Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Humanitarian -- Communitarian -- Human Rights

Do Humanitarian/Human Rights also mean Communitarian/Community Rights? One of the biggest obstacles to following the Communitarian's movement is the numerous terms used to describe the exact same things. To this day most average Americans have never heard of the word communitarian. Is it a "real" term used by officials in the U.S. government?

Does communitarianism mean "the devolution of power to groups and the seizing of authority from the nation-state by communities"?

The following quotes may help answer that question:

Colin Powell used the word "communitarian" five times during a short interview with Bob Schieffer on CBS Face the Nation December 17, 2006. Schieffer never once uses the word in his responses; one would have to assume he's already very familiar with the term.

Mr. POWELL: The number one priority has to be working with the Iraqi
government and their strategy, provide security for the people of Baghdad,
initially--that's the center of gravity. But I think, ultimately, with our
help, has to be done by the Iraqis. They're the ones who have to solve this
internecine civil war humanitarian--communitarian conflict that they're

SCHIEFFER: Well, let--let's--let's--you've talked about it, and as I--I take
it, you--you think that the 160,000 troops are not going to be any more
successful than 140,000 have at this point.

Communitarian guru Amitai Etzioni in an abstract explaining a neo-communitarian approach to international relations- rights and the good in the Human Rights Review in Volume 7, July 2006:

Amitai Etzioni

"Abstract New communitarianism is important even to those who care little about academic disputes. A greatly altered communitarian position lays the foundation for an international legal framework that is more comprehensive than the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is more attentive to beliefs in the East, and enhances the ability of nations that adhere to different values to find common ground on policies ranging from humanitarian interventions to fighting terrorist groups. The article first examines criticisms leveled against communitarianism and then highlights the ways a neo-communitarian approach has overcome these criticisms. The question of under what circumstances one nation may interfere in the internal affairs of another, especially to advance human rights, using means as different as cross cultural moral judgments to armed humanitarian interventions, serves as a litmus test for distinguishing the new from the old communitarian approach."
Natural Law in English Rennaissance Literature by R.S. White explains it thus:

"In the terms of Natural Law, good is humanitarian, communitarian and is driven by compassion, reason and conscience."
A New US Military Strategy: Issues and Options Project on Defense Alternatives Briefing Memo # 20 by Carl Conetta and Charles Knight, 21 May 2001 includes:
"4.2 Are peace operations un-American?
Some advocates of selective engagement have targeted humanitarian and peace operations as prime candidates for triage. From an orthodox Realist perspective the cost of pursuing humanitarian or communitarian goals may easily outweigh their service to manifest national interests. Certainly the material benefit to national interests is seldom direct. The beneficial effects of stemming genocide, relieving refugee crises, or forestalling war are as diffuse as the negative consequences of doing nothing."
In an Indian paper by Mararand Paranjape titled Dominance and Dissent: Interrogating the Terms of Discourse we find the terms again used interchangably:

"In fact, the only secularism which survives such a crisis is one which has a strong humanitarian and communitarian component. But the more humanitarian and communitarian it becomes, the more it begins to resemble dharma."
And again, from India's Integrated Rural Development of Weaker Secitions in India

"Vision: Sustain humanitarian and communitarian values of respect for each other, dignity, harmonious living with nature, work together for a self reliant community, continue to work collectively, to attain self sufficiency and just, gender equal, sustainable and ecologically sound civil society.

"#1 Goal:Community Development Education of the Weaker section to create in them an awareness for Social health and economic development through a process of Community organisation."

As Anne-Marie Slaughter, Dean, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University said in her review of Amitai Etzioni's book, "From Empire to Community, A New Approach to International Relations":

"In this timely and provocative book, Professor Etzioni offers a rich compendium of insights and ideas. His vision of a potential East-West synthesis is particularly compelling. Better still, he is not afraid to tackle the very real challenge of creating genuine institutions to govern a potential global polity. A valuable read for anyone interested in the future of global governance."

In an MIT Security Studies Program Seminar called Strategies of Humanitarian Intervention, in a paper presented by Taylor Seybolt of the United States Institute of Peace on 19 September 2007:

"2. Another questioner sought to probe the rationale behind the right to protect. The liberal ideas underlying the right to protect are in contrast to the communitarian ideas behind the prohibition on genocide, so these ideas may at some level be in conflict. The focus on genocide may be in part a matter of convenience, given the existing force of the anti-genocide regime."
Further reading for those who can afford it:

Ordering the International: History, Change and Transformation By William Brown, Simon Bromley, Suma Athreye

There's other places where the term is used too:

The spare parts syndrome - artificial bodily parts for impaired humans
UNESCO Courier, July-August, 1993 by Bernard Teo
"The humanitarian and communitarian foundation of organ transplantation would be corrupted by such a consumerist approach."
Is communitarianism a term much used by the U.S. Military? Here's an excerpt for the U.S. Army War College Quarterly, Sociopolitical Stresses and the RMA by FRANK J. STECH From Parameters, Summer 1995, pp. 47-54

"Communitarianism and the Values Revolution

Technology plays even less of a role in explaining the second destabilizing feature of our world: the quest for values, rooted in ethnology, regionalism, religion, and other fundamentalisms.[5] This quest generates what Samuel Huntington termed "the clash of civilizations."[6] The quest for values, while virtuous in many dimensions, also tends to attack liberal values and supplant state power, civics, and citizenship. "The faith of the Enlightenment in the inevitable triumph of human reason and liberty," wrote Almond and Verba in The Civic Culture, "has been twice shaken in recent decades."[7] This "faith" in the reason and science of the Enlightenment is under broad attack again, not by fascists and communists this time, but by intellectuals, ranging from fundamentalist Islamic mullahs to liberals such as Vaclav Havel and conservatives such as William Bennett. Fewer every day seem prepared to make Descartes' declaration that identity depends solely on pure reason. Fascism and communism challenged the "inevitability of democracy" in this century; challenges in the next century will be based on values, not ideologies.

But if communitarianism (the devolution of power to groups and the seizing of authority from the nation-state by communities) seems good for established democracies, those same democracies seem unwilling to grant that such actions may be good for ethnic groups and tribal enclaves, for Yugoslavia or Chechnya. "We should stop touting order imposed from the center for others," wrote William Safire recently, "even as we come to reject that course for ourselves. On the contrary, we should encourage others to go with the flow of centrifugal political forces all over the world."[8] Many would reject Safire's "go with the flow" perspective, seeing that communitarianism's ideals conflict with the core democratic political precepts which sharply limit the claims of state, government, and community on the individual. There are no assurances that all communities will share the same values, that different groups will concur on moralities and responsibilities, that all citizens will obey the same authorities. Wrote French journalist Jean Daniel, "America is wondering if its citizens have less in common than they have differences. . . . [T]hey all come together not under the banner of assimilation or oneness, but of coexistence . . . . This tendency toward `communitarianism' is as alarming for Europe as it is for the United States. We can see in Lebanon and the former Yugoslavia where this kind of convulsion leads."[9]

Western nations may continue to defend liberal political values (human rights, democratic processes, free speech), even as their citizens shift to more communitarian motives for political actions (community rights, moral processes, socially conscious speech), devolve more political power to communities, and find their armies becoming more exclusive enclaves of a warrior spirit. Such spirit stands good stead for traditional offensive and defensive military missions. It is less clear, though, how well "warriors" will perform in the "operations other than war" that represent much of the future work of Western military forces. If the citizenry question the political foundations of these operations, their military execution will become that much more difficult to sustain, regardless of the depth of warrior spirit or professionalism in the armed forces. And pitted against these Western defenders of liberal political values (perhaps only feebly supported by communitarian voters) will be the warriors of nations and ethnic groups that implacably hold tribal and fundamental values. OOTW seem far better served by a professional ethic than by a warrior spirit.

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