The Iraq War: Not Fought For Oil

The Iraq War: Not Fought For Oil

Published by Quillette and accessible here: https://quillette.com/2019/05/06/the-iraq-war-was-not-about-oil/

Why did the United States-led coalition attack Iraq? Sixteen years after George W. Bush’s ‘Mission Accomplished’ speech, the answer seems obvious to some: oil of course! When war was waged, this was the widespread view in Jordan (71%), Morocco (63%), Pakistan (54%), Turkey (64%), Germany (60%) and France (58%). After all, the US was the largest oil-consuming nation and Iraq had the second- largest oil reserves in the world. These suspicions are strengthened when we consider how the White House was being run by retired oil executives – Cheney, Condoleezza Rice and Bush himself. However, closer examination suggests these factors were a coincidence rather than a conspiracy. The Iraq War was not fought for oil.

Big Oil, Sanctions & Saddam

American oil companies didn’t want to topple Saddam Hussein; they wanted to trade with him! They were prevented from doing so, not by the regime but by the U.S.’s full support for the U.N.’s oil embargo that was imposed on Iraq when it invaded Kuwait in 1990. In 1997 Conoco’s CEO Archie Dunham complained that “U.S. companies, not rogue regimes, are the ones that suffer when the United States imposes economic sanctions.” Halliburton found itself in hot water after whistleblowers alleged that it had sidestepped sanctions by operating through foreign subsidiaries.

In 1997, 670 companies and trade associations came together to form USA Engage*, a lobbying coalition, with the explicit aim of campaigning against the sanctions. The organisation was chaired by a Halliburton’s executive, Don Deline, and Exxon-Mobil’s Manager of International Relations, Robert W. Haines. Although it could be argued that war represented an alternative avenue for Big Oil to get inside Iraq, it was certainly not their preferred path.

Since the State Department, the CIA, the Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute and the Pentagon’s Energy Infrastructure Planning Group all eerily predicted post-war chaos and looting, it is difficult to discern why war would be a sensible, money-making strategy for Big Oil. There was the additional fear that Iraqi forces would set fire to the oil fields in revenge as they beat a retreat. Why risk the destruction and devastation of the treasure? A deal would surely be more desirable?

With American troops building up on the border in March 2003, Saddam made a desperate attempt to cling on to power. His secret service sought American-Lebanese businessman Imad Hage, who acted as an intermediary, meeting influential White House-advisor Richard Perle. Hage reported that in return for the regime’s survival, “the U.S. will be given first priority as it relates to Iraq oil.” The offer was rejected.

The situation is best summarised by Gary S. Becker (Nobel prize-winning economist): “If oil were the driving force behind the Bush Administration’s hard line on Iraq, avoiding war would be the most appropriate policy.”

Iraqi Democracy

It is often considered laughable and ludicrous to claim the U.S. and U.K. cared about bringing democracy to Iraq, given their historical record in the region. On countless occasions, oil interests have trumped human rights. Saudi Arabia is an autocracy, with an archaic attitude to women, that holds public beheadings and sponsors Islamic terrorism, but where is the outcry or intervention? Since 1945, oil has flowed and arms have been sold, fostering a close connection between the U.S. and Saudi.

Nevertheless, the ‘war for oil’ thesis makes even less sense in this context. Given that Saudi Arabia (alongside all the other oil-rich Gulf states with the exception of Kuwait) opposed the war, invading Iraq risked future deals. Leading war proponent and U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense, Paul Wolfowitz was reported to be “more than pleased” that democracy in Iraq would make the Saudis uneasy and was supportive of “rocking the stability of tyrannies in the Arab world.” Such antagonism was antithetical to the interests of Shell and Exxon-Mobil who had made huge investments in the Kingdom’s natural gas.

Cosying up to dictators is not the only reason the motives of the U.S. and U.K. have come under suspicion. It’s also their remarkable double standards and duplicity when it comes to supporting democracy. Iran’s Mohammed Mossadegh was democratically elected but was deposed in a CIA/MI6-backed coup in 1953 after he nationalised the Anglo-Persian oil company (now BP). He was replaced by the Shah who suppressed opposition while guaranteeing Anglo-American business interests.

Although parallels have been drawn between the Iranian incident and the Iraq invasion, this comparison not only ignores the coup’s Cold War context but it equates the overthrow of democracy and installation of a dictatorship with the overthrow of dictatorship and installation of a democracy. Both the Saudi monarchy and the Shah show that Big Oil’s profits are often better protected by a despotism that keeps its people down while passing wealth to the West. If an appetite for Iraq’s oil fields was what drove US policy then why not replace Saddam with a compliant strongman who could be controlled? Why insist on elections that would put the power to shape the Iraqi oil industry into the hands of the Iraqi people?

After the fall of Baghdad in April 2003, no major oil company could even consider investing in Iraq. While an unstable underdeveloped country may hand over its resources to multinationals because it’s desperate for investment, the risk is that once countries recover, the government will reject what they see as an unfair deal. This is known as the Obsolescing Model in international trade. Since elections were not scheduled until December 2005 and a permanent government would not be formed until May 2006, Big Oil would have to wait three years before they could bargain with a government that would be considered sovereign. Only this could allow them to sign contracts that would be protected under international law.

An additional problem Iraq’s parliamentary system posed to the creation of conditions favourable to outside oil companies was legislation from the 1960s that stated any oilfield development contract would have to be approved by a specific new law passed in the Iraqi parliament, potentially stalling or rejecting new deals.

An even bigger blow to the stability required for a smooth oil agreement was when the December elections delivered a decisive defeat for the secular pro-U.S. elements (such as the INA) and a huge victory for Shi’a Islamist parties, in the form of the United Iraq Alliance (UIA). This group had links to the Islamic Republic of Iran, arch-enemy of the U.S.  It also included the Sadr Current, the political wing of the Mahdi Army, which had engaged in attacks on Coalition forces. The dominant group was the Da’wah Party, whose founding philosophy forbids the private ownership of oil. From 2005 to 2018, three of Iraq’s four elected prime ministers, al-Jaafari, al-Maliki and al-Abadi, have been drawn from Da’wah.

By 2007, Iraq’s parliament was debating the direction of the oil industry. A plan was put forward to “promote foreign investment and private sector development” of Iraq’s oil, gas and electricity, known as the Hydrocarbon Law. However, this infuriated Iraqis and united them across class, region and religion.

Previously outlawed unions were able to organise oil workers, strike and issue statements declaring that “privatization of oil is a red line  that may not be crossed.” The Association of Muslim Scholars (possibly Iraq’s most influential Sunni group) used their new-found free speech to issue a fatwa against the plans, outlining how “oil is the common property of the ummah.” 419 members of Iraq’s intelligentsia, including diplomats, doctors, engineers, former ministers and lawyers, expressed opposition by signing a petition. Iraqi parliamentarians responded to concerns of their constituents by opposing the proposals.

Ultimately, the post-Saddam order, which gave birth to a thriving democracy and civil society, was a far cry from a playground for foreign oil companies or the “client state” resource colony Noam Chomsky accused the U.S. of invading Iraq to create.

The Spoils of War

The attitudes and actions of oil industry figures to the free-for-all that followed the fall of Baghdad could be cited to infer that they were the hidden hand behind the waging of war after all.  Former policy director of BP, Nick Butler, penned an article in the FT: “perhaps the most useful parting gift that the Coalition could leave… is a practical model for renewal of the oil sector.” Shell employed a special advisor to work on production and exploration strategy for Iraq from 2004 to 2008. Halliburton won a two-year technical services agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Nevertheless, simply because oil companies sought to take advantage of the situation and cash-in on the chaos (as any business would), doesn’t mean that they were the war’s orchestrators or that the war was fought on their behalf. As Larry Goldstein, president of the Petroleum Industry Research Foundation, said: “If we go to war, it’s not about oil. But the day the war ends, it has everything to do with oil.” In the years before oil companies could sign a binding agreement, they tried to win the favour of the Iraqi Oil Ministry by researching reservoirs and training engineers and specialists. Shell and ChevronTexaco provided such services for free. Such efforts were referred to as “snuggling up” in the Petroleum Economist.  Did this pay off?

The preferred path for foreign oil company investment in Iraq was through Production Sharing Agreements (PSAs). To make a healthy return against the enormous capital costs of setting up shop (rigs, pipelines, storage tanks and drilling operations etc.), rather than compensating the state for the oil they take, PSAs label companies as ‘contractors’ and the state compensates them for the costs of operation. Such agreements generally last between 25 to 40 years, fixing their economic and legal terms. This would insulate investors from Iraq’s dire security situation and protect profits well beyond the withdrawal of troops.

PSAs have been palatable to the Kurdistan Regional Authority. By 2008, they had signed almost 20, the first of which was signed by Hunt Oil – a mid-sized Dallas-based oil company. Ray Hunt, the company’s CEO, is a close associate of George W. Bush. Despite this, such deals have been declared illegal by the Iraqi government. Similarly, although ExxonMobil signed contracts with the authority, Iraq’s former oil minister said this was a “serious error.” In 2017, the Iraqi army seized Kurdistan’s oil fields, putting any agreements in legal limbo. The region was previously producing around 200,000 barrels per day, which would rank it 10th among the largest oil sovereigns in the world if it was a country. Surely, it would be in the American oil industry’s interests to have an independent Kurdistan? Consistently, the US has supported a unified Iraq.

While the Iraqi people and parliamentarians would have probably preferred 70s-style total nationalisation, the government reportedly and reluctantly conceded that they simply did not have the money ($35-40 billion) to expand oil production. They would have to rely on private sector potential. In two auctions in 2009, oil companies were permitted to ‘bid’ for contracts. However, PSAs were taken off the table. Part of the profitability of PSAs is if the price of oil increases or the cost of production declines, the company gets a share of the increased profits. Instead, what was on offer were fixed fees on each barrel produced, with margins of $1-2 dollar per barrel. This was hardly a bonanza.

What’s more, companies were not given preferential treatment by virtue of their country’s involvement in Saddam’s overthrow. Indeed, companies from nations that were neutral or hostile to the war were given an equal footing to negotiate a price for the prize.

Despite the presence of 200,000 U.S. troops and mercenaries and despite the American taxpayer subsidising the war to the tune of $1 trillion at this point, only one U.S. company (Exxon-Mobil) walked away with a contract. Such ‘winnings’ were no more impressive than the deals done by Russia’s Lukoil, Norway’s Statoil, Malaysia’s Petronas or Japan’s Japex. Were the bids any better for the Brits? Shell won the development rights of the billion-barrel Majnoon near Basra but this was a joint venture with Petronas. Similarly, BP  was only able to secure a successful bid by partnering with the Chinese CNPC. The poor profitability of such deals is demonstrated by how Shell has since sold its stakes and Exxon-Mobil has allegedly sought to do the same.  

The biggest beneficiary of the post-war contracts has been China, emerging as the largest buyer of Iraqi oil in 2013. The state-run China National Petroleum Company was awarded the first post-war oil license, the lion’s share of contracts at the auctions and has since acquired additional contracts with the Ministry of Oil. The absurdity of the ‘war for oil’ argument was best articulated by Michael Makovsky, a former Defense Department official in the Bush administration: “The Chinese had nothing to do with the war but from an economic standpoint they are benefitting from it, and our Fifth Fleet and air forces are helping to assure their supply.”

Concluding Remarks

Great powers of the past have been driven by resource control, whether that be Indian spices, African slaves or indeed, Middle Eastern oil. However, trying to claim that the US or Britain in the 21st century is somehow colonial simply doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Despite the fact that Afghanistan is sitting on $1 trillion dollars worth of rare minerals, the young democracy has also been free to sign extraction agreements with China. Gaddafi already had dealings with BP yet the West toppled the dictator despite the disruption it caused the company. Donald Trump was a key observer of such developments, decrying in 2011 that “we should be running the oil” in Iraq but how “unfortunately Bush didn’t have that in mind.”

While the Iraq War has done little to fuel the profits of American and British oil companies, it has fuelled the conspiracy that Bush and Blair told lies and hundreds of thousands died, in a vulture capitalist venture. What remains a mainstream interpretation of events has polluted public discourse and sown seeds of distrust, damaging our democracies. Defenders and detractors of the 2003 decision alike should highlight how the ‘blood for oil’ narrative is a selective and speculative account.

Copyright © 2019 Tal Tyagi. All Rights Reserved.

 

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Cutting The Costs of Crime

Cutting The Costs of Crime

Originally published by Conatus News:   

Violent crime costs the UK over £124 billion a year£4,700 for every household.  The biggest assault on the public purse is prison expenditure. The annual cost of a prison place in England and Wales marks around £37,648. This surpasses the fees of even the most prestigious private schools. Yet our ‘naughty children’ are still not making the grade! 47% of adults and 73% of those under 18 are re-convicted within a year of release. The cost of re-offending leaves us with a bill of £9.5 to £13 billion a year.

Norway’s prison system is branded as “luxurious.” Cells are kitted with televisions, computers, integral showers and sanitation. Aside from the loss of liberty, one wonders what the actual punishment is. Amazingly, Norway has one of the lowest rates of re-offending in the world. Conversely, the US, because of its enormous prison population, is the only country where more men are raped than women, regularly practices solitary confinement (a form of torture) and serves food which is well below the grade. Interestingly, the US has one of the highest rates of re-offending in the world.

Even when the public are shown the pros and cons of these two models, they overwhelmingly prefer the US model. The idea that prison should administer some level of retribution on behalf of the victims is understandable and probably unchangeable. This appetite for punishment must be taken into account.

Just as special interests can impede post-colonial progress, they also impede changing the prison system. Increasingly, prisons are being sold-off in ‘auctions’ where companies ‘bid’ for contracts.

Serco, an outsourcing company (and soon to be the largest operator of private prisons in the UK) has found there is a lot of dime to be made in crime. There is a fundamental contradiction between the interests of the company which spends as little as possible on the maintenance of the prison (to maximise profit) and the needs of inmates who, if they are to be reformed, need as much help (and ultimately funding) as possible.

This contradiction is exemplified in Serco’s decision to increase the capacity of single prisons by putting beds in the toilets as a way of keeping costs to a minimum! The need to vet and hire the most competent and caring staff has also taken a blow. In another prison, for example,  a fourteen-year-old hanged himself after being assaulted by Serco guards – the UK’s youngest ever death in custody.

Across the globe, companies have been viewing prisons in much the same way as they view under-developed countries – as pools of labour. In the 80s, IKEA struck a deal with the East German government to use political prisoners to help manufacture products. This practice has given rise to a ‘prison-industrial’ complex in the US. Special interests have benefited from expanding the prison population and they have even lobbied politicians to take a particularly ‘tough on crime’ stance.

In some cases, juveniles have gone to prison for offences as minimal as mocking a principal on Myspace, trespassing in a vacant building and shop-lifting a DVD from Walmart. Such a perversion of justice is part of the reason why the land of the free contains 25% of the world’s prison population! Under such a system, public money perpetuates a failed system purely for companies to grow fat on subsidised slavery.

The Solution:

The system should remain fully state-owned and answerable to the elected government. According to public will, prison should remain an option for the most serious crimes. However, the system must be cost-effective so the revolving door of repeat re-offending needs to be closed. In the UK, prisoners are released with £47 and a criminal record. One can see the appeal of a return to crime.

The solution lies in prisoners earning and building up skills and savings to help them find their feet upon release. This can be achieved through engagement with the private sector. Whatever deal is brokered must be mutually beneficial. In return for access, the company must be able to prove that it can provide adequate training and a wage.

Prisoners on the living wage!?

Such an initiative would not be supported by the public who themselves struggle to find well-paid work. Having a living wage in prisons would also destroy the incentive for investment. Most companies would view the non-criminal population as a more reliable source of labour and for them to set-up shop, wages would have to be considerably lower than outside. Prisoners’ living costs are taken care of anyway. Wages would purely be for savings and would accumulate throughout their stay.

This focus on earning for the future could allow for vast variation in salaries. The longer your stay, the lower your salary. Those in for 20+ years could be on twenty pence an hour, those in for ten years + could be on fifty pence an hour and those in for six months could be given £1 an hour. The logic of this is that those in for shorter sentences need cash in the more immediate future than their long-term counterparts. There is also a punitive dimension. Those on the longest sentences have committed the worst crimes so get paid the least.

When entering into a partnership, companies must be able to demonstrate a commitment to business ethics in return for access to the cheap labour. Another potential trap is moving jobs out of the main economy. Contracts should only be awarded to companies who are already providing jobs in the main economy with a guarantee that those jobs are not in jeopardy.

A selection of spaces within the companies on the outside on living wages (after release) should be on offer to those inmates who have made the most effort to change their ways and who have worked the hardest. Competition to be put forward should encourage a race towards rehabilitation. Prisoners will be incentivised to out-compete one another on who can behave the best. Potentially this could foster a culture of aspiration to counter the pervasive influence of gangs and drugs.

Administering justice for victims and ending the assault on the public purse, the new system would provide a window of opportunity for criminals to become citizens once again. By reducing re-offending, the annual criminal justice budget can be shrunk and more money can be made available for schools, hospitals and overseas aid.

Copyright © 2019 Tal Tyagi. All Rights Reserved

Smiles, Not Just Sales: For a Better Working World

Smiles, Not Just Sales: For a Better Working World

*First published in Development in Action: 24/03/2016

When we spend more time at work than we do with friends and family, it is a tragedy that 70% of workers in the US hate their jobs. The Foxconn factories covered in suicide nets to stop workers leaping to their deaths epitomises the sickness at the heart of our ever fast-paced and inhuman world. Tal Tyagi proposes a strategy which reclaims ‘the pursuit of happiness’ not just as a goal of individuals but as a collective objective which encourages entrepreneurs to reach for the stars, simultaneously uplifting the spirits of the rest of society.

The pressure to squeeze productivity out of workers means sheer misery underpins many industries. Amazon exemplifies this. A model of a modern multinational, its CEO and founder Jeff Bezos is now the world’s richest person. The company is proud of its “purposeful Darwinism” doctrine. Annual culling of staff, pitting employees against one another and expressing utter contempt for human life define this. A woman who had breast cancer was told she was put on a “performance improvement plan” – Amazon code for “you’re in danger of being fired.” Similarly, in 2011 workers in a Pennsylvanian warehouse toiled in more than 100-degree heat with ambulances waiting outside, taking away labourers as they fell. Even the hard nuts crack. Former employee Bo Olson recalls “Nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk.”

In the race for faster cars, taller towers and improved technology, must the human spirit be crushed? Not according to former Google CEO Larry Page: “It’s important that people feel… the company is like a family to them. When you treat people that way, you get better productivity.” Google argues it has got where it is today because of its approach. Chef-prepared meals, haircuts, health and dental care, massages, gym membership, swimming pool access and video games are just some of the benefits. As a result, Google is consistently ranked among the best places to work.

So why can’t all companies be like Google? Part of the reason Google is the exception rather than the rule is they hire the best of the best. Unlike more ‘low-skilled’ industries, tech companies have to attract and retain those in high demand. Similarly, other enterprises (particularly SMEs) cannot afford to provide gourmet food and bus rides to work. While it may be utopian to suggest all workplaces could be like Google, it is more realistic to propose a plan making businesses more like Google.

Management systems designed to maximise happiness should be incentivised through the tax system. Companies pursuing this are not only contributing to society by providing jobs and producing innovations, they are contributing to the very health of the nations where they are stationed.

A points-based system needs to be introduced whereby at the end of each year, every worker rates their overall happiness levels within the company out of 100. 100 would be Google and 1 would be sweatshop conditions. At the end of each year the higher the score, the lower the rate of taxation.

Companies would no longer be only competing on the basis of profits and products but on what they can actually deliver for their workers. Not only will there be the obvious financial incentive of attaining a high score but it is also a matter of reputation. Those with an embarrassingly low score are likely to be named and shamed by the media. Prospective employees and graduates can factor the score into their choice of where to work. Those companies who want to attract the best workers will realise that if they get a high score, it will be like attracting bees to honey.

Most importantly the dynamics of working life would be fundamentally changed. Promotion-hungry sycophantic employees would still exist but the need for approval would cut both ways. From the top to the bottom, company culture would become less authoritarian and bullying bosses would be phased out.

The technicalities need to be thoroughly formulated. It would be unfair and unreasonable for all businesses across all sectors to be examined according to one standard. For example, the demands of the poultry industry mean that most factories are hardly in a position to offer hybrid car subsidies. Therefore a score of 50 or 60 in some environments should translate into the same tax reductions as a score of 90 in a tech company. Similarly, a company employing thirty workers with a score of 3000 should have the same percentage of tax relief as one with a thousand workers with 100,000.

A very small business should be exempt from the system. The ratings require anonymity. If a business employing three workers got a low score it would be obvious which workers were so dissatisfied and it would severely harm employer-employee relations. It would be sensible to only apply the system to those who employ over twenty people.

It should also be added that the foundations of this working is based on companies actually paying full tax. In the UK alone tax avoidance costs the economy £69.9 billion a year. By tackling tax havens and closing down legal loopholes, taxation can become an instrument for elected governments to leverage companies to follow social objectives. This could take the form of tax breaks for those who can prove they are operating with concern for the environment and in this case, those who boost the wellbeing of their employees.

Ultimately, we need to take a long hard look at why misery is so prevalent in societies of plenty. Despite South Korea´s development into Asia´s richest nation, it has the highest suicide rate in the world. Living in a system where we are disposable and encouraged to climb on top of each other is the root of all kinds of grief.  As J Krishnamurti said, “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” In an economy where business is rewarded for smiles as well as sales, we would be less stressed and less depressed.

Copyright © 2019 Tal Tyagi. All Rights Reserved.

Teens Not Criminals: Towards a Second Chance Society

Teens Not Criminals: Towards a Second Chance Society

*First published in The Orator (now defunct): 10/01/2016

Following a High Court ruling on the 22nd of January 2016, it has been declared that criminal record checks are ‘unlawful’ and ‘arbitrary’ because they force those applying to certain jobs (such as teaching and social care) to disclose “minor silliness.” By this, the judges meant non-violent offences that have been committed in adolescence. While the Home Office has expressed “disappointment” with this ruling, Tal Tyagi explains why it is essential to enshrine the ruling in law.

I want to take you back to those tumultuous teenage years – the anxious adolescence. Now for some, these years are nothing special but for many of us, they were like being drunk. Everyone remembers what you did, except you! Many historians argue the ‘teenager’ is a mere social construct – a product of child labour laws and the post-WW2 boom, delaying work and extending education. However, what is more often than not an emotional roller coaster is rooted in biology – in puberty. Both sexes undergo radical physical changes – the start of the menstrual period for girls and the breaking of the voice for guys amongst many other changes.

Lost between the stability of childhood and the sanity of adulthood, it’s a time of exploration – the quest for an identity. Faces turn into colouring books as girls experiment with makeup, spelling tests are replaced by pregnancy tests and having a crocodile on your shirt can mean everything. The rapper Lowkey whose music got me through those years summed it up pretty well: “When I get past the weed smoke, booze, music and girls, I remember myself a young boy confused with the world.”

This lust for excitement and search for the self are all things acknowledged by the Royal College of Psychiatrists. In this leaflet published for concerned parents, they warn how such impulses can lead teenagers to stray into dangerous territory – often outside the law. More than half of young people in the UK have had their first experience of sex before the legal age of consent. Around one in three 15-year-olds in England have used drugs at some point. Those who get in trouble with the police are seldom monsters – they’re just the ones unlucky enough to get caught.

Young people caught shoplifting or involved in drunken pranks are often issued a Reprimand or Final Warning. To avoid the case going to court, the offender signs a statement and this is presented as a ‘slap on the wrist.’ While they often sign the statement in blissful ignorance, believing it will be wiped within a few years, the reality is far more sinister. It stays on file until they are one hundred years of age!

Far from a warning, this can be a life sentence. If you want to pursue a career in a profession that involves being around young or vulnerable people or handling sensitive data, you have to undergo an enhanced DBS check. This will reveal past misdemeanours to future employers. The devastating consequences of this have resulted in broken dreams and ruined lives. A 13-year-old girl who was bullied into stealing £16 worth of lip gloss was caught and reprimanded. Years later after applying for a nursing job, it all came back to haunt her. She was barred after the offence was discovered. Similarly, Edward Thomber, ex-head boy and teenage lacrosse star was caught with 50p worth of cannabis. Before the court hearing, he killed himself on the 22nd of February 2013.

While this may be seen as an overreaction, the young man understood that his life would be made far more difficult with the record. He knew that now dreams would be dashed and doors would be shut.

Isn’t the punishment from both police and parents enough? Instead, society continues to punish such ‘offenders’ for the rest of their life, casting them to the bottom of the employment pool.

The classist and racist dimensions of our justice system cannot be overlooked. In parts of the UK, blacks are 17.5 times more likely to be stopped and searched. Who’s more likely to be caught with the joint? Who’s more likely to get in trouble? The double standards are embodied by our very own Prime Minister who himself smoked cannabis at Eton. While at university he was a prominent member of the Bullingdon Club where getting drunk and smashing up restaurants constituted a night out with the lads. But I suppose that’s just “growing up.” Looking back on the dumb stuff we did when we were younger and smiling should be a right, not a privilege.

Fundamentally, young people who have made mistakes should be able to start the next chapter. Instead, they are forced to constantly re-read pages of their life that have no bearing on their personalities today. Of course, we should be vigilant about those with a history of sexual or violent crime. However, there is a distinct difference between those who were dangerous and those who were dumb. Having come out the other end of youthful idiocy, such individuals would no doubt be the best role models for the young and vulnerable! In a second chance society, we can learn from our own mistakes and impart the wisdom of hindsight to our fellow citizens.

Copyright © 2019 Tal Tyagi. All Rights Reserved.

Saudi Arabia: How Their Future Affects Our Fate

Saudi Arabia: How Their Future Affects Our Fate

*First published in The Orator (now defunct): 10/01/2016

As the world welcomed 2016 with fireworks and music, Saudi Arabia spilled the blood of 47 people. Now that the spotlight shines on this dungeon of a regime, it should be seen for what it is. It has been one of our closest allies while simultaneously being the largest exporter of global terrorism. Nevertheless, if we want a world without 9/11s, Charlie Hebdo massacres and Friday the 13ths, the journey has to start from reforms within the kingdom.

ISIS has a mother. That mother was the 2003 invasion of Iraq, creating a power vacuum and radicalizing an entire generation. However, ISIS also has a father – the throat-slitting, bomb-blasting, death-loving ideology rooted in Wahabbi Islam. Fuelled by Saudi petro dollars, it has spread its seed across the globe – the Taliban in Pakistan, Al Shabab in Somalia, Boko Haraam in Nigeria.

This pure poison is exported by the oil rich kingdom through the financing of mosques, missionary programmes and schools. In the eighties, with the invitation from General Zia-ul-Haq, Saudi madrassas moved into Pakistan. Here they taught prepubescent boys the art of suicide bombing. To this day such an “education” is often the only option for many children. It is therefore no coincidence that terrorist attacks in Pakistan are by some estimated to have killed over 59,000 people since 2003.

Saudi ideology has penetrated into the green and pleasant lands of the UK, polluting the minds of the youth. Lee Rigby killer, Adebowale, himself said he was inspired by radical Sheikh Khalid Yasin. This is an American-born, Saudi-trained preacher who advocates the beating of women, the killing of gays and has referred to the Taliban as his brothers. Yet this man lives in Manchester!

Following the river back to the source is perplexing. Saudi Arabia is a society of contradictions. 7th century puritanism wedded to 21st century capitalist ‘decadence.’ It is the land of the Holy Book, as well as the cheque book, of the prophets and profits, where burkas and bankers coexist.

All of these contradictions stem from the eighteenth century. Preacher and scholar Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab spearheaded a movement to “purify” Islam. This movement was rejected by all mainstream Islamic scholarship at the time for being extreme. However, it gained traction by aligning with tribal leader Muhammed ibn-Saud. With the promise that they would bring “power and glory” to ibn-Saud, together their conquests would total the largest state in the Arabian peninsula. While the monarchy remains in control of the oil wealth and economy, the Wahabbi remit is education, justice and social policy.

With billions in the bank, the God guiding the royal family is certainly not Allah – it’s Mammon. With the oil wealth, they can afford the best sports cars, nightclubs and prostitutes. The royals dance with Prince Charles, receive bows from Obama and now have a seat at the UN Human Rights Council. This is a regime that makes a mockery of both Islam and the West at the same time.

Surprisingly, these two pillars of the dictatorship are usually on the same page – only for different reasons. To the dismay of millions of Muslims, historical sites relating to the prophet are being destroyed. The clerics say this is to avoid “idol worship” while the monarchy has signed all kind of deals with real estate companies to make use of this space. The House of Saud also sends jihadists to go to fight its proxy wars with the Iranians in Yemen and Syria and the draconian justice system allows the kingdom to destroy internal dissent. The treatment meted out to Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr was part of that process.

A revolution that swept aside the plague of both the houses of Saud would be desirable. But would it be possible? The sad truth is that if the royal family were to fall, it’s unlikely that Thomas Jefferson would come to power. Being weaned by Wahabbism from a young age, political opposition to the government is usually expressed through an Al Qaeda lense. The calls for the world’s most Islamic fundamentalist state to become even more fundamentalist are growing louder! It is no coincidence that the majority of pro-ISIS tweets come from Saudi Arabia.

The royal values are rotten to the core. For them life is a mere game of monopoly. However, at least they believe in life before death! It was the monarchy who introduced television into the kingdom to the dismay of the clerics who see it as ungodly. ‘Gifts’ to the citizens such as cash showers and access to higher education make life more bearable. Women can now vote – not for much, but it’s a step forward.

Ultimately, in spite of all its excesses and evils, the monarchy is the lid on the pressure cooker. If it were to be overthrown, it is more than likely that ISIS or something very similar would be the replacement.

History shines light on how evolution from within rather than revolution from below is often a less rocky road out of tyranny. The Cultural Revolution and economic disasters of Maoist China were put to an end by Deng Xiaoping – himself a reformer within the Communist Party. The modern PRC is hardly a human rights exemplar but it has lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty and has embraced the 21st century. From the thousands of royal family members, a Deng needs to emerge.

The royal family has to realize that while it has been empowered by its clerical allies, it is equally imprisoned. On 20 November 1979, there was a Wahabbi insurection aiming to overthrow the monarchy and establish a caliphate. Similarly, after burying Soviet communism in the mountains of Afghanistan, the chickens came home to roost. The very fighters the regime had trained to fight the Soviets, such as Bin Laden, sought to bridge the gap between what the country claimed to be (an Islamic state) and what it really was.

So, before the Wahabbis get rid of the monarchy, the monarchy should get rid of the Wahabbis. Purges of the most extreme clerics already went underway under the late King Abdullah. However, the aim should be to cut the cancer out of the kingdom completely. Gradual purges within education and the judiciary are a necessity. Through this procedure, slowly but surely, Saudi Arabia will enter the modern age. Once the cancer has gone, it can no longer spread.

Ultimately, the future of Saudi Arabia is intertwined with the fate of us all. By playing with fire, the House of Saud has also been digging its own grave. The same noose used to hang al-Nimr could be round the necks of the royalty. However, if the monarchy extinguishes the flames, the type of terrorism we have seen since 9/11 can finally be cast into the ash heap of history.

Copyright © 2019 Tal Tyagi. All Rights Reserved.

 

Why Only a Norway-style Brexit can Unite the United Kingdom

Why Only a Norway-style Brexit can Unite the United Kingdom

In the most likely event that May’s deal is rejected by Parliament, the absence of an alternative answer risks the calamity of crashing out of the EU without a deal. The raising of customs checks, the fleeing of firms, the potential shortages of food and medicine, ripping up lives and livelihoods is a nightmare that would be unforgivable if allowed to happen. I explain why joining the European Free Trade Association and remaining in the European Economic Area (the so-called ‘Norway option’) is the only way that we can put an amicable ending to a 40-year marriage, honour the democratic decision of the British people and unite the United Kingdom.

A Second Referendum?

While a ‘no-deal’ would destroy our economy, a second referendum would destroy our democracy. Trying to subvert the will of over seventeen million Brits would do irreparable damage to any trust the public has in politics, parallelling the Iraq war. The beneficiaries of what would be perceived as the ‘biggest betrayal in British history’ would be a respawn UKIP – so rancid and racist that even Farage has resigned. For Remainers, a second referendum is strategically stupid. There is no guarantee Remain would win. Two votes to Leave would be a firm mandate for a hard Brexit. 52:48 is a mandate for Brexit but the narrow margin creates a case for compromise and concessions.

The Solution

Remainers rightly say that people did not vote for EasyJet to relocate to Vienna, for Nestle to shift its production to Poland or for the City to risk its passporting rights, resulting in Deutsche Bank, Standard Chartered, JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs to plan to move thousands of jobs to Frankfurt, Dublin and Paris. Leavers respond that accountability and sovereignty shouldn’t be sacrificed at the altar of GDP. However, this is a false trade-off. By remaining inside the single market but leaving the EU, we would recover the confidence of investors, companies and households while delivering the letter of Leave. This is a relationship enjoyed by Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland as part of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). The exclusively economic arrangement is estimated to cost £1.5bn per annum, compared to the £9.4bn paid currently to the EU.

A Sacrifice of Sovereignty?

Opponents call this the ultimate sacrifice of sovereignty, downgrading our status from ‘rule maker’ to ‘rule taker.’ However, single market rules only account for 28% of total EU laws. Norway does not participate in the common agricultural or common fisheries policies, the customs union, common foreign and security policy, home affairs, or monetary union. Furthermore, under Article 99 of the EEA Agreement, EFTA members have the right to be consulted on new single market legislation via the ‘decision making process.’ Norway has some 200 diplomats and experts based in Brussels, participating in the development and drafting of new rules and directives.

Unlike EU states, EFTA states have substantial “adaptation” rights when it comes to implementing EU single market legislation domestically. Norway has changed 40% of services directives. Failing this, Article 102 guarantees the right of veto. Indeed, Norway has ignored various energy and maritime directives. As well as allowing us to remain a ‘rule maker,’ sometimes we could even be a ‘rule breaker.’

We would be outside the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. Yes, we would need to join the EFTA Court alongside Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. This court is autonomous and while there is harmonisation, there have been eleven cases where the EFTA Court has deviated from the ECJ. A voice as one of four would surely be more pronounced than one of twenty-eight.

The UK would recover control over her trade policy, enabling the Department for International Trade to sign additional trade deals around the world. Iceland has its own trade deal with China. We would be free to join the 27 deals EFTA states have jointly negotiated with 43 other countries. The freedom and the flexibility of EFTA would enable us to maintain the security of the single market while exercising sovereignty as a free-trading nation.

Unlike the EU’s governing principle in the Lisbon Treaty which promotes the “ever closer union of the peoples of Europe,” the EEA Agreement stipulates the commercial objective of promoting a “continuous and balanced strengthening of trade and economic relations.” Still not convinced? Article 127 allows members to leave within one year, restoring optionality to our relationship with Europe. The right to democratically disengage is the ultimate manifestation of sovereignty.

Uncontrolled Immigration?

The Leave vote was not simply a vote against immigration. According to the Lord Ashcroft poll conducted on the day of the referendum result, the biggest reason for wanting to leave the EU was “the principle that decisions about the UK should be taken in the UK.” Nevertheless, of course immigration played a part. The beauty of a Norway-style Brexit is that it would not disrupt the dreams of Brits who desire to work, study or retire across the continent while allowing us to control our borders.

The free movement of labour chapter specifies only “workers,” the “self-employed” and “their dependents” can come to an EEA country, providing scope to limit jobless migrants to become burdensome ‘welfare tourists.’ Article 28 allows for an ‘emergency brake’ on free movement “subject to limitations justified on grounds of public policy, public security or public health.” It is in accordance to this stipulation that Lichtenstein has limited immigration to 2.25% of the current population since 1997. During a recession, this would enable the policy of ‘British jobs for British workers’ to be a reality.

Practicality

An EFTA-style agreement may be desirable but would it be possible? The EEA states seem eager to welcome the UK. The Norwegian PM, Erna Solberg, told the FT: “I think we will cope very well if the Brits come in. It will give bargaining power on our side too. And it would ease Norway’s access to the UK.” Icelandic Foreign Minister, Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarson, said the UK should “definitely join EFTA.” In 2016, Switzerland declared that they were “basically positive.” Thorfinnur Omarsson, spokesperson for the EFTA bloc, confirmed “We are open to receiving a UK membership application” in 2017.

What about the EU? It has already been proposed by Michel Barnier, the bloc’s chief negotiator! Moreover, the UK is already a Contracting Party to the EEA Agreement in its own right, having signed up in 1992. Since the Agreement is a multilateral international treaty, its membership is protected under international law. Forced expulsion of the UK could not be achieved with ease.

Many Brexiteers tarnish the Norway option as Remain in all but name. Ironically, many of the myths were spread by supporters of the EU such as David Cameron. Pre-2016, being ‘like Norway’ was a standard Eurosceptic position, evidenced by how it was previously the position of the Bruges Group, a Eurosceptic Conservative Party think-tank. In 2015 Aaron Banks, the billionaire who bankrolled Brexit, tweeted: “Increasingly the Norway option looks the best for the UK.”

Support for this deal could unite sections of the right and the left. In Statecraft, Margaret Thatcher wrote: “The EFTA model is perhaps not ideal: but it is certainly an acceptable option.” For the left, this provides a vision of Brexit that facilitates Scandinavian social democracy.

Among the Conservatives, almost half of the cabinet have held talks to weigh up the possibility of backing a soft Brexit if Parliament rejects May’s deal. The strategy is a God-send for a Labour Party that is currently devoid of direction and needs to maintain the Midlands, metropolitan cities and the North to win an election. In June, 75 Labour MPs voted to remain in the EEA. Both the DUP and SNP are making Norwegian noises.

Concluding Remarks

In these divided times, a unity Brexit is the need of the hour. The brilliance of this Brexit is it would fulfil the ambitions of Leavers and Remainers alike. For the fishermen, we would have control over our waters. For the bankers, the City retains its financial passport rights. For the bohemian students, free movement remains. For those with concerns, free movement is reformed with an emergency brake. Only a Norway-style Brexit can unite the North and the South, England, Wales and Scotland and allow a smooth-running and unobtrusive border in Ireland. Only by embracing EFTA can we truly unite the United Kingdom and work to make Great Britain great again.

Copyright © 2018 Tal Tyagi. All Rights Reserved.

To What Extent Was Multinational Post-War State Building in Afghanistan, in Terms of Jus Post Bellum, Successful?

To What Extent Was Multinational Post-War State Building in Afghanistan, in Terms of Jus Post Bellum, Successful?

Introduction
‘State-building’ implies enhancement of a new state’s capacities.[1] It also involves efforts to forge cohesive national identities and loyalty to the new state, frequently through mass education and propaganda campaigns, usually with external support. It includes efforts to build country-wide infrastructure so the state’s administrative reach and political authority are enhanced. Such projects are often pursued in the wake of armed conflict and civil strife.[2] Following the US and UK Afghanistan invasion in 2001 and then entrance of the remaining NATO allies in 2003, the Taliban was replaced with a new constitution, an interim government and scheduled elections for 2004. Coalition support for the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan’s flourishing, from its inception to NATO’s formal ending of combat operations in 2014 will be evaluated. Jus post bellum deals with the rules for ending wars completely and fairly. The idea originates from Augustine’s proclamation: The purpose of war is a better state of peace.[3] The conflict in Afghanistan (and Iraq) has resulted in increased attention to the quality of the post-war environment, critical in determining a conflict’s overall justness. In policy circles, jus post bellum’s reference point has been Powell’s “Pottery Barn Rule”: ‘if you break it, you buy it.’[4] Pervasive pessimism regarding this subject was so great Bush re-branded state-building as ‘Stabilization and Reconstruction.’[5]

In contrast, this essay (while acknowledging the serious flaws) asserts state-building in Afghanistan according to Orend’s main criteria (just cause for termination, right intention, public declaration and legitimate authority, discrimination and proportionality[6]) has been successful. Since this paradigm conceptualises an aggressor and a victim[7], interpretations of jus ad bellum will determine which side is characterised as such. I start from the premise that the Taliban’s harbouring of Bin Laden and refusal to extradite him following 9/11 on the grounds demanded by America is sufficient for labelling the Taliban the aggressor and America as the victorious victim. This is strengthened by Kant (Orend’s inspiration) who argues for the international community to reconstruct a consistently belligerent state.[8] Previous prevalence of terrorist training camps,[9] would meet this criterion. Furthermore, according to the Doctrine of the International Community, states guilty of genocide have forfeited legitimacy and should be subject to reconstruction.[10] Taliban genocide of Hazaras[11] are grounds to deem the old regime as an aggressor not just against the US but against humanity. Part I will rebut the notion jus post bellum has not been adhered to. Part II evaluates development. Part III evaluates democracy and human rights.

I

Sceptics emphasise how jus post bellum has no legal basis.[12] UN security council resolutions may express humanitarian concern but do not imply obligation.[13] It is on this basis Chayes argues reconstruction efforts were aimed solely at protecting interveners.[14] The language of Western politicians implies self-interest. Gordon Brown proposed a stable order to thwart a “chain of terror” stretching from the mountains of Afghanistan to Britain’s streets.[15] Obama’s 2009 West Point address was very strategic and could hardly be described as altruistic: ‘We will pursue the following objectives within Afghanistan. We must deny al Qaeda a safe-haven. We must reverse the Taliban’s momentum’[16] The US manual FM3-07 had no mention of humanitarian concerns and was littered with language of ‘stabilization’ and ‘stability.’[17]

Although the combined interest of fighting global terrorism was the main impetus behind Western contributions to state-building efforts, this analysis assumes self-interested motives and jus post bellum have to be mutually exclusive. President Bush insisted democracy and elections were America’s main priority.[18] A memorandum from General McChrystal revealed great concern for Afghan welfare, highlighting the importance of ‘protecting the people’ and ‘shielding them from all threats.’[19] Although sceptics suggest the war weariness of public opinion makes Orend’s criteria of ensuring a ‘just cause for termination’[20] extremely difficult, in spite of opinion polls expressing the sentiment that the war needed to end swiftly,[21] mainstream politicians did not capitulate. This is suggestive of an establishment consensus that termination was not justified until jus post bellum implementation.

Sceptics argue economic/infrastructure development is not altruistic but instrumentally necessary for war-winning, rendering post-war stability as a secondary priority. This is Smith’s view. He asserts the battle for hearts and minds against non-state actors has nothing to do with moral obligation but is simply required to achieve and consolidate aims of battle.[22] In many respects, this does conform to state-building in Afghanistan where infrastructure spending was highest in the most volatile regions.[23] This would also explain the chaotic implementation of infrastructure projects which do not look like they have been designed to facilitate a habitable Afghanistan but were simply driven by military timelines and locations.[24] This can be seen in road-building, explaining why ‘whenever the roads end, the Taliban begins.’[25]

Nevertheless, any successful model of jus post bellum would have to be based on a hierarchy of priorities and prioritising infrastructure that enables swift mobilisation of coalition forces (and now the Afghan National Security Forces) is part of that. Such initiatives are aligned with Patterson’s jus post bellum model of Order, Justice and Conciliation, with Order prioritized as the first step before Justice can be realised.[26] He rightly asserts Order is the first principle of jus post bellum which entails “stopping the killing,” consequently creating space for the restoration of governance and international sovereignty.[27]

Those who render state-building in Afghanistan as a ‘failure’ rarely take into account how unlike post-WW2 initiatives, Afghanistan epitomises the difficulty in distinguishing jus in bello and jus post bellum. A decade after “military victory,” NATO forces in Afghanistan remained engaged in the most intensive combat operations since Vietnam.[28] A year after withdrawal, 2015 saw 11,000 civilian casualties, a record then eclipsed in 2016 as UN Assistance Mission confirms new extremes of violence.[29] ISIS now have a presence, orchestrating suicide bombing attacks, killing eighty in Kabul in August 2016.[30] Such phenomena provides credence to those who dismiss jus post bellum’s viability based on this lack of a firm boundary between “conflict” and “post conflict.”[31]

However, it would be a misreading to conclude jus post bellum is irrelevant. Certain practices have been pursued as though directly inspired by Orend. One practice adhered to has been war crime trials of which their necessity has been highlighted by Walzer’s dictum: ‘there can be no justice in war if there are not, ultimately, responsible men and women.’[32] Orend highlights the importance of prosecuting those guilty of jus in bello war crimes.[33] The trial of US citizen John Walker Lindh who fought on behalf of the Taliban and his indictment by a grand jury on ten charges,[34] conforms to this. Orend stresses how jus in bello war crimes are almost always committed by all sides in the conflict, including the victor.[35]  This has also been taken into account, as exemplified by the sentencing of Sergeant Robert Bales to life in prison after being found guilty of slaughtering sixteen unarmed Afghan civilians in March 2012.[36] This illustrates the extent to which just post bellum is both relevant and has been successfully adhered to.

II

Orend allows for victorious victims to take compensation from the aggressor so long as it is not draconian in nature, not impoverishing civilians.[37] Prima facie NATO have superseded this criterion by not asking to be compensated. However, sceptics contend declarations of intent are insufficient when deciphering hidden political agendas. The notion Afghanistan was a ‘resource war’ is less prevalent than the view Iraq was ‘all about oil’ but it has still been described as ‘one of America’s dirty little colonial wars,’[38] suggesting coalition forces have looted resources, violating this key principle. Chossudovsky views America as the aggressor and Afghanistan as the victim, citing the Taliban’s eventual offer to hand over Bin Laden as evidence America wanted war to advance ‘the military-industrial complex.’[39] Supposedly Western concerns surrounding development and democracy are insincere because when the Taliban took Kabul in 1996, Washington said nothing and Taliban leaders were invited to Houston to discuss a Trans-Afghanistan pipeline with executives of oil and gas company Unocal.[40] A US diplomat said, “The Taliban will probably develop like the Saudis,” explaining Afghanistan would become an American resource colony.[41] Western insincerity is attributed to how when a US diplomat was asked about the lack of democracy and persecution of women, his response was “We can live with that.”[42] The deal fell through after the Taliban started negotiating with the Argentinian Bridas Energy Corporation[43] and Chossudovsky contends it was because of this America launched the war on terror as a smokescreen to capitalise on resources. From this perspective, post-war state-building has nothing to do with Orend’s requirement of ‘establishing an enduring peace’[44] but exists to ensure resources can be channelled from Afghanistan to the West. This is supported by how two days after the bombing of Afghanistan commenced, American Ambassador to Pakistan, spoke to officials about building the pipeline.[45] The interim government stands accused of being colonial collaborators, epitomised by Karzai’s alleged former role as a consultant and lobbyist for Unocal.[46]

The aforementioned claims would undermine jus post bellum if such assertions were more grounded in evidence. Allegations regarding Karzai’s Unocal connection have been denied by spokesmen from both parties.[47][48] Any element of truth to this conspiracy is superseded in significance by how America has spent £61.5 billion (more than Marshall Aid) and Britain £890 million on reconstruction efforts since 2002.[49] This makes it impossible to contend state-building efforts have served to violate Orend’s requirement of not inflicting undue hardship on the civilian population in the form of compensation.[50] Furthermore, despite how US Geological Survey discovered Afghanistan is sitting on $1 trillion dollars’ worth of rare minerals[51], far from behaving as a colonial power, US officials contend ‘These resources provide potential for Afghanistan to develop its economy, to create jobs and build infrastructure.’[52] Indeed, the Afghan government has been free to sign a 30-year $3 billion contract with China Metallurgical Group (owned by the Chinese government) to exploit mineral deposits.[53]

Jus post bellum scholars of various varieties promote facilitation of development. Caldwell argues reconstruction through economic programmes sustained over the long-term must be adhered to for a fallen society to emerge from the jus post bellum phase.[54] The success of state-building is usually measured in terms of ‘development,’ incorporating economics, education, agriculture, electricity, transport and other infrastructure projects.[55] Winning ‘hearts and minds’ of Afghan civilians has been the primary objective for coalition forces to win the war and provide an equitable peace. Supposedly by providing security and basic needs, support is taken away from insurgents and the new order is able to provide basic services, security and economic prosperity.[56] However, effectiveness has been highly contested. In spite of all the spending, opinion polls often indicate Afghans see no notable improvement in living standards as Figure1 demonstrates: [57]

Afghan public opinion

Woodward provides a potential explanation for such poor results, arguing attempts to rebuild state machinery after conflict often lack ‘local legitimacy.’[58] Many state-building activities have been insensitive such as placing a military road through the middle of an irrigated agricultural property in Kandahar, significant because to Afghans land is not only their livelihood but a source of family honour.[59] This view has been further substantiated by a number of field studies, particularly those completed by Feinstein Center,[60] illuminating a near universal expressed perception that aid projects and organizations are performing poorly both in terms of quantity and quality.[61] This is intensified by how in order to ensure temporary governmental stability, state-builders have had to turn a blind eye to corruption, resulting in aid funds being absorbed in bribes to officials, alienating civilians and fuelling the insurgency.[62] The multitude of failures have to be conceded. Coalition inability to create stability has resulted in firms fleeing Afghanistan, driving up unemployment from 25% in 2014 to 40% in 2015.[63] This has incentivised large-scale opium production as an alternative livelihood, resulting in a 35-fold increase in opium production since the Taliban’s fall.[64] Counter-narcotics efforts have failed.[65] Afghanistan also remains one of the poorest[66] and most corrupt[67] countries.

Nevertheless, state-building still meets and exceeds jus post bellum reconstruction criteria. Caldwell’s requirement is for a successful occupier to invest resources for a period of five years.[68] NATO has done so for fifteen. Moreover, pessimists ignore the innumerable achievements brought about by donors, notably the British Department for International Development (DFID) and USAID.  In 2002, only 900,000 children attended school, virtually all were male but now there are nine times more children attending school, a third of whom are female.[69] Healthcare availability has resulted in less than half as many mothers dying in childbirth[70] and the mortality of children being cut by a third.[71] Access to clean drinking water has doubled.[72] Despite local disillusionment, state-building has produced economic growth with GDP growing from $4 billion in 2002 to $20 billion in 2013[73], with over 100,000 jobs being created by USAID loans alone.[74] In less than fifteen years life expectancy has increased from 44 to 64.[75] This meets Orend’s criteria of ‘the patient’ being ‘materially better off than she was prior to the exercise.’[76]

III

Orend’s “surgery” analogy prioritises state-builders creating a “rights-bearing political community”[77] and he contends it is this metric of human rights which is most important for the “foundation of human civilization.”[78] Since one of the prime jus ad bellum justifications for the war were Taliban human rights violations, fulfilling Orend’s criteria of “vindication of those rights whose violation ground the resort to war in the first place”[79] has to be assessed.

Retired American diplomat Dobbins who has documented state-building efforts since post-WW2 defines success as “the ability to promote an enduring transfer of democratic institutions,” arguing this supersedes economic recovery in importance.[80] Prima facie this has also been the commitment of state-builders. Cheney: “In this journey of freedom, they (Afghans) will continue to have America’s full support.”[81] During her visit to Afghanistan in 2006, Condoleezza Rice concluded there was “no better story of democratic development.”[82] Sceptics contend the nascent democracy lacks legitimacy. Suhrke argues it would have been far more popular to draw on Afghan traditions, establishing a constitutional monarchy.[83] No strategy was conceived for thwarting tribal tensions in Afghan society. Instead, they were institutionalised with the Single Non-Transferable Voting System.[84] Scheduled 2004 elections were undermined by intimidation of participants, meaning many Afghans did not turn out to vote. On 25 June 2004, 16 recently returned refugees were killed by the Taliban for carrying voter registration cards. One village elder told American soldiers “You guys are very nice, but you only come around once in a while. The Taliban will come here as soon as you are gone.”[85] Afghan elections have also been riddled with fraud and corruption.[86]

Nevertheless, millions of Afghans cast their ballots in the first democratic handover in their country’s history in 2014, resulting in President Ghani’s inauguration, curtailing corruption due to assistance from the international community who ensured transparency prioritisation.[87] In this election, women constituted more than 34% of voters.[88] Thus, it may have been overly optimistic when in 2005 Laura Bush proclaimed “tyranny has been replaced by a young democracy and the power of freedom is on display”[89] but it holds increasingly true today.

Assessing human rights in Afghanistan is usually done with reference to women’s rights. Laura Bush and Cherie Blair presented themselves as champions of this cause.[90] This is a useful metric considering under the Taliban numerous edicts were issued attempting to regulate women’s behaviour, forbidding them to leave their home unless completely veiled and accompanied by a male guardian. The UN Special Rapporteur noted apparent violations of Taliban edicts were met with assaults by agents of the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, “with instruments that looked like leather cricket bats.”[91] More serious violations were met with “stoning, lashing and other forms of inhuman punishment.”[92]

Sceptics assert jus post bellum has not been fulfilled because women are still subjugated. Less than two weeks after the Taliban’s departure, permission to hold a women’s march through Kabul was refused.[93] Northern Alliance soldiers were broadcast beating women with whips. One soldier told the BBC “the men in the crowd listen to us, but the women don’t. They need discipline.”[94] Karzai also signed a law, which according to the UN, legalizes rape in marriage and prevents women leaving the house without permission.[95] This could be interpreted to fall short of the criteria cited by Orend that jus post bellum requires “construction of a new kind of domestic regime, more pro-human rights in nature.”[96] Without trivialising abuses, the word requiring attention is “more” and this is the crux of the matter when assessing success in terms of jus post bellum. It is a matter of degree. The aforementioned improved female access to education and voter participation along with how women now represent 11% of sitting judges and 20% of female judges are now in training[97], alongside the existence of female MPs such as Shinkai Karokhail who have been able to initiate legislation such as the approved Elimination of Violence Against Women Bill,[98] represent marked improvements and the conforming of state-building efforts to jus post bellum.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Afghan development has been more centred towards defeating the insurgency than meeting the needs of the civilian population, it has been haphazard and failed to win hearts and minds. Democratic governance has been even more deficient, exacerbating tribal divisions and institutionalising patriarchal traditions mirroring the Taliban.

The Hobbesian problem of how to overcome the ‘war of all against all’ (bellum omnium contra omnes) is not yet solved[99] and as a result, it is legitimate to question how relevant jus post bellum is as a tool of analysis. Nevertheless, according to standards advanced by numerous jus post bellum scholars, multi-national state-building meets (and in some respects exceeds) the required targets. Prioritising “Order” as suggested by Patterson, bringing war criminals (of both sides) to trial as required by Orend, sustaining development is in line with Caldwell’s criteria and the relative improvements in human rights is in line with the US tradition of postwar democracy establishment, as outlined by Dobbins. Therefore, multi-national post-war state-building in Afghanistan is successful according to multiple accounts of jus post bellum.

Copyright © 2017 Tal Tyagi. All Rights Reserved.

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[1] Conor Keane, US Nation-Building in Afghanistan (New York, 2016) p.23

[2] Keane, US Nation-Building in Afghanistan p.23

[3] Saint Augustine, The City of God (Rome, 1470) p.621

[4] Colin Powell, My American Journey (New York, 1995) p.527

[5] Pauline Baker, “Forging a US Policy Toward Fragile States”, PRISM, 1:2, (2016) p.74

[6] Brian Orend, ‘Jus Post Bellum’, Journal of Social Philosophy, Vol. 31 No. 1,  (2000,) p.117–137

[7] Orend, ‘Jus Post Bellum,’ p.124-125

[8] Immanuel Kant, Perpetual Peace, and Other Essays, (Indianapolis, 1983) p.112.

[9] Satinder Bindra, ‘India identifies terrorist training camps,’ CNN New Deli Bureau, 19 September 2001 < http://www.webcitation.org/5eOvLBHJZ?url=http%3A%2F%2Farchives.cnn.com%2F2001%2FWORLD%2Fasiapcf%2Fcentral%2F09%2F19%2Finv.afghanistan.camp%2F> (19 April 2017)

[10] The National Archives, ‘Doctrine of the International Community [24/4/1999],’ The official site of the Prime Minister’s Office, 29 January 2003 http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/www.number10.gov.uk/Page1297  (21 April 2017)

[11] Human Rights Watch, ‘Afghanistan: Taliban Massacres Detailed,’ 19 February 2001 https://www.hrw.org/news/2001/02/19/afghanistan-taliban-massacres-detailed  (21 April 2017)

[12] Eric De Brabandere, ‘The Responsibility for Post-Conflict Reforms: A Critical Assessment of Jus Post Bellum as a Legal Concept’, 43 Vanderbilt J Transnat’l L119 (2010), pp.126–132.

[13] Antonia Chayes, ‘Chapter VII½: Is Jus Post Bellum Possible?’ The European Journal of International Law Vol. 24 no. 1 (2013) p.293

[14] Chayes, ‘Chapter VII½’ p.291

[15] Julia Henry, ‘Gordon Brown warns of ‘chain of terror’ as he pays tribute to dead Marines,’ The Telegraph, 13 December 2008 < http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/afghanistan/3741784/Gordon-Brown-warns-of-chain-of-terror-as-he-pays-tribute-to-dead-Marines.html> (21 April 2017)

[16] Barack Obama, ‘Remarks by the President in Address to the Nation on the Way Forward in Afghanistan and Pakistan’, The White House Office of the Press Secretary, 1 Dec. 2009, www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/remarks-president-address-nation-way-forward-afghanistan-and-pakistan (21 April 2017)

[17] Chayes, ‘Chapter VII½’ p.298

[18] Keane, US Nation-Building in Afghanistan p.165

[19] Stanley A, McChrystal, ‘Commander’s Initial Assessment’, 30 Aug 2009, at 1–3, http://media.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/documents/Assessment_Redacted_092109.pdf (21 April 2017)

[20] Orend, ‘Jus Post Bellum,’ p.128

[21] Washington Post–ABC News Poll, conducted 10–13 Mar. 2011 www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/polls/postpoll_03142011.html (21 April 2017)

[22] Rupert Smith, The Utility of Force: The Art of Force in the Modern World (London, 2006) p.269–374.

[23] Travers Barclay Child, ‘Hearts and Minds Cannot Be Bought: Ineffective Reconstruction in Afghanistan’, Economics of Peace and Security Journal, 9/2, (2014) pp. 46

[24] Alissa J. Rubin and James Risen, ‘Costly Afghanistan Road Project Is Marred by Unsavory Alliances,’ The New York Times, 1 May 2011 < http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/01/world/asia/01road.html> (24 April 2017)

[25] Peter Bergen, ‘Defeating the Attempted Global Jihadist Insurgency’, New America Foundation, July 2008. <http://newamerica.net/node/8924> (21 April 2017)

[26] Eric Patterson, Ending Wars Well: Order, Justice, and Conciliation in Contemporary Post-Conflict (Yale 2012) p.43

[27] Patterson, Ending Wars Well p.43

[28] Carsten Stahn and Jann K. Kleffner, Jus Post Bellum: Towards a Law of Transition From Conflict to Peace (Cambridge, 2008) p.264.

[29] UNITED NATIONS ASSISTANCE MISSION IN AFGHANISTAN, ‘Civilian Casualties Hit New High in 2016,’ 14 February 2016 < https://unama.unmissions.org/civilian-casualties-hit-new-high-2015> (21 April 2017)

[30] Steve Visser and Masoud Popalzai, ‘ISIS claims Afghanistan explosion that kills dozens,’ CNN, 24 July 2016 < http://edition.cnn.com/2016/07/23/asia/afghanistan-explosion/> (21 April 2017)

[31] Patterson, Ending Wars Well p.161-180

[32]Michael Walzer, Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument with Historical Illustrations (New York, 1977) p.288.

[33] Orend, ‘Jus Post Bellum,’ p.127

[34] CNN, ‘Interview With John Ashcroft; Andersen CEO Star Witness; Does Oklahoma Governor Favor Racial Profiling?’ Transcripts, 5 February 2002 < http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0202/05/ip.00.html> (21 April 2017)

[35] Orend, ‘Jus Post Bellum,’ p.127-128

[36] Eric M. Johnson, ‘U.S. soldier who killed Afghan villagers gets life without parole,’ Reuters, 23 August 2013 < http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-afghanistan-trial-idUSBRE97L0YV20130824> (21 April 2017)

[37] Orend, ‘Jus Post Bellum,’ p.124-126

[38] B. D. Hopkins ‘The Problem with “Hearts and Minds” in Afghanistan’, Middle East Report, 255, (2010) p.29.

[39] Michel Chossudovsky, America’s “War on Terrorism” (Québec, 2005) p.86

[40] Chossudovsky, America’s “War on Terrorism” p.81

[41] Chossudovsky, America’s “War on Terrorism” p.81

[42] Chossudovsky, America’s “War on Terrorism” p.81

[43] Chossudovsky, America’s “War on Terrorism” p.83

[44] Immanuel Kant, ‘The Metaphysics of Morals, Part One: The Doctrine of Right’, trans. H. Nisbet, in H. Reiss, ed., Kant: Political Writings (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995) p.167.

[45] Chossudovsky, America’s “War on Terrorism” p.89

[46] Chossudovsky, America’s “War on Terrorism” p.88-89

[47] GlobalSecurity.org, ‘Hamid Karzai,’ 21 August 2012 < http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/afghanistan/karzai.htm> (21 April 2017)

[48] Emperor’s Clothes, ‘EMPEROR’S CLOTHES INTERVIEWS UNOCAL OIL,’ 9 July 2002 < http://emperors-clothes.com/interviews/lane.htm> (21 April 2017)

[49] Keith Perry, ‘Afghanistan has cost more to rebuild than Europe after Second World War,’ The Telegraph, 31 July 2014 < http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/afghanistan/11004928/Afghanistan-has-cost-more-to-rebuild-than-Europe-after-Second-World-War.html> (21 April 2017)

[50] Orend, ‘Jus Post Bellum,’ p.128-129

[51] Charles Q. Choi, ‘$1 Trillion Trove of Rare Minerals Revealed Under Afghanistan,’ Live Science, 4 September 2014 < http://www.livescience.com/47682-rare-earth-minerals-found-under-afghanistan.html> (21 April 2017)

[52] Choi, ‘$1 Trillion Trove of Rare Minerals Revealed Under Afghanistan’

[53] Choi, ‘$1 Trillion Trove of Rare Minerals Revealed Under Afghanistan’

[54]Dan Caldwell, Vortex of Conflict: US Policy Toward Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq (Stanford, 2011) p.255

[55] Michael Ottaway, ‘Rebuilding State Institutions in Collapsed States,’ Development and Change 33(5):(2002) p.1007

[56] M.G. Mantas, ‘Shafer revisited – the three great oughts of winning the hearts and minds: analysing the assumptions underpinning the British and Dutch COIN approach in Helmand and Uruzgan’, Small Wars & Insurgencies, 24:4, (2013) p. 731

[57] Raphael S. Cohen, ‘Just How Important Are ‘Hearts and Minds’ Anyway? Counterinsurgency Goes to the Polls,’ The Journal of Strategic Studies, Vol. 37, No. 4 (2014) p.627

[58]  Susan Woodward, ‘National versus International Legitimacy in State Building Operations’, Critique Internationale, Centre des Etudes et Recherche Internationale No. 28, (2005), p.1.

[59] Carlotta Gall and Ruhullah Khapalwak, ‘Winning Hearts While Flattening Vineyards Is Rather Tricky,’ The New York Times, 11 March 2011, < http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/12/world/asia/12panjwai.html> (21 April 2017)

[60] Chayes, ‘Chapter VII½ p.301

[61] Paul Fishstein, ‘Winning Hearts and Minds? Examining the Relationship between Aid and Security in Afghanistan’s Balkh Province’, Feinstein International Center (2010), p.28

[62] Scott Shane, Mark Mazzetti and Dexter Filkins, ‘Cables Depict Afghan Graft, Starting at Top,’ The New York Times, 2 December 2010 http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/03/world/asia/03wikileaks-corruption.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 (21 April 2017)

[63] Zachary Warren and Nancy Hopkins, Afghanistan in 2015: A Survey of the Afghan People (San Francisco, 2015) p.55-69

[64] United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, ‘Afghanistan Opium Survey,’ Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Ministry of Counter Narcotics, November 2014 < http://www.unodc.org/documents/crop-monitoring/Afghanistan/Afghan-opium-survey-2014.pdf> (21 April 2017)

[65] Keane, US Nation-Building in Afghanistan p.140

[66] The World Bank, ‘Least developed countries: UN classification,’ 2017 < http://data.worldbank.org/region/least-developed-countries:-un-classification> (21 April 2017)

[67] Yama Torab, ‘The Growing Challenge of Corruption In Afghanistan:

Reflections on a Survey of the Afghan People, Part 3 of 4,’ Occassional Paper (No.15) p.1-10

[68] Caldwell, Vortex of Conflict, p.173

[69] USAID, ‘Education,’ Afghanistan, 13 April 2017 < https://www.usaid.gov/afghanistan/education> (21 April 2017)

[70] WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, World Bank Group, and United Nations Population Division

Maternal Mortality Estimation Inter-Agency Group, ‘Maternal mortality in 1990-2015,’ Afghanistan, <

http://www.who.int/gho/maternal_health/countries/afg.pdf> (21 April 2017)

[71] House of Commons International Development Committee, Reconstructing Afghanistan: Fourth Report of Volume II (Session 2007-08) p.51

[72] WHO/ UNICEF, ‘Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) for Water Supply and Sanitation,’ < https://www.wssinfo.org/data-estimates/tables/> (21 April 2017)

[73] Richard Hogg, Claudia Nassif, Camilo Gomez Osorio, William Byrd, and Andrew Beath, ‘Afghanistan in Transition: Looking beyond 2014,’ The World Bank (2014) p.47-52

[74] USAID, ‘Achievements in Afghanistan,’ Afghanistan, August 2014 https://www.usaid.gov/sites/default/files/documents/1871/Achievements%20in%20Afghanistan.pdf (21 April 2017)

[75] USAID, ‘Achievements in Afghanistan’

[76] Orend, ‘Jus Post Bellum’, p.124

[77] Orend, ‘Jus Post Bellum’, p.124

[78] Stahn and Kleffner, Jus Post Bellum p.43

[79] Brian Orend, The Morality of War (Plymouth, 2006) p.163

[80] James Dobbins, America’s Role in Nation-Building: From Germany to Iraq, RAND Corporation (MR-1753) (2005) p.2

[81]Keane, US Nation-Building in Afghanistan, p.158-9

[82] Keane, US Nation-Building in Afghanistan, p.158-9

[83] Sonja Grimm & Wolfgang Merkel ‘War and Democratization: Legality, Legitimacy and Effectiveness, Democratization’, 15:3, (2008) pp.457-471

[84] Grimm & Merkel ‘War and Democratization,’ pp.457-471

[85] Keane, US Nation-Building in Afghanistan p.163

[86] Ian Pannell, ‘Afghan election fraud is unearthed,’ BBC News, Kabul, 18 August 2009 < http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/8207315.stm> (21 April 2017)

[87] Democracy International, ‘Afghanistan Election Observation Mission 2014 – Final Report,’ January 2015 < http://democracyinternational.com/media/DI%202014%20EOM%20Final%20Report%20-%20Feb%2011%20FINAL.pdf> (21 April 2017)

[88] BBC News, ‘Afghanistan presidential poll hailed as a ‘success’’ 6 April 2014 < http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-26908464> (21 April 2017)

[89] Keane, US Nation-Building in Afghanistan, p.158-9

[90] Sultan Barakat & Gareth Wardell, ‘Exploited by whom? An alternative perspective on humanitarian assistance to Afghan women, Third World Quarterly’, Vol 23, No 5, (2002) p.910

[91]Barakat & Wardell, ‘Exploited by whom?’ p.924

[92] Barakat & Wardell, ‘Exploited by whom?’ p.915

[93] Barakat & Wardell, ‘Exploited by whom?’ p.910

[94] Barakat & Wardell, ‘Exploited by whom?’ p.910

[95] Ben Farmer, ‘Hamid Karzai signs law ‘legalising rape in marriage,’’ The Telegraph, 31 March 2009 < http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/afghanistan/5080797/Hamid-Karzai-signs-law-legalising-rape-in-marriage.html> (21 April 2017)

[96] Walzer, Just and Unjust Wars p.109-24

[97] USAID, ‘Achievements in Afghanistan’

[98] Human Rights Watch, ‘Afghanistan: Reject New Law Protecting Abusers of Women,’ 4 February 2014 < https://www.hrw.org/news/2014/02/04/afghanistan-reject-new-law-protecting-abusers-women> (21 April 2017)

[99] Grimm & Merkel ‘War and Democratization,’ pp.457-471