Sunday, May 13, 2007

International Policing

John P. Sullivan writes about a missing piece of the US international policy with regards to policing in conflict zones. This doesn't seem to address a lot of the questions that come up with regards to police forces that are transnational in nature.
The time has come to develop standing constabulary forces at several levels: U.S., NATO, and U.N. Such a building block approach would allow national and regional operations, as well as global U.N. efforts. A serious evaluation of U.S. policy and force structure is required. Many questions need to be answered: how would this service be structured; where would it reside (in the Department of Defense, Justice, State or Homeland Security); would it operate solely as an expeditionary force or domestically as well? Further questions related to the training and scope of operations must also be addressed. Would the service cover terrorism, and counter-insurgency in addition to peace operations? Finally, would it be a standing force like the Gendarmerie or a composite force like the Australian, Canadian, and EU forces?

Policing and crime control skills must be integrated into strategic and operational responses to peace operations and related conflicts that challenge transnational stability. A global framework of standing or composite constabulary forces could fill this need. It is time to fill the missing mission—the time for expeditionary police is now.
At the national police force level, this is questionable. Though being involved in a truly international police force could have some benefits. There are lots of down-sides to being involved in one as well. Questions of whose law will receive preference is one of the most difficult. Would the US constitution have primary control in the US or would having an international treaty require it take a preference for the international rule of law? As for jurisdiction, this would also require that there be an international court that is acceptable to all member states. I'm highly dubious that the US population would be willing to hand their rights over to an international tribunal of any type. The thought of having the UN in control of such a force also is highly questionable.

Adding a policing group for the US that would be involved in international law enforcement would be helpful in many venues, though I'm uncertain it would be helpful in places like Iraq. The UN fleeing Iraq and blaming the issue on the US military failure to provide security would be another reason to question such a forces viability. Such forces would be helpful in areas that are more stable, but in areas like Baghdad, their benefit would likely be only minor. If the forces were solely from coalition forces, then the benefits may be better since cooperation between the police and the military would be more closely organized. But having such a police force under a separate and at times antagonistic organization would be a failure.

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