Cross Roads or Cross Purposes? Tensions between Military and Humanitarian Providers

By Major, Solomon | Parameters, Summer 2012 | Go to article overview

Cross Roads or Cross Purposes? Tensions between Military and Humanitarian Providers


Major, Solomon, Parameters


In October 2001, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell addressed a conference of humanitarian nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in Washington, D.C. There, he remarked "I want you to know that I have made it clear to my staff here and to all of our ambassadors around the world that I am serious about making sure we have the best relationship with the NGOs who are such a force multiplier for us, such an important part of our combat team." (1) Although his purpose in this address was undoubtedly to build a foundation for a whole-of-nation effort to promote democracy, respect for human rights, and the elimination of terrorism, the secretary's speech had the opposite effect, angering many of the conference's participants who felt that the US Government was seeking to co-opt their organizations by making them mere ancillaries to the war effort.

In 2006 to 2007, Army Lieutenant Colonel James L. Cook was the C J3 (Deputy for Plans and Operations) for Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF) 76, covering Regional Command (RC) South and RC East in Afghanistan. His command controlled most of the Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs), and all of the American PRTs operating in those areas of responsibility. Troubling to LTC Cook was the level of redundancy of aid and assistance programs undertaken by the military, government agencies, and the NGO community. He was confused as to why: "as operators, it was so difficult to get everyone to row together" and divide responsibilities to most efficiently and effectively use the limited resources at hand. (2) Although he found levels of access to and cooperation with NGOs varied from project to project and NGO to NGO, Cook felt area-wide communication and cooperation were less than he thought possible and NGOs were (largely) unresponsive to his staff's efforts to streamline the distribution of reconstruction and aid monies.

Introduction

Like most military and foreign policy professionals, Secretary Powell and LTC Cook have a genuine interest in helping those in need. Alleviating suffering is not their only interest however. The Departments of State and Defense are arms of the United States government and are thus responsible to the nation and its people for advancing their interests as well as for meeting the needs of those affected by tragedy. Indeed, there is a hierarchy of interests that are served by government-sponsored humanitarian missions. First, advance the goals of the nation, and, second, deliver aid to those in need. There is nothing cynical or hypocritical about this hierarchy. As the previous passages reflect, rather than seeing these national and humanitarian ends as conflicting, both Secretary Powell and LTC Cook believed these two goals were in harmony--one supports the other.

As the respect for human rights and dignity from policy practitioners is genuine, they believe their common cause with their humanitarian NGO counterparts should serve as a basis for a smooth and unproblematic partnership. True, the humanitarians might not share their hierarchy of interests, as the latter may privilege the interests of those in need of aid above the interests of the nations that deliver it. But, as the government practitioner sees no conflict between serving these two interests, this fact ought not disrupt prospects for cooperation. The continued unevenness in civil-military relations between militaries and nongovernmental aid-givers, sometimes cooperative, often uncooperative (even hostile), thus continues to confuse and frustrate government agents.

In fact, the root of such problems stem from the fact that many in the policy community fail to appreciate that humanitarians also have a hierarchy of interests. Humanitarians have historically been as concerned with humanitarianism as an end as much as a means, because the practice of humanitarianism redeems the aid-giver as much as it comforts the recipient--or, more precisely, the aid-giver is redeemed through providing comfort to others. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Cross Roads or Cross Purposes? Tensions between Military and Humanitarian Providers
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.