- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Humanitarian intervention.

Posted by: MDG on December 14, 1999 at 16:23:41:

In Reply to: Why bother making oneself look good? posted by Samuel Day Fassbinder on December 11, 1999 at 21:29:14:

: SDF: Look, before Kosovo reached the media's attention, the CIA was handing out weapons to all sides and the IMF was doling out loans to the region's dictators. You call that "help"?

I've been a longtime critic of the CIA; in fact, I'd like to see it abolished.

: As I explained above, "defending the weak from the strong" is just a propaganda slogan. I am no longer a "liberal" because, somewhere along the line, I noticed that "liberals" buy into such slogans without inspecting their real-life purposes with any degree of seriousness. After all, professing benevolence is an activity of those who try to look good. DOING GOOD, on the other hand...

Please stop attributing insincerity and selfish ulterior motives to everyone who supports humanitarian intervention or, more generally, to everyone with whom you disagree. You're starting to sound positively Ann Randian. You yourself SDF are idealistic and an activist for social justice, so you're open to the same criticism you level at me and others.

: : : Same thing with the war against Serbia. The US embarked on a COMPLETELY GRATUITOUS war -- bombing Kosovo DIDN'T defend anyone, the eventual settlement was something completely different from Rambouillet, which was a surrender demand. Clinton and buddies could have really defended Kosovo WITHOUT the bombing, had they agreed to NEGOTIATE instead of placing Rambouillet as an ultimatu

: : Yes, yes, yes - how many times must I repeat that diplomacy was miserable, if not sabotaged? However, once the Serbs began their campaign of terror against the Kosovars, all your academic handwringing became the luxury of an intellectual leftist safe in his house,

: SDF: The bombing DIDN'T SAVE ANYONE. And my "academic handwringing" may save someone from the next attempt to "defend the weak from the strong," next time "liberals" are recruited to defend an unjust bombing attack.

: : pounding out anti-capitalist diatribes while men and women fled for their lives halfway around the world.

: SDF: Mostly BECAUSE OF US political action.

: : Your critiques of global capitalism and the New World Order may have much merit, but they don't stop rape and murder on the ground.

: SDF: And neither did YOUR self-righteous politics. Or, to use an MDG tactic: did YOU go to Kosovo YOURSELF to stop the killing?

Unfair charge, SDF, as you used that tactic against me first. But onward:

People of all political persuasions supported the war against Serbia. It makes no sense to attribute a person's liberalism with their support of the war (and once more, you imply I'm a liberal, which is the label you've given me, not one I wear myself); it's more accurate to attribute their support to their own sense of right and wrong.

As for the merits of the NATO campaign against Serbia: it appears I was grossly mistaken. You know that I opposed the bombing of Serbian civilian targets, so I don't need to make amends for that. However, I was wrong about the scope of the Serbian aggression against the Kosovars, if what I've read lately is accurate. The mass rape and torture may not have been as rampant as I thought -- though they still occurred. Slain Kosovars may have numbered "only" several thousand, not the far higher figures reported by the State Dept. and mainstream press. And perhaps "only" a couple of thousands of Kosovars were imprisoned by the Serbs. So, I was wrong, and duped, which is embarrassing.

And yet...

I still believe that those several thousand murdered, raped, tortured, and disappeared Kosovars merited protection. I support humanitarian intervention, so long as it is carried out for the express purpose of saving innocents from murderers (and you don't need to remind me that this purity of purpose will be difficult to find among today's militaristic powers such as the U.S., but still, it is possible). My reasons for supporting the notion of humanitarian intervention (which should be conducted by an international force under the supervision of the U.N. or other suitable body) lies with World War II. How many years passed before the United States finally intervened, all the while Jews and others were being murdered by the genocidal Nazi regime? We KNEW it was happening, but we chose not to intervene. That makes me sick to my stomach. We didn't even bomb the train tracks to Auschwitz -- a simple act which could have save so many lives. I picture myself in those camps, or hiding in the countryside, and I find myself asking why the outside world is not coming to my rescue. We cannot allow history to keep repeating. We must recognize that evil has to be confronted, even if its "only" an internal affair, as the Chinese so arrogantly put it. NGO's can only do so much; at some point, you must confront fire with fire. An apt analogy is an abusive household: social workers come every day to counsel the parents not to beat the children. It's an intelligent, compassionate approach, but it has its limits, and if some point during the night you hear the child screaming, you must do something. You can't wait for the social workers to arrive later on to re-begin negotiations. By that time, it may be too late. You must bang on the door, barge in, and put yourself between the child and the abusers. I feel the same way about humanitarian intervention around the world. I'm sorry if you differ with me here, but this is a core conviction of mine.

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