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    Under what circumstances is it morally permissible to intervene abroad in order to protect national security or to prevent violations of human rights?
    Under what circumstances is it morally permissible to intervene abroad in order to protect national security or to prevent violations of human rights? I find that the following considerations and just war criteria provide a convincing argument for when it is morally permissible for a Nation to intervene abroad, as initially presented by Michael Walzer, and will be evaluated with other philosophers claims.
    There are seven criteria that Walzer claims make intervention morally permissible and just, which are called principles of justice.
    1. Intervention in a sovereign nation must have a just cause. A defender of this claim would state that intervention is permissible only during protection of conditions in which people can live, in defense of a real and present danger to innocent life, and in securing human life.
    2. The entity, or state, declaring war must be the responsible representative of a competent authority.
    3. The act to protect and promote rights and values involved must justify the potential and actual death and destruction that comes from war as an act of comparative justice.
    4. The right intention claim must be in accord with the cause, without room or allowance of side issues, such as natural resources, oil or territorial enhancement.
    5. The intervention is a last resort, as all other peaceful alternatives must have been attempted.
    6. There must be a rational basis to judge the probability of success, to prevent enormous loss in fact of certain defeat, as that is rarely justified. Proportionality of ends claims that the total cost of war must not be greater than the benefits achieved from war, or intervention.
    7. It must be reasonable to believe that successful intervention is more probable than not.
    The search for a moral foundation leads back to the nonintervention principle, which assumes a nation should not intervene abroad unless there is some special justification for it. But where does the principle come from and on what moral foundation does it rest? Each state is understood to have independence and is at liberty to govern itself, free of unwanted interference by foreign powers. From this independence, come two basic rights. The fist of these is territorial integrity, the right not to be physically invaded by foreign armies or to be the target of terrorism. This view reflects the idea of physical security in its community members and also the possession of a secure place, where normal activities can be carried on.
    The second of these is sovereignty, the right of each political community to govern itself. Self-government, not being the same thing as democratic government, as they entitle the right of a citizenry to a government of their own. Therefore, a democratic nation cannot claim the right to intervene to establish democracy where it does not presently exist. International law obligates each state to observe generally acknowledged standards of international conduct. A state may not use force merely to advance its own
    Interests, nor may it apply these standards selectively to justify its own conduct while condemning similar conduct by other states. Although the US has decided to take the role as a world policeman, plausibly such aggression is worse than domestic crime because threat of International Aggression is greater. Intervening in the free activity of others and intervention typically involves a threat of harm. If such a threat exists, especially in the case of the US acting as a world policeman, it must be justified. As Walzer suggests,
    “Only domestic tyrants are safe, for it is not our purpose in international society (nor, Mill argues, is it possible) to establish liberal or democratic communities, but only independent ones.”
    Although I would like to support all of America’s actions, the US military does not have the same amount of respect for innocent human life as they do for their fellow Americans. Patriotism is a form of racism in this sense.
    "The terror of...punishment [must be] greater than the benefit they expect by the breach of their covenant" –Peter Singer
    We have just read Walzers instances when war and intervention is morally permissible. I will now focus on and argue for when preemptive attacks can be justified. There are four reasons to believe preemptive attacks can be permissible and morally justified.
    1. Preemptive attacks can be justified only when a state is threatened, which is a completely different concept than fear. First attacks should be limited to preemptive strikes against a present threat. Therefore, if considering preemptive strikes and intervention based on a future threat, the intervention cannot be just. Being threatened criterion, permit of preemptive war, but only when the following conditions hold.
    a. Firstly, an obvious and apparent intent to injure must exist.
    b. Secondly, a degree of active preparation that makes that intent a positive danger.
    c. Thirdly, a general situation in which waiting, or doing anything other than fighting, greatly magnifies a risk.
    d. Fourthly, war can justly be begun to rescue people threatened by acts that shock moral conscience, such as massacre and enslavement.
    I have asserted claims of when it is permissible to conduct a preemptive attack and explored moral foundations for the nonintervention principle, as well as the intervention principles of Walzer. I will now present assertions that support Walzers claim of when it would not be justifiable to intervene.
    1. It is not justifiable to intervene when if the intention of intervention is to reduce a growth of power that could eventually become a threat.
    2. It is not justifiable to intervene if the intention of intervention is to protect future securities.
    3. Intervention cannot be waged by private groups of individuals.
    4. The costs cannot and should not exceed the benefits, because then it would not be compatible with principles of justice.
    I will not present circumstances through examples in which intervention is not justifiable, through preemptive attack.
    A preemptive attack cannot be justifiable in the case of the invasion of Grenada in 1983. There are many different views about what is and what is not a human right. For
    some, the absence of civil liberties is the biggest abuse of human rights, while for others it is not having enough to eat. Respect for human rights is one thing, promoting human rights is another. Human rights can be promoted by methods that violate human rights. Like national security, human rights often end up providing a blanket of justification for foreign intervention.
    There are a number of reasons of why it was unjustifiable to intervene in Grenada.
    1. “In March 1983, U.S President Ronald Reagan began issuing warnings about the threat posed to the United States and the Caribbean by the "Soviet-Cuban militarization" of the Caribbean as evidenced by the excessively long airplane runway being built, as well as intelligence sources indicating increased Soviet interest in the island. He said that the 9,000-foot (2,700 m) runway and the numerous fuel storage tanks were unnecessary for commercial flights, and that evidence pointed that the airport was to become a Cuban-Soviet forward military airbase.”
    2. The intervention was condemned as a flagrant violation of international law by a number of countries, including the UN.
    3. U.S. officials cited the murder of Bishop and general political instability in a country near U.S. borders, as well as the presence of U.S. medical students at St. George's University, as reasons for military action. The reporter also claimed that the latter reason, of the medical students presence, was cited in order to gain public support.
    Case Study 1
    I will now focus on one of the reasons listed above of why it was unjust to intervene into Grenada. Reagan said the United States “has the right to invade another country to change its government…as a rescue mission” to restore law and order and as a legitimate response. Reagan thought it was better to act before American citizens were hurt or taken hostage, in this case to protect the medical students that were residing there. Intervention was a non-legitimate action intended to put an end to the reign of terror in Grenada. The president defended the intervention as a reaction to the takeover by radicals and terrorists in Grenada. To justify the invasion of Grenada, a serious injury or imminent threat of injury, as stated from Walzers principles of justice, should have existed. If we consider that the intervention was an attempt to rescue American medical students, and the intervention did not end up with the departure of the students; the justification of the invasion into Grenada can be called into question and deemed unjustifiable.
    Case Study 2
    I will examine recent principles of justice perspectives regarding preemptive strikes, preventive war, and the moral legitimacy of the United States’ demand for regime-change in Iraq. I will focus primarily on Walzer’s account of principles of justice, which is based on the principle of inalienable human rights. I will argue that the war on terrorism, including a war with Iraq, must be fought within the constraints of the principles of justice in order for the United States to maintain its legitimacy through international law. “Preemption” has become the new buzzword describing our proposed tactics for engagement with terrorist bodies. The preference for an active defense can be warranted to some degree; however, the current administration’s proposed use preemptive strikes seems to blur the line between legitimate and illegitimate first strikes.
    In response to threats and fear, President Bush proposed:
    “If we wait for threats to fully materialize, we will have waited too long. Homeland defense and missile defense are part of stronger security, and they’re essential priorities for America. Yet the war on terror will not be won on the defensive. We must take the battle to the enemy, disrupt his plans, and confront the worst threats before they emerge. In the world we have entered, the only path to safety is the path of action. And this nation will act.”

    “Should we be able to prevent another, much more devastating attack, we will, no question. This nation will not live at the mercy of terrorists or terror regimes.” - Vice President Cheney
    Why could this be considered unjust, according to Walzers principles of justice?
    1. In the quote from dick Cheney, he did not justify, nor state any specific rationality defending his claim that to attack now, before they strike, they would prevent a worse attack.
    2. The notion of striking first, before a threat actually materializes, seems to contradict the accepted tenets of principles of justice. That assertions being an obvious and apparent intent to injure, not previous signs of meanness, must exist.
    3. A degree of active preparation that makes that intent a positive danger, must be thoroughly proven to be justified.
    4. Intervention can not be based on future securities or involve side issues as the main justification for intervention and war
    Although, Bush framed the war to be about weapons of mass destruction, which would have justified the intervention if proven in existence, intervention was based on resources, power, as Walzer would state ‘to protect future securities’ and side issues. All of those justifications make the intervention unjust especially in the involvement of side issues, as seen in the Iraq war natural resources, oil, and territorial enhancement.
    President Bush’s statements regarding preemptive strikes seem to suggest a preference for preventive war since the goal of the action he describes aims at engaging threats before they actually emerge. According to Walzer’s principles of justice, if Iraq or other terrorist organizations pose sufficient threats to our nation, then preemptive strikes would certainly be permissible. However, if the goal were to destroy our enemies before they materially threaten us, then striking first would constitute an act of aggression, which would not be just.
    Case Study 3
    John Stewart Mill’s doctrine proposed that people essentially get the government that they deserve, and that people living under tyrannical regimes will continue to do so until they were willing to engage in the struggle for freedom themselves. What is crucial for the doctrine of self-help is that the rights of citizens to effectively remain oppressed must be respected until they are willing to make the necessary sacrifices themselves. Except in cases of enslavement or massacre, a state’s sovereignty must be respected in order to protect the individual rights of its citizens. Walzer would defend Mills doctrine through his principles of justice, which if you accept the principles, then you would also accept that war can justly be begun to rescue people threatened by acts
    that shock moral conscience, such as massacre and enslavement. Otherwise, any forced liberation would certainly violate both the rights of individual citizens, as well as the rights of the state that oppresses them. Although this may seem somewhat demanding for those people whom are oppressed by a tyrannical regime, as well as those who wish to intervene, it is important to remember that the price of freedom is sometimes very high.
    One way the UN justly intervened, without fully engaging themselves in the war or on a particular side, is the “no-fly” zones imposed in Iraq in order to protect the Kurdish people living within Iraqi borders. Even though the intervention was on behalf of the Kurds, the UN did not fight their battles for them; instead, they only provided them a safe haven from the threat of Iraqi aggression. Walzer would support this through the principles that intervention that states that intervention or war should be a last resort, only after all other peaceful alternatives have been attempted. The UN did not have enough just cause to fully intervene. Because of this, the UN succeeded in peacefully regulating and protects the Kurdish people without fully intervening or entering a state of war, thus using a peaceful alternative.
    Case Study 4
    Henry David Thoreau's "Civil Disobedience" is an essay that attempts to persuade readers to oppose unjust government policies, and slavery oppression. One example I will present is the Mexican War case. I will propose, through Thoreau’s lenses, that the Mexican war was unjust.
    1. The Mexican War is an unjust conflict because it was being fought to acquire new territory in which to establish slavery.
    Slavery must be resisted, even if resistance would lead to war. Walzer would argue that it is an unjust war because the intent is not to protect and preserve values, in defense of a real and present danger against innocent life, and ‘fight for’ conditions of a decent life or securing human life, but to enslave people.
    Thoreau recognized that civil disobedience might have adverse consequences such as individuals risk imprisonment, financial ruin, and ridicule. Especially in the case of the Fugitive Slave Act, which he knew might lead to civil war. However, Thoreau considered compromising over slavery in order to avoid adverse consequences are un-noble values of selfishness and cowardliness. Furthermore, he argued that if civil disobedience leads to war, the blame does not lie with those who refuse to allow themselves to become agents of injustice. The blame instead lies with slave owners and their appeasers who have attempted to force innocent American citizens to assist them in oppressing innocent people. Aggression is dismissed when in defense of values of individual life and communal liberty; having just cause. It shows a commitment to human rights.
    One source of war is the human predisposition for excitement that makes war the deepest game of all, the passion for superiority and power, admiration for warlike deeds, false patriotism that puts one's nation over others, and upbringing and education which glamorize military exploits. To Walzer, this is completely unjust because it does not resonate with any of his principles of justice and this theory of thinking gives no sufficient justification.
    Case Study 5
    Dr. Peter Singer, who teaches bioethics at Princeton University, is a interest based utilitarian, which means that if you have interests, you have rights. But, some rights, Singer argues, can come in degrees, such as a 17-year old who has less rights than an 18 year old who would be considered an adult, or someone in jail. He says something or someone is granted moral concern if they have interests. Singer states that those who have interests, can suffer, therefore extending this right to non-human animals.
    Singer and Walzer argued for and thought the Iraq war was unjust and non permissible. One counter argument to Singers ideas is that if we allowed Saddam Hussein to stay in power, he would have killed far more civilians than would have been killed in crossfire situations with American troops. However, this objection does not succeed for the following reason:
    1. We don't know how many civilians would have been killed.
    In the past Saddam has killed, but that is not “now” (then). Therefore, Walzer would say this is unjust and cannot be used as a justification for war because:
    1. Preemptive attacks can be justified only when a state is threatened, which is a completely different concept than fear.
    2. Proportionality of ends claims that the total cost of war must not be greater than the benefits achieved from war, or intervention.
    3. All non-human animals are to be considered on an equal moral plane.
    Walzers principles of justice state that there must be a rational basis to judge the probability of success, to prevent enormous loss in fact of certain defeat, as that is rarely justified. We were wrong to wage war against Saddam Hussein, and it was non permissible because the Americans support him by supplying him with some of the biological and chemical weapons that ended up being used to killed thousands of Kurds. Thus, the costs out weigh the benefits. The lives of Iraqi civilians should have been on an equal moral plane with those of Americans, again making it unjust.
    There is something to be said for being moral for the sake of being moral. I believe in the concept of maintaining moral standards, and ideally, International Laws do. There is a genuine happiness that will come to every man and woman that lived their life with morality when they look back upon their own lives and realize that they treated every other person they came across with kindness and humanity. There is an altruistic satisfaction that comes with this sort of lifestyle, knowing that you posed no threat to, and may have in fact aided the happiness and maximization of utility of others.
    I presented the theories and ideas, as well as examples from different philosophers the ranges of when it is morally acceptable, and when it is not, to engage in war. In conclusion, past intervention, as seen in the cases, has been unjust, based on Walzers intervention principles. I highlighted and explained why and what was in violation, and if unjust, how the acting power claimed to justify itself and actions.
    To justify a preemptive attack and intervention is a tricky thing, and has specific requirements to meet, as seen in the principles of justice presented by Walzer. In most cases, preemptive war, in order to stop a perceived threat or fear of a threat cannot be justified. Intervention to prevent violations of human rights is permissible, because it is compatible with principles of justice.



    Quotes I liked and stumbled upon through my reading in preparation of this essay:
    1. “Every country has the government it deserves.” -John Stuart Mill
    2. “Moral reality of war is not fixed by the actual activities of soldiers but by the opinions of mankind.” –Michael Walzer
    3. “An American war, fought for American purposes, in someone else’s country.” -Michael Walzer
    4. “Do Not Forget that All People Deserves the Regime they Are Willing to Endure” – John Mill
    5. "We cannot teach people anything; we can only help them discover it within themselves." - Galileo Galilei

    Mon, Oct 22, 2012  Permanent link

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