The slippery slope of humanitarian intervention

One of the main reasons the Bush administration has stated for intervening militarily in Iraq is to liberate the Iraqi people from Saddam Hussein. The human rights abuses committed against the Iraqi people have been routinely cited by the government as justification for our actions there. A plethora of horror stories have been paraded in front of us by Iraqi defectors and others who have escaped from what is without question a very bad place to be. While I have no doubt that most of the stories are true and I do seek to minimize the suffering, humanitarian intervention is the wrong policy for the United States.
When President Clinton authorized seventy-eight days of air strikes against Serbia in 1999, most of his stated justification was to stop the humanitarian crisis in Kosovo that he and others, including Nobel laureate Elie Wiezel, blamed on the Serbian nationalist government of Slobodan Milosevic. Those that were opposed to that war asked why Kosovo was special when just a short time prior to that conflict, the US failed to take any meaningful action to stop the genocidal violence that had been committed in Rwanda. Some claimed racism, others cried moral hypocrisy. I say, take your pick.
At the opening of the 54th meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, after having criticized NATO humanitarian intervention in Kosovo without UN approval, Secretary General Kofi Annan called for “a new commitment to intervention,” in which UN military forces would intervene in any nation where it was deemed that the rulers of that nation were violating their citizens human rights. He even went so far as to say that a state’s sovereignty should not be a shield for those that would brutalize their people. Unfortunately, Mr. Annan doesn’t appear to think this applies to Saddam Hussein.
If humanitarian intervention is the justification for US military intervention, then we can look forward to a future of almost unending military operations. Following such a policy makes us the practitioners of moral selectivity since we clearly can’t invade every country that mistreats its people, especially those we’re allied with like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. It would be a drain on our resources and commit us to a very detrimental policy. In the end, the US should stop using the suffering of others as public relations and just do what we need to do to protect our citizens.

Scott Wacholtz is a senior majoring in political science. He can be contacted at aramis1642@hotmail.com.

April 18, 2003


The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami

Around the Web

An asynchronous learning model provided an opportunity to create a hands-on process with a three-dimensional approach for a fall class. ...

Claire Paris-Limouzy started freediving for research and ended up becoming a record-breaking athlete who is also spearheading a Scientific Freediving program at the University. ...

Sociology scholars from around the world convened for a virtual conference hosted by the University of Miami on Thursday to explore shifting tendencies in international relocation and the implications for global social change. ...

Lauryn Williams, track and field and bobsled medalist, addressed the University community during Wednesday night’s “What Matters to U” virtual event. ...

During his appearance Tuesday on a webinar hosted by the University of Miami Patti and Allan Herbert Business School, tech mogul Eric Yuan highlighted the importance of a workplace culture of happiness and urged that businesses pay greater attention to the digital divide. ...

TMH Twitter
About Us

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published in print every Tuesday.