Thursday, April 10, 2003

More wise thoughts

Alfred Croucher (aka China Hand) has a very good piece talking about why interventions such as the present war are sometimes justified. Croucher gets the obvious but remarkably often ignored point that not taking action to stop something wrong when you can does ultimately at least partly implicate you. The second world war surely made this obvious, but to some extent this was ignored due to the post war realities of the Cold War. Croucher then also gets the fact that in the post Cold War world the example of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, and the west's failure to do anything about it, is central to everything. This particular point needs to be brought up over and over and over and over again, but it doesn't seem to be brought up really enough. The 1994 genocide in Rwanda is a monstrous atrocity hanging over the conscience of the world. We cannot forget about it. We must remember it and it must influence how we act subsequently.

Why is the US suddenly departing from a multi-lateral approach to a unilateral approach? Here's another question. What has the UN done to ensure the safety of the US? Is not the US a member in good standing? Does it not deserve the protection of the UN? Instead it stacks its Human Rights and other committees with Qadafi's minions and Iraqis, etc representative of brutal dictatorships. Will they protect us? Has the UN acted with strength against Iraq or just in a token way? He has used mustard gas on Shi'ites and Kurds. Slaughtering thousands. Is there to be no sanction? Do we not owe protection to the people of Iraq? Trade sanctions clearly punish the Iraqi people. The UN has betrayed the people of Iraq and left them to be slaughtered. Do the French have a morally justifiable position? By your standards yes - Better thousands of innocents die at the hands of a tyrant, than one innocent die by our hand while trying to help them. This is a very convenient position. It is a very comforting position. Nothing I can do! Screw'em. We didn't ask them to live in Iraq. Yes. Comforting, but of no moral value. You're only position of merit is that you recognize the problem when you say we ought to accept all Iraqi refugees. If we are obliged to help refugees, surely that means we have to recognize the problem and do something about that. People are being oppressed and even slaughtered for not loving Saddam. Does our responsibility end there? Is it still OK to stand by when a man beats his wife to death, just taking in his fleeing kids?

Sadly, it took September 11 and fears about its own security for the US to completely wake up to this reality, and to completely wake up to the inadequacy of what multilateral system exists, although I think Bosnia woke the partially. (Rwanda should have: Bill Clinton's inaction and his administration's apparent lack of concern about the events there is, of everything, the one thing I cannot ever forgive from him). America's presence in this war has a lot to do with its own security (when it comes down to it, it really is all about September 11, but largely in the sense that after September 11, a lot of people's minds changed about what can be tolerated in the rest of the world) but purely from a human rights point of view, it is justified. And probably required.

(Link via Gweilo Diaries).

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