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Outstanding diary, papicek.  One of the best discussions of the fraught problem of Sovereignty vs. humanitarian intervention that I have read.  I was particularly taken with Samantha Power's comment, in part:

European Tribune - A comment deserving more than a reply...

The countries intervening must forswear up front the pursuit of commercial or strategic interests in the region.

I think it is unrealistic, in the current world order, to expect any power to put thousands of troops and Billions of treasury at risk if there is no discernible commercial or strategic benefit for its population.  International relations simply doesn't work that way.  If it did, the US would have invaded Zimbabwe and not Iraq.

But even that example reveals an even bigger problem, because it is arguable that it was never in the USA's interest to invade Iraq in the first place - only in the interests of part of the US elite.

And that reveals the bigger problem.  The world isn't neatly divided into good states and bad states, where the good states, out of some non self interested idealism intervene in the bad for the benefit of some higher ideal.

Sure, that was why the US said it invaded Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and toppled numerous Governments in Latin America and elsewhere, and from a particular ideological position those interventions might have made sense, but from another they simply reveal one power seeking to control another.

My other concern - slightly echoing comments above - is that military interventions brutalise not just those populations where the intervention takes place, but the whole culture of militarism as a solution to anything is strengthened in those countries doing the intervening.

There is a certain post colonial arrogance in assuming that "advanced democracies" acting from thousands of miles away - have a much better handle on how a local issue can be resolved.  Sometimes there is simply no substitute for the locals to learn to live with each other.  Often the "local antagonism" has been grossly exacerbated, if not created, by external interventions such as arms trading, resource depletion, and "development" policies in the first place.  Would the Israeli Palestinian issue be easier to resolve if neither side got outside "assistance"?

Thus there are very few "opportunities" for"clean" interventions.  Saddam was a tyrant, yet was the instability created by his external military removal an improvement?  Mugabe needs to go. But would the military elite who would probably take over if he died/was removed tomorrow be an improvement?

Ultimately there is no substitute for political development, but while there are many tomes written about economic development the concept of political development is almost non-existent.  The whole concept was given a bad name by the neo-cons assuming that the military imposition of US style democracy would solve all problems.

Hard as it can be to define processes of political development that are not ideologically charged, it is easy to see what destroys the opportunities for political development:-  the widespread availability of ever more powerful arms, grossly unequal economic development, the expropriation of whole regions/peoples by outside interests.

So perhaps rather than just looking at the problem spots where perhaps only a "fire brigade" style intervention can ameliorate the immediate situation, we should also be looking at furthering the improvement of standards of Governance worldwide - the development of a body of international law and enforcement agencies which might - in extremis - intervene militarily, but whose primary remit is to prevent the proliferation of weaponry, the regulation of arms industries, the promotion of conflict resolution mediation and arbitration services, the promotion of more equal economic and political development.

But hey - that might effect our position at the top of the pile - so that can't happen.  Far easier to teach those savages a lesson every now and then.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Mar 9th, 2009 at 07:38:31 AM EST

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