Is Military Intervention in Other Countries Justifiable?
The Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms defines military in tervention as "The deliberate act of a nation or a group of nations to introduce its military forces into the course of an existing controversy." The United States military has been intervening in other countries for a long time. In 1898, it seized the Philippines, Cuba, and Puerto Rico from Spain and in 1917-18 became embroiled in World War I in Europe. In the first half of the 20th century it repeatedly sent Marines to protectorates such as Nicaragua, Honduras, Panama, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic. In 1941, after the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. became embroiled in World War II. The second half of the twentieth century include military interventions in Korea, several countries in the Middle East, the Dominican Republic, Chile, Guatemala, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Nicaragua, Grenada, Libya, Panama, Bosnia, and Somalia. The first decade of the twenty-first century, sparked by 9/11, has seen military interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other nations. According to Zoltan Grossman there have been over 140 military interventions by the United States since 1890.
Principles of the Just War
Vincent Ferraro identifies seven principles that must be met in order for a war to be just. 1) A just war can only be waged as a last resort. All non-violent options must be exhausted before the use of force can be justified. 2) A war is just only if it is waged by a legitimate authority. Even just causes cannot be served by actions taken by individuals or groups who do not constitute an authority sanctioned by whatever the society and outsiders to the society deem legitimate. 3) A just war can only be fought to redress a wrong suffered. For example, self-defense against an armed attack is always considered to be a just cause. Further, a just war can only be fought with "right" intentions: the only permissible objective of a just war is to redress the injury. 4) A war can only be just if it is fought with a reasonable chance of success. Deaths and injury incurred in a hopeless cause are not morally justifiable. 5) The ultimate goal of a just war is to re-establish peace. More specifically, the peace established after the war must be preferable to the peace that would have prevailed if the war had not been fought. 6) The violence used in the war must be proportional to the injury suffered. States are prohibited from using force not necessary to attain the limited objective of addressing the injury suffered. 7) The weapons used in war must discriminate between combatants and non-combatants. Civilians are never permissible targets of war, and every effort must be taken to avoid killing civilians. The deaths of civilians are justified only if they are unavoidable victims of a deliberate attack on a military target.
Criticisms of U.S. Military Interventions
Grossman articulates several criticisms that question the motives and wisdom of many U.S. military interventions. First, they are explained to the public as defending the lives and rights of civilian populations. Nevertheless, the military tactics employed often leave behind massive civilian "collateral damage." War planners made little distinction between rebels and the civilians who lived in rebel zones of control, or between military assets and civilian infrastructure, such as train lines, water plants, agricultural factories, medicine supplies, and so forth. The public believes that military technologies will avoid civilian casualties. When the inevitable civilian deaths occur, they are explained as "accidental" or "unavoidable."
Second, although most of the post-World War II interventions were carried out in the name of freedom and democracy, nearly all defended dictatorships. In Vietnam, Central America, and the Persian Gulf, the interventions were not about defending freedom, but extending an ideological agenda such as defending capitalism, or an economic agenda such as protecting oil company investments. In the cases when force toppled a dictatorship, such as in Grenada or Panama, it was done in a way that prevented the country's people from installing a new democratic government more to their liking.
Third, violence by opponents is characterized as terrorism, atrocities against civilians, or ethnic cleansing, but minimized or defended when the same acts are committed by the U.S. Or its allies. This double standard maintains that an U.S. And her ally's actions by definition are defensive, but that an enemy's is by definition offensive.
Fourth, military intervention is often counterproductive even if one accepts U.S. goals and rationales. Rather than solving the political or economic causes of the conflict, intervention tends to polarize factions and further destabilize the country. The same countries tend to reappear again and again on the list of twentieth century interventions.
Finally, U.S. demonization of an enemy leaders, or military action against them, tends to strengthen rather than weaken their hold on power. These leaders may face greater internal criticism if they were not able portray themselves as David's standing up to the American Goliath, and blaming many of their countries' internal problems on the U.S.
Humanitarian intervention is 'the threat or use of force across state borders by a state (or group of states) aimed at preventing or ending widespread and grave violations of the fundamental human rights of individuals other applied'. Supporters of this type of intervention believe that humanitarian intervention is 'the proportionate international use or threat of military force, undertaken in principle by a liberal government or alliance, aimed at ending tyranny or anarchy, welcomed by the victims, and consistent with the doctrine of double effect'.
Forcible humanitarian intervention is constrained to 'protecting fundamental rights' and should have neither the blessing of the United Nations (UN) nor the consent of the targeted government. Many believe the concept of intervention should encompass both 'forcible' and 'non-forcible' humanitarian intervention.
Nevertheless, the main problem with the humanitarian intervention is not the lack of consensus in defining the concept, but rather more contentious issues such as the legality and the legitimacy of an intervention. Moreover, if the humanitarian intervention is just; in what circumstances should the intervention be justifiable?
International Humanitarian Intervention
Since the end of the Cold War, military intervention for humanitarian ends and conflict resolution has increased dramatically. The use of troops to help end the fighting in a difficult conflict often results in the prolonged occupation of the intervened country. Troops typically stay on in a far more active peacemaking capacity than traditional United Nations peacekeepers do. 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. However, the use of military intervention by the international community is uneven. Military interventions happen in some places, but not in others. One can see that in the case of Russia in Chechnya, where intervention from outside forces is all but completely ruled out when one of the world's major powers opposes such an intervention. In order for an intervention to occur on an international level 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 ("Is Military Intervention Ever Justified?").
U.S. foreign policy officials claim they have intervened in other countries for worthy causes, such as carrying out humanitarian missions, defending weaker peoples from aggression, and bolstering democratic governments. However, Michael Parenti points out that contrary to popular belief, the U.S., like most other nations, does not have a particularly impressive humanitarian record. While, many nations, including the U.S. have sent relief abroad in response to particular crises, these actions represent no essential foreign policy commitments. They occur sporadically, have a…