The Benevolence of the Intervener
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19-03-2011, 08:16 PM
 
The Benevolence of the Intervener
This notion came up at a debate today (actually I brought it up).

As someone who believes in a moralistic foreign policy, I have to confront the notion that interventionism can be done in the interest of morality.

This is the basis of Christopher Hitchen's argument for the invasion of Iraq. He believes that the invasion was necessary not for the reasons that the administration thought it was necessary, but because a dictator was being removed and a people were being "liberated" and in a way, Islamic fundamentalism was being fought.

However, I believe that this proposition requires the benevolence of the intervener. In other words, the force that intervenes for moral reasons must be in it for moral reasons. Clearly, this was not the case in Iraq.

Recently, a no-fly zone has been implemented in Libya. I think this is a spectacular example of interventionism being done right, and that is something that I thought I would never say. It actually seems as if the international community is acting responsibly.

In this case, the intervener is benevolent (or appears to be so).

I know most of you share a similar view on foreign policy (morals based). So my question is, are we as idealists willing to be pragmatic in the implementation of idealism?

In a situation in which intervention may also bring about a positive development, does the intervener have to be benevolent for the intervention to be justified? Or, if the intervener moves in with different motives (as in Iraq), but makes an intervention that ends up having an effect, such as the removal of a dictator, is that intervention justifiable?

Obviously Iraq is a much more complex situation than my question would suggest, and I would be the first to argue that the removal of Saddaam Hussein has not led to a remarkably greater life for Iraqis, so the question that I pose may be answered in more general terms as well.
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19-03-2011, 08:37 PM
RE: The Benevolence of the Intervener
One question that is missing is...do the people want an Intervener? If they do not want intervention, then no matter how benevolent the intervener is, it would be immoral for the intervener to interfere regardless of what their intention is.

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20-03-2011, 02:28 AM
RE: The Benevolence of the Intervener
In the case of Iraq, I got the impression that a lot of Iraqis wanted intervention and a lot didn't. There have been many attempts to kill Suddam Hussien by Iraqis prior to the last US lead invasion. This complicates everything even more. How can you stand by and watch a cruel dictator murder his citizens?

I think that it was both the UN and the other Middle Eastern countries that dropped the ball in that situation. The reason that the first gulf war [1991] didn't go into Iraq and end Suddam's government is because Arabia and other mid-east countries started showing signs that they may cause a fragmenting of the coalition when the war entered Iraq. The UN and US decided not to risk a breakdown of the coalition and ende their drive into Iraq. I think that was a bad mistake and the middle eastern countries are to blame for that. They chickened out because they were afraid of what would replace Suddam.

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20-03-2011, 06:29 AM
RE: The Benevolence of the Intervener
Interesting topic.

Obviously the rebel alliance (alderonians?) requested intervention from the international community. The majority of nations have decided Qadhafi is a menace, if not to the world, then at least to his own people. Even Arabs view him as crazier than Charlie Sheen...

That said, the only way this turns out well is for the complete ouster of Qadhafi - not saying that has to be done by the US, but the rebels really don't have a chance without some level of foreign intervention and assistance on the ground.

In the case of Iraq, hindsight would say that the world blew it in 1991 by not going the full monty. The second Gulf War was conducted for all the wrong reasons, but a case could've been made that it was necessary and the right thing to do based simply on Saddam's non-compliance with the UN Security Council resolutions that violated the terms of the cease fire. Bush and company felt that there wasn't enough political will, domestically or internationally, to justify an all regime change based on that alone, even though the "legal" justification existed.

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20-03-2011, 08:19 AM
RE: The Benevolence of the Intervener
I'm ok with the world intervening on behalf of the rebels in Libya but I think the belief that this based on benevolence and not oil is misguided. There are a whole bunch of places in the world that have similar situations and the res of the world could not care less about them. Burma, a lot of Africa, parts of South America, etc. all have rebels trying to fight against oppressive governments. What they don't have is oil or other resources the western world can use.

On Iraq, I agree with Seasbury. Bush 1 blew it by not finishing the job when he had the chance. I realize that he was a bit hamstrung and trying to finish the job would have cost him a lot of points with our Arab "allies" but the fact is they didn't like us much after we left anyway, so we should have just finished the job in 91 and been done with it. Live and learn, I guess.

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20-03-2011, 01:03 PM
RE: The Benevolence of the Intervener
Even prior to the Iraq invasion , Sadam used chemical weapons against international law - the intervention should have been then.

As for citizens desiring intervention , it's hard to actually ask them.A lot of countries in the middle-east censor communication , even the internet so it's impossible to get an honest response to the question : "Do you need help ? "

The US did not intervene in Germany despite the discrimination of Jews or in the USSR despite the anti-Ukrainian famine.The US went to war only when attacked by axis forces.
In Vietnam a civil war was confused for an ideological war and thousands died for an intervention that was never required.

It's hard to decide when to act and how to act - and I hope I never have to face such difficult decisions.
I do want to see more involvement in defending human rights and freedom of speech and I hope Libya proves a hopeful example.

But then again , just last year , sexual orientation was briefly removed from the set of laws defending human rights - so unfortunately our concrete laws can easily fail us human when we need them most.

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20-03-2011, 04:15 PM
RE: The Benevolence of the Intervener
(20-03-2011 01:03 PM)gaglamesh731 Wrote:  The US did not intervene in Germany despite the discrimination of Jews or in the USSR despite the anti-Ukrainian famine.The US went to war only when attacked by axis forces.
In Vietnam a civil war was confused for an ideological war and thousands died for an intervention that was never required.

The US also did not intervene in WWI until two key events: a German U-boat sank a British passenger ship, the Lusitania, that was filled with US passengers and a year later the US intercepted a telegram from Germany to their US ambassador to engage Mexico to start a war with the US on our southern boarder to keep us out of WWI. These two events so enraged the US population that President Wilson was able to finally get the popular support he was looking for to enter the War.

What you saw in WWI and WWII was consistent with traditional American policy. For the first 150 or so years of our existence our basic policy was one of "mind our own damn business" and keep out of the wars of Europe. After WWI, we fell right back into our normal state of xenophobia and there was little support to support the Allies in WWII. Obviously that all changed when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and then a few days later when Hitler declared war on us formally (which raises the question of which move was dumber: breaking his treaty with Stalin and attacking Russia or declaring war on the US?).

After WWII we basically turned out backs on 150 years of history and declared ourselves the world's policeman, whether the world wanted us to be it or not (and usually it did). The cold war mentality and exaggerations of Soviet influence and strength lead to the disastrous war in Viet Nam. And, from there, we just continued to involve ourselves all over the world.

Considering no one ever really appreciated it to begin with, and after the folly in Iraq, I'm kind of hoping that we go back to our more traditional stance of minding our own business. Let the rest of the world look after itself without us for a change.

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20-03-2011, 04:40 PM
RE: The Benevolence of the Intervener
Someone please explain to me why there is no benevolent intervention in e.g. Zimbabwe?

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20-03-2011, 04:48 PM
RE: The Benevolence of the Intervener
(20-03-2011 04:40 PM)The_observer Wrote:  Someone please explain to me why there is no benevolent intervention in e.g. Zimbabwe?
Easy: There's no US interest there. You know, oil.

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20-03-2011, 05:02 PM (This post was last modified: 20-03-2011 05:16 PM by Observer.)
RE: The Benevolence of the Intervener
(20-03-2011 04:48 PM)ConditionYellow Wrote:  
(20-03-2011 04:40 PM)The_observer Wrote:  Someone please explain to me why there is no benevolent intervention in e.g. Zimbabwe?
Easy: There's no US interest there. You know, oil.
If this is the case... So much for the benevolent part in Libya then...

Hmm...
I thought it over. Perhaps this was a stupid question. There was no explicit demand for an intervention either...

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