Spearhead Analysis — 07.03.12The illusion of a humanitarian war
By Zoon Ahmad Khan
Wars cannot make peace, they never have and they never will. Wars could however make peace within a state: when the establishment and the anti establishment forces collide but those aren’t really wars. I would call them ‘discrepancies’ or clashes, because if we believe in State Sovereignty then those within a state have a natural right to rebel when peripheries swell; because only those within a state have a right to the resources within. So we talk about helping the ‘weak opposition’. That’s the definition of a humanitarian war. When the state resorts to inhumane means to retain power what should be done? Should the international community just watch as rebellion is crushed, coerced and innocent blood is spilt? To that as well, my answer is yes. It is not until the opposition is strong enough to topple the regime on its own that it will be capable of running a state. And today’s humanitarian, liberal, ‘free speech proponent’ human does not realize that revolutions come at the expense of lives, the sweat and blood of an entire generation, and most importantly a strong sense of vision.
Anti-establishment elements have existed and will continue to exist in all societies. Governance is not an easy task, and no decision in the complex conditions we live under could be welcome by all factions of any society. Propaganda wins, logic does not. Propaganda claims to be logic, and the illogical are won over easily. As elections approach opposition parties, news channels, academics, the international and economic stakeholders go berserk propagating their version of the truth (generally that’s a lie since we’re all safeguarding our own interests). The common man gets perplexed. It is easier to remain indifferent than get into a chaotic mess. The political realm has been polluted to the extent that the people for and by whom the state has been formed lose interest. They simply cannot catch up. The result is confinement. To protect one’s sanity it is more sensible to focus on problems that are closer to home, like the roads, inflation of food prices, shortage of gas and electricity, fuel prices and so on. This is today’s democracy. Our ‘decision makers’ seldom know.
Then there is an ideal liberal democratic society that flaunts its higher existence. Where fast food, coca cola, and dreams come true and people can speak freely. Justice is swift and education free, it sounds like the Promised Land. It is this American dream that has blurred reality and practicality of the many masses. They want it, they crave it, but how do they get there? More importantly what we fail to see the high opportunity cost for sustaining a society like that. Surely if all of mankind could live so freely, and fairly as the Enlightenment philosophers claimed, we would have found a way. And the way stated is clearly a path to nowhere. But the real way to attain such Utopia is from no angle liberal, just or humane. Rather it is very human. It is no secret that the economies of the countries of the world have continuously been diverging. The rich countries are becoming richer and the poor poorer. Apart from a few exceptions we don’t see the world in a better place. And this is the in-built flaw of Capitalism. Capitalism was not born of the womb of the rational peasantry, but the victory of the ‘Bourgeoisie’ over the ‘Nobility’. It was a war between the rural and the urban. And in today’s liberal framework we see that the political and the economic establishment are one. Money buys everything. And that money is concentrated in the hands of the few.
It is therefore economic interests that drive states to war and in that respect we are the Machiavellian prince. The only difference is that the stronger have created ways to come off as humane while ravaging the weak. And that is what governance is about: making class interests look like the interests of society at large. Who would speak against the best interests of humanity? Who would speak in favor of Iraq’s Saddam, Gaddafi, or Osama bin Laden? In such a situation neutrality is not an option. These dictators have been guilty of posing a threat to national security and all of mankind. Soon images of mushroom clouds and Weapons of Mass Destruction are described are described to haunt and sensationalize, and for the Iraqi people’s welfare, who hate Saddam we must go to war. So what became if this humanitarian war that was waged to uplift the Iraqi people and free them from the jaws of ruthless dictatorship? More people died, the infrastructure is worse than ever, sectarian violence and the factions within Iraq have only divided further, while Iraqi wealth (their oil) is secure in the hands of huge American companies. The law and order situation is worse, and then what did this humanitarian war attain but a shift in resources?
When a third ‘stronger’ party intervenes, it will secure its own interests. Rationality in today’s age has been acknowledged as the sole governing factor of the actions of human beings, masses, and states together. It is irrational for countries to go to war, invest billions worth of resources, lives and come out without any economic or political interest. Perhaps one argument is that in the well connected global economy, and the interpenetration of economy and politics in the ‘Capitalist world’ there is an incentive to invest in stability. That is what led to the great depression of the 1930s when the United States let Europe’s crashed economies be. From Vietnam to Iraq to Afghanistan and now maybe Iran, humanitarian intervention has always been required where there was oil or power. Who went to the rescue of the Rwandans where 800,000 were murdered in a span of 100 days; or the Palestinians who face racial and religious discrimination at the hands of Israel? Are the Iranian people worse off than the Palestinians? And what about the Congo war that claimed the lives of 5.4 million people?
We can’t keep fooling ourselves into believing that violence can bring peace. It is also our duty to understand that societies should ideally let be. No people can become disciplined enough to successfully topple a government and govern themselves unless they are strong enough to carry out the first step on their own. No system can change without sacrifice and no status quo can be altered without vision of a better alternative. And that vision should at least enjoy the support of the majority. Then how can spoon fed ‘revolutions’ sustain. All we see is more chaos, more bloodshed, and further divergence. Perhaps we need to come to terms with the fact that all societies do not possess ‘democratic’ acumen. They need to be dealt with harshly. All people do not respect ‘apologetic’ attitudes, and if the ultimate purpose of governance is to attain a state of harmony, then it might come at the expense of a few. Idealism in real matters cannot work. www.spearheadresearch.org
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