Issues Navigator

Global Challenges

Strategic Regions

Domestic Debates

Tag cloud

See All Tags

March 23, 2012 |  18 comments |  Print  Your Opinion  

NATO and the Arab Spring: Democracy Promotion and Security Sector Reform

Alexander Corbeil: Given NATO’s linkages to Arab states through the Mediterranean Dialogue, the Alliance should actively support the transition to democracy in post-Arab Spring countries by utilizing its various resources in the realms of institutional creation, democracy promotion, and security sector reform.

NATO’s efforts to support the Arab Spring, particularly its operation in Libya, have brought the specter of democracy to millions of people. Tyrannical regimes have been replaced by governments, which have provided political space for their citizenries. That being said, NATO can and should do more to bolster democratic entrenchment in post-revolution countries.

NATO is one of a handful of organizations comprised of democratic countries with histories of responsible governance. Therefore, it is both wise and appropriate for NATO to provide these fledgling democracies with the tools to foster good governance and an educated civil society. These measures must take into consideration cultural and historical traditions not to mention the current political atmosphere of each country. Members should offer to send experts on constitutional and institutional development to post-Arab Spring states. In addition to their expertise, the presence of Western observers will put pressure on political kingmakers in each country to adopt, at minimum, a certain amount of viable reforms. A hands-off policy will not be beneficial to long lasting NATO-Arab partnerships nor to the prospect of democracy in each of these states. Small steps toward the protection of human rights are crucial to long-term structural changes, and will limit the ability of radical actors to infringe on the rights of others.

NGOs based in NATO countries should be invited to train local organizations in democracy promotion. Education is the key to fostering a populace that will keep governments accountable. Furthermore, it will result in a populace that votes based on concrete policy rather than hollow branding. This will help to usurp extremists and develop the structural basis for a robust civil society, thus allowing for the eventual adoption of democratic principles at the societal level and a polity that advocates for a free and open society. A pragmatic approach is needed, one that takes into account the recent raiding of NGO offices in Egypt under the pre-text that these organizations were an extension of Western covert operations. Thus, it would be wise to limit the amount of time spent by NGOs in these countries, as not to allow them to become the target of government crackdowns and conspiracy theories.

Although Libya is not a member of the Mediterranean Dialogue, NATO Secretary-General Rasmussen expressed a willingness to help this state transition to democracy while other officials expressed interest in Libya eventually joining the dialogue. To this end, Security Sector Reform (SSR) is a key initiative that should be adopted and aided by NATO member states given their long tradition of defence assistance and democracy promotion in post-Soviet countries. Secretary General Rasmussen highlighted the need for SSR in post-Arab Spring countries, stating, "the reform of the military and the security sector are key milestones." Given the corrosive security atmosphere in Libya, SSR is the first step towards emboldening democracy in that state. Militias must be disarmed, combatants brought into state security services, and education and employment opportunities provided to former fighters. Without these policies taking shape, armed and unemployed young males, emboldened by cleavages manufactured by Gaddafi, will continue to provide a recipe for civil strife. Thus member countries must ensure that the future of post-revolutionary countries is secured by their respective armed forces.

Policy Recommendations:

  1. NATO member countries should send experts on constitutional and institutional development to Mediterranean Dialogue partner countries that have undergone revolutionary change. These academics, scholars of constitutional law, and other experts should ensure that post-Arab Spring governments and political kingmakers commit to creating an atmosphere conducive to the flourishing of democracy.

  2. Member nations should invite non-governmental organizations versed in democracy promotion to these countries in order to provide the foundations for a robust and involved civil society. This factor is key in allowing for the creation of a polity that will uphold the principles of human rights and equality, providing a safeguard for the institutional and constitutional achievements made with the help of the above-mentioned experts. That being said, this must be a limited process that allows for the training of locally-based NGOs, as governmental backlash and conspiratorial rhetoric will result from a sustained presence.

  3. Lastly, security sector reform must be initiated on a case-by-case basis. NATO militaries, given linkages with their Arab counterparts are well placed to ensure that civilian oversight is established. In Libya, the various militias must be disarmed, fighters incorporated into the state security services, and those who cannot be transferred into state institutions given employment and education opportunities in order to stem the tide of violence.

Alexander Corbeil is a Middle East Security Analyst at The Atlantic Council of Canada. He holds an MA in Political Science from the University of Toronto.

  • 5
  •  
  •  
  • No rating possible
  • No rating possible
I like this Article! What's this?

 
 
Comments
Giulia  Clericetti

March 23, 2012

  • 5
  •  
  •  
  • No rating possible
  • No rating possible
I like this comment! What's this?
Thank you for your article Alexander.
I agree with most of your ideas, but I don't think that NATO is the right organization to implement them.

First, I would like to emphasize that were not NATO's efforts who "brought the specter of democracy to millions of people": NATO just helped a population that was bringing to herself and by herself that specter. What I mean is that NATO, or any other organization who will be present in the Arabs countries should avoid a "teaching" attitude. Those countries, those people surely will need some help in the economic and organizational fields, and they may also need some support in rebuilding institutions, but we, the Westerns, we have to accept that ours are not the only kind of democracies, and maybe are not the right kind of democracies for MENA countries.

Particularly I think that NATO is not the right organization for implementing many of your ideas because it has a strong Western identity which would tend to overlap the identity of the Arab populations who made the revolutions.
NATO can surely make itself useful to those States with a cooperation on an equal footing in its field, i.e. military and strategic: I agree with your proposals on the SSR initiative. And NATO has to find a lowest common denominator that will allows its action to stay in the ambit of its values: I think this would be the respect of human rights as a requirement to cooperate. This won't be too intrusive but at the same time will prevent NATO from support repressive regimes.

On the other hand the role of NATO could also be to technically support other regional organizations' work, as Gillian proposed in her article about OSCE. Other, more "civilian" organizations will, in my opinion, better implement your ideas.
 
Vivien  Pertusot

March 23, 2012

  • 4
  •  
  •  
  • No rating possible
  • No rating possible
I like this comment! What's this?
Alexander, congrats for a very pithy and clear policy memo! I agree that NATO has a role to play in the post-Arab uprisings states (as well as the others), but I differ on what NATO should be doing. To a large extent, your recommendations fall into the same line as Geoffrey's and Josiah's. So my concerns will be quite similar.

NATO does not, cannot, and should not provide training on constitutional and institutional development. This is just not NATO's business. I agree that it is essential to provide such training, but via other organizations (the EU, the OSCE etc.) or offered by individual countries. NATO does not provide that kind of training, because it does not have neither the legitimacy, the credibility nor the assets. It cannot provide that kind of training, because of the previous elements, but also because the Allies will never go down that road. First, it would change the nature of the organization but also of the Alliance itself. Second, other organizations are already well-equipped to fulfill this role (the EU, the OSCE, civil society organizations etc.). It should not provide that kind of training, because it would dilute the business of the organization. The base for the Alliance is collective defense. Within NATO, the vast majority of its staff is military officers from Allies' armed forces posted in the NATO Command Structure. Those are the people who carry out the cooperation activities. It would be detrimental to the system to mix things up for something, which in the end only amounts to a small portion of the organization's activities.

On your second point, I think many CSOs are already on the ground. They should actually not be invited - at least not officially or formally - by nations to develop activities in those countries, because that could play against them with the local authorities. But on the principle, I cannot disagree... as long as NATO, as the organization, or the Alliance are not directly involved.

On your third point, education and training of the armed forces has been the main pillar of NATO's cooperation in the region. It should remain as such and should even be further emphasized. Training the police or Interior Ministry's officials is another story. NATO does not have the skills, the mandate or the legitimacy to do that.
 
Yasmin Jeanice Mattox

March 23, 2012

  • 3
  •  
  •  
  • No rating possible
  • No rating possible
I like this comment! What's this?
Congrats, Alexander on a great article and being a finalist. I think you did a very thorough job. I do, however, want to bring up a few things.

First, I think that your comment that, “NATO’s efforts to support the Arab Spring, particularly its operation in Libya, have brought the specter of democracy to millions of people,” is a bit problematic as Giulia suggests. I think it’s problematic for a couple of reasons. First, I don’t see how NATO really brought the specter of democracy to millions of people. I see how NATO has done its best to protect its interests in the region primarily, and then support democratic transitions, if it’s feasible, secondarily. The two are not interchangeable, as Western acceptance and assistance of regional authoritarian regimes has demonstrated over the years. Second, while I hope countries like Libya and Egypt, for examples, will truly make transitions to democratic forms of governance, I don’t think it is a given. It’s reasonable to assume that many people want democratic governance, but disdain for authoritarianism in the region in its traditional forms does not automatically mean a desire to implement Western style democracy, which you seem to advocate if only implicitly by your recommendations.

On a related note, I think it’s interesting – not necessarily bad – but interesting that democracy has been mentioned in virtually all of the finalists’ articles but without any mention of Constitutional Republicanism. You mention suggestions of sending constitutional scholars to the region, but your suggestions seem to learn more on a focus on democracy. As Thomas Jefferson articulated, “Democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where 51% of the people take away the rights of the other 49%.” This is both true and obviously an exaggeration of sorts. In the West, certainly within member states, there really is no genuine case of mob rule, but democracy is not the most important ingredient here, rather its Constitutional Republicanism. I think this is an important distinction, because if NATO, as you say, has brought and is continuing “to bring the specter of democracy to millions of people,” it needs to be extremely careful of how it goes about doing it since sectarian strife alone can create mob rule if power in new governments is perceived to be externally distributed or is influenced to the point that certain sects or ethnic groups have more power in eventual democracies. In my opinion, and not to dumb democracy down, it’s not really the ability to vote that matters the most, but the existence of a nation’s government based on a Constitution that protects the rights of all citizens, equally, so that they may then be empowered to vote or protest the government without fear of retribution. There must be a mechanism that protects the people should those in government oppress them.

Furthermore, equality before the law with respect to rights is key in a constitution it cannot be guaranteed in a democracy because people have the “right” to vote other people’s freedoms away. US Jim Crow laws was a testament to this. A great example of a problematic democracy is Lebanon: it has a Constitution but it’s based upon Confessionalism by which weight is given to an ethno-religious group based on its demographic strength, thus deepening conflict. In the late 20th century there was the specter of democracy in Latin America, for example, but in many places there were only disastrous cases of when democracies without meaningful or any Constitutional Republicanism goes wrong. There must be the intersection of Constitutional Republicanism and democratic governance, with the latter being subservient to the former.
I too agree with Giulia and Vivien that your specific recommendations are not NATO appropriate. While NATO is primarily concerned with military capabilities with which to maintain a collective defense, and branches out to do more, it should not be made more of a habit. Perhaps the EU or the OSCE, as Gillian argued yesterday, and Giulia and Vivien argue, here, would be better suited to carry out your recommendations.

I also think that such recommendations being carried out by a primarily military-capability centered intergovernmental organization would come off as being incredibly culturally imperialistic and exacerbate anti-West and specifically, anti-NATO sentiment.
 
Geoffrey Phillip Levin

March 23, 2012

  • 2
  •  
  •  
  • No rating possible
  • No rating possible
I like this comment! What's this?
Great job Alexander on the article and congratulations on being a finalist! There are obviously some similarities between our articles, I am glad to see, but as you pointed out earlier, there are some distinctions as well. I think the biggest difference is your focus on incorporating external actors and messages while I emphasize empowering internal actors and amplifying internal messages.

My first notice of this was already articulated by Giulia: by focusing on NATO's past and future role more than the importance of local actors, you seem to be underestimating the role locals play in shaping their own state. Unlike Giulia, I don't think we should avoid "teaching" entirely - we should focus on teaching skills (particularly to the self-empowered youth, who will shape their region's future and already have demonstrated their disdain for autocracy), but explicitly teaching values might be a step to far, and many of your recommendations, though justifiable, may likely be perceiving as interfering in Arabs' ability to determine their own path forward.

Our legitimacy to act in the region stems not from our love of democracy, but rather from the needs and desires of the local actors - which is why I emphasize the protesting generation rather than any of the many competing visions for self-determination that they set forth. Nor is our love of democracy the primary motivation for our actions - security is. In fact, I would say that the Libya operation did not lead to the anti-Western backlash that some anticipated is largely because NATO gave the impression that it was following the Libyan people every step of the way…we need to make it clear that our priority is self-determination as demanded by the protesters, not spreading a specific foreign vision of how a society should operate.



 
Vivien  Pertusot

March 23, 2012

  • 2
  •  
  •  
  • No rating possible
  • No rating possible
I like this comment! What's this?
I seem to be in the minority among the finalists, but I would like to clarify a few things that I think are crucial for our policy memo. NATO is primarily a military organization. Its nature is politcal-military; its staff is largely military; its tools and policies largely target the defense sector both at the governance level (civilian oversight of the military, transparency of the defense budget etc.) and at the education and training level (courses, military exercises, interoperability etc.).

NATO is an intergovernmental organization that only implements political decisions taken at the North Atlantic Council where the Allies sit whether at the HOSG, Foreign Minister, Defense Minister or Ambassador's level. There is no meeting with Interior Ministers or Finance Ministers. It is just not possible. NATO cannot decide to create programs on its own. It has to be mandated. There's value in encouraging overarching cooperation package, but NATO cannot lead it. It has to cooperate with other institutions, and all of us agree on that point.

In my opinion it seems there might be a confusion between NATO and the Allies. It is not the same thing. The reason why I have expressed concerns on several recommendations over the week is because notwithstanding the value of the recommendations NATO is not the right organization to carry them out. There are different means to carry out partnerships. A country can do it bilaterally or through multilateral institutions: NATO is one of the latter but certainly not the only one. From my understanding the question that was proposed to us is not: "How should Western countries support the long-term transition process underway in regional partner countries and how should they work in these changed environments in order to further the goal of regional security and stability?"

If our policy memo offers recommendations that would require changing the nature of the organization and the Alliance, or that are not targeted for NATO, in my opinion it will be inaudible. Based on NATO's tools and the Alliance policies, there is little room to maneuver, which is why my recommendations did not lay out any grand scheme.
 
Geoffrey Phillip Levin

March 23, 2012

  • 1
  •  
  •  
  • No rating possible
  • No rating possible
I like this comment! What's this?
Tied to this "external vs internal" debate is the suggestion of sending in NATO experts on constitutional reform. To a certain extent this is a good idea, and I agree with some of your points. But we need to phrase this in such a way that it doesn't detract from the need for "local ownership" of the region's successes and its failures. One of that many negative legacies of colonialism was that it allowed anti-Western/anti-Liberal leaders and groups to deflect criticism and blame all problems on Europe. If we play too active a role in shaping the format of their government, NATO will be the target of future woes and more importantly, local actors will not be as empowered by successes or as invested in the changes.

I see value in having NGOs from Western member states supporting the spread of liberal values, but I'm not sure I agree with how you phrased the issue. Shouldn’t it be Middle Eastern States or Middle Eastern Civil Society groups to be doing the inviting? Maybe NATO/states can have a role in facilitating communication, awareness of opportunities, funding transport and ensuring the security of its citizens abroad, but the inviting must come from those within the state. Again, this might be in line with the essence of what you meant, I am not sure, but I think in our memo should focus on meeting the needs of internal actors not determining their needs unilaterally.

I agree with you that Security Sector Reform (SSR) is important, Yet while some degree of SSR is needed in some states, I think implementation might be more tricky than the recommendation makes it seem. How can NATO go about implementation, and is their any real option besides voluntary SSR? Would NATO send people on the ground to collect militia’s weapons? Those who give voluntarily are the least threatening, and those who you are dangerous won’t give up their weapons easily. This type of intervention is what we wanted to avoid. Where do we derive the legitimacy to move forth in such a way? Even Libya isn’t a collapsed state to the extent that say, Liberia was in 2003. If SSR is going to be carried out by external actors, (which I am not sure is possible), it is going to have to be an organization with more legitimacy to act in the region, maybe the UN, OSCE or Arab League, and even that is a maybe. That being said, NATO should consider supporting any organization, Libyan or international, that does set forth a good plan for SSR - and I think this might be something we can incorporate into the memo.

 
Geoffrey Phillip Levin

March 23, 2012

  • 1
  •  
  •  
  • No rating possible
  • No rating possible
I like this comment! What's this?
Vivien,
I understand your concerns, and as the head of a think tank in Brussels, you probably have a greater understanding of NATO than those of us who focus mostly on the Middle East (I speak for myself alone, of course). You have often repeated the necessity of recognizing the limits of NATO (which is important), and pointed out a number of times that there are certain policy suggestions here that do not fit perfectly with NATO's current functions. But rather than tossing out these ideas complete as you seem to advocate in some of your comments, shouldn't we be looking for ways in which NATO, the preeminent guarantor of regional security, can cooperate with other organizations to best carry out the most important recommendations for long-term cooperation with Arab states? The third recommendation of your article points out the importance of cooperation with other actors, but only offers a broad picture of what that cooperation entails. I don't see how there is any inherent contradiction between your article's recommendation #3 and many of the suggestions other finalists have set forth.

From what I understand, the Atlantic Community is based on the idea that the nature of global politics and security is changing, and that creative thinking is needed so that policymaking organizations can evolve to meet changing global challenges. NATO needs new partnership and new ideas in order to stay relevant in the 21st century as the nature of security changes. Yesterday, strong states and great power conflict were the preeminent regional security threats; but today, weak/collapsed states and violent, ideological non-state actors present the most pressing day-to-day threats to Europe and the US. You are right to point out when other organizations have more expertise in performing certain task than NATO does, and this will be very helpful when drafting our memo. NATO needs to focus on partnering with these organizations and facilitating the planning and implementation of these tasks when the other organizations cannot do them on their own. To a certain extent, I think your paper recognizes this, but as we move forward in writing the memo, I believe we must be careful in dismissing creative ideas that can integrated in with suggestion we all already support.
 
Vivien  Pertusot

March 23, 2012

  • 2
  •  
  •  
  • No rating possible
  • No rating possible
I like this comment! What's this?
Geoffrey, I do think that all the ideas you and other finalists brought up are absolutely essential, creative, and need to be explored. If I have given the impression that I discarded them, I apologize. I very much support your two initiatives, but my only concern is to use NATO to implement them. NATO may want to expand its range of activities, especially as several NATO operations are soon coming to an end, no doubt about it, but the Allies will only approve of such maneuvers if no one else is better fit to do it, and for many initiatives laid out, there are.

There's one point that we all agree on: NATO can't do it alone. All the ideas brought forward can be integrated in the large cooperation scheme that we envisage. I'm afraid that the 800-word format did not offer enough room to go into more details, and I'm confident that we will be able to do so in the memo. NATO should advocate more coordination of the agenda and priorities with other institutions and could openly support initiatives carried out by other institutions in the spirit of this ambitious common inter-institutional approach. I think that this is the only option it has to stay relevant and to be able to play a role in the region: to encourage coordination and cooperation with other institutions to build an inter-institutional multi-faceted cooperation package. This inter-institutional cooperation package should be seen as "a force multiplier" to maintain and potentially increase its influence in the Arab world.

But whether NATO can implement some of the initiatives raised in various contributions, I doubt it. For instance, when you write "NATO needs to focus on partnering with these organizations and facilitating the planning and implementation of these tasks when the other organizations cannot do them on their own." I strongly agree with the first part but I don't see how you envisage NATO's involvement as expressed in the second part.

My underlying concern is to avoid weakening the Alliance. If we start asking NATO to do this and that which diverges from what its first objective is, i.e. collective defense, we run the risk of undermining the organization's core capacity - which would be unfortunate to say the least. Let's not forget that NATO is heavily indebted, the Allies are cutting their defense budgets and the impact on NATO's budget will be salient (and it would be unrealistic to imagine the Allies using funds from other budget lines for NATO), there are massive cuts in staff, more and more Allies are reluctant to send military officers to the NATO Command Structure because all Allies are cutting their military staff. I'm a strong advocate of devoting more attention to partnerships, but at the same time I realize that they cannot take the lion's share of the organization's work.
 
Geoffrey Phillip Levin

March 23, 2012

  • 1
  •  
  •  
  • No rating possible
  • No rating possible
I like this comment! What's this?
Thanks for the response and for all of the very insightful input you have given this week. There is no need to apologize, as I think your comments have served to strength and refocus many policy ideas thus far. I just wanted to respond to your earlier comment, and point out that I (and others likely) agree with you on so much already, and that you are less of a minority among the group than you think, largely because you have been successful in pointing out NATO's weakness. I did hope to further emphasize, as you just stated, that we are now largely on the same page and the focus moving forward should be on the integration of compatible ideas when it makes sense to do so.

I think your focus on the first objective of NATO - collective defense - is well placed, but as the nature of security threats change, NATO as an institution cannot remain static. I appreciate the need to be realistic, but NATO cannot be the same organization in 2020 that it was in 1990, or even in 2000 while maintaining its importance. You are correct that NATO cannot implement some of the initiatives raised, but neither can some of the potential partner organizations without the support and resources of NATO; one example is the OSCE, which, as Gillian convincingly argued, is also very limited on its own. As global security challenges become more and more interlinked with other non-security related issues, NATO and other organizations need to be open to cooperatively developing an "interdisciplinary" approach to regional defense.

Balancing the demands of stabilizing the Middle East with the abilities of NATO and its partners, while remaining focused on our main goals - fostering regional security and building enduring partnerships with post-Arab Spring states (and societies) is no easy task. While great emphasis has been placed on the abilities of NATO, we need to remain equally focused on what ensuring Mediterranean peace and stability entails after the Arab Spring.
 
Alexander   Corbeil

March 23, 2012

  • 2
  •  
  •  
  • No rating possible
  • No rating possible
I like this comment! What's this?
Giulia, thank you for your comments they are very helpful and I have much to say on your points.

I will answer the questions you bring forth but will leave out the issue of NATO’s role in the transitional process after I have touched on each commenter's responses, for I feel that this is an issued shared by other finalists and will provide an encompassing final response.

NATO’s operation in Libya did bring the specter of democracy to the Libyan people, this is not to say that it was the catalyst, rather the Alliance’s air campaign ensured that Libyan rebels were not snuffed out by Gaddafi’s army.

I am not advocating for a “teaching attitude” if you read my previous comments on other finalists’ papers you will notice that I am explicit against any form of Western imperialism or neo-colonialism. We are not the only kind of democracies and Western academics should not enter Arab countries with a “we are all knowing” attitude. Any process of constitutional and institutional consultation should include policy makers from each receiving state to ensure that values and relevant governance practices are enshrined from a domestic point of view. We should not import Western democracy, but rather provide those capable of creating long-term structural changes with valuable lessons learned from our own democratic experiences and those of other post-colonial countries.

This is why I have previously advocated for the involvement of regional organizations, most notably the Arab League. Granted, the league has suffered due to its inability to provide a broad consensus on Syria, but as its role in the region is beginning to grow it must be included, both as a gesture of good will and to help create a more robust institutional framework. Furthermore, it will provide both the regional cover and linkages necessary for any Western mission to sidestep accusations of imperialism. I also agree with Gillian that OSCE, after some structural changes and fiscal improvements, could also provide beneficial to this endeavor. But, and I stress this again, regional and local ownership is key to this endeavor, for without it democratic evolution will not take place.

In addition I fully agree with your comments on SSR through an incentivized process, NATO’s stepping away from repressive regimes (which will although not be possible in many other countries), will help its reputation on the Arab Street, especially in this open political atmosphere.
 
Costinel  Anuta

March 23, 2012

  • 3
  •  
  •  
  • No rating possible
  • No rating possible
I like this comment! What's this?
Thank you all for sharing your wonderful ideas regarding NATO’s partnerships after the Arab Spring. Given this is the last op-ed from the series dedicated to the Arab Spring I would like to point out my thoughts regarding your ideas (hoping to be useful for the work to come on the memo):
- I think the most important, perhaps critical for the Mediterranean Dialogue (MD) future in my view, is to engage Libya through a SSR framework (perhaps combined with Geoffrey’s idea regarding the Security Sector Guidance Initiative; for example the George Marshall Center from Garmisch has two programs for security studies – one for the executives and one for the young leaders), even though it is not yet a MD member (good point of discussion during the Chicago Summit). The reason I state the importance of SSR for Libya is that the current Libyan freedom is the result of NATO’s Unified Protector mainly. As such, Libya’s failure would be inevitable NATO’s failure in fulfilling its goals toward the MD countries. You cannot support the change of a regime without being seriously involved in building a new stable framework.
A SSR process would envision the development of a reform process to review the capacity and technical needs of the security system, in order to establish effective governance, oversight and accountability mechanisms across this sector. As Vivien agreed, NATO’s SSR endeavor could be built on the PAP-DIB framework (even though it currently pertains to the Partnership for Peace arrangements). The SSR effort could emerge toward even the deployment of Operational Mentor and Liaison Teams in Libya (following the Afghan model), in order to increase the degree of connectedness with the indigenous forces.
- Secondly, I like Vivien’s idea regarding the provision of a confidence-building measure, in the form of political consultations when the MD countries feel threatened. As I previously stated I think it is not legally possible to make the MD partners to accede to the Article IV of the Washington Treaty, and the solution to implement this issue would be to follow the model of the article 8 in the PfP Framework Document.
- Last, but not least, I believe NATO could engage other international organizations (especially the UN, given the existence of a Declaration of cooperation between them, and also the EU, taking into consideration the Berlin Plus agreement and the similarities / complementarities between their efforts) in order to partner its SSR efforts with governance and institution building measures. The cooperation should be carefully planned, given the membership of other international organizations – for example, a partnership with the OSCE could be hindered for instance, by Russia.
Tags: | Article 4 | SSR |
 
Alexander   Corbeil

March 23, 2012

  • 2
  •  
  •  
  • No rating possible
  • No rating possible
I like this comment! What's this?
Yasmin,

Thank you also for your comments, you bring up a debate that has been a core interest of mine.

I agree that NATO’s mission in Libya was to serve its own interests, as there is not one humanitarian mission in recent history that has not been undertaken without competing motivations-- it is a sad fact that we must all acknowledge.

Transitions in themselves don't mean that liberal democracy will be enacted. I agree with this statement and have dealt with the preconditions for democratic advancement in my previous comments, particularly my first response to Vivien's article.

In regards to your thoughts on Constitutional Republicanism, I have a few comments. Constitutional creation is the primary issue, this is why I my primary policy recommendation is enlisting experts to travel to these North African countries in order to develop a sound constitutional and institutional framework. This is not to be done in a imposing manner, I do not argue that the West’s version of democracy trumps all other expression of this political system. Rather, this should be undertaken in a process that includes the input of domestic policy makers and experts. We cannot transplant Western democracy to these countries, but we can include constitutional facets that have worked in a variety of countries (Western and otherwise) and protect the rights of the entire polity. Institutional reform coupled with constitutional protections may in the interim not lead to a protection of rights, given the porous and security sensitive situations in each country. That being said, these reforms and the enshrinement of constitutional protections will provide for the development of open political space in which democracy and democratic values can be fostered.

In regards to your worries about sectarian strife in these transitional countries, I am not arguing for a externally distributed system (as I have alluded to above), one can look to the re-entrenchment of authoritarianism in Iraq as a case in point of what not to do. For the shell of the democratic political system I suggest a parliamentary governmental structure. Thomas Jefferson was right to argue against mob rule and for the protection of minorities, these are core issues that need to be discussed. With all due respect to Mr. Jefferson, the American system is not the way to go, followers of the Lijphart-Horowitz debate on constitutional development would argue that a Presidential system provides an overly combative political sphere not well suited for reconciliatory practices. (Nigeria is the only country in the post-colonial world to adapt a Presidential regime akin to that of the United States with questionable results) A parliamentary system would push political actors into a state of affairs that enshrines compromise and allows for a reconciliatory atmosphere.

A confessional system of democratic governance in where specific groups are allotted seats based solely on their group identities is a huge problem. One of my focuses during my studies was actually the case of Lebanon, a place which I also had the pleasure of visiting. Although Lebanon is one of the only countries in the region to be rated “partly free” by Freedom House, and this is due to its power-sharing system (and the extremely strong civil society), this has been at the cost of nearly a million lives. Iraq is another example, almost surpassing Belgium as the country with longest period of a lack of governmental oversight due to parliamentary quarrels. That being said, it is not Constitutional Republicanism that ensures the safe guarding of rights of minorities in face of majority populations. This is based largely upon the creation of an electoral system that is based on mutual power sharing through geographical division of electoral blocs and the creation of party lists that ensure cooperation among competitive party groups.

I would like to expand upon this discussion with you in the future, and look forward to doing so.
 
Alexander   Corbeil

March 23, 2012

  • 1
  •  
  •  
  • No rating possible
  • No rating possible
I like this comment! What's this?
Geoffrey, thank you for your response, there are multiple similarities between our articles and I cannot wait until we have a chance to go over the memo together to provide a concise policy.

Regarding incorporating external actors and messages I believe this is paramount to success in the region, particularly due to the explicit interests of world players and regional actors. That being said, and I will go back to my previous comments to Vivien’s work, internal actors and amplifying internal messages is another and stronger part of the puzzle.

This is why I have called for developing the NGO capacity in each state to give the proponents of democratic governance the necessary tools to push their governments to make good on promises of free and fair elections while allowing for the continuance of open political space. I have also championed (and this can be seen in my rebuttals to Yasmin and Giulia) local ownership, which I do not underestimate, I only believe that it should be enforced by external capacities, for a short period of time as not to attract accusations of interference. Democratic transition and the entrenchment of democratic values should be a domestically oriented endeavor, for if those in a society which adapts democratic governance are not party to the process nor emboldened to involve themselves in the proliferation of democratic values, such a system will not hold.

I must echo Giulia’s warning about “teaching” utilized such a rhetoric provides a window for a dangerous discourse that will surely undercut any attempt to build a culture of mutual cooperation. The West should work with its Arab counterparts both within the domestic realm of these countries and with organizations such as the Arab League to put forward a unified and overarching commitment to democracy. Youth are an important part of the process, but more so are the political kingmakers in each country who currently continue to hold the reigns of power, and are key to any meaningful transitions.

I believe that legitimacy to act in the region stems not from out love of democracy...we must be realists in how we interpret the events of the Arab Spring. That being said, the Libyan mission will be treated as a failure if we do not deal concretely with its aftermath, including regional security issues that can be dealt directly by NATO and democratic issues that can jointly be dealt with organizations like OSCE. The recent coup in Mali should signify to all of us that the Arab Spring is not confined to the states in which uprisings occurred. We must follow these uprisings every step of the way, and NATO, given probable future backlash against its operation must be seen as working with capable partners in an attempt to bring democracy to North Africa, with the full support and mutually respected input of domestic and regional actors.

 
Gillian  Kennedy

March 24, 2012

  • 2
  •  
  •  
  • No rating possible
  • No rating possible
I like this comment! What's this?
Alexander, thank you for very clear article. I think it brought some very good points in coherent framework that would work well as the introduction for the memo. In particular, I think your suggestion about extending the SSR initiative to the other post-Arab Spring MENA nations is an excellent idea. In Libya the need to integrate former fighters into the state apparatus is essential. I think Geoffrey highlighted the dangers of De-Baathification at the start of the week, and without a doubt implementing the SSR initiative would be a pragramatic step towards avoiding a repeat of the disasterous policies introduced in Iraq circa 2003. The SSR is a perfect job for NATO, as it's in their remit; however there are number of your other policy recommendations that I have a few concerns about.

In this respect, I think I'm likely to fall in line with Vivien's line of thought here. NATO's mandate is limited. For NATO to extend itself towards constitutional development assitance is to ask the organization in it's structure and objectives to change a lot. It's true that constitutional development and institutional accountability is something which must be instilled throughout the MENA region, but I really think that matching NATO with either the OSCE, or joining up with some amount of stronger EU involvement as Vivien suggested; might be the best way to achieve this. For NATO to take constitutional development as a core strategy in the region would appear to much like an imposition of a Western liberal democratic value system. I think that Yasmin had a really interesting point to make about this when she cited constitutional republicanism as a better placed area for consultation, then more 'democracy promotion'.

For instance, in the case of Egypt, key Islamist intellectuals such as Muhammad Salim al-Awwa and Hasan Hanafi have spoken about a form of Islamic constitutionalism which integrates Islamic jurisprudence while also calling for the utilization of elements of non-Muslim law to help achieve a value pluralistic consensus in an Egyptian state. This dialectical conception of the Islamic state aims to produce an phenomenological analysis to the core discipline of Islamic law. Instead of viewing it from the purely subjective reasoning of infallible religiousity, the objective is instead to consider the position somewhere between acknowledging and using Western concepts of republican governance such an independent judiciary, a parliament with considerable power and autonomy, and an accountable executive. Conversely also, utilizing aspects such as shura (consultation), ijtihad (human reason), and ijma(consensus).

I know I've went slightly off tangent here, but I think that if NATO and the OSCE were implement a cross cultural programme amongst scholars and civil society actors with regards constitutional republicanism we could learn a significant amount from our MD partner nations about their political theories and conversely help to assist core values of NATO such as a free judiciary and an accountable/checked executive.
This way we could learn to understand more about the framework for governance that the MENA nations are going to take instead of merely pressurising 'kingmakers'

 
Gillian  Kennedy

March 24, 2012

  • 2
  •  
  •  
  • No rating possible
  • No rating possible
I like this comment! What's this?
Also, Alexander, I would just like to make a quick clarification with your suggestions about NGOs. You mentioned that 'it would be wise to limit the amount of time spent by NGOs in these countries, as not to allow them to become the target of government crackdowns and conspiracy theories. If this is the case how can we expect NGOs to practically influence change on the ground if they are only going to be in the country for a limited time?

I agree with you that member states should work with NGOs to foster a stronger civil society, but I'm just not certain how NATO will do this alone. Rather I feel that the integration of civil society with state agencies is something that must be in our memo, yet possibly implemented along the lines of a inter-agency approach instead of a solo NATO policy.

 
Alexander   Corbeil

March 25, 2012

  • 1
  •  
  •  
  • No rating possible
  • No rating possible
I like this comment! What's this?
Hello all,

I will try to tackle the issues that have been raised, which I have yet to cover in my response to Giulia, Yasmin, and Geoffrey.

Vivien, I agree that NATO as an organization cannot provide constitutional and institutional development. My policy paper does not argue this, rather it states that member countries should send these experts to assist domestic policy makers. It must be noted and understood that the nations comprising NATO have access to the world’s biggest economies, armies, and academic institutions. These assets should not be wasted in this transitional period for they are key to enhancing the success of democratic entrenchment. This should be an inter-institutional adventure, enlisting the help of OSCE (a strong point brought forward by Gillian), but also regional bodies, most notably, the Arab League.
There are many CSOs on the ground, but what is needed is a unified approach with a short and “unofficial” mandate to provide the tools and bolster the capacities of local democratic promotion organizations. They should not be involved in a explicit manner, quiet diplomacy is the key to not arosing tensions and thus backlash.

NATO linkages should be made with Libya’s Interior Ministry if there is an incorporation of this Arab state into the Mediterranean Dialogue (with pre-conditions). The Interior Ministry in Libya is not only loyal, and better trained than the National Army, but it has a moniker of respect from Libyans and has managed its affairs in a professional manner. It is the arm of the state that should be tasked with disarming rebels, linked with experts from Western militaries (through NATO) and OSCE. This initiative should be undertaken with Western funding, although we are in an era of austerity, NATO’s reputation in the region hinges on the success of Libya. Furthermore, it could benefit the National Army as well, from training courses by NATO—in military affairs, civilian oversight etc. this is also meant to answer Geoffrey’s question in his second post regarding the details of my SSR approach. Locally owned initiatives, supported by experts from the West, involving the Libyan central government—particularly the Interior Ministry, and backed by external (Western and regional) funding.

To comment on the exchange between Geoffrey and Vivien. I agree with Vivien’s statement that we must “encourage cooperation with other institutions to build an inter-institutional multi-faceted cooperation package’, and that it would be a “force multiplier” to increase influence in the Arab world. This is after all, in addition to our duty to help these transitions, about gaining good will with incoming, and hopefully democratic regimes.
Geoffrey, I support your assertion that the nature of security threats has changed, especially since the Cold War. For NATO to stay relevant (and I suggest we stress this in the introduction of our policy memo), the organization must expand its linkages with other organizations and regional bodies to tackle the causes and pre-conditioning factors of security threats. Furthermore, as stated above I believe that this interdisciplinary approach should entail economic and military aspects, we can utilize the vast civil-academic-military-NGO capacities of the West in this endeavor.
 
Alexander   Corbeil

March 25, 2012

  • 2
  •  
  •  
  • No rating possible
  • No rating possible
I like this comment! What's this?
Costinel,

Thank you for your contributions, you raise some very pertinent issues. We are both in agreement over the role of NATO in this Libyan transitional phase, highlighting that it is crucial for the Alliance to ensure the creation of a stable governmental system. SSR does require a solid framework, and this can be provided by working with OSCE and other organizations. I have outlined my thoughts on this process in my response to Vivien and Geoffrey above.

Regarding Article 8 of the PfP framework, personally I am worried about committing NATO to a security consultation process with unstable countries in a period of transition. To many nations in the region it could be perceived as favoritism. Given the Tuareg insurgency in Mali (a worrying result of Libya’s revolution), Egypt’s tense relations with Ethiopia over the Nile, and a possible breakdown of relations between Tunisia and Libya—if the latter was to become engulfed by civil strife and the resultant refugee problem, consultative obligations will almost certainly be enacted, possible damaging relations with others in the region.

I agree with you that the EU and UN should be part and parcel of this multi-institutional endeavor. That being said, we should not shy away from working with OSCE, a great initiative put forward by Gillian. I understand your fears about Russian meddling, but given its bad publicity in the Arab world, created by the two Security Council vetoes regarding Syria, I believe that it is willing to curry favor with the Middle East. Thus, a blockage of the OSCE endeavor would be counter-intuitive. Furthermore, the West should involve all international actors in the transitional process, both to bolster multi-lateral relations and to calm worries about “NATO’s expansion south”.
 
Alexander   Corbeil

March 25, 2012

  • 1
  •  
  •  
  • No rating possible
  • No rating possible
I like this comment! What's this?
Finally to Gillian,

I agree that OSCE and other bodies, such as the EU should be involved in this transitional period, NATO cannot go at it alone nor does it have the capacity for certain initiatives we have discussed. Yasmin’s point is duly noted, but I believe that a dual process is in order for the creation of a concise and effective bolstering of democratic entrenchment. Constitutional creation does not provide for the structural and societal adoption of democracy. What is needed is a responsible populace that can hold politicians to account through electoral devices, a society that votes based not solely upon common identity and shallow slogans, but rather concrete policy issues. There must be a balance between the governing bodies and the governed, and civil society promotion through NGOs is the only way to lay the seeds for a democratic polity.

Regarding the adoption of Islamic modes of governance and jurisprudence, I fully agree with your recommendations. We need to incorporate Islamic law and legal jurisprudence into a “Western” shell of democratic governance. I believe that my paper has been misinterpreted at times as a manifesto for the imposition of Western institutions on widely divergent polities in a harsh top-down manner lacking the consent of both the polities in question and domestic representatives in each country.

This is not, and I stress not, the case. In my response to previous papers and embedded in this post, I underline that local ownership is key to the successful implementation of all proposed initiatives. Furthermore, I think in regards to the involvement of Islamic scholars, both the Arab League and Leagu of Islamic Nations could be tapped for these endeavors.
That being said, pressuring kingmakers should not be underestimated as they need to provide the political space necessary for democratic institutional changes and the construction of a responsible and democratic polity.

Regarding your questions about NGOS, my plan calls for Western and international NGOs versed in democracy promotion to enter these countries for a short period of time. International NGOs would provide training courses to local NGOs on “lessons learnt” during previous missions. They would then be best served to stay in touch with these organizations to provide troubleshooting support and run additional training courses externally, as the OSCE has done.

NATO’s role in fostering civil society is based upon its training courses for members of the military, particularly regarding civilian oversight, and the role and position of militaries in democratic structures (as Vivien has noted). This is a crucial part of the inter-agency approach, and would help provide for the longevity of the “political openness” I have talked at length about—members of the military establishment (especially the youth in these armies as noted by Geoffrey) must respect democracy and not be tempted by either military oversight of the democratic process from the shadows or the more explicit form of political subversion the classic coup d’etat.

Thank you all for your comments and I look forward to working with my fellow finalists on what I believe will be a robust policy paper.
 

Commenting has been deactivated in the archive. We appreciate your comments on our more recent articles at atlantic-community.org


Community

You are in the archive of all articles published on atlantic-community.org from 2007 to 2012. To read the latest articles from our open think tank and network with community members, please go to our new website