Post-Intervention Conflict Multiple countries such as Congo, Somalia, and Afghanistan, have been plagued with internal war and protracted conflicts for a long time, and show no signs of achieving stable peace on their own. These lawless and violent conditions create havens for terrorists and pose threats to the security of the surrounding regions. In some cases, like those listed, other countries have intervened, intent either on bringing them stability or at least addressing the threats to their own security which come from them. Motives and circumstances of each case of intervention are different, whether they are a matter of a country securing its own border-regions like Ethiopia does with Somalia, attempts to eliminate groups which demonstrably pose a threat to their security, like the intervention in Afghanistan, etc., so a general discussion of intervention may not be fruitful. There is, however, one common factor, similar in all cases, which is clearly within the purview of the UNSC, regional instability after the intervention.
One current and thoroughly studied example of intervention is in Afghanistan. In response to attacks on September 11, 2001, the U.S. supported Afghan rebels in overthrowing the Taliban. Following that, on December 20, 2001, the United Nations Security Council adopted resolution 1386 which authorized the International Security Assistance Force which is mandated to restore peace and security to the region and secure nation-building aid-programs. Ten years later, that force is still there, and it is debatable whether that security has been established. Another current case is in Libya where recent intervention assisted a revolution that was part of the “Arab Spring”, but no foreign force remained afterwards to address any ongoing instability. As of February 2012, there are still militias fighting over the capital and violence spilling over the border. From these cases and others, it can be seen that with or without continued foreign intervention after the end of the original mission, instability remains.
To be fair to those who devised and drove current efforts and methods, the decade-long war in Afghanistan has indeed achieved many of its goals: the Taliban has been significantly weakened, an Afghan government is functioning (though its ability to do so still depends upon the ISAF), and perhaps of greatest symbolic significance, Osama Bin Laden has been assassinated by US forces. Still, with the ISAF mission likely to shrink in the coming years, it is not clear how close the violent conflict is to ending, nor entirely certain whether the conflict will remain low enough intensity to be handled by Afghans alone following the drawdown.
Currently, no general procedure, standard, nor strategy exists to address this issue. In fact, there is not even a clear metric by which the international community may measure how close the instability in the aftermath of intervention, or of situations which lead to intervention, is to ending. Drawdown, transition of power from intervening forces to local governments, and final pullout of intervening forces are all arranged on a completely case-by-case basis with no guidance. While a clear, widely applicable strategy for reduction of conflict and transition of responsibility to local forces would be most useful, even just an effective means by which to measure the progress of a mission in reducing long-term violence would be very helpful.
However, there are several complicating factors. As intervening countries often can often only afford to maintain missions until the local government is basically functional rather than strong, they leave behind weak governments with all the problems associated with them: Between corruption in the civil service and police forces, difficulty in law-enforcement which may lead to black-market trade in drugs or arms, and an ongoing conflict which may already have spilled over borders, after a drawdown there may still be regional instability. For example, Afghanistan has an illicit drug trade that supports terrorism and makes up about one third of the country’s GDP and Pakistan is suspected of harboring insurgents who arrange or carry out attacks in Afghanistan. On top of that, the border-region between Pakistan and Afghanistan is far from the military, political, and industrial centers of either country, so they have difficulty policing the region or projecting military power there. In Libya, there is still sporadic fighting between militias even in the capital. Simply demanding that intervening forces stay longer may not be effective as wars are bloody and expensive, and intervening nations may have a limited willingness to keep bleeding and spending.