Opinion: “Humanitarian intervention” – are we going wrong?

By Nikos Tsinakis

For those unaware of what humanitarian intervention is, in addition to how it works, this opinion piece will give you an insight into what it is, how it works, and where it is possibly going wrong on the global stage.

 

Humanitarian intervention is when a state essentially uses legitimate force against another state that has committed a gross offence against its own people. This use of force is usually legitimised by the United Nations Security Council, a chamber of delegates selected and appointed by the government they represent. For example, the British representative on the USMC is Karen Pierce CBE. This point of this council is to seek evidence, determine a motive, review the actions of the country at question and determine how they should act in order for the country in question to receive retribution for its mistake. The UN sees this as their moral obligation and the whole project gravitates around several liberal moral principles that formulate is nature.

 

Now we know the minimal basics of what the UNSC is and how it works, we can now go on to accessing whether it is a force for good or a force for evil, for itself, other nations, and world peace as a whole. What must be taken in to account is the nature and texture of states. Thomas Hobbes, a great British philosopher declared that humans live in a constant state of nature. It is this state of nature that causes them to act within their own self-interest, the Athenian general Thucydides reached the same conclusion when he wrote about his observations of the Peloponnesian war thousands of years prior to Hobbes. This state of nature can be inflated from the scale of human beings, all the way up to the size of states, by doing this we draw the conclusion that even within a liberalised institution like the UN, states will always act or seek to influence other states to take the side of their national interest.

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Gaddafi giving a speech to the UN in 2009. Libya has descended into chaos and anarchy ever since his regime got overthrown.

Despite the moral obligation to intervene, there are several more interests that states have when they choose to initiate an engagement with “the bad guy”. There is usually an “interest” at the bottom of the humanitarian intervention barrel. National, regional, economic, security interests all govern the decisions of politicians. That’s before the influence of eager-eyed suited and booted lobbyists paid by some of the world’s greatest and most powerful corporations.

 

By now you should be starting to see a pattern emerge, the fact is that there is more than meets the eye to the decisions of nations on the UNSC when it comes to the final decision on whether a country should face a legitimised use of force. The issue with this and all of these interests is that the countries that are prepared to engage in the humanitarian intervention to reap the rewards will all look for the justification that they want to engage in this intervention… this is because it will be beneficial to the interests we’ve just discussed, in addition, it will weaken the opposing state.

 

Now it wasn’t long ago that airstrikes were carried out against the esteemed president Muammar Gaddafi, this was a notion that was said to be justified for the united states due to supposed appalling human rights records. Yet years later the general public found out that the ever-expanding US required regime change, primarily due to Gaddhafi’s plans to redistribute western wealth through a new currency scheme, in addition to many other positive pro Libyan/Pan-Arabic changes. Therefore liberal morality was used to pull at the heartstrings of the public in absence of absolute evidence. Ironically Gaddafi had recently torn up a UN charter and claimed the UNSC to be illegitimate due to the massive flaws within its operating system. Furthermore, Gaddafi had never been in much control of his nation due to his system of devolution of which gave local committees ultimate power, a policy from his own creation, the green book ideology. The old lion often complained that western journalists didn’t understand that he was not at the helms of the controls and took up a far more ceremonial position as the bringer of the revolution. Yet the UNSC saw fit to hold him accountable for the ill evidenced moral crime of terrible human rights records, claiming to be “bringing democracy” to a country that ultimately couldn’t be any more democratic if it tried.

 

All of this talk of national interests, ulterior motives and well evidence past cases should bring about issues with regards to the recent chemical weapons attacks in Syria, for the council voted for an intervention on the basis of “evidence” from a western-backed group, of which is commanded by an ex British military officer. When the OPCW reached the “scene” of the “attack” there was no sign of chemical weapons usage, yet there was a boy who claimed the video being used as evidence was staged, as he was in it. This should be showing those that think critically that the UNSC is simply a tool of exploitation, a tool that preaches morality through liberal values, yet is heavily misused to benefit the powers at be. This and its links to inaccurate reporting from mainstream outlets shows the sheer size of the agenda held by the UN and its allies, an agenda that isn’t likely to change soon. Since the media form public opinion and none of them reported accurately about Syria, it seems that the UNSC and its allies have friends in high places.

 

Therefore if I am to draw a conclusion on the UNSC, I would state that due to the nature of it, it is a grossly misused tool of which has had some successes, yet has stumbled and fallen into the lap of serving finance through the advent of liberal morality. It often uses the smallest scraps of evidence to enact it’s sanctions and chase its motives. I, therefore, believe that if the UNSC is to continue its work, it should be on a basis of votes from all delegates from every nation, the idea of main powers vetoing must be dismissed, and thorough and substantial evidence must be gained and presented to the public before the legitimized use of force is taken. It has never been more important to question everything.