situation. When the General asked them why there was a plan to attack Iraq, the response was that they did not know. Al-Qaeda was not involved. They said that the Pentagon and the administration felt that since the United States military had the power, they would take out a hostile government.24

In a subsequent conversation, his colleague said something that was even more revealing about the situation: he likened it to having only a hammer in the toolbox. If one only has a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail and it needs to be pounded.25 Frankly, this author does not have the time in this short essay to debunk all of the Bush administration’s misrepresentations with regard to Iraq, WMD’ and Al-Qaeda. General Clark’s word will suffice to wit that the war was launched for purposes other than the official reasons put out by the Bush administration.

Now, we need to address some issues that were a direct result of the United States invasion. The Office for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA) was created on January 20, 2003 two months before the Iraqi invasion in 2003.26 It was to provide a caretaker government until an Iraqi civilian administration. It did this in the form of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA).27 This was established as a transitional government under the leadership of former General Jay Garner in the wake of the invasion of Iraq by the United States and members of the Multi-National Force-Iraq which was formed to oust the government of in 2003.28 The CPA possessed complete executive, legislative and judicial authority over the Iraqi government. The CPA was in charge from April 21, 2003 until June 28, 2004.29

The swift dismissal of Garner from the post came as a huge surprise. He had publicly preferred to put the Iraqi people in charge as soon as possible and to do it with some form of elections. The United States Government decided to begin removing members of the Ba’ath Party from the Iraqi government and military. Jay Garner’s original plan was what he called “gentle de-Baathification” where they would call the majority of ministries back, but firing the top people who were probably criminals. Then, the people who would make the country function would point out the bad people who would be removed at that time.30 The refusal to implement a complete de-Ba’athification immediately as a public policy infuriated many senior members of the United States Government and lead directly to his dismissal. Upon assuming his post in May 2003, L. Paul Bremer took the title of United States Presidential Envoy and Administrator in Iraq in May 2003.31 Unfortunately, the lack of authority due to lack of security (brought about by no Iraqi Army and Police), looting, lawlessness and chaos ruled. This lack of security was caused directly by thousands of armed people left without a job. Without securing weapons and giving former civil servants and soldiers jobs, it is no surprise that people joined religious organizations that promoted anti-American sentiments.32

Unfortunately, the deed has been done and it is time to reconstruct the country properly. First of all, we need to identify the problems that have provided problems for the United States efforts so far. Joseph Nye in a July-August 2003 Foreign Affairs article raised questions about what the post-conflict Bush administration strategy needed to be. He pointed out the seemingly obvious, which is that the willingness of other nations to cooperate in dealing with transnational problems such as terrorism depends on their own interest converging with that of the United States. According to Nye, the United States needs to move toward multilateralism to legitimize U.S. power and to gain broad acceptance of American strategy and foreign policies. The United States needs to use more soft power, diplomacy and multilateral cooperation than the unilateralism that has dominated its actions previously.33


The War in Afghanistan started on October 7, 2001, as the United States, U.K., Australia, and the Northern Alliance (Afghan United Front) embarked on Operation Enduring Freedom. This invasion was launched in the wake of the September 11, 2001 on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. The stated mission was the dismantling of Al-Qaeda, the overthrow of the Taliban and ending the use of Afghanistan as a terrorist base. In a matter of weeks, the Taliban was ousted from Kabul and most of the country. Unfortunately, the majority of the remaining Taliban and Al-Qaeda (including Osama bin Laden) managed to escape to sanctuary areas in the Pakistani province of Waziristan.34

The invasion forces established the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and an interim government under Hamid Karzai that was elected in the 2004 general elections. The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was founded by the UN Security Council at the end of December 2001 to secure Kabul its surroundings. Command of the ISAF was assumed by NATO in 2003. The force includes military personnel from 42 countries. NATO provides the core of the force.35

Unfortunately, in 2003, the Taliban forces of the Haqqani network and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hezb-i Islamic reactivated the insurgency campaign against the Afghan government and the ISAF from their headquarters near Quetta, Pakistan.36 Between 2006 and 2009, the country of Afghanistan experienced a dramatic increase in Taliban-led insurgent operations. In their campaign, the Taliban has also targeted the civilian population of Afghanistan in terrorist attacks.37 United States President Barack Obama announced December 1, 2009 that he would deploy an additional 30,000 soldiers to the country over a period of six months and set a withdrawal date for 2014.38

The cost of the Afghan War has reportedly been a major factor motivating United States officials to begin considering drawing down troops in 2011. In a March 2011, the Congressional Research Service issued a detailed report regarding Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) in Afghanistan. According to the report, following the Afghanistan troop surge announcement in 2009 by President Obama, Defense Department spending on the war increased 50% from $4.4 billion to $6.7 billion per month.39 During this time, troop strength went from 44,000 to 84,000 and the troop is expected to be at 102,000 for the fiscal year of 2011..40 The total operational cost for the war from in 2001 through 2006 only slightly exceeded the total spent in 2010 alone which was $93.8 billion and with projected total costs relating to the war from D-Day to fiscal year 2011 is expected to be about $468 billion. The estimated cost of deploying one U.S. soldier in Afghanistan is over $1 million dollars per year. President Obama announced on June 22, 2011 that 10,000 United States troops would come home by the end of 2011 with an additional 23,000 troops will leaving by the summer of 2012.41

Since the beginning of the occupation, issues such as displaced people, anti-American sentiment, bombing, deaths of American soldiers and locals, the destruction of the country. And the failure the re-build the country have divided the Afghan people. Since the killing of Osama bin Laden in May of 2011, sentiments in the United States are mounting for an end to the longest war in United States military history since Vietnam. However, like Vietnam, the question of when the United States first became involved is a question for historians, depending at which point you look.42

The United States involvement in Afghanistan did not begin on September 11, 2001. What is conveniently forgotten about this “forgotten” war is that this is not the first time that America has used Afghanistan as a battleground. If one counts the time that the United States covertly fought the Soviets in the country, this is the second time and its second botched bout with nation building in the troubled region. In an interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski in 1998, the former Carter Administration National Security Advisor reveals the secret beginnings of United States involvement in Afghanistan:

According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began

during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979.

But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise Indeed, it was July 3,

1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I

explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.43

This first involvement in Afghanistan was via Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hezb-i Islami, a group which began operations at that time against the Afghan government and whose opium sales funded much of its weapons purchases and military operations.44 This same jihadi is now in combat against NATO forces in Afghanistan. Additionally, the Jalaluddin Haqani was formerly one of the most favored CIA-funded anti-Soviet guerrilla organizations. Now he is one of Washington’s top public enemies, although he remains one of Islamabad’s favorite Afghan allies45

The war began when the factions in Afghanistan revolted against first Afghan and then Soviet authority. Then, the CIA supplied the rebels with sums of money and weapons such as Stinger missiles. Additionally, it provided training camps for rebels who came to help fight the Soviets.

While Jamat-i Islami and its commander Ahmed Shah Massoud were a major force after the fall of the Soviet-backed regime, there were different groups in the resistance that soon split Kabul into separate sections.46

It was then that the ethnic definition of the conflict became most pronounced. Alliances between various resistance groups and sections of the old pro-Soviet government army that shared ethnic identity emerged as forces in fighting for control of the capital. Alliances rapidly shifted and political and military leaders then used ethnic arguments to build support with the common people having little alternative but to find protection with their own ethnic group. The Taliban came out of the chaos in late 1994 as a reaction to the disaster in Kabul and the lawlessness in the country47 Basing itself upon traditional networks of village mullahs Islamic scholars, the Taliban recruited supporters mostly Pashtuns48 To begin with, they avoided ethnic rhetoric, but eventually began using pro-Pashtun and anti-Shi — a rhetoric.49 The movement’s dominantly Pashtun membership was able to dominate Afghanistan, forcing Ahmed Shah Massoud and others in resistance into Northern Afghanistan where they remained until the United States invasion.50

4-Reflections on the Past and Policy for a Post-War Environment

Certainly, given the reported destruction, death and incompetent administration, the United States has been unable in the large sense to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan. Although the United States has weakened Al-Qaeda and killed its head, Osama bin Laden, these victories have been pyrrhic in nature, leaving the United States economy devastated. Certainly in the beginning in Afghanistan, things were so bad that any change in the country’s government was necessary. Most journalists early on in the invasion of Afghanistan were positive about the results. CNN’s Christiane Amanpour commented that “There is no doubt that United States intervention in Afghanistan has had a net positive effect for the Afghan people.51 While not generally in agreement with Noam Chomsky on most issues, he certainly had a point when asked about his opinion in reaction to such sentiments in order to remember all of the historical details (many forgotten by the media) to get an accurate picture:

There certainly were improvements that resulted from the overthrow of the Taliban.

That’s why everyone was in favor of the overthrow of the Taliban, except the United States government. Let’s keep in mind that the overthrow of the Taliban regime was not a war aim. The war aim announced on October 12, five days after the bombing began, was that the Taliban leadership should hand over to the United States people who the United States suspected of participating in terrorist actions — the United States refused to provide evidence — and warned the Afghan people that unless this was done, they would be bombed.

Over two weeks later, when the war was pretty much coming to an end, the war aim of overthrowing the Taliban regime was added.52

To sum up, the priority for any United States administration has not been to make life better for the people in a country that it plans to invade. Unfortunately, if we invade a country and do not make the removal of a dictator and the improvement of the population’s life a part of our priorities, we should not be surprised when we have no popular support. In our earlier considerations of General Garner’s revelations, this certainly was the case in the botched administration of Iraq.52

So, what is the vision for a proper nation-building program for America to pursue in Iraq and Afghanistan? As Robert Gates writes in a 2009 Foreign Affairs article, the United States can not afford to fail in either Iraq or Afghanistan. As he states, this “would be a disastrous blow to United States credibility, both among friends and allies and among potential adversaries.”53 In Iraq, the number of combat troops is declining. Therefore, the missions of support troops and contractors are becoming more important. For this reason, former secretary Gates urges that the United States maintain its conventional capabilities and not be fixated on simple “kinetic surges” such as in Libya, but also needs to remain committed to the war on terrorism. While in his opinion, the United States is unlikely to soon repeat another war such as there was in Iraq or Afghanistan, this does not mean that the country might not face similar challenges in other countries. Wherever possible, the proper United States strategy would be to employ indirect methods such as the buildup of the capacity of partner governments and their military forces. This would be to prevent continuing problems from turning into crises requiring costly direct United States military intervention. In this kind of effort, the capabilities of the United States’ allies and partners are crucial.54 Therefore, it isin the interest of the United States and is just as important to promote our clients capabilities as to maintain our own. Building allied capacity is arguably as important as, if not more so than building new United States capabilities.54 This is perhaps why Melvin Laird in a 2005 article in a Foreign Affairs article foresaw a similar solution to a postwar Iraq scenario on a par with the Vietnamization of South Vietnam. He feels that the Vietnamization did not work due to problems Nixon had with Watergate and Congressional waffling after the 1973 United States withdrawal.55

One thing is for sure though. As Richard N. Haass maintains in a 2008 Foreign Affairs article, the United States’ unipolar, full-spectrum dominance is over. International relations in the twenty-first century will rather be characterized increasingly by non-polarity. Rather, power will be diffuse as opposed to concentrated one or a few centers. Also, the influence of nation-states will further decline as that of the nonstate actors increases.56 Certainly, this spells the end of United States unipolar dominance. But instead of power being shared among coequal or nearly coequal poles, the power is dispersed all over the globe, among state and nonstate stakeholders and requires a multilateral approach on the part of the United States57 Some of this is due to the growth of regional powers. Further some of these effects are due to the military and economic fallout from the United States war on terrorism. However, a lot of the present “nonpolar disorder” is due to globalization.58

By understanding this new world, the United States can head off future conflicts such as Afghanistan and Iraq. These were made up of overwhelming United States force. We need to replace with less of a reliance on United States assets and more of one of partnership with like minded stakeholders that have a need to promote similar interests. Hopefully, the Arab spring will have run its course soon and the United States can have a much needed reprieve to become used to the new order. However, many other actors are coming onto the southwest Asian stage. In a 2008 Foreign Affairs article by Barnett R. Rubin and Rashid Ahmed, the authors postulate a highly polarized situation so bad that even traditional regional powers such as Pakistan can not handle the situation.59

So what have the wars accomplished? Considering the horrible damage to United States diplomacy in the region, it will take years to repair our reputation. Obviously, in such a situation, pouring more gasoline on the fire so to speak with additional military deployments will only make the situation worse. This is where the international arbitration option might come into play. It is not too late to employ this in Libya, a place where there is a bad need for reconciliation of warring parties, or even Syria which is on the cusp of civil war. Given issues with the United Nations, perhaps bringing in international arbitration is a possibility to talk with all of the region’s stakeholders, at least nation-state stakeholders.

International Arbitration Case Study

The Iran-United States Claims Tribunal is a classic example of this and has performed very successfully. Amazingly, it has experienced full compliance with its decisions, quite an accomplishment for a tribunal that like its parent organization is an ad hoc body in the classic sense. On the other hand, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has had a very mixed record. Unlike a body that is created ad hoc under the PCA which has jurisdiction only under a special agreement signed by the disputing parties, the ICJ is a permanent judiciary body. It has different types of jurisdiction, including special agreement (like between the United States and Iran) and that assigned by treaty and compulsory (a part of U.N. membership) While there is not time in this short essay to cover all aspects of the body, one key fact is critical to understand: the compliance with decisions decreases as the decisions become more compulsory60 No one likes to be bossed around. We have to give other players a chance to have respect and have their views heard in any negotiations.

The government of Algeria served an as intermediary in the search for a mutually acceptable solution. Certainly, this historical example would bode well for multilateralism. Since its inception, the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal has adjudicated and also finalized over 3,900 cases on its docket. The Tribunal was closed down to new financial claims by private individuals on January 19, 1982, so no new cases will be considered after the last is resolved.55 The body has a life span and will cease to exist after its tailored mission is complete. The Tribunal has received approximately 4,700 private U.S. claims.56 It has ordered the payment by Iran to American nationals totaling over $2.5 billion. Nearly all private claims have been resolved. However, several intergovernmental claims are still in the docket before the Tribunal.57

What might be very innovative about using the PCA to begin negotiations with parties in the area in post-war scenarios is that the United Nations has a mixed reputation. Under PCA Article 54 it specifies the “The deliberations of the Court shall take place in private and remain secret.”58 Parties that are demanding discretion and secrecy in sensitive negotiations can be assured of total secrecy and lack of media attention. They will then be motivated to participate in arbitration scenarios that they otherwise would not have come into. Such negotiations have taken place between states and non-state entities under the auspices of the PCA since the 1930s with Iran case being the best known.59 The United Nations has specifically recognized the PCAs efforts and has made an effort to use what has essentially been an underused asset due to the rise of the International Court of Justice.60

Perhaps a solution would be a of summit under the PCA for arbitration and negotiation between states and non-state entities. The United States would need a state sponsor in the region, preferably a neutral honest broker, the role that the Algerians played during the Iranian hostage crisis between the United States and Iran. There must be no time limits and no press. Rather, the PCA tribunal needs to be enabled to do its job discretely and securely. The outcome will likely be worth it and frankly, we have few other options.

Certainly, the era of military options for the United States in the region has or is reaching an end. The most recent border attack on Pakistani forces over the Afghan border by NATO has led to the shutdown of the logistics route of trucks over the border from Pakistan.61 Such incursions threaten conflict with the Chinese, who are increasingly becoming more involved in Pakistani affairs. Islamabad considers Beijing to be a closes ally and an alternative to the west. Both governments oppose the U.S. plans for Afghan bases beyond the 2014 deadline for ending NATO combat operations. Additionally, Pakistan and China conducted a joint military exercise in the Punjab province involving 500 soldiers (the fourth since 2004). It was designed to show that the “Pakistan-China friendship is higher than the mountains and deeper than oceans.”62

While diplomacy is the key, it needs to be done imaginatively. Islamabad recently stated that it would boycott the conference in Bonn on Afghanistan’s future. However, it has also reached out by asking the U.K. To mediate in its dispute with the U.S. about the killing of its soldiers on the border with Afghanistan.63 The arbitration option could do exactly this in a discrete manner, allowing parties to negotiate and arbitrate their disputes peacefully via a trusted honest broker. Again, the Iran-United States Tribunal has had amazing success, indeed the only successful resolution of anything from the Iran hostage crisis. Certainly, the United States nothing to lose. With the economy in bad need of restructuring and looming military cutbacks, it is certainly the best option and only option available on the table.


In this essay, the author has considered the failure of U.S. policies in Afghanistan and Iraq. However, we have a responsibility to build these nations now that we have damaged them in the war on terror. These nation-building effort are now in transition. We must use diplomacy through, but must do so in a new way through arbitration, one which takes into consideration the politics of the region and the sensitivities of its peoples. The people there must have a chance to recover their pride. Additionally, the United States needs to be able to bring its own men, women and dollars home to repair America.

While a “cut and run” policy is not an option, we must gradually transition to a situation that gracefully accepts the reality that we are not alone in the world. The world is multilateral. We can not treat it as an empire. Rather, it must be treated as a commonwealth of nations where mutual respect rules and the motive to use force is a lesser option, one used only in an emergency. While such emergencies exist, the situation can not justify a permanent war footing. Rather, war must be averted by building the infrastructure for peace and prosperity that prevents wars from happening. Certainly, no world created by humans is perfect. However, given the state of our economy and the damage to U.S. diplomatic reputation, we need to begin to arbitrate our way out of situations before the shooting. This was exactly the dream upon which the Peace Palace in the Hague was built. Certainly, its founders would be proud that a peace-building institution built in the 19th century is now possibly a harbinger of peace in the 21st century. It is a dream that deserves a chance to continue.

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Iran-United States Claims Tribunal. (2011). Iran-United States Claims Tribunal Background Information. Available: Last accessed 24 Nov 2011.

Jelinek, Pauline. “AP source: U.S. Rerouting Some Afghan War Supplies.” Associated Press. AP, 07 December 2011. Web. 7 Dec 2011. .

Laird, Melvin. “Iraq: Learning the Lessons of Vietnam.” Foreign Affairs. (2005): 22-43.

McCoy, Alfred W. The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade. Chicago, IL:

Lawrence Hill Books; 2003.

Nojumi, Neamatollah. The Rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan: Mass Mobilization, Civil War, and the Future of the Region. New York, NY: Palgrave, 2002.

Notter, James, and Louise Diamond. Building Peace and Transforming Conflict: Multi-Track Diplomacy in Practice. Arlington, VA: The Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy, 1996. Print.

Nye, Jr., Joseph S. “United States Power and Strategy After Iraq..” Foreign Affairs. 82.4 (2003): 60-74. Print.

Orr, Robert Cameron. Winning the Peace: an American Strategy for Post-conflict Reconstruction. Washington, D.C.: Center for Strategic & International Studies, 2004.

“The Peacebuilding Commission (PBC).” United Nations., 2011. Web. 7 Dec 2011. .

Posner, A and Yoo, J. (2005). Judicial Independence in International Tribunals. California Law Review.

93 (1), p33-38.

Rotberg, Robert I. “Failed States in a World of Terror.” Foreign Affairs. (2002): 127-135.

Rubin, Barnett R. And Rashid, Ahmed. “From Great Game to Grand Bargain: Ending Chaos in Afghanistan and Pakistan.” Foreign Affairs. (2008): 30-39.

Shah, Saeed. “China supports Pakistan in row over Nato border attack.” The Guardian., 28 November 2011. Web. 7 Dec 2011. .

Schabner, Dean, and Karen Travers. “Osama bin Laden Killed: .” ABC., 01 May 2011. Web. 7 Dec 2011. .

Siddique, Abubakar . “Questions Raised About Haqqani Network Ties with Pakistan.” International Relations and Security Network., 26 September 2011 . Web. 5 Dec 2011. .

“Statute of the Permanent Court of International Justice .” World Courts., 16 December 1920 . Web. 6 Dec 2011. .

Tisdall, Simon, and Saed Shah. “Pakistan boycotts talks on Afghanistan and asks UK to mediate in row with U.S..” The Guardian., 29 November 2011. Web. 7 Dec 2011. .

Tuchman, Barbara. (1966). The Proud Tower. New York, NY: Bantam Books.

Tucker, Spencer, ed. The Encyclopedia of Middle East Wars [5 volumes]: The United States in the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, and Iraq Conflicts . Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2010. 923-926.

United Nations. Conference on Trade and Development. Dispute Settlement. New York, NY: United Nations, 2003. Web. 5 Dec 2011. .

1 Barbara Tuchman. The Proud Tower. New York (NY: Bantam Books, 1966) 293.

2 Robert I Rotberg,. “Failed States in a World of Terror.” Foreign Affairs, July/August 2002, 127-135.

3 Boutros-Boutros Ghali. “Post-conflict peace-building.” Report of the Secretary-General on the work of the Organization. United Nations, 1999, 2 Dec 2011. .

4 Boutros-Boutros Ghali. “An agenda for peace: preventive diplomacy, peacemaking and peacekeeping.” An Agenda for Peace. United Nations, 1992, 3 Dec 2011. . Ghali, Boutros-Boutros.

5 Ibid., 824.

6 Ibid.

7 “The Peacebuilding Commission (PBC).” United Nations., 2011, 7 Dec 2011. .

8 Ibid.

9 Robert Cameron Orr, Winning the Peace: an American Strategy for Post-conflict Reconstruction, (Washington, D.C.: Center for Strategic & International Studies, 2004), 3.

1 0 Ibid.

1 1 James Dobbins, America’s role in nation-building: from Germany to Iraq, (Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2003), xxiii.

1 2 Ibid, xxv.

1 3 James Notter and Louise Diamond. Building Peace and Transforming Conflict: Multi-Track Diplomacy in Practice. (Arlington, VA: The Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy, 1996), 1

1 4 Ibid, 2.

1 5 Ibid., 3.

1 6 Ibid, 5-6.

1 7 Ibid, 6-7

1 8 Ibid, 5.

1 9 Ibid.

2 0 Ibid, 12.

2 1 “The Peacebuilding Commission (PBC).” United Nations., 2011. Web. 7 Dec 2011. .

2 2 Iran-United States Claims Tribunal. (2011). Iran-United States Claims Tribunal Background Information. Available: Last accessed 24 Nov 2011.

2 3 Wesley Clark, War: Gen Clark On Iraq Invasion. You Tube, 2007. Film. .

2 4 Ibid.

2 5 Ibid.

2 6 Ferguson, Charles. No End in Sight: Iraq’s Descent into Chaos. (Philadelphia, PA: PublicAffairs, 2008), 71.

2 7 Ibid.

2 8 Garner, Jay, perf. HBO History Makers Series with Jay Garner . Prod. Michael R. Gordon. Council on Foreign Relations, 2008. Web. 6 Dec 2011.

2 9 Ibid.

3 0 Ibid.

3 1 Ferguson, Charles. No End in Sight: Iraq’s Descent into Chaos . 1st. Philadelphia, PA: PublicAffairs, 2008, 141.

3 2 Ferguson, Charles. No End in Sight: Iraq’s Descent into Chaos . 1st. Philadelphia, PA: PublicAffairs, 2008, 163.

3 3 Joseph S. Nye, Jr., “United States Power and Strategy After Iraq.” Foreign Affairs, July-August 2003, 60-61

3 4 Tucker, Spencer, ed. The Encyclopedia of Middle East Wars [5 volumes]: The United States in the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, and Iraq Conflicts. (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2010). 925-926.

3 5 Ibid.

3 6 Ibid.

3 7 Ibid.

3 8 Ibid, 923-924.

3 9 Belasco, Amy. United States Congress. Congressional Research Service. Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11. Washington, D.C.: G.P.O., 2011. 1-4.

4 1 Ibid.

4 2 Schabner, Dean, and Karen Travers. “Osama bin Laden Killed: .” ABC., 01 May 2011. Web. 7 Dec 2011.
4 3, Zbigniew Brzezinski, “The CIA Intervention in Afghanistan, ” Center for Research on Globalisation, 15 October 2001, .

4 4 Alfred W. McCoy, The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade, (Chicago, IL: Lawrence Hill Books;, 2003), 475-476.

4 5 Abubakar Siddique, “Questions Raised About Haqqani Network Ties with Pakistan.” International Relations and Security Network, 26 September 2011, .

4 6 Neamatollah Nojumi, The Rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan: Mass Mobilization, Civil War, and the Future of the Region. (New York, NY: Palgrave, 2002), 85.

4 7 Ibid, 118.

4 8 Ibid, 131.

4 9 Ibid, 134

5 0 Ibid, 136.

5 1 Christiane Amanpour, “America Remembers, Part II,” Transcripts, August 24, 2002, .

5 2 Noam Chomsky and David Barsimian, “United States intervention from Afghanistan to Iraq,”, September — October 2002, .

5 2 Jay Garner, HBO History Makers Series with Jay Garner, Council on Foreign Relations, 2008, .

5 3 Robert M. Gates, “Reprogramming the Pentagon for a New Age,” Foreign Affairs. July/August 2009, 28-29.

5 4 Ibid, 29.

5 4 Ibid.

5 5 Laird, Melvin. “Iraq: Learning the Lessons of Vietnam.” Foreign Affairs., Nov/Dec 2005, 22.

5 6 Richard N. Haass, “The Age of Nonpolarity: What Will Follow United States Dominance.” Foreign Affairs. May/June 2008, 44.

5 7 Ibid, 51.

5 8 Ibid, 48-49.

5 9 Barnett R. Rubin and Ahmed Rashid. “From Great Game to Grand Bargain: Ending Chaos in Afghanistan and Pakistan.” Foreign Affairs, Dec. 2008, 30.

6 0 A. Posner and J. Yoo, J., “Judicial Independence in International Tribunals,” California Law Review. 93 (1), 2005, 33-38.

5 5 Iran-United States Claims Tribunal. (2011). Iran-United States Claims Tribunal Background Information. Available:

5 6 Ibid.

5 7 Ibid.

5 8 “Statute of the Permanent Court of International Justice .” World Courts., 16 December 1920. .

5 9 United Nations. Conference on Trade and Development. Dispute Settlement. New York, NY: United Nations, 2003. 5. .

6 0 Ibid.

6 1 Pauline Jelinek, “AP source: U.S. Rerouting Some Afghan War Supplies.” Associated Press., 07 December 2011,. .

6 2 Saeed Shah, “China supports Pakistan in row over Nato border attack.” The Guardian, 28 November 2011, .

6 3 Simon Tisdall and Saed Shah. “Pakistan boycotts talks on Afghanistan and asks UK to mediate in row with U.S..” The Guardian, 29 November 2011, .

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