... a reference point, from which, everything else in life, makes sense
- new book, release date July 2022 -
E LaMont Gregory MSc Oxon
foreword ... by and large, the attack helicopter is the missing asset in the Ukrainian military arsenal
Consider for a moment, how convenient, not to mention how useful it would be, to have a reference point, from which everything else in life, made sense.
From that reference point you could venture in any direction or into any dimension you wish to journey, knowledgeably. And with the kind of aware assurance that comes with always knowing, where your journey began.
In fact, such reference points exist.
In medicine, for example, the reference point is the twin set Anatomy & Physiology; in rocket science a reference point is found in the organized knowledge of ballistic trajectory; for the architect and builder the ultimate reference is structural engineering; while the researcher's journey begins with the scientific method, and in the arts and sciences of diplomacy and military affairs, the reference point is engagement.
There are subsets naturally, and in the relations between states, and between states and non-state actors, we might think of the nature of the engagement, not only in terms of friend or otherwise, but also in terms of the intensity of the engagement i.e., low intensity, high intensity, or both to varying degrees.
But the answer to the question that is asked at the end of a journey, can be singularly meaningful and at the same time rather difficult to arrive at, that is, how does one know, when one has done the right thing? And few, as one might imagine, have answered that question in any meaningful or satisfactory way.
An End to War, is an exploration of engagement, the reference point in diplomacy and military affairs, from which everything else in the relations between states, and between states and non-state actors, makes sense. And is told in narrative form i.e., the narrative story is the means by which one becomes acquainted with and delves into the underlying principles involved.
The relevance of the book, An End to War, to past, as well as, the ongoing conflict in the Ukraine, and many other current hostilities, is apparent.
It is readily observable that in military engagements the course and outcome of a conflict is very much dependent on the assets, both human and material, the parties to the conflict employ and deploy in and around a conflict zone. In this regard, deterrents are also assets which can be instrumental in conflict resolution, and in limiting the severity and possibly the duration of hostilities even after they have begun.
It is possible, and more often than not, advisable, during various stages of a conflict to assess whether or not the assets being employed and deployed are, to put it succinctly, appropriate to the task at hand. These kinds of assessments at times unearth and identify assets which are clearly missing from the conflict zone.
In recent history, the absence of the A10 anti-tank aircraft in the intervention in the Libyan conflict, is calculated to have prolonged that conflict by over half a year, and resulted in increased causalities exceeding 10,000.
Had the US wanted to slow the advance of the Taliban into Kabul and other Afghan cities, the deployment of several squadrons of attack helicopters would have been sufficient to accomplish that objective. The limited use, thus far, of attack helicopters by the Ukrainian military, i.e., their foray into the border area of western Russia was surgically precise and effective.
But, by and large, it is the attack helicopter that is the missing asset in the Ukrainian military arsenal.
A state-of-the-art attack helicopter not only serves the traditional role of providing close air support for ground troops, but also increasingly deploys anti-tank and air-to-air missiles and are equipped with stealth capabilities. A state-of-the-art attack helicopter, according to a turn of the century assessment, destroys targets in excess of 17 times its own production costs, before being destroyed or otherwise taken out of action (Barnaby, 2004).
It was a mistake for NATO and the European Union not to engage Russia with more determination over its occupation of the Crimean Peninsula as well as Russia's non-adherence to the four-nation Paris Talks Agreements, and the invasion and the war came.
Engagements of a diplomatic nature, including those concerned with issues of war and peace, are at times curtailed, or derailed by other intervening crises. An ongoing initiative in 2001 to bring nearly 35 years of continuous conflict in Angola, the war of independence followed by a protracted civil war to an end, was derailed by an incident between the Airforce of China and the US, which involved a US spy plane being forced to land on Chinese territory. That crisis caused international angst for a period of time, and then 9/11.
A small multi-national group had assembled at Oxford with the idea of bringing relief to the four million internally displaced in Angola, nearly one quarter of the population of the country, who had been displaced by the machinations of a protracted civil war between the armies of the MPLA leader, dos Santos and the UNITA leader, Savimbi.
The Angola civil war was a superpower surrogate conflict between the MPLA, backed by the Soviet Union, with Cuban troops actively participating, and the forces of UNITA, with South African soldiers on the ground, at the behest of the United States. Although it did not garner due attention during the conflict, the role played by the ex-colonial power Portugal deserves scrutiny and analysis, as well as other governments on the continent, and some far beyond.
The plan by the Oxford group to end the war, from its inception recognized that the decisions to commit superpower influence, both in terms of human and material resources, were made in the highest echelons of the executive branch of the governments involved. Executive authority based on tradition, precedence, and law, including constitutional authority, which bestowed on the executive the wherewithal to do so.
Therefore, the executives who committed human and material resources to arm and otherwise equip combatants in a civil war, that is, a non-international conflict, bore direct and inescapable responsibility for the harm done to civilians by the warring factions they armed and equipped. Both armies, as they passed through the internally displaced camps, positioned between them, as the fortunes on the battlefield of one side or the other waxed and waned, those combatants systematically attacked non-combatants, civilians, contrary to the rules and norms of customary international humanitarian law applicable in non-international armed conflicts, and with brutality.
When we reached the stage where the pressure campaign, having ambassadors, or representatives of UNITA forces stationed outside of Angola, summoned by the executive branch of those states to respond to the allegations that combatants under their control were systematically attacking civilians. Interestingly, both the MPLA and UNITA force commanders asserted that those internally displaced who had collaborated with or otherwise aided the other army, i.e., providing food, transporting munitions or carry messages, had lost their status as civilians, and were therefore, legitimate targets.
In fact, customary international humanitarian law acknowledges that unarmed civilians, who follow their armed forces during an 'international' armed conflict, in order to provide them with food, transport munitions or carry messages, for example, lose their status as civilians.
However, in fact and in law, in the context of a 'non-international' armed conflict, which describes the exacting and specific circumstances in Angola, unarmed civilians who collaborate with one of the parties to the conflict always remain civilians. This distinction is justified by the fact that in internal armed conflicts civilians are forced to cooperate with the party that holds them in its power.
Civilians are protected, under international humanitarian law, unless and for such time as they take a direct part in hostilities, which is understood as acts of violence, which pose an immediate threat of actual harm.
This was a watershed moment in the effort to protect the internally displaced in Angola, both the MPLA and UNITA commanders providing justification, albeit erroneously, for their willful, deliberate and systematic attacks upon civilians, which by their own admission they could no longer deny.
And still 9/11 literally sucked the air out of the Angola initiative, and other efforts to bring some of the 27 prominent conflicts which were active at that time, to an end.
Clearly, those heads of state, executive departments and agencies with which we had been communicating, while acknowledging the worthiness of our initiative, at the same time could not see how we were going to maintain attention to it, while the focus of the major actors was, and it seemed would be, for an unforeseeable future, concentrated on Al Qaida, Afghanistan, and the developing war on terror.
If there was ever a time when experience concerning the response to crises by chief executives, and how that response is managed at the executive level, was important, this was one of those moments.
We asked one of the executives, from one of the governments, who supported the initiative to review a 90-second film clip, and read an executive summary of no more than a page and a half, before reaching a hard and fast conclusion as to whether the initiative could continue, within the realities of international affairs in the immediate post-9/11 world. They agreed.
The film clip was from a movie. In it a mayor had summoned the chief of police to his office to explain to him how the police were going to apprehend the perpetrator of an horrific crime that had just taken place in the city. The chief had brought his lead investigator in the case with him, but ask the investigator to wait outside the mayor's office, while he spoke to the mayor in private.
The nature of the crime in question, and the public's reaction to it, had put a lot of pressure on the mayor and his administration, to solve the crime quickly. After talking for what seemed a very long time to the lead investigator waiting outside the mayor's office, the chief went to the door, opened it, and asked the lead investigator to step inside.
Immediately upon the investigator's entrance, the mayor began to hurl a barrage of questions at him about his investigation, such as, how he was going to identify the perpetrator, protect the public against another attack, and what additional resources he was going to use, and did that involve the assistance of county, state or even federal law enforcement officials?
'Well, with all due respect,' the investigator responded, 'I have not begun to put together an investigation.'
And why not, the Mayor asked?
'Well, with all due respect,' the investigator responded, 'for the last hour or so, I have been sitting outside your office, shining a seat with my ... , waiting to get in to talk to you, Sir.'
The brief laid out a scenario wherein the chief executive and commander in chief, given that we were slightly less than a fortnight since the fateful events, will have moved the major planning and strategy session out of the crisis response area, and now most meeting would be held in the Oval Office, or near to it.
The size of the group meetings, police, intelligence, security, military, executive branch agencies, and legislative will also begin to shrink in number of participants, until after another two weeks or so they will involve the few key principals.
The initial meetings, where the idea was to yet everyone together , as you can imagine were fraught with difficilty keeping the meetings focusede, the most obvious reason is that you have assembled both policy
However, if one wants to gain insight into how matters of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression, crimes established by the Rome Statute, work their way through the corridors, in which these matters are raised, and sometimes do, and at times do not, find there way into actual indictments and trials, kindly consult the excerpts from Chapter 4, An End to War, in the following section.
Naturally, one is encouraged to read the text in full.
Alternatively, one can continue to dwell in the right-leaning, Conservative/Republican largely, world of Fox News, Ingraham and Hannity; little Fox news (CNN), Blitzer and Tapper; or sly Fox news (MSNBC), with Wallace and O'Donnell; Fox News-like Canada (CTV), Cathy from Ottawa, & sly Fox News Canada (CBC), Barton & co.
There is no comfort to found in the fact that the new CNN chief, Chris Licht, has given guidance to his newsreaders to move beyond 'the Big Lie'. It merely confirms that the largely Republican group of CNN newsreaders continue pandering to it, that is, keeping the false narrative alive, as was the case under the departing chief, Jeff Zucker. Zucker will now fade away into his preferred home of nationalists and supremacists.
Licht has a lot of house cleaning to do, but that is not why the advertisers, who pay the bills at CNN, wanted him at the top.
Remembering the debacle of Chris Cuomo, one of Zucker's darlings, who used airtime to suggest that the D Trump that we know now, was not the same D Trump with which the Cuomo family had been decades-long friends. The Keilar/McCabe highly imaginative reporting of the Nashville Christmas Day bomber, and least we forget that Zucker was playing a prominent role in trying to be the station on which Zelensky would announce a probe into the Biden's, in line with an earlier Trump election plot.
Trump was informed, in no uncertain terms, a year before the 2020 presidential election that unless there was a seismic shift, in his favor, which appeared unlikely, in voter preferences, he would be soundly defeated at the polls, a loser. And, began the 'the only way I can lose, is if 'they' cheat, which the likes of Tapper, Blitzer & Cuomo carried on air, with fervor. If one is being informed by cable news, without expert guidance, and a lot of research and thought, one might never understand the issues, at all.
_ _ _ _ _ _ ... when all else is said and done, the question remains, why did Putin invade the Ukraine?
An End to War excerpts from, chapter 4, pages 377 - 423
“In the black-and-white world,” Eric stated, continuing to thread his way through the course of decision-making as it occurs in such matters, “finding a military force that will stand between the MPLA and UNITA armies is highly unlikely. As a result, we must ask; is there a way that we can make the rule of law work in our favor? Equally important, I do not want you to think of the rule of law as something other than what it actually is. Law works and is effective, because it carries with it the threat to use force, if one contravenes it.
The grey world, the world of political understandings, as well as assassinations, is also a world of force.”
“The use of force in this matter is therefore, inevitable; the choice left to us is simply what kind of force we employ and how we apply it to achieve the outcome we seek.”
“There are 27 conflicts around the world today that I believe could be brought to an end by applying the black-and-white-world rule of law in a grey world, head of state executive action environment, and Angola is one of them,” Eric stated emphatically.
After a few moments of contemplation, Eric continued delving into the alternative courses of action, “Let us consider the case of the former leader of Yugoslavia, Slobodan Milosevic. Milosevic was made to stand trial at The Hague on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. In essence, the facts are these:
Milosevic was the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, and those forces attacked a village, Srebrenica, and killed some 3000 people, most of whom were civilians. Many other villages were attacked in a process that became known as ethnic cleansing. Moreover, combatants under the control of Milosevic knowingly and repeatedly attacked civilians systematically, and those attacks constitute crimes against humanity. Therefore, war crime charges were filed against Milosevic.”
“It is highly unlikely,” Eric suggested, “although not impossible, that an effective army of peacekeepers could be called on to keep the MPLA and UNITA, the forces of Dos Santos and Jonas Savimbi, respectively, from ravaging and ravishing the displaced in Angola. Their armies attack the displaced each and every time they pass through the camps, as the fortunes of one army or the other ascends or withdraws.”
“On the other hand, let us consider the possible application of a law against attacking civilians, a law carrying with it such punishments that no combatant would ever attack an unarmed civilian. This would provide protection for civilians against attacks by combatants; this would provide protection for the internally-displaced against attacks by the warring armies in Angola.”
“I have something that I want you to read,” Eric said to Mavis, as he placed a document in front of her, “however, you cannot copy it or refer to its existence in conversation or in writing, and in the vernacular of ... well, let’s suffice it to say, in the style of speech used by people in a particular profession, we never had this conversation.” Mavis read the intelligence report and returned it.
“I have worked the last two years to obtain the information on those two pages. I have scoured libraries, the files of nongovernmental organizations, human rights groups, and I want to know how you got that information,” Mavis asked.
“That is a fair question, however, I want you to know that I sat at a table and listened to a conversation that posed the same rhetorical question I prodded you with. And, if we are going down the Milosevic route, that is, to pursue the case for crimes against humanity, because of the systematic attacks on civilians by the combatants under the control of the two Angolan leaders, those crimes had to be documented. Therefore, we had to build a case according to the rules of evidence prescribed by the International Court of Justice at The Hague. Evidence had to be collected in situ (on the ground)—by the police, forensic scientists, those capable of intercepting radio transmissions between commanders, international lawyers and prosecutors. Depositions had to be taken, photographic evidence obtained and witness statements corroborated. Every day those investigators were going in and out of Angola—there was a chance someone would be captured or killed; there could be accidents, illness and disease; any of these possibilities would create causalities, more widows and motherless or fatherless children.”
“Although my name would not appear on any official documents,” Eric stated with directness, “I am just as responsible for what happens to the people who undertake the mission to enter Angola surreptitiously to gather the evidence. Personal responsibility to a group effort is unavoidable under these circumstances. I brought them to that table, and now, Mavis, I have offered you a seat at that same table.”
“Various human rights groups and other non-governmental organizations involved in these matters, collect millions of dollars each year donated by well-meaning people. Those funds are used to produce grey literature, non-peer-reviewed literature (self-promoting advertising material), not one shred of which could ever be presented as evidence in a court of law, international or otherwise,” Eric stated.
“Some of those non-governmental organizations describe my argument as suggesting that their organizations are meaningless. However, that is not my argument. I maintain simply that they are not relevant,” Eric said, walking towards the blackboard, “and, when they come into this arena, the realm of rigorous examination into the facts and spirited debate concerning their points of view and assumptions, they learn that what they have, is perhaps, some proof that they are not entirely inconsequential, but no proof of their relevancy.”
“Even with the evidence documented as to the claims, assertions, accusations, and allegations of possible war crimes committed by the two Angolan leaders, there was still a missing element.”
Mavis asked what that could be, because the evidence seemed complete.
“The missing ingredient,” Eric suggested, “was someone that actually represented the four million internally displaced in the international community, that is, until we became aware of your sterling work, Mavis. It then became a matter of how to steer you in the direction of Oxford. When those arrangements were in place, 9/11 happened, and few other than me and a colleague in the Blair administration thought that Angola would not fade from the agenda, and we would have to alter our plans, but we persisted, nonetheless. After the very excellent work you did in Washington DC, there was no better place than Oxford for you to gravitate towards.”
As Eric finished speaking, he saw an expression on Mavis’s face, one that only comes when the mind is so focused on a matter that no other concerns occupy one’s thoughts. In an academic environment, this is an important moment and, a skilled teacher knows the importance of allowing time for the student to respond.
Neither Eric nor Mavis uttered a word.
They had covered a lot of material in the hour or so that passed that afternoon. Mavis rose from her chair and walked towards the door. Eric could hear her footsteps, as she made her way down the hallway to the Refugee Studies Library.
Eric continued looking over his notes until Laura, a lawyer from Tanzania, entered the seminar room. She asked Eric if he would review a paper she was writing about the legal status of refugees. Eric said that he would be pleased to have a look at what she had written.
“In fact,” he offered, “if you have time, I could read some of it now, and perhaps we could discuss it.”
Laura sat in the same seat Mavis had occupied a few moments before. Eric read the introduction to her paper and asked where she practiced law. Laura replied that she worked for a law firm in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, which represented clients in immigration matters. And, she became interested in refugees after some seven-hundred thousand Rwandan refugees entered Western Tanzania after the genocide in neighboring Rwanda. Laura had only begun to explain some aspects of her work, when Mavis returned, accompanied by Ted, whom she had met in the library. She walked directly to the blackboard and wrote two words--Rome Statute. Mavis turned to sit down and noticed Laura, a member of one of her seminar classes, was also in the room. While Mavis and Laura spoke to one another, Eric welcomed Ted and returned to the blackboard where he began the initial outline of what was to become the Matenge Brief.
“Mavis, the Rome Statute established four core international crimes: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression, and that is precisely the arena that we wish to pursue in relation to Angola. By the way, where did you first learn about the Geneva Conventions?” Eric inquired.
“I took an introduction to international law class in California, at the Monterey Institute of International Studies,” she replied.
“The US is perhaps not an ideal place to be introduced to the Conventions,” Eric asserted, while searching for the right approach to discuss such a touchy subject in American legal circles, “because, within the United States, the Conventions do not hold the same high place in the rule of law as does the American Constitution. I have a book on the International Court of Justice (World Court) that lays out the American objection to it, and when you read it, please pay particular attention to the concept of the derived powers of the American executive as an essential limiting factor on America’s full participation in the activities of the Court.”
“Americans rely on the courts to set the limits on the application of its statutes,” Eric continued, “but when it comes to the Conventions, they are more interested in the idea of the documents only. Americans see their own courts as living and evolving, whether they reside in the originally intended or the ordinary meaning school of constitutional interpretation.”
“To Europeans and many others, the Geneva Conventions are living entitles that have within their planks subtle nuances of interpretation that carry extensive legal scholarship and tradition,” Eric explained.
“Whereas, the entire body of the Conventions and their evolution are important, for the purpose of our discussion, some of the fundamentals lend themselves to in-depth analysis.” Laura stood up, as if to leave. “Please stay, if you will,” Eric requested, “your expertise in law, and being a representative of a country in which the Geneva Conventions hold a high place in the law arena, are welcomed.” Laura returned to her seat next to Mavis and Eric continued to lead the discussion on the Geneva Conventions relative to the internally-displaced.
“The Conventions state that combatants may neither attack civilians nor hide amongst civilians, while engaged in their military operations. Although, there is recognition that some civilian casualties may be inevitable in war, nonetheless a deliberate or systematic attack on civilians contravenes the Conventions. In addition, the Conventions are clear in the understanding that those who do not adhere to them in the conduct of their military operations are not protected by them. Stated in other terms, those who violate the Conventions cannot claim protection under the Conventions.”
“Okay,” Ted interjected, “that is what you said in your seminar class the other day, and when one participant said that he was confused, you answered; no, you are not. Why did the British students call out, brilliant analogy?”
“That is an excellent and timely question, Ted,” Eric exclaimed, “There are Americans, who suggest that the 9/11 conspirators should be accorded protection under the Conventions, because the conspirators claim that they are enemy combatants, that is, soldiers fighting a war against the United States. But, a combatant that attacks civilians cannot claim protection under the Conventions, because attacking civilians while carrying out their war operations violates the Conventions. That does not mean they cannot be tried in the United States, but bringing them to trial will have to be justified under a different set of legal provisions.
Therefore, the contention held by some Americans that protection under the Conventions should be extended to the 9/11 perpetrators, who deliberately targeted civilians, is patently absurd, just as absurd as my telling a confused person that they were not confused.”
“Those Americans are trying to apply a solution to a problem to which the solution does not apply. We can go into the legal issues in more detail at a later date.” Eric stopped and drew an outline of Angola on the blackboard, showing the MPLA forces to the north and UNITA forces to the south with the internally-displaced dispersed between the two armies. He drew arrows indicating the direction the armies took to the camps and each time he added an arrow, he stated that it represented a deliberate attack on civilians by combatants on one side of the conflict, or the other.
“Remember the case against Milosevic? Both Dos Santos and Savimbi are in control of combatants who systematically attacked civilians and can be charged with crimes against humanity.”
“Therefore, it is possible to see a way forward in bringing about a cessation of attacks by combatants on the internally displaced. Furthermore, consider the pressure brought to bear on Mobutu, the former President of Zaire (now the Republic of the Congo), by the Americans, although he had been one of a select group of staunch Cold War Era anti-communist allies. In fact, Mobutu had helped the US funnel arms to the American-backed UNITA forces. Perhaps, once the Americans realize that they have contributed to the appalling circumstances of the four million internally displaced, they may choose to help.”
Eric continued to concentrate on mapping out the essential elements of a strategy to protect the internally displaced in Angola on the blackboard. The room was quiet and Eric assumed everyone had gone; when he finished, he turned around and discovered that Mavis, Laura and Ted were all still in the room.
They were studying the outline he created on the blackboard. Eric sat down, and not a word was uttered. The three of them sat, looking at the blackboard, analyzing and contemplating each and every detail.
Ted broke the silence with one word, “Fascinating.”
Laura then uttered the words, “Brilliant and workable.”
“Is what I am looking at on that blackboard a possible end to the suffering of the internally-displaced in Angola?” Mavis asked.
“Yes, Mavis,” Eric replied, “the application of a black-and-white-world rule of law in a grey world executive action environment, I think, is the way forward. We can discuss the particulars. Nevertheless, I am certain that we can bring the war to an end.”
Ted asked Eric if he would go into the outline of the plan in more detail.
“Yes,” Eric replied, still somewhat surprised that the three of them had remained in the room.
“But first,” Eric suggested, “why don’t we have a tea or coffee and perhaps a nibble at Browns Restaurant?”
Browns, located at the intersection of St Giles, Little Clarendon Street and the Woodstock Road, was the most popular restaurant in Oxford, and importantly, only a short walk away up Little Clarendon Street. The party of four talked and enjoyed the atmosphere of the restaurant until Mavis and Laura left to return to their accommodations. Ted and Eric returned to the seminar room and the outline of the brief, the Matenge brief, the brief that would bring an end to war.
… succinct, comprehensive, and authoritative
“Ted, I hope that you will accept the outline I have drawn on the blackboard as a reasonable resume of where things stood before Mavis arrived in Oxford. Since her arrival, things have moved forward and in many respects, dramatically so.”
“Everything changed when I came to realize that Mavis Matenge represented the four million displaced Angolans, one-third of the country’s population. It made Mavis a stakeholder in the affairs—the internal affairs—of Angola. It gave voice to a population that had been systematically victimized, and most importantly, it gave legitimacy to the appeal to the international community for relief.”
After speaking with Mavis that first day, Eric made several phone calls to colleagues in the Blair and Bush administrations, and initially, there was definite interest, but not much enthusiasm.
“Ted, you are an Intelligence Officer and understand how these types of proposals develop within such organizations,” Eric stated, as he paced back and forth in front of the blackboard, then turned to Ted and suggested, “I can talk you through this if you have 15 minutes, or 10 if I skip some of the operational details. But as you are undoubtedly aware, it’s the three-minute version of the proposal that I have shared with heads of state that advanced the proposal this far.”
Ted replied, “Eric, our meeting was not accidental. You might say that the proverbial we are in a sense playing catch-up, and if you give me an intelligence briefing and bring me up-to-date, it would be greatly appreciated. And were you to embellish your report with a little insight, so much the better.”
Eric explained that as he worked his way up the chain of authority within the US and UK administrations, the discussions became more productive, because both administrations came to envision that some sort of initiative might be fruitful. But, at the same time, neither could see how an international effort might be mounted, given other pressing issues on the horizon, that is, in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. Especially, since President Bush was in the process of encouraging countries to line up, sign up and get behind the roundup, which was to become known as the War on Terror, a strategy with which the US military will be engaged for the next several decades.
“In the meantime, my primary contact in the Blair Administration stressed the importance of mounting an international effort, if there was going to be any movement on the Angolan Civil War. There are two aspects to this initiative. The first is the Matenge Brief, which is to be shared with the Bush and Blair Administrations. The second is what we call the international effort, which involves contacting all the governments with which Angola has diplomatic relations, and apprise them of the situation concerning the systematic attacks on civilians.”
Eric explained to Ted that proximity was not the only reason the international effort began with European leaders. The primary reason was that they had been involved in the Bosnian War and the crimes against humanity that occurred there, the Milosevic arrest and trial, if you will. Therefore, the necessity for lengthy discussions with European leaders in relation to the possible existence of war crimes in the Angola conflict simply did not exist. When Eric was asked specifically what he wanted the European heads of state to do, his response was that they should call the Angolan representative into their office, present him or her with the disturbing information that had come to their attention, and ask them to respond. On several occasions, Eric was asked if any other European leader had undertaken that course, and he referred them to London.
“I initially contacted several European governments with Angolan diplomatic representation, although London kept me informed, the responses I received were rather vague. I contacted the European governments in alphabetical order, and since I wanted to know more precisely what the responses were, I decided to write the Angolan Ambassador to Portugal directly.”
“The next day I received a response transmitted from the Embassy of Angola in London. It stated that the Government of Angola was eager to return to the negotiating table, and made reference to the specific plank within the Lusaka Protocol that would facilitate that process. Although the LusakaProtocol was a failed attempt to end the hostilities, it did include several measures that would be necessary to achieve in any peace agreement. Interestingly, the communiqué from the Angolan Foreign Minister to several European governments made specific reference to the inadvisability of disbanding either of the armies, but called for them to be integrated into a unified Angolan Army to promote post-conflict stability.”
“The strategy with regard to the international effort was to contact the executive branch of the government only,” Eric stated as he observed Ted closely to gauge his reaction. “In my estimation, if this effort was going to succeed, it would be in the realm of executive action; no print or broadcast media, no legislatures, no UN debates or resolutions or nongovernmental organizations were to be involved.”
“Naturally, that strategy could only work if there was credible and indisputable evidence that there were troubling circumstances in Angola that the European heads of state should ask the Angolan Ambassador in their country to respond to.”
“During my meetings with military and civilian experts, we prepared lists of countries whose circumstances were attributable to a lack of a plan for ex-combatants, which were slipping into chaos or whose conflicts could end in the foreseeable future, respectively. The need for a fourth list began to emerge.” “That fourth list is what has brought us where we are today. Whenever there was a discussion of the fourth list, we were careful to include only executives and the highest ranking intelligence people. The fourth list concerned those on-going conflicts where a leader’s arrest might be warranted, because there was indisputable evidence that war crimes had been committed by combatants under their direct and singularly unique control--the Milosevic principle.” Eric walked over and stood by a window, from which he could look down upon the many rooftops and well-maintained backyard gardens. He repeated the phrase, singularly unique, then turned to Ted and remarked, “You were majoring in political science at Miami University. You must have had a professor whose last name just happens to be the same as the current White House Press Secretary.”
Eric wondered if Ted had actually met his mentor, Colonel Raymond Fening, in that same department of political science. Given the fact that their meeting was not accidental, Eric presumed Ted must have known about his first entry into both CIA and Pentagon headquarters and would be aware that in both meetings, while Eric was waiting for the Under Secretaries to arrive, he was asked what it was like to enter their headquarters for the first time. Eric responded with the same comment on both occasions--it was like entering the temple of the high-priestess of false security.
When asked to explain that statement at the CIA, Eric replied that it was their inability to handle intelligence from singularly unique sources. Eric challenged them to name an organization whose structure was singularly unique. They were stunned into silence. At the Pentagon, when the same question was put to him, the atmosphere in the room changed from the light-hearted banter, which was supposed to make Eric feel ill at ease, into a serious discussion of an important intelligence matter.
Ted moved forward in his seat with his hands clutched together, “Yes, Eric, there were reports about both your visits to the CIA and Pentagon headquarters, and both accounts of your explanation as to the inability of those agencies to handle singularly unique intelligence were remarkably similar.”
Ted wanted to understand the explanation, but first he asked Eric to name a singularly unique organization. Eric responded the structure of the oil companies. Ted also wanted Eric to delve into the reason why the propensity to express things in terms of analogies was a problem, and why he had described it as a weakness that permeated the entire American intelligence apparatus. Eric suggested that the tendency to express, or describe things in terms of similarities, stems from the fact that parents and teachers instruct children from a very early age by drawing analogies to other things. And, by the time they become adults, the tendency to do so is so well-engrained that it resides in the paleocortex of the brain, the section of the brain where our habits reside. The report stated that Eric gave an example of a mortally-wounded man, who got out of bed in the morning and entered his kitchen to fix breakfast. We wake and gravitate towards the kitchen without thinking about it, because it is a life-long routine, it is second nature.
The problem comes when an intelligence operative is confronted with information that is from a singularly unique source—there is nothing to which it can be referenced and no analogy can be constructed to describe it. Eric stated that if one wants to describe the organization of the oil companies, one has to understand their unique organizational structure. Without such understanding, when an Intelligence Officer tries to explain or describe a unique occurrence using an analogy, the A, B, Cs of intelligence reporting are thrown right out of the window, literally. The report will not be accurate, brief or clear, and in the process a potential valuable piece of intelligence is obscured and lost in the gibberish of a false analogy.
“Months had passed since my discussions with military experts and the British Military intervention in Sierra Leone, during which time we continued working on the plan until one day, I received a call from Professor Ryan asking me to join him and two visitors who had come to the department to meet us. When I arrived, the three of them were leisurely discussing a project we had been involved in that would allow one to determine hemoglobin levels in places where laboratory facilities were not available. The device was a narrow strip of plastic containing five small indentations; the bottom of each of the wells was chemically treated with a dye. One placed a small drop of blood in each slot and then covered them with a plastic lens, and after several minutes the blood would interact with the dye and using a color comparison chart, one could determine the hemoglobin level of a blood sample. There was much interest in the ability to take such readings when more elaborated equipment was not on hand. One of the visitors suggested such a small portable hemoglobin tester would have greatly enhanced their ability to document the health status of the internally-displaced in the field while they were in Angola.”
“Ted, the two visitors, Professor Terence Ryan and I had talked for only a few minutes, before Professor Ryan said that he had a meeting to attend and asked me to show our visitors around campus. I asked them if there was any special place they would like to see and one of them said that when he first entered the university, he had studied physics and he always wanted to visit the Department of Physics at Oxford. Once on campus, I could not resist showing them a research project in the Particle and Nuclear Physics Lab, and then took them to the Radcliffe Observatory on the grounds of Green College. We sat under the ornate dome and one of the visitors reached into the inner pocket of his suit coat and handed me a document.”
The Angolan Civil War has resulted in the continuous movement of the internally-displaced in cyclical waves of forced displacement, and to a large extent, the displaced population is in an appalling condition. A substantial humanitarian operation to meet the survival needs of the internally-displaced in Angola is required urgently.
The internally-displaced in Angola are forced into areas that are without infrastructure, or basic services. They are abjectly poor, lack sufficient food stocks, seeds, tools and livestock, and because they are repetitively forced to move, they are unable to engage in agriculture. In most internally-displaced areas, catastrophic malnutrition affects half of the displaced population.
During the intense fighting from 1992 to 1994, almost 2 million Angolans were forced to flee their homes. Most sought refuge in provincial centers or in the capital, Luanda. By the end of 1997, a full three years after the two peace agreements were signed and the lull in hostilities began, there were still over 1 million displaced living in the bush or in camps, often in abysmal conditions, having suffered extended periods of hunger, and subjected to harassment, looting, and physical assault as well as unremitting forced displacements.
When hostilities resumed in 1998, an additional 3 million people were forced from their homes, moving ad infinitum as both UNITA and Government of Angola forces carried out deliberate and systematic attacks upon them.
The internally-displaced are for the most part young families, unaccompanied children, and the elderly, and although dispersed throughout all 18 provinces of Angola, the largest concentrations are in the Provinces of Malanje, Huambo, Huila, and Bie, running along a vertical axis from Uige south towards Huila. In response to the specific claim that the Government of Angola and UNITA forces engaged in the widespread, deliberate, and systematic rape of women and girls, the claim is confirmed.
In response to the specific assertion that UNITA and Government of Angola forces engaged in the widespread, deliberate, and systematic capture of women and girls forcing them to travel with their forces as sex slaves, the assertion is confirmed.
In response to the specific accusation that the Government of Angola and UNITA forces engaged in the widespread, deliberate, and systematic capture of young males, forcing them into military service, the accusation is confirmed.
In response to the specific allegation that UNITA and Government of Angola forces engaged in the widespread, deliberate, and systematic torture and summary executions of civilians, the allegation is confirmed. C6--KV 2/4. DGIA IC(A…)—411/2253
The visitor who shared the document with Eric had been in charge of the group that gathered the intelligence in situ. It had taken months to verify the various claims, assertions, accusations and allegations. The Intelligence Officer then suggested that a post-conflict Angola would face one of the largest humanitarian aid crises in human history.
He said that it was his understanding that once the European heads of state or Foreign Ministers had been contacted, they would consult with their own intelligence services to verify the information. And, under existing protocols concerning intelligence sharing, his agency would confirm the existence and accuracy of the evidentiary material, when called upon to do so.
“Let’s think about how this international effort plays out in Angola, Ted. We are in the immediate post 9/11 period and when a European head of state and his Foreign Minister meet, they are naturally discussing Bin Laden, al Qaeda, the Taliban, and Afghanistan. Now, they are also discussing Dos Santos, the MPLA, Savimbi, UNITA forces, and their attacks on civilians. The evidentiary material clearly places the Angolan situation in the context of possible war crimes and the comparison to the Milosevic case is unavoidable. In addition, the Angolan commanders cannot be unaware that the Americans were called upon to surgically remove a head of state from his own country, nor can they be unaware of the delivery of that head of state to stand trial for crimes against humanity before the International Court of Justice at The Hague. In the current international climate where hard decisions are made apace, this is not a comfortable position for either of the Angolan leaders to find themselves in.”
“We continued to contact every country with Angolan representation, intending to communicate with them all. Then, we received confirmation that President Bush had asked Dos Santos to meet him at the White House in Washington.”
“Equal pressure, if you will, was brought to bear on the UNITA leader. The Portuguese, for example, suggested to Savimbi’s second-in-command, who was resident in Portugal, that if he did not have the ability to address the disturbing information that had come to their attention, perhaps he should return to Angola and investigate the matter first hand.”
“Several of the governments we contacted had been rather slow to respond, including some of the European capitals.
However, after the announced meeting in Washington, a number of them contacted us and stated that a careful review of their notes of our conversations did not reveal any indication of the fact that the President of the United States was involved. I would respond that the situation had changed, as they so rightly acknowledged, with the President’s involvement.”
“I explained that the initial contact with their government was to give the relevant Ministers an opportunity to get the data and familiarize their head of state with the facts. The questions now, concern the realities on the ground in Angola, such as, are there combatants still in the vicinity of the camps, and is there the slightest possibility of any further attacks on women and children who comprise eighty percent of the population of those camps. It is also an opportunity to ask the Angolan representative how his government intends to verify that every step has been taken to assure the international community in general and their government in particular, that everything that needs to be done is being done to prevent a repeat of the horrendous occurrences to which their government is being asked to respond.”
“I would recommend that they pressure the Angolan government by demanding a response within 24 hours, as is customary when urgent matters are raised in these types of circumstances. The main issue that each of the European governments is painfully aware of is that to some extent, their association with the Angolan government has contributed to that government’s ability to attack its own people in ways prohibited by International Humanitarian Law.”
“I would further inform each head of state that I should appreciate any assistance on their part in communicating the change in emphasis to their counterparts across Europe. Then, from one of the governments came the encouraging reply that one is always searching for—yes, I can do that and given the urgency of the matter, the other governments will all have the information within the hour.”
“What began as a trickle, increased to a steady flow, then became a torrent once the Washington meeting was announced.”
“Any solace that Dos Santos found in thinking that this was a European initiative whose bark was worse than their bite, evaporated when he had to face the fact that he was about to enter the same Oval Office where the order was signed for American military personnel to go into Yugoslavia and arrest that head of state, for acts Dos Santos had also engaged in.”
“About that time, I received a message from my contact in the Blair Administration. It suggested that I should pay particular attention to some of the more subtle nuances, contained in the list of countries that had been contacted in which Angola had diplomatic wherewithal.”
“Initially, I was at a loss to find anything about the list that I had not considered. Suddenly, it came to me that the singularly unique subtle nuance I had encountered was your comment, Ted, about what provision has been made for the soldiers who do not want to remain in the military post-conflict. That is, what does one do with those who choose not go along with the program?”
“I had been walking along the Isis on the grounds of Christ Church College and from there it is a short walk to the Bodleian Library, where I went to review recent newspaper articles. It was not long before I found an article stating that Angola had recalled two of its Ambassadors in as many days. It just so happened that both of those countries were on America’s concern list in association with possible involvement in terrorism or more specifically, the recent 9/11 attacks. The only way Dos Santos could distance himself from the leaders of those countries was to recall his Ambassadors, although in the print media other reasons were given for their recall.”
“The question remains how Washington will respond. I will confine my comments to the National Security Adviser Rice and what she will recommend to the President of the United States. Since regional stability is the paramount feature of American involvement in Southern Africa, in the interests of normalizing relations, the current American administration will want to welcome Angola into the community of peaceful functioning states as soon as possible after the cessation of hostilities. Undoubtedly, Rice will propose that the welcome must be more than symbolic— what could be more concrete than Angola’s membership on the Security Council of the United Nations. The ever practical National Security Adviser will argue and draw attention to the fact that Angola is oil rich and post-conflict, there would be no need to draw on the American treasury to support either the humanitarian or the reconstruction effort.”
“A few days later, I received a telephone call from an aide to one of Europe’s Foreign Ministers asking me how long it would take me to arrive in London. I said that two hours would be sufficient. He suggested that we meet at his embassy in about three hours’ time. I arrived and to my great surprise, he had arranged for a guard to preserve a parking place for me.”
“He met me at the entrance and said, ‘Let’s talk in an interior office.’ He stated that as a meeting was ending with the Angolan Ambassador, he was called into the Foreign Minister’s office to escort the Ambassador out, as is the usual custom. But when he arrived at the Minister’s office, their discussion was still ongoing, and the Minister asked him to come in and wait as they were just finishing. The Minister explained to the Ambassador that his response to their government’s request was inadequate. The Angolan Ambassador stated that his government was working diligently to reply to the previous day’s request. The Foreign Minister explained to the Ambassador that it was inconceivable to him that the Angolan government would have its soldiers in the vicinity of the camps while the Angolan head of state was meeting with the President of the United States—inconceivable, the Minister repeated. The Foreign Minister then requested that the Ambassador return the next day with an appropriate response to the verification question.”
“The aide looked at his watch and said that five hours ago the Angolan Ambassador returned to the Foreign Minister’s office with a reply. He then gave me a copy of the letter from the Foreign Minister of Angola. It began with a statement that the Angolan government was pleased to announce the complete withdrawal of all its military personnel as well as equipment and other assets from the internally-displaced settlement camps. It also mentioned that any military structures that could not be removed and transported from the area would be dismantled or otherwise rendered unusable. The letter stated that international monitors had been invited to verify the details as set forth in the communiqué. In addition, the government of Angola was pleased to announce that lines of communication had been opened through suitable third parties with the UNITA forces who, they were pleased to convey, were undertaking equal measures to remove all military personnel, equipment and other assets from the area of the settlement camps. In the penultimate paragraph was a statement that all military personnel not involved in border security had been ordered to return to barracks.”
“I looked up from the letter at the aide, we stood and approached one another with both hands open and thumbs raised and shook hands enthusiastically. ‘The war is over,’ I said. ‘Yes, the war is over,’ the aide echoed, ‘and the Foreign Minister concurs in that assessment.’”
“‘Please extend my highest regards to your Minister,’ I said, while thinking about the many-sided nature of war and the fact that this long, protracted war would have to end many times. The letter clearly indicated the end of the war for the commanders, but it would also have to end for the officers, and then for the foot soldiers, the internally-displaced, for the refugees, and every other Angolan citizen. The war will also have to end for Mavis Matenge.” “Perhaps,” the aide submitted, “you should not try to drive back to Oxford tonight. Two of the female employees that you met at the conference in Brussels live nearby and have offered to prepare dinner for us.” “That is a great idea,” Eric responded.
… twenty minutes to stop a war that has gone on for thirty-five years
Ted sat mesmerized, listening to Eric as he reported that while developing a case for action, there were many telephone calls made, but one conversation stood out as particularly significant.
A member of the Blair administration made reference to a facsimile Eric sent to Prime Minister Blair outlining a strategy to bring about a cessation of hostilities in The Sudan, a plan that, in part, formed the basis of the current brief.
The Blair aide suggested that if Eric was the President of the United States or Prime Minister of Great Britain, he would not have to ask anyone to press this initiative forward. He could simply invite the leaders of the two warring forces to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, or 10 Downing Street and deliver an ultimatum; read them the riot act, so to speak.
“Perhaps this point in time may seem like an opportunity from the vantage point you have at Oxford, but I am not getting the kinds of responses within this administration that would assist this, albeit worthwhile effort along at this stage,” the Blair aide stated.
Unknowingly, that remark had provided Eric with the singularly unique piece of information that was needed. What ensued was the kind of discussions that move great events, events that drive the course of history.
Eric suggested, rather emphatically, that the Blair aide should get up and march into the PM’s office and report that if he would spend twenty minutes of his time on this matter, he could bring a war to an end that had gone on for thirty-five years.
The telephone fell silent. Eric could sense that he and the Blair aide had hit upon an idea that was compelling, to say the least.
Eric offered to write a brief along the lines of the Sudan proposal that he had sent to the PM over Easter and put it directly into the hands of the American Ambassador in London. He then suggested that if the Blair aide could float the idea and get the National Security Adviser on either side of the Atlantic to whisper those words into the President’s or the PM’s ear, he could do the rest.
“Intriguing,” was the next word that came through the receiver, “send a copy to the Prime Minister and let me know as soon as you get confirmation from the American Ambassador that the brief is on its way to the Secretary of State. Prime Minister Blair and Secretary Powell have developed a positive rapport.” Eric remarked how well-received Blair’s Why Can’t It Happen Here speech was, which he made just after his first meeting with Secretary Powell.
He explained that the brief would consist of two pages, no more than an authoritative document, identical to those that are placed on the President’s or PM’s desk every morning.
“Who gets the brief in the first instance?” the Blair aide asked.
“The American Ambassador in London,” Eric replied quickly, to keep the rapid-fire question and answer session going.
“What does he do with it?”
“You know, my dear friend, I am accustomed to asking the tough questions,” Eric said to the Blair aide in an attempt to buy a few moments for reflection. “Okay,” the Blair aide said with a rather rebuking reply, “when you have a well-thought-out question for me, be my guest, and ask it.”
Eric imagined that if the Ambassador was intrigued, he would have the Southern Africa team look it over. If they responded favorably, well … in addition to the two pages he would write and the notes that the Ambassador attached to it with his instructions, each analyst that was asked to comment would add to it. If things went as he thought they should, the document would arrive in Washington on the Secretary of State’s desk. However, the Secretary would want to know how a full-blown analysis of a plan was conceived and executed, when he was the only one who could have ordered it to be done.
The important thing was: will the Secretary or the National Security Adviser bring it to the President’s attention?
“I know you have to go,” Eric said to the Blair aide, “but if you will permit me to summarize the strategy—it is suggested that a thirty-five-year-old war in Angola can be brought to an end, if the President of the United States invests twenty minutes of his time. It is further suggested that the President invite both leaders in the Angolan conflict to the White House and relay to both leaders, in no uncertain terms, that they should make peace or risk being isolated, as was Mobutu—no international air travel, bank accounts frozen, etc., etc., and risk an international arrest warrant and trial at The Hague.”
“There are several problems with this approach,” the Blair aide acknowledged, “not the least of which is that Jonas Savimbi has rarely, if ever, agreed to accept these kinds of invitations.”
As an example, he referenced the fact that Savimbi was unwilling to sign or even to attend the ceremonies surrounding the peace initiative culminating in the Lusaka Protocol in Lusaka, Zambia on October 31st 1994. Savimbi, by not attending such gatherings, broke one of the cardinal rules of diplomacy and statesmanship--always show up for a showdown.
However, it was his considered opinion that this strategy could work, especially if and when Dos Santos accepted the President’s invitation to Washington, he was going to want something in return—Savimbi removed from the stage.
“As I mentioned before,” Blair’s aide responded, “you have a real feel for these types of orchestrations in the arena of ever widening spheres of influence. When will the brief reach the Ambassador and the Prime Minister?”
Eric thought about the mechanics of getting the document written and replied, “It may take a couple of days, and the document will bear the name The Matenge Brief.” “Okay,” the Blair aide said, while adopting a tone of voice and directness that could only precede the words, “and remember—we never had this conversation. By the way, kindly extend my best regards to Carol,” he said before wishing Eric a good afternoon.
“I will indeed, and thank you,” Eric said with an audible sigh, “this has been a most fruitful exchange.”
“And, Ted, that is how the idea that the President or Prime Minister should invite the two warring leaders into their office and say to them—make peace or go to The Hague—was first conceived.”
… the next day
“It is obvious that if we can end the war, we will have gone a long way towards protecting the internally-displaced. The fact is that the lack of a plan that includes the active participation of ex-combatants has been a fatal flaw in numerous peace initiatives. Why?” Eric asked rhetorically.
“Ted, imagine, if you will, the circumstances of the combatants the day after peace is declared—the day after the euphoria of an end to killing, the day after the cessation of the frightful calamities and convulsions of war.”
“What have our combatants been doing day after day while fighting a bloody and protracted war? They have lived under a set of rules—the unified command structure, which dictates who gives and who follows orders extending from the highest commander to the ordinary soldier. Any deviation from military discipline is met with immediate and rather harsh sanction. Depending on the degree of nonadherence to the rules, the sanctions run the gamut from loss of freedom to loss of life.”
“Every soldier has sworn allegiance to a flag, a symbol of what they have been fighting for. I have argued that it is of vital importance to the peace process that some consideration be given to a symbol of national unity. History has shown that it is often better to combine existing symbols, and allow the meanings that have been attached to them to continue, than it is to create a new symbol in the hope that the meaning we wish to be attached to it will be the meaning that it engenders in the general populace. The British Union Jack is an excellent example, as it combines the revered symbols of England, Scotland and Wales. There are other alternatives, but this approach has a long history of successful implementation to recommend it.”
“A soldier under the unified command structure must assume a mindset of propitiatory arbitrariness--to follow commands from superior officers without reservation. There is one exception to this rule, that is, a soldier does not have to obey a command that violates the Geneva Conventions, such as an order to attack civilians. However, there are forces that do not adhere to the Conventions.”
When the problem starts at the top, there is no one to tell--a soldier either obeys commands or suffers the consequences, which, more often than not, are meted out rather quickly.
“The nature of military command is, as we shall discuss, as important in peacetime as it is in times of war.”
“Returning to the day after the cessation of hostilities, what is the soldier to do who has been fighting for a living, who has been instructed to do whatever was necessary for the success of military operations? Following orders has been the way he earned a living. Following orders has been the way that he survived the war. There is a high-level trust built up between soldiers in arms and their commanders.
“It is all too often assumed that with peace, the conscript returns home and resumes normal life—return to whatever occupation or trade he had before becoming a soldier.”
“The reality for many ex-combatants is very different, because the need to earn a living is a perpetual problem. Frequently, peace plans have failed, because there was no provision as to what the ex-combatants were going to do to earn a living--for without such, they have become bandits and continued using the same force of arms as in the war, however, they are now attacking civilians. Somalia is a case in point.”
“Let us call the ex-combatant of most concern Larry. Larry was a teenager and a problem in his community. He did not engage in any major crimes, which might preclude his joining the army, but he was constantly in trouble and had come under the watchful eye of the law. After many appearances, a judge finally gives Larry a choice—join the army or go to jail. Larry is now a soldier.”
“Although no prototypical Larry has been constructed for the combatants of Angola, there is much to be gleaned from what we know about Larry that will support the idea that disbanding soldiers immediately after the cessation of hostilities might not be compatible with post-conflict stability.”
“M Scott Peck offers a more detailed discussion of the concept of Larry in his seminal work, People of the Lie, and I strongly recommend it.”
“The troublesome Larry joined the army to avoid going to jail, and within several months became a soldier and was sent to Vietnam. Larry anticipated being welcomed, but found that the seasoned soldiers did not want to take on new entrants and bring their skills up to make them useful and trustworthy on the battlefield. They preferred duty with other seasoned soldiers.”
“Larry and the other new entrants assigned to Company C were mollycoddled in comparison to the rapidity with which new ethnic recruits were being pushed to the front lines. However, they were being ambushed, injured, or even worse, killed, even though they were not used for very important duties. They had not been able to engage the enemy and yet they were suffering casualties regularly. This had been going on for months on end—losses, but they still had no chance to engage the enemy that was killing Larry’s new friends.”
“Then one day, after being in Vietnam for more than a year, Larry and a small contingent of other soldiers from Company C were sent on a not very significant mission to sweep a few villages and report the presence of any enemy forces in that area. Larry and his friends entered a village that was occupied mainly by women, children and the elderly. However, in Larry’s mind, these were the people, the enemy that had been killing his friends, and now was his chance to take revenge. He did and so did his friends. And this is the story of the killings at My Lai.”
“We are discussing what to do with ex-combatants the day after peace is declared, and best evidence suggests that we must keep them in the units they are in and simply change their orders. One day, they are scouting out the enemy, the next, the same units help build roads, establish communications and build schools. They are reconstructing the nation. They are still within the same command structure and most importantly, the invariable rules of military discipline, the same restraints that got Larry into the military in the first place—accept military discipline or lose your freedom.” “Where provision has not been made to keep ex-combatants in their units for as long as it takes to rebuild civil society, there has been trouble. How are they going to earn a living otherwise?”
“While in the army, post-war, military academies can be set up to turn out the skills ex-combatants will need in civil society—truck drivers, heavy machine operators, mechanics, welders, electricians, plumbers and builders. All the skills that armies need, civil society needs as well.”
“The difference is that we do not have armed marauding ex-combatants travelling about the country living off the defenseless with brutality. The key element here to remember is that the military command structure is as important in peacetime as it is in war, especially in the period immediately after the end of active fighting.”
“We have stated that MPLA, the Government of Angola, and UNITA soldiers systematically beat, tortured, and raped hundreds and hundreds of internally-displaced women and girls, traumatizing them as well as exposing some to HIV and other sexually-transmitted diseases.”
“In addition, the war in Angola also produced its share of refugees, those who fled across borders into neighboring countries to remove themselves from the battlefields. Some Angolan refugees have been outside their home country for as long as the civil war had been waged, and some since the war of independence which predated it. And, it must be noted that some of the countries surrounding Angola have high instances of sexually-transmitted diseases.”
“Once the fighting stops in Angola, many of these refugees will return voluntarily, others will be forced to return for no other reason than aid agencies will want to use their budgets and personnel elsewhere. For all practical purposes, the aid agencies engage in the forced displacement of refugees no less unremitting than the warring parties had that forced them into refugee status.”
“From a public health point of view, unless the repatriation of refugees from areas where there is a high incidence of HIV into Angola is done with the associated health risks planned for fully, it would be comparable to injecting the blood of an HIV sufferer directly into the blood stream of an infection-free person.”
“The public health evidence is that the disease follows migration. A sudden influx of refugees with a high incidence of HIV infection back into the population of Angola is highly ill-advised; unfortunately, public health concerns and medical evidence will not stop the forced repatriation of many Angolan refugees.”
“There is more to be said about the health issue, and over the next few days Mavis and I will do just that, but for today this brief introduction will have to suffice.”
“The document we are developing will be known as the Matenge Brief, as an acknowledgement of the pivotal role Mavis Matenge played in the creation of this plan. It not only addresses the urgent need to end the war, but also provides a strategy for a gradual transition to civilian life.”
“It is also, in my opinion, a formula that can be applied to help bring a host of other current conflicts to an end.”
… the fish is the last one to become aware of the existence of water
Eric was not going to add to the growing rush-hour traffic, and there was no dinner at Green College that night, so he decided to dine on the High Street. Afterwards he would make his way to the Bodleian Library, in fact, he had decided to spend time at the Radcliffe Camera section of the library, in the official documents area.
Eric walked leisurely down St Giles Street on the St John’s College side towards the cobblestoned Cornmarket Street. He stopped at a few of the many curiosity shops along the way. As he approached the High Street, he saw Laura coming out of one of the shops.
“Hello,” she said, “thank you for inviting me to stay to hear your talk. It gave me a lot to think about.”
“I appreciated you staying, Laura,” Eric replied. “What are you doing now?”
Laura stated that she was looking for a place to have dinner before meeting Mavis later that evening. He invited her to join him at the Bank Restaurant.
The Bank Restaurant on the High Street was a splendid place to dine in Oxford. The restaurant was located in the grand lobby of what had been the main branch of Barclay’s Bank. Neither of them was in much of a hurry, so they found a rather private table and began to talk.
Laura spoke of her life in Tanzania, her gravitating towards the legal profession and how her attention had been drawn to matters of immigration and refugee law. She stated that it was almost incomprehensible the impact the sudden influx of a million refugees had on her country. The recent problems in Rwanda and Burundi had added to the refugees that were in her country from problems in Southern Kenya and as far away as Angola.
“We not only manage to survive, it seems that each crisis, and we have our share, has made us better able to find ways of building and moving forward. I can see the day clearly when our traditional way of life will exist seamlessly alongside a contemporary Tanzania,” Laura said with a hopeful expression on her face.
“Mavis is thrilled and also very nervous,” Laura commented, dramatically altering the course of their conversation. “She came to Oxford hoping to advance the protection of the internally-displaced, but she never imagined that anyone would take her concerns and propose a way to bring about an end to the conflict that is the main cause of their dire circumstances. I have so many questions,” Laura continued, “but I do not want to delay you, as I believe that you have many other things to do. How can you, as one of our instructors observed, take an idea and package it in such a way … I don’t know how to say this, but that makes things happen.”
“Oxford University thrives, because people with rather hefty responsibilities come here not looking for answers in the way that word is normally used, but approaches to their problems. It is often advantageous when one confronted with a problem can consult someone, who has a long-range interest in that particular subject.”
Laura asked for a further explanation of that statement and Eric gave her an example from his own personal experience.
“Often, the problem is a willingness to accept unchallenged assumptions,” he explained. “The problem is not unlike the military’s belief that the army cannot have a positive impact post-war or a belief that pre-term newborns could not be saved in the poor nations of the world.”
“Exempli gratia, in 1978, at the Biennial World Health Assembly held in Alma-Alta,” Eric explained, “the world’s leading pediatricians came to the conclusion that reducing newborn mortality in the developing world was problematic. On the one hand, they did not believe the necessary procedures were amenable to basic medical interventions, the so-called Primary Health Care level. The other major constraint, in their view, was the inability to establish a system of neonatal intensive care units (NICU), or special care baby units (SCBU) as they are called here in the UK, mainly due to the high degree of training necessary to staff such facilities and the costs associated with operating them. Both factors placed neonatal care beyond the means of most developing countries, especially in their rural areas. Therefore, it was inconceivable to them that instituting a major newborn care unit within the World Health Organization would be a worthwhile endeavor, given the limited impact such a unit could have at that time.”
When Eric began to investigate those claims, what he found was layer upon layer of assumptions, beliefs, and observations, but no proof that basic medical interventions were not amenable to reduce the appallingly high incidence of neonatal (first 30 days) mortality in the developing world in general and even in the rural areas of those countries where staffing and money was limited.
In fact, Eric suggested that it was highly inconceivable to decide whether or not a newborn care unit within the World Health Organization would or would not be worthwhile or effective in addressing newborn mortality without first having the epidemiological evidence as to why they were dying. Without evidence as to the causes of newborn mortality everywhere, it simply was not possible to say that there was or was not a different set of causes in urban or rural areas of the developing world. However, Eric argued successfully that the statement by the leading pediatricians was without evidentiary foundation and it ought to be withdrawn.
It was withdrawn in favor of the immediate establishment of a maternal and newborn care unit within the World Health Organization, whose mission was to elucidate and report the causes of newborn mortality worldwide, with emphasis on the developing world in both urban and rural settings. The group who made the original decision not to proceed with the newborn initiative within the WHO represented some of the most influential and powerful pediatricians in the world, and yet as this case illustrates, real power lies in evidence, not the lack thereof.
“The assumption within the American and British military establishment that the military exerts a negative influence post-conflict was also an unchallenged assumption. When I started to unravel the nature of the military’s objections, the most salient feature uncovered was simply the fact that the military did not want to undertake the role. Therefore, the tendency for the most organized workforce in many countries after the cessation of hostilities was unavailable to provide for a period of stability. In part, this was because of the military’s proclivity to equate post-conflict stability operations with their humanitarian assistance role in natural and man-made disasters, which it is not. As a result, the civilian population all too often was left unprotected.”
Laura and Eric spoke about many other things that evening, but her thoughts were never far from the talk he had given and Mavis’s hopes for the people of Angola. Eric arrived at the Radcliffe Camera, the main reading room of the Bodleian Library, walked directly to the shelf that held Swift’s book containing the essay The Conduct of the Allies, removed it from the shelf, found a place to sit beneath the ornate circular dome and immersed himself in Swift’s essay.
Early that next morning, Eric found two one-page notes on his desk from Laura and Ted, one typed, the other handwritten.
Laura entitled her review Comments to the Matenge Brief:
I second the view that the Lusaka Protocol’s requirement for the disbandment of the combatant forces contains a fatal flaw and it’s an unrealistic move since the state and non-state actors as well as Angolan citizens have an interest in soldiers and militia men staying in the army for infrastructure reconstruction, nation building, and the like.
The content of the brief stipulates a brilliant and workable, but very sensitive plan. The plan is sensitive in the sense that it involves various stakeholders, state and non-state actors, among which is the Angolan government, which as we all know, had undergone a high state of instability and for a long time. The plan does best in providing options as to what would happen if the plan would be implemented and what would happen if it would not be implemented. The African people know from experience what happens when former combatants are allowed to be unemployed during and after the transition period. This is because throughout the period of hostilities, the combatants undergo some sort of transformation, and so for integration of these combatants to civilian life to be successful, the process should be gradual and not rapid, as devised in this plan. Laura.
Attached to Laura’s review of the brief was a note informing Eric that she had met Mavis after dinner the previous evening and that they had reviewed the Lusaka Protocol, as he requested.
Ted’s note was handwritten, but no less insightful:
I found the concept of the plan fascinating—as you know, I’m looking at militarization as a negative phenomenon. I never thought about it as something that could be harnessed to stabilize a society—very creative.
Another question—is there a plan for handling soldiers who refuse to go along?
I’d like to know more specifics, but overall, I think this is a very interesting way of tackling the dual dilemmas of post-conflict reconstruction and establishing stability.
Mavis walked into the room with a look of determination on her face, wished Eric a good afternoon, and began writing on the blackboard:
The brief is in accordance with the provisions of Annex 3: Agenda Item II.1: Military Issues (I), Phase II, Stage VI, of the Lusaka Protocol, which calls for the movement of FAA and UNITA military personnel to vocational training centers, as updated, 18 February 1999. The brief is an amplification and refinement of these provisions.
Eric observed what Mavis had written on the blackboard and considered what Laura had written in her summary, it was inspiring to see their mastery of the Lusaka Protocol, and their ability to link the relevant provisions with the elements of the outline of the brief.
“Well done,” Eric said. “Let’s begin writing the brief directly on the computer. Remember that a brief is essentially a well-structured letter that presents a well-constructed argument in a very logical manner.”
Mavis replied, “I know, succinct, comprehensive, and with authority, in other words, accurate, brief and clear.”
Mavis sat in front of the computer screen and said, “I believe the introduction, if I may suggest, should begin, as follows:
This brief is a plan to end hostilities in Angola, and importantly, for the progressive and structured transition of all combatants to civilian life. The progressive and gradual transition of former combatants to civilian society is a necessary prelude to the reconstruction of war-torn Angola.
The cornerstone of the brief is its recognition of the need for a period of post-conflict stability, during which time former combatants prepare for a return to civilian life, with the skills to become fully-functioning members of civilian society.
Former combatant forces represent the largest potential organized workforce in Angola today, and by expanding the service corps, former combatants will be engaged, while remaining within their service units, in the urgent tasks that face Angola: removing landmines, building homes, schools, roads, hospitals, and other vital infrastructure projects. The brief is in essence a tactical plan for the redeployment of forces to the task of reconstruction.”
“Mavis,” Eric stated. “That is an excellent introduction, excellent.”
“May I ask a question that has been troubling me?” Mavis interjected.
“Yes, of course.”
“I want to know why we are not sending the brief to Prime Minister Blair in the first instance; we are in England after all. I know you have been in contact with him and his staff on this and a number of other weighty matters.” Mavis said enquiringly.
Eric explained that the answer to that question required an awareness of the competition that exists between the general principle of the equality of states on the one hand and the fact that certain states exercise a degree of control over other states on the other—the notion that some states may be subject to the will of other states that possess a sort of super-sovereignty.
Historically, the Soviet Union exercised control over the countries of Eastern Europe, the United States in relation to other countries in the Western Hemisphere and South Africa in the Southern African region, just to mention a few examples. But, first Eric wanted to discuss the moment Prime Minister Blair assumed control of the Armed Forces of the Crown, commonly known as the British Armed Forces.
During the first few days of the 2000 popular fuel protest in the United Kingdom, the Prime Minister’s absence from the growing crisis was glaring. Prime Minister Blair was occupied with other matters—Sierra Leone.
In fact, not only had Blair been prosecuting a military policing action there, but he had just authorized the military to use lethal force in a search and rescue mission to extract several British soldiers who had been captured by the Westside Boys Militia. The Westside Boys Militia was poised to take control of a large portion of the capital city of Sierra Leone, Freetown, and this compelled the British to honor a request for them to send in troops to assist local officials to restore the rule of law.
The rescue was successful; however, one soldier involved in the operation died in the line of duty.
The fallen soldier had a family of long standing, but was not legally married to his partner, the mother of his child. This fact alone stood in the way of the Armed Services Administration paying benefits to his, as it were, widow.
The Prime Minister was naturally troubled by that turn of events and made a rhetorical statement, “I sent that soldier to his death and I must be able to do something about the circumstances of his family.”
By training, the military attaché with Blair at Number 10 Downing Street, drew attention to orders, and said, “Your orders will be carried out, Prime Minister.” Blair’s shoulders became broader. His hair a little greyer and he stood taller, as he instructed the Armed Services Administration to give full benefits to the family of the fallen soldier. Yes, Blair had the stature to initiate contact with both sides in the Angolan conflict and could deliver the make peace or go to The Hague ultimatum.
He could refer to the similarities between the circumstances of the two leaders in Angola and Milosevic, but even in the Bosnian War, it took intervention by the Americans to force the issue of Milosevic along to the conclusion reached. Both leaders in Angola would be well aware that unless the Americans were willing to lend credence to the plan, it would not carry the weight that the Americans applied to Mobutu. So, getting Secretary Powell involved was a more credible threat to the two Angolan leaders. Remember, the use of force is inevitable; it is a matter uniquely of what force and how that force should be applied.
“And let’s consider, if Jonas Savimbi refuses to talk with the President, and Dos Santos does, things do not look very well for Savimbi. We discussed the grey world and the alternative uses of force that exist within that world of executive action. These considerations are part and parcel of the level at which these things will be decided, and the range of possible responses available to the President includes what might be called ultimate sanctions.”
“While in Geneva in the early 1980s, I met with a group of doctors from The Sudan, who were planning to take control of the government there in a bloodless coup, in that troubled land, in that troubled region, on that troubled continent. They had grown tired of the chaos and lack of a credible government. Their plans were good and their hearts, in my opinion, were definitely in the right place.”
“I thought that it was a great idea, doctors taking control of the government of a country that was tumbling rapidly into chaos, without bloodshed. The level of suffering there had simply become intolerable. I saw these dedicated doctors in the same light as Martin Luther King or Mahatma Gandhi and encouraged them to no end. I went there and met with the doctors as they took control of The Sudan.”
“Well, the doctors took control of the Sudanese government, without the use of violence. The doctors administered the affairs of the state extremely well for about two years, and then thought that they could turn power over to another group who could continue their work to build a peaceful and forward-looking society with a well-developed health care system which would be a model for all Africa.”
“What happened was that other groups merely realized how easy it was to take control of the state apparatus without arms, but they knew that with armed force, they could take control, and they did. As a consequence, there has not been a moment’s peace in that country since.”
“What I had actively encouraged, in essence, was the creation of a political vacuum, and those who were equipped to fill that void have killed millions since the early 1980s. That is why I wrote Blair about a plan to end the fighting in The Sudan, and why my thoughts have never wandered very far from that crisis. I will stay involved until some reasonable resolution is forthcoming.”
“I learned some very sobering lessons about these kinds of undertakings, but no amount of education on my part is worth the suffering that has gone on in that country for decades since the doctors’ successful bloodless coup.”
Mavis sat silently and listened. When Eric finished speaking, she returned to the computer and continued working on the brief.
Mavis and Eric worked for several hours before they were satisfied with the outcome. The Matenge Brief was ready for transmission.
They addressed the brief to the American Ambassador and sent it promptly to his facsimile.
“After such an intense activity, things seem rather .…” Mavis stopped in mid-sentence.
“Mavis, I think we should write an article about internally-displaced females, concentrating on the health implications of their circumstances. We should submit our paper to The Lancet and bring the issue to the attention of the medical community. An article of this nature is a very important part of policy development. It is often fruitful to present one’s case in a way that includes those who are also interested in the subject--natural allies.”
“I ran a literature search on our intended subject matter and found that there was very little written in the professional peer-reviewed medical literature about the health implications of the internally-displaced, especially concerning females. There was a significant amount of poorly referenced and non-peer reviewed grey literature developed by various human rights organizations, non-governmental organizations and other charities. I wrote about the dangers involved in women and children refugees foraging for fuel in the medical literature. Those articles may help us to introduce the health problems of the internally-displaced to the larger medical community.”
“The editors of medical journals, in their article selection procedure, generally look for the relationship to previous publications as well as for those submissions that are the first to introduce a particular subject.”
“Mavis, are you familiar with the Cairns Library at the John Radcliffe Hospital?” Eric inquired. She answered that she was not.
“The assistance available to researchers through the medical library here at Oxford is exceptional. Naturally, we will have to reference any previous work, as we develop our contribution for the journal. When you go to the medical library, please take a few moments to look at the biography of the neurosurgeon Sir Hugh Cairns after whom the library is named.”
“You and Sir Hugh have much in common in that a significant event in both your careers compelled you to devote your time and energies to prevent harm so others would not suffer or die prematurely,” Eric said, while showing Mavis a map of Headington where the hospital and library were located.
Eric suggested that she talk to Mrs Forrest, the head medical librarian, or Ann, one of the top evidence-based medicine knowledgeable research librarians in Oxford, and either would be more than pleased to assist her in becoming familiar with the professional medical literature.
Before Mavis left for the medical library, they created an outline of the proposed journal article. Eric suggested it would be useful if she read three articles he had published in various journals about the provision of basic needs for refugees in camps.
“By the way, the John Radcliffe Hospital is about five miles from here in Headington,” Eric stated, “but do not let that fact deter you, as there is regular bus service connecting the Radcliffe Infirmary on the Woodstock Road with the John Radcliffe Hospital. The Radcliffe Infirmary is just to the north of Browns Restaurant.” Mavis left the room.
… in order to do good, you may have to engage in evil —Robert McNamara
A response to the brief came quickly early that next morning from the American Ambassador. Eric also received an email from the Political Section of the American Embassy, informing him that the brief had been forwarded to the State Department team in Southern Africa to prepare a report on the plan for the Secretary of State and was given a telephone number to call, should he require any additional information.
Now that they had received confirmation that the brief was on its way to the Secretary of State, a copy of the brief was forwarded to Prime Minister Blair. The Prime Minister’s office acknowledged receipt of the brief and that the contents had been noted with interest, and the brief was then sent on to the Foreign Office for further consultation.
The entry of the Blair and Bush administrations increased international awareness of and added a sense of urgency to the Civil War in Angola. Now, other heads of state would view the conflict with a sense of urgency and that was exactly what was needed at that time. Then word came that President Bush had invited the Angolan President and titular head of the MPLA forces, Dos Santos, to the White House. There was no mention of an invitation being extended to Jonas Savimbi, and if so, whether he had accepted it or declined it. The answer to those questions would come later.
Eric called his contact in the Blair administration, who answered the telephone rather formally, “Hello, Mr E LaMont Gregory, and how may I assist you?” That formal greeting suggested that he needed to talk with Eric soon, and that they were not going to have the conversation over the telephone. It became incumbent upon Eric to keep the conversation going, bring it to a swift conclusion and still make it seem meaningful. Otherwise, it would be obvious that they were speaking in code.
“I just wanted to thank the Prime Minister for his prompt and somewhat encouraging response to the brief,” Eric stated.
“Your comments are noted and will be relayed to the Prime Minister,” a matter-of-fact voice replied. “I also found the brief of interest and will follow the brief’s progress. Is there anything else that I can help you with at this time?” he said with an engaging tone in his voice.
“Yes, there is,” Eric replied. “I should like to invoke the time-honored tradition of a proposer’s prerogative. Should the occasion arise, and if further input on my part might be helpful, please do not hesitate to call upon me.”
“Your request is rightly acknowledged. It may prove beneficial for you to give a bell to the contact person in your Ambassador’s office, the same official who informed you of the brief’s status, and please discuss your request to be kept within the circle, as it were, with him.”
“Thank you again,” Eric said in closing.
On the surface, there was little in the way of information exchanged in the few words they had spoken, but two skilled communicators can convey a great deal of information in a few very carefully-chosen words and phrases, especially when they are working from a common script.
A code-breaker would piece that conversation together in a few hours. Nevertheless, it had its subtleties. The brief telephone conversation gave Eric several pieces of vital information, not the least of which was that during the discussions between the two administrations, some issue was raised by the Americans that required Eric’s response, and therefore, the necessity for them to meet.
Eric arrived in Westminster near Whitehall, the Houses of the English Parliament, that next day and found a bench and waited. He had arrived some twenty minutes before his contact would join him, so he decided to stroll along the banks of the Thames and began to think about the river, or more precisely, the rivers—and how many times he had walked along one of them in moments of political and other crises—the Miljacka in Sarajevo, the Danube in Vienna, the Jinshui in Beijing, the Potomac in Washington, the Ruganwa in Kigali, the Jordan where it meets the Sea of Galilee, and there was the Murat near Mus, Turkey that lies beneath the slopes of Kurtik Mountain. He also thought about the rivers he was about to see, the Cuanza both on the coast near Luanda and the interior plateau Province of Malanje, where he would also meet the Lucala river and follow it to the Kalandula Falls and he would walk solemnly alongside the banks of the Kabul River, although it was little more than a stream for most of the year. Then his thoughts returned to the banks of the Great Miami River, less than a mile from where he was born—how it had its yearly rhythms and was also little more than a stream at times. And, it was during those times his parents gathered the flat river stones for the patio they constructed in their backyard.
Precisely at 12:30, his contact arrived and joined him along the bank of the river. He wished Eric a pleasant afternoon and thanked him for coming at such a short notice. Eric returned his kind gesture and said that it was a pleasure to meet again in such familiar surroundings.
“I have good news for you,” he said, “you now have a cryptonym, as is customary with anyone who represents a head of state and must travel abroad to carry out their duties or mission.”
Eric smiled and stated that he hoped the code name had been developed according to Churchill’s rules.
“It was, I assure you,” came the immediate reply, before he continued to give details about the effort that went into finding an appropriate one. “While the editorial we discussed an appropriate code name for you, we discovered that the British and Americans have different traditions. I explained that the British were less concerned with the single-word descriptors than our American counterparts. They asked me if there was something in the British tradition that might be appropriate for you. I said yes and suggested Sir Thomas More. I must tell you, I was impressed dutifully that there was not one American in that room who had not seen the film or read the book A Man for All Seasons. I know you are going to ask, and yes, there was a brief discussion about how the film ended, but I assured them that the Tower of London was now and would remain a museum, forevermore. A very brief conversation ensued to clarify that according to tradition and Nobiliary Law (the rules governing nobility, hereditary titles and the prerogative powers of the Crown) it was proper to shorten the code name to Sir Thomas and not Sir More.”
“Then the subject turned to the Milosevic principle and its possible relevance for American and British involvement in the internal affairs of Angola.”
“A member of our comparative law unit gave a short review of the American judiciary’s treatment of restatements of Common Law (relative to the 1987 third citation) as well as Customary International Humanitarian Law and American involvement in the former Yugoslavia. We discussed the provisions of the Statute of the International Court of Justice art. 38, June 26, 1945, 59 Stat. 1055, 1060, T.S. No. 993, which was the legal basis for the American arrest of Milosevic and his delivery to The Hague to stand trial for war crimes.”
“That discussion led to one of those rare but fruitful interactions, setting the tone of the meeting, as it is termed across the pond, when the head of the American delegation thanked the representative from our comparative law unit for his succinct, comprehensive and authoritative presentation. He replied that he was referring to a brief written by Sir Thomas at Oxford (therefore giving him first usage of your code name and raising a few eyebrows among the British delegation) and that the brief was part of a series of discussions with a former Prime Minister encouraging the British along with other European governments to recognize and enforce the border agreements in the Former Yugoslavia. The brief bore the title British involvement in the Former Yugoslavia is inevitable and the subtitle now or after the bloodshed. He explained that Sir Thomas’ understanding of American involvement in the Former Yugoslavia was extensive.”
“The head of the American delegation asked if that same information was shared with the GHW Bush administration, and he responded that he did not wish to take up any more of the group’s time, at which point the question was put to him a second time. He said that he had a summary of the meetings in his notes and asked if he might refer to them. He was asked to do so and promptly confirmed your contact with the Bush administration. And then, offered the following summary—the British had just undergone a sudden and dramatic change in government, and the American administration, with the loss of a Mr Lee Atwater and a Mr John Sununu, was in a state of near paralysis, notwithstanding the approaching presidential election campaign. The American people, in the midst of a recession, were looking inwards. Therefore, the two governments that could spark a response to the deteriorating situation in the Former Yugoslavia were not engaged.”
“We asked Sir Thomas what he was going to do next, and he said he was going to other European capitals, and was going to walk along the banks of the Miljacka River to see the ancient city of Sarajevo one more time before it was reduced to the rubble of a Beirut. We know he attended a concert for peace in Sarajevo on the 28th of July and visited the British Embassy in Belgrade a few days later. He ended his remarks by saying that the brief written by Sir Thomas was dated May 1991. He stood and inquired if there were any additional questions. As his presence was required elsewhere, he left the room.”
“There were border agreements in place when the Former Yugoslavia disintegrated. Had the new states each retained the borders laid out in the agreements before independence, and had the international community enforced those border, the bloodshed and atrocities could have been prevented.
We did not and they were not. And, as Sir Thomas pointed out, the four-year siege of Sarajevo in the heart of Europe was the longest battle for a city in the modern history of warfare.”
“There was a short, but interesting period of silence before the intelligence people suggested that a review of the intelligence gathered to substantiate the claims and accusations against the two Angolan leaders might be in order. Again, that discussion did not take very much time. There was no general disagreement between what we had gathered and what they had assembled concerning the evidence.”
“The question then became one of approach—strategy and tactics,” Eric’s contact said, “more precisely, the operational details that include only heads of state and their closest advisers. The question is why, and is this the best way forward?”
“First, let me thank your administration for supporting this effort,” Eric said with all the heart-felt sincerity that he could muster. “The administration realizes that this international effort is in parallel to the President’s attempt to construct a coalition to combat the growing threat of international terrorism. Both initiatives are in the wake of the horrendous attacks on the United States on the 11th of September.”
“They must be made aware that this approach is in keeping with the highest traditions of the American government, and like the other great republics, where the government and the nation-state are not one and the same thing.”
“The Constitution of the United States enumerates the powers of the federal government, reserves powers not enumerated to the federal government to the states, and all powers not enumerated and not reserved are retained by the people themselves.”
“Within the federal government, the three branches check and balance one another. And if we look at the relationship between the executive and the legislative branch of government, the executive has exclusive powers as well as shared powers. There are few powers that the President has, which he does not have to share with Congress and vice versa.”
“The two most prominent are the recognition of foreign governments and receiving Ambassadors. And, the law unit representative explained that this was the basis of your approach, for the President to exercise his exclusive executive powers in dealing with the Ambassadors of foreign governments, in this case the Ambassador from Angola.”
“The President, because the government and the state are not one and the same thing, has a relationship not only with the government, but also with the people of Angola. And those governments, who have incorporated Common Law into their legal system, as the American government and the British government have, and all the other democracies, can use their exclusive executive powers to recognize or not to recognize the government of Angola. Because, whether one state recognizes another is discretionary, no state is required or obliged to recognize another. We are under no obligation to recognize Angola. This is an enormous power.”
“When the President has the Angolan leader in his office, he must use his derived powers under the Constitution of the United States to say to him that it is incompatible for the United States to continue to recognize a government whose leader has soldiers under his control, who systematically and against the principles of Customary International Humanitarian Law, attack civilians. Every person in Angola has human rights, which the government of the United States recognizes and respects.”
“It is constitutional. It is legal and it is the right thing to do. That is the case for taking a black-and-white-world rule of law and applying it in a grey world executive action environment. It is the way proscribed in the constitutions of all the constitutional republics, and is the basis of the Common Law.”
“Let’s not make the same mistake in Angola that we did in the Former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, The Sudan, and that we are making in Sierra Leone and the Ivory Coast. And, lest we forget, despite great hardship, British antipathy to slavery prevented them from recognizing the Confederacy in the American Civil War. The British stood on the side of human dignity.”
“Therefore, in specific response to the question, if we are to move towards an end to the war in Angola, it is necessary to exclude the involvement of those who would bring extraneous factors to bear, and that is why I say— no Congress or Parliament, no broadcast or print media, no governmental or non-governmental organizations, no spontaneous pressure groups or marches in front of Angolan Embassies, no UN sanctions or Security Council Resolutions or debates. This issue resides within the executive branch of government and in the American experience with the exclusive powers of the President.”
“Executive action is the key to stopping this appalling war, and then we can proceed to the other 27 conflicts on that list to which the Milosevic principle can be applied with force.”
“Well, Sir Thomas,” Eric’s contact said, “that is the answer that I expected and that I will pass on. Give me until the end of the week. I think you should contact your embassy now, but we will need a few days to discuss this within the bilateral group. This may present a few uncomfortable days for you, but you will know the answer when you stand eyeball to eyeball with your contact at the American Embassy.”
Eric and his contact sat and watched the river as they had so many times before.
It was hard to believe that they had been there before the madness descended upon the Former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, during the Kurdish uprising, the crisis in The Sudan and so many others.
“How did we not achieve the partition of The Sudan?” Eric asked his contact. “It was a highly workable plan and Clinton and Blair seemed so close to making it happen, how did we let it slip away?”
“I do not know,” the Blair aide stated, “but what I do know is that the plan is collecting dust on a shelf somewhere and eventually it will be rediscovered and it will be implemented, when and by whom, I know not. If I may continue to speak freely, it is the understated nature of that plan and this one that is their greatest drawbacks. Even those who support it wholeheartedly carry with them an uneasy sense that there should be a more dramatic end to a war.
They think they know how a war should end. I would much rather argue the case of force applied with subtlety, than to sit helplessly, knowing that we cannot muster an armed force to stop the war in any other way. I did not get the sense of nearly completed accomplishment then as I do now. Then, international events worked against us; now, they work in our favor.”
“Yes!” Eric replied, as a sliver of sunlight broke through the clouds and shone upon the now glistening river.