Toward Open Societies

The Soviet Union is gone, but the work needed to create free states in its place is far from over.

In the last five years I have devoted much of my time, energy, and money to Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union because I believed that the collapse of the Soviet system was a revolutionary event whose outcome would shape the course of history.

I had set up the Open Society foundation in 1979 and started the first local operation in my native Hungary in 1984, but I increased my involvement as the collapse of the Soviet system accelerated. Now there is a network of foundations in more than 20 countries to help promote the transition from closed to open societies. My annual contributions have risen from $3 million in 1979 to $300 million in 1993. However, the amount of money spent is not the best indication of the efficacy of the operation; some of the best projects take the least money. For instance, we successfully commissioned the writing of nearly 1,000 new textbooks to replace Marxism-Leninism in Russian schools, yet when we pumped more money into the project it became riddled with corruption.

At the time I first became involved, communism had given rise to closed societies throughout the region. The state was dominated by the party and the society dominated by the state. The individual was at the mercy of the party-state apparatus. Communist dogma was false exactly because it claimed to incorporate the ultimate truth. Its tenets could be enforced only by doing a great deal of violence to reality and, even then, they could not be sustained indefinitely. The gap be­tween dogma and reality became ever more evident and the sway of dogma over people's minds ever more tenuous until, eventually, com­munist regimes collapsed.

There was a moment of euphoria in 1989, when people felt liber­ated from oppressive regimes. That moment could have been used to set in motion the transition to an open society. It was that opportu­nity that induced me to throw all my energies into the process. But I must now admit that the moment has passed and the opportunity for any rapid transformation is gone.

The breakdown of a closed society does not automatically lead to an open society, because an open society is a more advanced, more sophisticated form of organization than a closed one. Freedom is not merely the absence of repression. A society in which people are free requires institutions that protect freedom and, above all, it requires people who believe in those institutions. The institutions themselves need to be much more sophisticated because they must allow for the expression of different views and interests, whereas a closed society recognizes only one point of view -- the ruling one. In short, the tran­sition from a closed to an open society is a step forward and upward. It cannot be accomplished in one revolutionary leap without a hand from the outside. I tried to offer such a hand, but governments in the open societies of the free world were not similarly motivated. There was goodwill toward Eastern Europe at the time, but somehow it was not translated into effective action. Government policy, both in Eu­rope and the United States, was characterized by a singular lack of comprehension and vision.

Compare the reaction to the collapse of the Soviet empire with the reaction to the collapse of the Nazi empire. Then, the United States still had the vision, and the generosity, to engage in the Mar­shall Plan, and the Marshall Plan worked wonders. It did not merely provide assistance, it provided a framework within which the coun­tries of Europe could cooperate. It did not merely send technical ex­perts to impart their wisdom, it brought large numbers of Europeans to the United States and allowed them to form their own agenda. We seem to have forgotten those positive experiences. By the time the Soviet empire collapsed, there was no political support for large-scale assistance, and "Marshall Plan" had become a dirty word.

In the absence of Western leadership, the collapse of the Soviet system did not lead to the emergence of open societies. Moreover, there can be no assurance that what was not accomplished in the heat of the revolutionary moment will be attained in a slower, more laborious process. On the contrary, insofar as a pattern is emerging, it is pointing in the opposite direction.

The breakdown of closed societies based on the universal dogma of communism has led to a widespread rejection of all universal ideas, and the countries that used to constitute the Soviet empire are search­ing for an organizing principle in their own particular histories. There are, of course, exceptions to the rule. But the dominant emerging theme is national or ethnic identity rather than any universal concept such as democracy, human rights, the rule of law, or open society.

This has created a very dangerous situation because national griev­ances can be exploited to establish more or less closed societies, which promote conflict. In order to mobilize society behind the state, a state needs an enemy; if it lacks an enemy, it must invent one. That is what Hitler did when he identified Jews as the enemies of the German Yolk, and he has many imitators in the post-communist world. Unfortunately, there is no shortage of grievances, because communist regimes sup­pressed all national or ethnic aspirations that did not suit their purposes.

Although some of the nationalist leaders are former dissidents, former communists are usually more adept at exploiting national sen­timent because they understand better how to operate the levers of power. They can forge greater national consensus than can demo­cratic leaders striving for an open society. Look at Slobodan Milosevic in Yugoslavia, Franjo Tudjman in Croatia, Vladimir Me­ciar in Slovakia, and Leonid Kravchuk in Ukraine, and compare the kind of majorities they could muster at the height of their popularity with the narrow political base that pro-Western democratic govern­ments have had to contend with in countries like Russia, Poland, Bul­garia, and Macedonia.

In this context, the recent electoral victories of former communist parties in countries like Hungary, Poland, or Lithuania are not, by themselves, too disturbing. On the whole, these are reform commu­nists who want to move away from communism as much as possible. Their reemergence constitutes a welcome extension of the democra­tic spectrum. I was quite pleased at first with the outcome of last year's elections in Hungary. The nationalist line was rejected by the elec­torate, and the fact that the Socialist party entered into a coalition with the Free Democrats on the basis of a well-conceived, well-artic­ulated reform program augured well for the future. Unfortunately, the government's inability to execute the program shows the negative side of the reform communist tradition: It values social peace above all and is unwilling to take the tough measures necessary for reform.

In the case of Poland, the changeover was even more unfortunate. The government had just begun to function properly when it was de­feated, and the radical and painful reforms undertaken in 1990 had just begun to bear fruit. But the course of reform was irreversible, and consequently Poland is probably the most dynamic country in Europe today, both in terms of its economy and its spirit. The worst that can happen now is that it may lose some momentum. All in all, there is hardly any chance of a return to communism. Communism as a dogma is well and truly dead. The real danger is the emergence of would-be nationalist dictators -- "NADIs," for short. They are playing in a field that is definitely tilted in their favor. It is much easier to mo­bilize society behind a real or imagined national injury than behind abstract ideas like democracy or open society. Building an open so­ciety is essentially a constructive process, and it is only too easy to use ethnic conflict to undermine its foundations.

Take the case of the former Yugoslavia, a country that had been open to the West for more than 20 years and had developed the in­tellectual resources that are needed for an open society. In 1990, monetary reform was introduced in Yugoslavia and Poland at the same time. Yugoslavia was much better prepared to carry it out. It had a group of people who had been trained by the International Mone­tary Fund and the World Bank, and the reform was, in fact, initially more successful than in Poland. Then Milosevic raided the treasury in the course of his electoral campaign, which contributed to the de­struction of monetary stability. That was the end of the attempt to transform Yugoslavia into an open society.

And now we have an even more striking example: Greece. Here is a country that is a member of the European Union and of NATO, one that is fully integrated into the international community. Yet it has whipped national sentiment into a frenzy over the name "Macedonia." It has inflated a small and weak neighbor to the north, the Republic of Macedonia, into a threat to the territorial integrity of Greece. Admittedly, there is a minority in Macedonia that harbors irredentist dreams based on ethnic injuries suffered in the past. But the government of Macedonia is genuinely devoted to the creation of a multiethnic, democratic state. It is ready to make virtually every concession short of giving up its own identity. But Greek public opinion looks to the Macedonian extremists, not to the Macedonian government, and the issue has been exploited for domestic political purposes in Greece.

In the meantime, the Macedonian economy, already severely damaged by the sanctions against Serbia, is collapsing under the weight of the Greek embargo. The railroad connection runs north and south, and Macedonia is cut off on both sides. As a result, heavy industry, which relies on rail transportation, has been brought to a virtual standstill. The economic crisis is endangering political stability. The multiethnic, democratic coalition is threatened by extremists on both the Slavic-Macedonian and the Albanian sides. It may easily fall apart under the strain of the embargo and, if Macedonia falls apart, there will be a third Balkan war.

There is plenty to worry about in Eastern Europe. When I embarked on my project, I was planning on a short-term campaign to provide an example for the more slow-moving and cumbersome institutions, including governments, of our open societies. But I was sadly mistaken. Now I think in biblical terms -- 40 years in the wilderness. The battle for open societies is not lost, as the examples of Poland and Hungary demonstrate. But it will take a long time and a lot of help from the outside, and that is what worries me.

Fear of Freedom

Open societies allow people to use their creative energies. Freedom produces prosperity. But I have always been aware of a fatal weakness in the concept of open society. People living in an open society do not even recognize that they are living in one, let alone treat open society as a desirable goal worthy of sacrifice. In one way, freedom is like the air: People struggle for it only when they are deprived of it. When it is there, they take it for granted. But in an, other way freedom is very different: If you do not care for it and protect it, it has a tendency to disappear.

If there is any lesson to be learned from the revolutionary events in Eastern Europe since 1989, it is that freedom is more than the absence of repression, and the collapse of a closed society does not automatically create an open society. The trouble is that this lesson has not been learned. When the Soviet empire collapsed, Westerners had no hesitation in declaring it a victory for the free world. But, equally, we had no inclination to make any sacrifices for the sake of establishing free and open societies in that part of the world. The consequences are now painfully obvious, but we have not even started to recognize them.

What has gone wrong? I believe our concept of freedom has changed. In the Second World War, freedom was promoted as an idea that we were ready to fight and to sacrifice for. And the idea as it was then conceived involved freedom not only in our own country, but also in those where totalitarianism reigned. This concept carried over into the postwar period. It was responsible for the dismantling of colonial regimes and the forging of an anticommunist alliance.

But gradually that idea faded and another one emerged. This idea explicitly rejected the pursuit of freedom as a valid objective of foreign policy. This idea was "realism," which maintained that states ought to pursue their own self, interest as determined by their geopolitical situation and accord moral or ethical considerations only a secondary role. Such considerations can be useful for propaganda purposes -- for mobilizing public opinion at home or abroad-but you can get into a lot of trouble if you actually believe your own propaganda. The companion piece to realism in international relations was the concept of laissez-faire economics, which enjoyed a miraculous revival in the 1980s. It holds that the unhampered pursuit of self, interest leads to the best allocation of resources. These have been the two main concepts guiding our response to the collapse of the Soviet systerm, but they are woefully inadequate for the situation at hand.

As long as we were locked in deadly combat with the Evil Empire, we had a clear view of our own place in the world. The world order was stable because each side had the capacity to destroy the other and therefore neither side could risk all-out war. We could also define ourselves in terms of our enemy: We were the leaders of the free world. But now the stability of the world order has been destroyed by the internal disintegration of the Soviet empire and, what is worse, we have lost our sense of identity. The United States still wants to be a superpower and leader of the free world, but Americans do not know what those terms mean. We do not know what the free world stands for and we do not know whether we should stand for the free world, because we have come to believe that our way of life is based on the pursuit of self-interest, as exemplified by the doctrines of realism and laissez-faire.

In some ways the present situation is unprecedented. In the past, peace and stability have been maintained by an imperial power, by a balance of powers, or by a combination of the two. Right now, we do not have any of that. The United States does not have the capacity, or the interest, to dominate the world the way Great Britain did in the nineteenth century. Britain derived enough benefit from free trade to justify maintaining a vast naval fleet. The United States, however, is no longer the main beneficiary of free trade and cannot afford to be the world's policeman. We must depend on collective action, but we have no clear idea what the collective interest is.

The result is a dangerous power vacuum. There was some hope that it would be filled by the United Nations, but the U.N. is no bet­ter than the states that constitute it. The member states generally pursue their own national self-interest, to the detriment of the collective interest, and the U.N. is managed by a bureaucracy that is more interested in its own survival than in the survival of our civilization. International institutions have almost never been able to maintain peace, and there is no reason to believe that the current sit­uation will prove to be any different. The disasters that have befallen U.N. intervention in Bosnia and Somalia provide ample evidence.

A Way Out

What is to be done? I propose that we declare the creation and preservation of open societies as one of the objectives of foreign policy. In the case of the former Soviet bloc, we should declare it as the main objective. I draw a distinction between the former Soviet bloc and the rest of the world because the Soviet system has irretrievably broken down; what system takes its place will have a profound influence on the course of history and therefore on our own future. In the rest of the world, the promotion of open societies is one of many competing objectives; in the former Soviet bloc it is of paramount importance. In my opinion, even the nuclear issue ought to be subordinated to it.

How fostering open societies in the rest of the world can be reconciled with other policy goals is a matter of judgment, or more likely misjudgment. Fostering an open society in China is a valid objective, but how best to do this is debatable. Since our government has opted for trade over the withdrawal of most-favored-nation status, we will have to ensure that the flow of capital is accompanied by the flow of information and ideas. Pressing for an opening of domestic markets in Japan is also a valid policy objective, but we have not yet found the right way to go about it. In Haiti, where military intervention could not be avoided, creating a more open society ought to be its avowed purpose, and the success of the operation ought to be judged by that criterion. The last time the United States occupied Haiti it trained a military force that oppressed Haitian citizens after American forces withdrew.

An open society is a form of organization that can be loosely described as democracy. But the concept of open society is more comprehensive. It means not only a democratically elected government but also a society that is not dominated by the state. Such a concept relies on a strong civil society and the rule of law. And it is not enough for the government to be elected by a majority; it must also respect minorities and minority opinions.

I propose substituting the framework of open and closed societies for the old framework of communism versus the free world. The old framework was highly suspect even when it was relevant, because anticommunism could be used to justify actions that were incompatible with an open society. The new framework allows us to define ourselves in terms of what we stand for rather than in terms of our enemies. It provides a perspective that is woefully lacking at present. For one thing, it tells us that nationalist dictatorships are as much of a threat today as communism used to be. For another, it tells us that the conflict in Bosnia is not a civil war between Serbs, Croats, and Muslims but rather a struggle between the civic and the ethnic concept of citizenship in which the civic concept has lost out. Had we understood this, we would have acted differently.

We do not have much time to come to our senses. The collapse of the Soviet system was a revolutionary event. Those who were di­rectly affected could not help but realize they were living through a revolution. But we are all indirectly affected because the Soviet col­lapse meant the end of the stable world order that prevailed during the Cold War -- only we do not realize it. We carry on with business as usual while our institutions of collective security disintegrate. The United Nations is discredited, NATO is in disarray, and unless we rec­ognize that the world order has broken down, we face world disorder. The disintegration of the Atlantic Alliance will match the disinte­gration of the Soviet empire.

For better or worse, the new world order must be based on the United Nations, because the United States is not willing or able to act as the policeman of the world. Nor can the United States with­draw from the world, and it does not have any other institution of collective security to put in its place. The U.N. is as good, or bad, as the Great Powers that enjoy veto power in the Security Council. Dur­ing the Cold War it was immobilized by antagonism between the Western powers and the Soviet Union. In the Bosnian debacle it was discredited by the disunity among the Western democracies-the United States, the United Kingdom, and France. To make the United Nations viable, unity among the Western democracies needs to be restored. Only the concept of open society can provide a unifying principle. It includes shared values and a common interest in peace and stability and free movement of goods, people, capital, and ideas. The creation and preservation of open societies cannot be the only objective of foreign policy, but in the case of the former Soviet bloc countries it should be given high priority.

Once that principle is accepted, a constructive engagement with Russia and the other countries of the former Soviet empire follows. Its objective is to help the transition to open societies and it includes aid through international financial institutions, trade, and investment. Russia could be expected to be similarly constructive in the Security Council, transforming it into an effective instrument of collective security.

Admittedly, there will be many conflicts in and around the former Soviet empire. How those conflicts are resolved will depend greatly on the character of the societies concerned. Realism will be as much the outcome of the internal evolution of those societies as its determinant. For instance, the economic and political collapse of Ukraine would practically ensure the reemergence of Russia as an imperial power. Conversely, the survival of Ukraine as a functioning, market-oriented democratic country would help push Russia in the same direction.

Fortunately, the Group of Seven heads of state recognized the importance of Ukraine at their Naples summit in July 1994 by offering $4 billion in aid if Ukraine embarks on a policy of economic reform. The newly elected president of Ukraine, Leonid Kuchma, was determined to seize that lifeline, and he has embarked on an ambitious reform program. It is the first time since the collapse of the Soviet empire that international assistance is driving economic reform. It goes to show that if the creation and preservation of open societies is elevated to an explicit objective of policy, it may actually produce the desired results.



Military Force: A User's Guide

When should the world's only superpower intervene?

Few questions are debated more frequently and with greater passion than where and how the United States ought to intervene with mili­tary force. As the conflicts in Somalia and Bosnia make clear, it matters not whether Americans choose to intervene or stay aloof; the debate can be equally heated.

Despite some predictions to the contrary, the passing of the Cold War has made intervention decisions more commonplace and complex. The United States, liberated from the danger of military action leading to a confrontation with a rival superpower, is now freer to intervene. Moreover, only the United States possesses the means to intervene in many situations, particu­larly in those that are more demanding militari­ly. Yet American means are necessarily limited; there will always be more interests to protect than resources to protect them. Even if America can do anything, it cannot do every­thing. The need to choose remains inescapable.

There exists an obvious danger in intervening too often, in indulging in wanton uses of force. Any government that did so would be irrespon­sible. Military intervention in any form is ex­pensive. Indiscriminate intervention would leave the United States ill-prepared to meet inevita­ble contingencies; it cannot act in too many places at once. There is the danger, too, that an intervention that fares poorly, particularly one that becomes a "quagmire," could sour Ameri­cans on their world role and trigger a renewed bout of isolationism at home, thereby leaving them unable to use force when they really should or need to.

At the same time, there are costs involved in setting too high a bar against intervention by defining interests too narrowly or prerequisites for employing force too broadly. However it comes about, an unwillingness to use force abroad would be tantamount to adopting a policy of isolationism. U.S. unwillingness to intervene could encourage mayhem overseas and accelerate arms proliferation, by both those who count on America and those who oppose it. The United States would forfeit opportuni­ties to affect world conditions and further U.S. interests. Also, an official unwillingness to act when it was warranted would prompt the American public to question the worth of main­taining a modem military establishment.

The obvious challenge is how to get it right. Every situation will pose a challenge; there will be no universal answer to the intervention question and few answers that satisfy everybody in specific instances. But complexity cannot lead to immobility; not using force becomes as much of a policy choice as acting -- and carries consequences no less profound.

Two of the most demanding scenarios for the use of force by the United States in the fore­seeable future are also the most straightforward. One would be to respond to an imminent or actual North Korean invasion of South Korea. The other would be to respond to an imminent or actual attack, by Iran or Iraq upon Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, or several other Persian Gulf states. A third scenario for the potential use of force raises far more problems given the nature of the potential aggressor: a resurgent Russia bent on reclaiming parts of the former Soviet empire, especially in the Baltics, Eastern Eu­rope, Ukraine, or Central Asia.

Owing to Russia's political evolution and the deterioration of its armed forces, a scenario involving either the Baltics or Eastern Europe appears to be less likely than either the Gulf or Korean contingencies, at least for the near future. But if that were to come to pass, a revitalized and expanded NATO (one that would have considerable time to prepare for such a mission) would have to deter it and, if need be, defend against it. If problems with Russia again arise, it is better that they appear on Russia's borders than on Western Europe's.

By contrast, a direct military response to a Russian use of force against Ukraine would probably not be advisable. Although the United States has a major stake in Ukraine's emergence as a strategic counterweight to Russia, geogra­phy and other factors (including the presence of nuclear weapons on both sides) simply work against U.S. and Western ability to engage on attractive terms. As a result, American policy would best be served by making such Russian action less likely, something that could be done by promoting Ukraine's viability, encouraging autonomy for and proper treatment of ethnic Russians in Crimea, and by making clear to Russia the price it would pay in its relations with the West if it acted irresponsibly. Much the same would apply to Central Asia, where U.S. interests are relatively modest and U.S. ability to intervene highly circumscribed, owing to distance and a lack of access to facilities.

What all of those possible scenarios have in common is their traditional, interstate charac­ter. At issue are specific interests as well as the basic organizing principle of international soci­ety: defending state sovereignty against external aggression. In all cases there are borders clearly dividing the territory of the attacking state from the attacked. There is a status quo ante that can be restored and maintained. Such conflicts can best be fought by decisively using massive force at the outset to destroy the adversary's ability to project military power.

At the other end of the spectrum (in terms of scale) are potential interventions that promise to be clear in importance and purpose, but significantly limited in scope and duration. Under that heading might come hostage res­cues, punitive reprisals against terrorists or states supporting them, and interdiction on behalf of sanctions, narcotics policy, or for purposes of regulating immigration. Those are all potential military interventions that can be readily defined and carried out with high expec­tations of military success and both domestic and international support. Such interventions are more likely to prove successful if they are kept narrow in purpose, involve ample force, and are conducted as decisively as possible.

Far more difficult (yet easy to imagine) are possible calls for military intervention in circumstances sure to be as controversial as they are complex. One set of scenarios involves preventive strikes upon unconventional military capabilities. A second set of scenarios involves intervention in the internal affairs of others, he it for humanitarian or political purposes. Both have already been the object of considerable debate; both are likely to provide the United States with its most difficult foreign policy choices in the years to come.

Preventive Interventions

Preventive uses of force are reactive only in the sense of constituting a response to develop­ments perceived as threats, but they are "pro­active" in every other sense and are likely to be so viewed. The temptation to undertake pre­ventive attacks will grow as the threat becomes real and the likelihood of conflict grows. Pre­ventive attacks become more attractive if con­flict is seen as increasingly probable and on decreasingly favorable terms.

That said, preventive att2cks are easier con­templated than carried out. Preventive uses of force will be futile unless the attacker knows the location of sufficiently vulnerable targets that, in the case of unconventional weapons, also represent all or most of the capability that is of concern. Just as important, the attacker has to be prepared to manage any retaliation that might follow.

Preventive strikes against two types of targets seem most likely. The first is terrorist capabili­ties. The problem is that those are often "soft" and easily moved or re-created. The second and more likely target is a facility central to the development of unconventional weapons. Here the problems tend to stem from a lack of knowledge (as the United States learned with Iraq, what the attacker does not know can far exceed what it does) and from an inability to destroy a sheltered target. Also, preventive attacks can lead to larger conflicts -- a limited attack on North Korean nuclear facilities could well trigger a major Korean conflict, including the use of unconventional capabilities not elimi­nated in the preventive strike.

There are also diplomatic problems to con­sider. The notion of preventive self-defense -- "legitimate anticipation," in the words of political theorist Michael Walzer -- is not uni­versally accepted in principle and, in any event, is difficult to apply in the specific. The interna­tional community has long embraced the norm of the right of self-defense and is coming around to recognizing a second norm of hu­manitarian intervention. It is a long way from accepting as a third norm preventive strikes to destroy the nascent unconventional weapons capabilities of certain states that some deem rogues.

The net result is that preventive uses of force do not look attractive except in special circum­stances. Defensive measures and punitive attacks against state sponsors of terrorism appear to offer a better response to terrorists, while pro­liferation concerns are normally better met by a mixture of denial strategies, deterrence, and defensive measures. But preventive attacks may be the best option against the emergence of a militarily significant unconventional capability if diplomacy fails to place an acceptable ceiling on the threat, if effective defense is not available, and if war seems more, not less, likely.

Many of those arguments are sure to be brought up in the context of North Korea. A preventive strike against fissile material, reac­tors, and/or reprocessing plants becomes a serious option if North Korea appears on the verge of developing a significant nuclear weap­ons capability. Gaining formal international au­thority for an attack would be impossible; more important would be gaining the support (or at least acquiescence) of those states most likely to be affected adversely by any North Korean re­sponse, namely Japan and South Korea. More­over, any preventive strike would have to be preceded by conventional military efforts de­signed to deter or defend against any retalia­tion. Also useful would be a message to the North that such a war would not be terminated until the peninsula was reunified. That might help deter retaliation; if not, the occupation could be carried out by South Koreans. China could be mollified by the promise of a non­-nuclear Korea with no U.S. military presence -- and by the reality that Japan is much less likely to develop nuclear weapons under this scenario than one in which a nuclear North Korea is tolerated.

Internal Interventions

Direct military involvement in the internal affairs of another state tends to be for one of three purposes: humanitarian (providing pro­tection and other basic needs, often through the establishment of safe havens), nation-build­ing (recasting the institutions of the society), or "peacemaking" (tilting the military balance in favor of one or another contender). The ques­tion is when to opt for one of the above ap­proaches -- as opposed to another or none.

Calls for humanitarian intervention are likely to be heard in the context of failed states, where weak central governments coupled with one or more armed gangs or militia leave large numbers of people vulnerable. Abusive govern­ments will stimulate similar calls to act. Unfor­tunately, the list of potential situations in which such interventions may be desired, be it by at least one protagonist to a conflict or by some external party, are almost unlimited.

Answering the question of whether to inter­vene will be extremely difficult. There will be a need for selectivity. The impossibility of univer­sal or consistent responses to such situations is not a rationale for inaction -- just because we cannot intervene everywhere does not mean we should not intervene anywhere -- but it does highlight the necessity of being able to explain and defend decisions to intervene or not to intervene, so that domestic and international support for such a policy can be garnered.

Making the humanitarian option more attrac­tive is the creation of armed zones (safe havens) to protect endangered peoples, much as has been done in northern Iraq and around selected Bosnian cities. The purpose is to keep people alive until the political situation changes-not to try to change the political situation directly, something that would prove too costly.

Three factors ought to shape the decision to act: the actual or potential scale of the problem, the existence of any non-humanitarian interests, and the availability of military options that provide relief at acceptable costs and that promise better results at no greater cost than alternative measures. A decision that ignores any of those factors risks serious military prob­lems at the site of the attack as well as political problems at home.

Similar questions need to be raised before any nation-building is undertaken. Nation­-building can be motivated by a state's ill-treat­ment of its own people or its neighbors and by the desire to transform a belligerent country so that its behavior changes in fundamental ways. Nation-building is thus a far more ambitious enterprise than humanitarian intervention, which is limited in both means and ends. Na­tion-building requires replacing the existing political authority or creating one. It requires the defeat and disarmament of any local oppo­sition as well as the establishment of a political authority that enjoys a monopoly or near-mo­nopoly over the legitimate use of force.

Successful nation-building can involve going to war first, as with Japan and Germany. In both cases, nation-building required years of occupation and billions of dollars. At times, the task can involve nothing less than remaking a political culture. Nation-building is more de­manding in the near term than humanitarian efforts, but potentially less so over the long term. It is highly intrusive, as even the limited efforts in Panama, Grenada, and Somalia all demonstrate.

The question naturally arises: When should one choose to reconstruct a government, as opposed to doing nothing or limiting oneself to humanitarian intervention? It is a calculation that results from assessing four factors: cause (how damaging or threatening is the offending state, both to its own people and its neigh­bors?); opportunity (is it a society or culture that lends itself to remaking?); costs (what will it take and are others willing to share the bur­den?); and alternatives (what are other ways of either affecting the target entity or coping with it?). Humanitarian intervention (building safe havens) can be a useful response in countries torn by widespread ethnic conflict. By contrast, militarily removing the government, followed up by nation-building, can be the most appro­priate option when the government is the prin­cipal source of the problem. Either alternative provides a possible approach to failed states, with the decision of which to choose hinging on willingness to commit the greater resources necessary for nation-building and the judgment on whether the country is a good political and cultural candidate for a "remaking."

Clearly, opportunities for successful nation­-building will be  less common than those for humanitarian intervention. Few regimes are so dangerous, and even when they are, not many outsiders will want to pay the price. Also, it is impossible to be confident that the values we seek to promote will take root. North Korea appears to be a prime exception in light of its demonstrated aggression and the availability of South Koreans to undertake an occupation. Haiti is another candidate, although its cultural and political "ripeness" for nation-­building is uncertain, as is the prospect of en­listing other countries to participate in a long­-term occupation.

Opportunities for successful peacemaking are also likely to be rare. As we learned in Vietnam and Lebanon, peacemaking is extremely de­manding militarily and difficult to sustain politi­cally, both at home (because of the high costs and uncertain prospects for success) and in the target country (where one must contend with nationalist pressures, the difficulties of working with disorganized internal forces, and the need to act with great restraint so as not to alienate neutrals). Compellent actions -- using limited amounts of force in a coercive manner to alter an adversary's behavior -- are easier to mount; the problem is what to do should they fail. The choice -- as we have seen in Bosnia-then tends to be between escalation to peacemaking (and defeating one or more local protagonists), or backing away from direct military intervention and either doing nothing or providing military aid to one side.

What is the practical effect of raising such considerations? This year's civil war in Rwanda is a case where the United States did not inter­vene, despite the enormous scale of the disaster, with hundreds of thousands of people losing their lives and many more fleeing their homes. Such a decision is understandable given the absence of non-humanitarian interests and the difficulty of accomplishing anything useful because of the speed with which the problem developed, its size, and the lack of ready coali­tion partners. Indeed, the same scale that ar­gues for intervention weighs against it by mak­ing the requirements for successful involvement so great. The only viable approach would have been a purely humanitarian undertaking -- one in which Africans assumed the lion's share of the burden over time -- in which an armed humanitarian zone or safe haven would have been established to protect those whose lives were in danger. Such an action is akin to what France began in late June (not to be confused with the subsequent U.S. relief effort to assist Rwandan refugees in Zaire).

Haiti's problem is considerably smaller than Rwanda's, but the argument for U.S. interven­tion in Haiti is stronger. Why? First, the hu­manitarian situation, while not genocide, is still sufficiently bad to make intervention a legiti­mate option. Second, U.S. interests go beyond the humanitarian and include support for de­mocracy and ending a refugee flow into the United States. Third, given the weakness of the ruling military and the absence of any large­-scale civil strife, an intervention force could gain control of the country with relative ease; the major challenge would come in nation-­building, a task that could be shared with oth­ers. A key consideration thus becomes the willingness of others to assist in the reconstruc­tion of the state, a chore sure to be difficult and to take years.

A third such situation is Iraq, where the central government is gradually intensifying its war on the people of the south and could, with little warning, resume a major assault on the Kurds of the north. A humanitarian zone would appear to be the proper response to the south; if the zone in the north is challenged, an ap­propriate action would be massive air retaliation against military targets throughout the country, especially those of value in Baghdad.

A fourth would be Algeria, in the throes of an incipient civil war as radical Islamic forces battle a military government that took power in January 1992 after an initial round of elections revealed unexpected strength for the religious elements. Yet despite U.S. interest in the out­come, there is no appropriate role for military intervention. As was the case with Iran in the late 1970s, direct military intervention is virtu­ally irrelevant when it comes to affecting the course of internal politics once they reach revo­lution. Although Algeria is a situation with humanitarian consequences, it is not (yet) a situation calling for humanitarian intervention.

Such a situation could also arise in Egypt; if it did, the right response might be large-scale indirect aid for government forces coupled with selective strikes by U.S. and Egyptian forces against rebels. But the time to consider acting is when coups or insurrections are still in their early phases. If Egypt's predicament deteriorat­ed into a revolution, options for direct military intervention would fade, vital U.S. interests notwithstanding.

Obviously, policy must and will differ from case to case. That selectivity or inconsistency will cause problems for some and frustration for everyone. But it is unavoidable -- and prefer­able to applying some fixed set of rules about when and how to intervene. It is not simply that no two situations are alike in degree; it is also that no two situations are alike in their susceptibility to being resolved by outside mili­tary force.

Sharing the Burdens

A good deal of debate over intervention has focused on the choice between "unilateralism" and "multilateralism," between going it alone and acting with others. In reality, the choice is less stark, as the opportunities for purely unilat­eral action will be few. In most situations, in­terventions will be partly multilateral. The United States will need one or more forms of assistance from others: base or overflight rights, intelligence, combat forces, economic help, and political support. The questions worth asking, though, are in which situations will U.S. offi­cials want to marginalize or even eliminate the involvement of others and, in those situations where such involvement is deemed either nec­essary or desirable, what form it should take.

Those are hard questions to answer, for multilateralism brings with it both attractions and problems. On the positive side, multilater­alism is closely tied to international legitimacy. Foreign involvement also helps at home, where resentment at the United States' bearing most or all of the burdens of a costly and extended intervention is all but certain to undermine support for that commitment. And the United States simply does not (nor will it) possess military forces that will be able to handle most (much less all) of the claims made on them.

But multilateralism is not cost-free. Such costs transcend the economic price of America's assuming its share (nearly one-third, likely to decline to one-fourth) of U.N. operations. Keeping the Persian Gulf coalition intact neces­sitated going to the United Nations, which in turn slowed down the employment of force, most notably early in the crisis when interdict­ing ships in and out of Iraq was crucial. Multi­lateralism can translate into a loss of control over the situation on the ground. Somalia is a good example: There the United States en­countered problems over strategy and opera­tions that stemmed in part from the difficulties of coordinating with the U.N. and of sharing responsibility with the other countries contrib­uting troops. Bosnia is another example, as European governments cited ongoing humani­tarian operations to justify opposing the more aggressive policies suggested by the United States in early 1993. Bosnia also indicates the problems that can stem from a cumbersome chain of command.

Generalization is impossible. Instead, it is more useful to assess various approaches to multilateralism:

Concerned States. Gathering those coun­tries most affected by a situation, or those most inclined to do something, and acting with a degree of coordination is the least confining form of multilateralism. Here a model is the U.S.-French-British-Italian effort in Lebanon, undertaken in the fall of 1982 in the wake of the massacres of Palestinian civilians in refugee camps. The intervention failed, but not because of the way it was organized. The advantage of such an approach is that it includes only those disposed to act in parallel and avoids cumber­some political and military arrangements that can inhibit action and consumed even more time and money. The disadvantage is that it does not exist until after a crisis materializes and even once created is ad hoc and therefore sus­ceptible to poor planning and coordination. This approach also lacks the international legit­imacy of more formal regional or U.N.-sanctioned undertakings.

Informal Coalitions. The coalition or "posse" approach is one in which a single country, say the United States, becomes the de facto sheriff and enlists others to participate in one form or another to bring about a defined outcome. The classic example here is the Per­sian Gulf war, in which the United States took the lead and dozens of other countries contrib­uted military forces, overflight rights, bases, troops and equipment, or simply money to the central military effort or to an associated aspect, such as sanctions enforcement. The Gulf war model is important in another way, in that the U.S.-led coalition acted pursuant to various Security Council resolutions, something that cast the U.N. in the role of legitimizer.

The attraction of the "sheriff-and-posse" approach is that it complements more than constrains U.S. leadership. Like the concerned­ states approach, it avoids standing bureaucracies and those who are uninterested or opposed, but unlike such an approach, it is more coordinated and clearly has a leader. The drawbacks are the time it takes to put together such an effort and the often tenuous ties that bind the partici­pants, things that can constrain action. This approach also places most of the burden on the sheriff -- most likely the United States. Also, such an approach may not be legitimate in the eyes of many people if it lacks the blessing of the U.N. or the relevant regional organization.

Regional Organizations. Standing regional entities can take the lead in a crisis, as NATO has done (or at times failed to do) in Bosnia. At least in principle, one could imagine various regional organizations -- the Organization of American States (OAS), the Organization of African Unity (OAU) -- undertaking peacekeep­ing, selective peacemaking, and nation-building operations. The obvious advantages would include proximity, knowledge of language and culture, a stake in success if only to avoid refu­gee flows and a wider war, a sharing of bur­dens, and increased political legitimacy for the intervention.

The disadvantage is simply that regional organizations lack the military capability and the political consensus to intervene in most situations. Regional organizations are likely to prove undependable. That is especially true for the OAU and OAS, which lack means and rarely enjoy consensus. NATO has the means, but gaining support from all 16 members, especially in a timely manner, is often nearly impossible, especially when it involves matters where na­tional interests outweigh collective, alliance­-wide concerns -- something sure to become more frequent in the post-Cold War world.

U.N. as Organizer. In the Gulf crisis, the United Nations provided the U.S.-led coalition substantial political support, something that meant a great deal to several of the participants as well as to the U.S. Congress and the Ameri­can people. But throughout the Gulf crisis, the role was political, not military. A very different role can be envisioned in which mem­bers would make forces available to the U.N., which would then assume operational control or authorize one country to take on that role.

The advantage of such an approach is that it provides a pool of potential forces that could be trained and equipped and then tapped in a range of scenarios-but that would otherwise remain available to (and the responsibility of) host governments. At least in principle, such an objective seems desirable: It would provide resources that could undertake a broad range of military-related tasks, especially those that are personnel-intensive, thereby reducing the bur­den on the United States. Pre-designation of selected units or force levels should not be confused with pre-commitment of their avail­ability, something that needs to be decided on a case-by-case basis.

The disadvantage comes with committing such forces to enforcement actions, which by definition are militarily demanding. A U.N.­organized force would prove slow to assemble and of uneven ability once it were in place -- if it ever got that far, given that no state can be required to make any particular level of forces available. Moreover, a U.N. Security Council in which Russia and China enjoy vetoes may not support interventions Americans consider desir­able. Trying to build consensus not only takes time, but makes it more difficult for the United States to act in the event of diplomatic failure. Indeed, strengthening the norm that interven­tion must be approved, much less conducted, by the Security Council is much more likely to affect Americans than to affect others who are less concerned about public opinion and inter­national law. It might be more realistic to pro­ceed by designating a pool of forces that would be available in principle for traditional, consen­sual U.N. Chapter VI peacekeeping missions rather than anything more demanding, such as those enforcement actions taken pursuant to Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter.

U.N. Standing Army.This last approach differs from both the U.N. as legitimizer, where it provides only political cover for the actions of individual States or groups of states, and the U.N. as organizer, where it brings together and leads the forces of contributors in peacekeeping or in enforcement actions under Article 43. The U.N. legion concept would have the organization establish a standing force -- say, on the order of several brigades -- that would report to the secretary -- general and be available for whatever mission the Security Council supported or directed. Troops could be volunteers. Command would be in the hands of the U.N.

The advantage of such a standing force is its availability. At least in principle, it could be useful for missions of tactical deterrence; that is, to deploy to some border area or enclave where clashes appeared imminent. It could also take on small peacekeeping and peacemaking missions. The drawbacks, however, are consid­erable. Beyond matters of expense (salaries, training, logistics, and so on) are questions about availability -- far from ensured, given Security Council politics -- and military capabili­ty. It is easy to see how such a small force would be overwhelmed. Member states, and in particular the United States, would then come under pressure to act, not simply to deal with the situation at hand, but to save the credibility of the U.N. There is another danger, too, in that a U.N. force would likely be seen as an alternative to U.S. forces -- and a competitor for resources -- even though the potential of the U.N. force to take on the same tasks would be negligible in most instances.

Comprehensive Approach

How then does the United States choose? How does it exploit the advantages of multilateralism and unilateralism while minimizing their drawbacks? The best approach would draw upon unilateralism and even more upon modest forms of multilateralism, namely, con­cerned states and informal coalitions. In prin­ciple, the larger the U.S. stake and the larger (and more demanding) the S.S. contribution, the more the United States ought to limit the formal multilateral dimension of an undertak­ing. Strengthening regional organizations ought to be a goal, but one that at best will take a good many years to achieve. The United Na­tions appears most attractive as a legitimizer for war and as a major organizer of peacekeeping. It is also possible that we may want to turn to a strengthened U.N. to organize selective peacemaking or nation-building efforts.

The United States needs to maintain a uni­lateral military option. It cannot plan its forces on the assumption that others, including the United Nations, will be willing or able to bear the burdens of major military undertakings. Nor does the United States want to give others a veto on those occasions when it determines to intervene with force. Indeed, in some cases, such as large-scale combat or war, any multi­lateralism will be mostly in support of U.S. actions. In other cases, particularly preventive and punitive actions, rescue efforts, or interven­tion in places where there are special U.S. in­terests or a special U.S. role (such as Panama, the Philippines, or the Middle East), Washing­ton may want or need to act alone.

The United States should largely stay outside or minimize its role in situations requiring peacemaking and nation-building. (For lesser tasks, notably peacekeeping, there is little rea­son for U.S. involvement unless it is expressly sought by the protagonists, as is often the case in the Middle East, or where political arrange­ments are durable, as seems unlikely in Bosnia.) Those missions do not exploit the unique capa­bilities of U.S. forces for high-intensity combat. They are time-consuming and tie down U.S. troops that could be used elsewhere. Where appropriate, the United States would be wise to advocate -- and participate in, at least initially -- armed humanitarian zones as an alternative. If, however, peacemaking or nation-building is deemed desirable and feasible, such missions should almost always be undertaken by coali­tions, be they formal regional organizations or something along the lines of a posse or group of concerned states. In return for its support, the United States should insist that the mission be designed with an adequate appreciation of the risks and costs.

U.S. participation in multinational peacemak­ing and nation-building raises additional ques­tions. Lebanon, Somalia, and Haiti all suggest that direct U.S. involvement can be counter­productive: It can stimulate opposition and aggressive action against the effort, given the political value in many settings of taking on the United States and demonstrating an ability to kill or capture soldiers of the world's only su­perpower. The most important U.S. contribu­tion in many such situations might be in the realms where it enjoys comparative advantages, such as intelligence, transportation, and logisti­cal support. Still, the United States might find it difficult to lead if it is unwilling to share the risks; as a result, in those situations that meet criteria, some combat participation (air, if not always ground) may be required if others are to be persuaded to join in.

Some would claim that the mix presented here -- unilateralism and less formal forms of multilateralism -- lacks legitimacy. Instead, such critics would require some regional or U.N. Security Council mandate under which the United States would act. Morton Halperin, now on the Clinton National Security Council, argued earlier that "the United States should explicitly surrender the right to intervene uni­laterally in the internal affairs of other countries by overt military means or by covert opera­tions." But that approach is overly legal in principle and impractical in practice. It would require frequent recourse to organizations that might well prove unable or unwilling to provide timely and unconditional approval. It would also prove unacceptable if the interests at stake were more vital than promoting democracy or human rights. In the final analysis, legitimacy must reside in the policy itself and derive from the ends and means of the intervention, not from some external organization or internation­al court of law.

Multilateralism can be a useful military or political element of U.S. intervention; at the same time, it can prove to be cumbersome. But multilateralism is most likely to be effective (or at least not an obstacle) if the United States makes the case for a collective response and contributes to it. The precise form and compo­sition of the effort may vary, but what will not change is political reality. No international response involving the use of force will just happen. Effective multilateralism is not an alternative to U.S. leadership; it will be a consequence. The question is whether the world's only superpower will choose to behave like one.