Is Military Intervention Ever Justified?
How can intervention be defined?
Militaries have intervened in the domestic affairs of other countries time and time again, but rarely have they done so in an attempt to end a complex emergency or conflict, until recently.Intervention, as wikipedia ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intervention ) says is:
• Interventional (counselling) - an orchestrated attempt by family and friends to get a family member to "get help" for addiction or other similar problem.
• An act by which a third person, to protect his own interest, interposes and becomes a party to a suit pending between other parties. There are financial, political, military interventions.
• A nation's insertion of military or diplomatic pressure upon another nation or elements within it in order to resolve or minimize a human rights crisis.
• A nation's provision of military support to one side of an internal conflict within another nation.
• A military invasion - occasionally used euphemistically
• A particular form of capturing in some board games.
There are many forms of intervention. Until the last decade, military intervention was used to achieve geopolitical goals of states, by protecting its territory, population, and other resources.
Using military force for “humanitarian” purposes was rare for states or international organizations (IOs) in conflicts called “complex emergencies”. It was even less common to use armed forces that the only objective was to resolve the conflict once and for all. On the other hand, armed forces were used to keep peace in operations once ceasefire had been already reached.
Since the end of the Cold War, military intervention for humanitarian ends and conflict resolution has increased dramatically. We can include in this the use of troops in traditionally unconventional ways such as disaster relief. Although the use of troops help end the fighting in an intractable conflict, troops which typically stay on in a far more active peacemaking capacity than tradition "blue helmet" peacekeepers did.
So why are military interventions important, and at the same time controversial?
Well, there is no doubt that the uses of military force by the international community in places like Kosovo or Somalia was an important part of the development of peace in 1990’s. But there is little doubt that the international community has a lot to learn about these operations. Military intervention happens in some places, but not in others, we can see that in the case of Russia in Chechnya, where intervention form outside forces is all but complete ruled out when one of the world’s major powers opposes such intervention. But in order to intervene, the major powers have to agree if the intervention is for humanitarian purposes, or to protect their own interests. And finally, the interveners have to conclude that the intervention is likely to succeed.
But how can we know if a intervention will fail or succeed? Success is relative, so most interventions have at least one common goal, ending the short term crisis. Interventions in places like Kosovo helped end humanitarian disasters, in which the stronger side abused the human rights of their weaker adversaries. Although an intervention can be turned into an operation that can later lead to stable peace, the problem is when the intervention involves outsiders coming to promote interests of the weaker side of the conflict. The relationship between states whose military forces intervene and the NGOs who have long provided relief and other aid to civilians caught up in the fighting. Many of those NGOs have abandoned their traditional and vital political neutrality in order to get the funds and the influence that cooperation with states provides.
What can the states do? There can be no military intervention unless states commit their troops. On the other hand, what states can do, and what states should do is not obvious. One of the consequences of the rapid change is that he handful of major powers have all had a hard time determining what their role should be in dealing with intractable conflicts and in some cases their uncertainty has had tragic consequences.
And what can the international community do? The term “international community” is a sign how things have changed in these few years. This term could not have been used in the cold war, because the superpower rivalry meant that no real community could exist that included “East” and “West”. And there is no such thing as international community than the United Nations and other institutions. On the other hand, intervention is authorized by the United Nations and involves a multinational force. The support for permanent international forces has grown. The most important of these are the calls for the creation of United Nations peace keeping force. If this happened, once a humanitarian crisis breaks out, the United Nations troops would solicit troops from member states to help out in the crisis.
If military intervention was justified, what would be his motive? In Charles Knight (Ethical Society of Boston, on the 4th February 2001) opinion, today’s Realists have nearly complete (or hegemonic) command the national security apparatus. He believes that transcending the Realist’s world of Hobbesian power politics to a world of shared power and responsibility for armed forces is a project that may well take another two hundred years, and things will get worse before they get better.
Despite this, military posture can not result in long term stability: in Realism terminology it worsens the “security dilemma” for other nations.
Would be military intervention to protect Human Rights justified? In Hugo Slim opinion: “In the context of armed conflict, humanitarianism embodies a range of practical activities and legal principles that seek to restrain and limit violence in accordance with norms set out in international humanitarian law (IHL), refugee law and human rights law.[…] The term humanitarian intervention also requires some definition. This term refers to the use of international military force to stop the massive abuse of human rights in another state. Such action might be taken unilaterally by a single state without international approval or by a single state or alliance of states with official international sanction from a multi-lateral organisation such as the United Nations.”
How can we distinguishing Humanitarianism from Force? The first theme which emerges strongly in humanitarian agency discussions of international military intervention is the use, and to many agencies the abuse, of the term “humanitarian” as an adjective to describe the international use of force in the phrase “humanitarian intervention”. The first one is independent humanitarian action, the second is political and military intervention undertaken in situations involving mass crime or terror.
Can military intervention ever be justified?
In my opinion, yes, military intervention can be justified. As long as this intervention has the objective of preservation of the Human Rights, helping the population that lives in this states by preserving them their rights, freedom or/and lives that were affected before the intervention. Despite that, military intervention, with the purpose of the self interest (as oil) cannot be justified, even if they say that is for humanitarian purposes. So that won’t happen, this interventions would have to be agreed by the population that lives in it, as well as organizations like the United Nations.
As I explained before, humanitarianism and force have different meanings, but that doesn’t mean that people use them with different meanings. People usually confound “humanitarianism war” has a bad thing, since the word war is in it. This humanitarianism war does not mean war by it self, it doesn’t mean force. It does mean interventional ways with the only purpose of the humanitarian response to help the weaker side.
• Military Intervention and the European Union
Martin Ortega. Paris, France: Institute for Security Studies of WEU, March 2001.
• Humanitarian Intervention and Just War
Mona Fixal and Dan Smith. Mershon International Studies Review #42 (1998).
Posted on the Mount Holyoke College International Relations Website.
• Introduction to International Relations – Theories and Approaches, Robert Jackson and Georg Sorensen, Second Edition, Oxford