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Author Topic: On the use of armed force in international affairs.  (Read 973 times)

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Offline mystictigerTopic starter

On the use of armed force in international affairs.
« on: December 09, 2010, 04:32:32 AM »
In what situations is it right, do you think, do resort to armed conflict?

Aggression suddenly became a crime after WW2. Before then, it was at best "an offence against international morality" (an expression from the documents for the proposed trial of the Kaiser). Then after WW2 we learn that it is "essentially an evil thing...to initiate a war of aggression...is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole" (from the Nuremburg trials).

Current international law is fairly definite on when a state can use armed force:
-in self defence
-when authorised by the UN Security Council

In all other situations, you have committed the crime of aggression.

This means that the US mining of Nicaraguan harbours was a crime, as was the North Korean bombardment of South Korean islands.

So. Where does this leave so-called Humanitarian Intervention?

If it's authorised by the UNSC then you're fine.
If you're like NATO and attack Serbia then you're technically in breach of international law. The advantage of having a member of the permanent 5 members of the UNSC on your side (UK, France, Russia, USA, China) 'on-side' is that no measure critical of your conduct will ever get passed. So you're in the position that your intervention will probably never be post hoc authorised (as with Korea) but also never declared to be illegal.

That's the vague and brief legal summary. What I'm trying to work out is the moral question. This would, I suppose, go back to Just War theory. When is it morally acceptable to start bombing another country?

What would you send soldiers to fight and kill for?

Personally, I wouldn't invade 'merely' to impose democracy. The death and suffering that modern warfare brings is too dear a price. Only when there's severe violations of the right to life (e.g. genocide, extermination) would I even think about it.

But this leads to another question - on what basis would you intervene? Is 'because they are suffering' sufficient justification?

I'm fully aware that in the above situation I am substituting being killed by one's own government for being killed by my forces.

Online Callie Del Noire

Re: On the use of armed force in international affairs.
« Reply #1 on: December 09, 2010, 12:13:59 PM »
So, using your logic and the example of Serbia,  the US/Nato should have simply stayed 'out' of Serbia and Croatia as it was 'simply' an internal issue that should have been resolved by the groups involved?

I guess if you ignore the blatant warcrimes and genocide that were being done you're absolutely right. It is so much more harsh for modern warfare tactics on the area than to simply like the racial cleansing, raping and murder continue.

Right.. I see the logic in that.

No not really. If you want to use an example of 'when not to be internationally' aggressive, you shouldn't use one that was practically screaming for intercession.

Offline mystictigerTopic starter

Re: On the use of armed force in international affairs.
« Reply #2 on: December 09, 2010, 01:22:05 PM »
Quote
So, using your logic and the example of Serbia,

This isn't a question of logic, but rather a question of what the current state of international law is.

Quote
...  the US/Nato should have simply stayed 'out' of Serbia and Croatia as it was 'simply' an internal issue that should have been resolved by the groups involved?

Yes. Or left it to the United Nations to decide. In fact, the US's involvement in Croatia was mostly through arming and training, not direct intervention against the Russian satelite state.

Otherwise you set a precedent for this kind of thing in the future. Would you have condoned Russian intervention in various southern-US states that practiced discrimination? Or, for that matter, Iranian intervention into Saudia Arabia for its terrible record on the protection of the rights of women (one of the reasons we invaded Afghanistan)?

Quote
I guess if you ignore the blatant warcrimes and genocide that were being done you're absolutely right. It is so much more harsh for modern warfare tactics on the area than to simply like the racial cleansing, raping and murder continue.

Firstly, genocide was neither committed nor alleged in Kosovo. This is the link to the case summary for Sainovic et al - the military and political leaders of the Serb forces in Kosovo before and during the Kosovo war.

Secondly, if you use war-crimes as a reason to justify intervention, then why did NATO not get involved in Bosnia-Croatia-Serbia, or Rwanda? Rather, these were resolved either through diplomatic or internal measures.

Thirdly, the civilian body count in Iraq post-invasion is significantly higher than it was pre-invasion. For that matter, the rate at which civilians were killed or displaced by the Serb military during the Kosovo campaign increased during the NATO air campaign.

Further, if war-crimes and crimes against humanity are an acceptable justification for intervention, then you would presumably have been OK with Iran invading Iraq after the revelations about Abu Graib became public?
« Last Edit: December 09, 2010, 01:30:10 PM by mystictiger »

Online Callie Del Noire

Re: On the use of armed force in international affairs.
« Reply #3 on: December 09, 2010, 02:24:01 PM »
One difference. Abu Graib was addressed by the administration, both Iraq AND the US. Last time I checked the stuff in Kosovo was more like Hitler's 'final solution' and the outlook of the folks in power was 'what atrocities'.

Not the same thing Mystic.

A better example would be why no one has moved past the resolution stage in the atrocities in Burma. Do you realize they've been shooting/killing folks in a long running war that in one shape or another has been going on for nearly 70 years. Or will that just.. go away like the stuff the Kymer Rouge did?


Offline mystictigerTopic starter

Re: On the use of armed force in international affairs.
« Reply #4 on: December 09, 2010, 02:37:00 PM »
One difference. Abu Graib was addressed by the administration, both Iraq AND the US. Last time I checked the stuff in Kosovo was more like Hitler's 'final solution' and the outlook of the folks in power was 'what atrocities'.

The major difference between what was going on in Kosovo and the Nazi programme is that what the Serbs were trying to do was 'mere' deportation. It was ethnic cleansing of key areas of Kosovo into neighbouring countries. It was not the wholesale murder or genocide of an entire culture or community. The judgment summary of the Milutinovic case sums what happened there pretty well. At no point was genocide alleged, charged, or prosecuted.

Not the same thing Mystic.
[/quote]
A better example would be why no one has moved past the resolution stage in the atrocities in Burma. Do you realize they've been shooting/killing folks in a long running war that in one shape or another has been going on for nearly 70 years. Or will that just.. go away like the stuff the Kymer Rouge did?
[/quote]

Absolutely. So the question there is, why is it ok to bomb Serbia when they're doing something less harmful than what the Burmese are doing to the Karens, or what the Sudanese are doing to their own people, or what the Chinese are doing to the Tibetans.

The point about this is that - while the NATO action in Kosovo is legitimate, it is not lawful.

Non-intervention tends to save more lives than intervention does in the long term. The UK-Ireland tensions relating to NI weren't solved by the British Army, but rather by diplomacy. The East Timor problems weren't solved by the Australians invading the place, but rather by a UN-mandated political solution.

What happened in Kosovo was the first resort to violence rather than the last.

THe question I had in mind was rather on what grounds should we resort to force? How much suffering is enough to invade?

Online Callie Del Noire

Re: On the use of armed force in international affairs.
« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2010, 02:49:06 PM »
Seems to me that Kosovo was 'Next door' and in Europe and that made the European leadership in NATO a little more eager to address it. Nothing like it happening on your block so to speak. But then I'm a cynically being who thinks some use of force is the only thing that tyrants understand.

Saddam gassed his own people and his sons were worse. The Taliban wasn't going to be happy till they had their hands on everything they could. The difference, as far as I'm concerned, is that Saddam could have been bought off diplomatically. Afganistan was a threat to the stability of the region and still is. Would you want someone like the Taliban in control of Pakistan?

Keep in mind that Pakistan has nukes.

As for Burma. Here's the reason why no one got involved. They, the junta, is quite happy to kill their ownpoeple and isn't in Europe.