Volume 6, Issue 1, January 2012
Supplement to "One
World, One Force"
A World Force in Operation
By Carl Teichrib, Chief Editor
The following text is an excerpt from Thomas C. Schelling’s reprinted piece in the massive four volume series, The Strategy of World Order, volume 3 (edited by Richard A. Falk and Saul H. Mendlovitz and published by the World Law Fund of New York, 1966). While this item is not an official document by any means, it does offer a window into the more advanced strategic thinking that circulated in the disarmament community.
Schelling was a member of the politically influential Council on Foreign Relations from the late 1950’s until the early 1970’s. He was a Distinguished Fellow of the American Economic Association, and has held important academic posts. His books, lectures, and articles on military strategy and international affairs are recognized as paramount works within the field.
Near the end of this piece there is a break in the text. This division separates the technical body of Schelling’s work from an important part in his conclusion.
“The three main kinds of military action that the force could take against a united country would be pain, conquest, and obstruction.
By “pain” I mean sheer coercive damage. Nuclear or other weapons might be used to inflict civil damage at a rate sufficient to induce the government to change its mind and bend to the will of the international authority.
By “obstruction” I mean military action designed to retard a country’s rearmament, to make it more costly than the country could manage, to spoil it altogether or to impede it sufficiently to prevent a major threat to the security of other countries. This might be done either by selective bombing or by selective invasion and occupation of key facilities.
Activities aimed at causing confusion, revolt of the population, civil war, orcoup ďétat could come under any of these three headings but would, of course, involve other tactics.
It is not obvious that we should want a force, even were it charged with the most ambitious responsibilities, to have excellent capabilities to carry out those missions. We might prefer the international force itself (or the nations controlling its decisions) to be deterred by at least some prospect of difficulty or even failure. We might, in other words, want the force itself to be under strong incentive to consider military intervention only as a last resort.
Militarily we can distinguish at least three different kinds of deployment for the international strategic force. In one, strategic weapons and personnel would be kept in neutral territories –on the high seas, in special areas reserved to the international force (perhaps island bases), or perhaps distributed in enclaves in some politically acceptable proportions.
Except for contingents that happen to be within the victim country, the international armed force would then be in the same position that national armed forces usually are with respect to war: to conquer they have to penetrate enemy territory.
In a second mode of deployment, forces could be kept deliberately within the countries that are most likely to be “enemies.” This would mean keeping strategic forces within the larger industrial countries. It might include the option of moving more forces into a country toward which threats were being made or with which war was imminent. Moving extra forces into the United States or the Soviet Union would of course be a major political move and might be subject to restriction of access.
The purpose of being within the country, other than ceremonial, would be to minimize the cost and delay of invasion, occupation, or selective destruction – i.e., of war. Particularly for non-nuclear invasion – a quick capture of strategic points in the country – mobile forces already within the country, properly distributed, might enhance the likelihood of quick success. The force could occupy Moscow more reliably with ground forces located thirty miles away than by relying on airborne troops in bad weather. An amphibious landing on the coast of Japan, France, or the United States would be harder than just moving troops already located within these countries.
The third mode of deployment – and it might look a little unmilitary – would be to put critically vulnerable parts of a country’s economy and essential services directly into the hands of an international force. If the force can control the supply of water, electricity, fuel, transport, and communication to American, German, or Soviet cities, it might minimize strategic bombing, selective occupation, and other violence.
To coerce a country, like the landlord who shuts off the utilities when a tenant refuses to move, the force could put on the squeeze by shutting down services. Rather than bomb electric power installations the force might press a key that sets off a charge of dynamite already installed.
If one really believed in the reliability and permanence of an international arrangement, such schemes for providing the authority with “hostages” might be more efficient, even more humane, than providing it with bombers and shock troops. One could even go further and let the force have a monopoly of critical medicines to use for bacterial warfare on a transgressor country. As soon as it starts an epidemic, it sends its medical units in to make sure that no one suffers who cooperates. Those who oppose it – military forces, government leaders, or anyone else – are without essential vaccines and must decide for themselves whether to stay at large and suffer or to surrender to be cured.
These gimmicks undoubtedly suffer from novelty, even from meanness, and would not be acceptable. They probably also go too far in assuming that the scheme is really for keeps. They give the international force too great an assurance of easy victory. The cards should be stacked in favor of the international force, but not with complete reliability.
The decision to intervene by force in a sovereign country should always be a hard one. Furthermore it is worth some extra cost ---to keep the forces of organized violence out of sight, in reserve, and confined to tradition. No matter how strongly the entire arrangement is opposed to military traditions, uniformed troops are likely to seem more civilized them schemes patterned on the “protection” rackets or a paternalistic big brother.
Nevertheless there may be something in the notion of “prior occupation,” i.e., of having strategic forces already located where they can accomplish “strategic” missions by simple tactical means – throwing switches and using only the conventional weapons of armored infantry...
Two tentative conclusions can be put forward. First, it is unlikely that an international strategic command would have a completely reliable, credible capability to intervene and to stop any rearmament of a major industrial power. Its ‘deterrent’ against rearmament will certainly be subject to some doubt. It will suffer from some of the same disabilities as a national deterrence force. As a coercive military organization it will be quite imperfect.
Second, it would probably be unwise and unsafe to have it any less imperfect. The international force can itself be a threat to peace, even to disarmament, and surely to the freedom and independence of nations. The more nearly omnipotent it is, the less reassurance it would provide. The greater its military superiority over individual nations, the more it can be viewed as a potential ‘enemy’ by the nations that it is set up to guard.
The more decisive its potential role, the more crucial becomes the capture of its political control or its disablement by those who cannot hope to control it.”FC
Council on Foreign Relations: Taking Itself Seriously (from "One World, One Force")
Carl Teichribis the editor of Forcing Change (www.forcingchange.org), a monthly online publication detailing the changing worldview and transforming agendas now shaping society, the church, and nation.
FC is a monthly, online publication dedicated to documenting and analyzing the socio-religious transformations now sweeping our Western world.
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