Rana F. Sweis
18 December 2008
A year after the September 11, 2001 attacks on Washington and New York, President Bushs national security strategy was clear: US interests triumph all else and international institutions would not hinder military actions deemed necessary. Therefore, when contemplating humanitarian interventions, the US would weigh the potential benefitsn terms of foreign lives savedgainst the likely costs to the United States. Even if US strategic interests intertwine with internationally accepted humanitarian criteria for humanitarian interventions, it may have consequential effects on the notion of the responsibility to protect. However, according to experts like Thomas Weiss, author of "Military-Civilian Interactions", the September 11th attacks and subsequent US led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, led to two world organizations: he United Nations, global in members; and the United States, global in reach and power. ()
But military intervention without a UN mandate raises questions over a countrys motives and capabilities to rebuild in the post-conflict period. The implication of such a reality has also posed a dilemma for the notion of eutrality once forces are deployed on the ground and raises concern among independent aid agencies. ()
Romeo Dallaire wrote in a New York Times op-ed entitled ooking at Darfur, Seeing Rwanda that () owerful nations like the United States and Britain have lost much of their credibility because of the quagmire of Iraq." As a result, 'right intention' may be only one of the principles that will be primary in future humanitarian interventions, even if the US justifies the humanitarian intervention for strategic reasons, or a 'little bit of both', due to its significance.
It is safe to conclude that few Americans believed that the threat of terrorism could affect them directly until September 11, 2001. And it is true, in general, complex humanitarian emergencies are affecting neighboring countriesreating ad neighborhoodsnd threatening the globe as in the case of Sudan, Iraq and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Somalia shows how events in a place of little or no apparent strategic interest can have enduring effects. During the current Iraq war, statistics have shown that about twenty five percent of oreign fighters detained are from Africa, especially from East Africa. Conditions in the occupied Palestinian territories humanitarian complex emergencyave affected the Middle East region for decades. itizens victimized by genocide or abandoned by the international community do not make good neighbors, as their thirst for vengeance and their acceptance of violence as a means of generating change can turn them into future threats, warns Power. ()
Does this mean that naturally, in most cases, every humanitarian intervention would be strategic? That may be true in some cases and that is an advantage to those who argue for a combination of both strategic and internationally accepted humanitarian criteria for interventions. The Rwandan genocide destabilized the entire Great Lakes region and it continues to do so today. It created massive refugee camps in eastern Congo and triggered a cycle of warfare in much of central Africa. But the international community has generally failed to come up with rules on how and when to intervene, and under whose authority. And these debates will not go away. Yet, it is imperative to understand that a humanitarian intervention is unique in its core missionhe responsibility to protect, to prevent, to react and to build.