Friday, November 10

Interventionism vs. Sovereignty

After reading an article titled "The ideals worth rescuing from the deserts of Iraq" by Andrew Rawnsley, the associate editor of The Observer, I wrote a counter argument to his article, mainly for my rhetoric writing class. I am posting it for relevency. I hope you find it interesting.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the emergence of World New Order in the early 90s, the United States of America started taking its role as the solitary leader of the world. In next to no time the USA first applied the principle of interventionism as a humanitarian path to improve situation of countries undergoing crisis. The US intervened in Somalia to help distribute aid to the starving people of the country. The success of the mission was the beginning of the military approach to political solutions, namely, interventionism. This led more first world countries to apply the Somalia example on other cases, and the intervention of the UK in Sierra Leone was another successful action. Then, in year 2003, the War on Iraq broke out. By exporting US democracy to Iraq, the Americans thought that Iraq would be just another case in which ‘humanitarian interventionism’ will succeed. So the USA illegally invaded Iraq and successfully overthrew the Iraqi national government. However, the bad strategies and the constant disregarding to the emerging problems have led Iraq to become a swamp of violence and instability. After more than three years since the invasion, Iraq is still an arena for chaos and bloodshed. Despite all this, Andrew Rawnsley, writing in the Observer, was still trying to prove that interventionism is an ideal concept that should remain a preferred choice, even though the Iraq scenario was horrible. He believes that there should be a world power dedicated to saving rights and dignity of humans across the planet. Although how Noble that may seem, I believe interventionism should not become a principle or be taken as a standard solution but rather the only final option in rare emergency situations where military action is the only choice available.

Mr. Rawnsley’s article contains a lot of misleading information. He tries to delude readers by creating false dilemmas about interventionism. For example, he says that if intervention was not carried out in Rwanda, then it means that the UN forces would sit on their hands watching genocide happen. This is not true as there were several other choices that could have been taken, but Mr. Rawnsley wanted to hide those other options to make his argument more persuading. As an example of these other options, negotiations could be established between an international power and the local parties in conflict, and should these negotiations fail, then economic sanctions could be enforced until the Rwandese parties respond to the international call. Even though interventionism did occur in Rwanda, and it was carried out successfully, this does not mean that interventionism was the right thing to do, and it does not mean that interventionism is always right. Mr. Rawnsley wanted to hide all other possibilities so he could persuade readers that the only available choice was the military action.

The Observer’s frequent columnist also creates another false dilemma as he labels people who are not pro-interventionism as “defeatist realists”. Not only that, but he calls them ‘realists’ with quotation marks, marking that he is ironic of their realistic opinions regarding interventionism. This is not only a personal attack against anyone who disagrees with Mr. Rawnsley’s perspective, but also it’s a biased label which he puts on so many different viewpoints. Mr. Rawnsley seem to create a straw-man argument here; he creates a group in his own mind then he defeats their arguments in order to make it seem like if his argument was strong. The fact is, People are not only either pro interventionism or defeatist realists; interventionism in itself needs to be studied carefully on a case by case basis. People could be against Mr. Rawnsley’s opinion and still agree that interventionism could be sometimes right. The military action in Sierra Leon was a good action, if the British army did not intervene there, many lives could have been lost. This mission was successful not because the British army was good, but because the people of Sierra Leon themselves asked the Brits to help them. And if Mr. Rawnsley was trying to make this scenario similar to the Iraqi scenario then he is doing a false analogy, neither the US army has saved lives of Iraqis, nor has the Iraqis asked for ‘liberation’.

In other attempt to justify the errors of the war, the author commits several logical errors; he tries to reach conclusions without using a valid logic. He says, for example, that one of the main reasons that lead to the chaotic and terrible situation in Iraq was that the US did not have enough US troops in Iraq when they overthrew the government, and what appealed foreign jihadists to pour into the country throughout the open borders was the thin spread of occupation forces around the country. This is not true; Americans could have controlled over Iraq with many less soldiers if they had the collaboration of the people and the good strategy. If only Andrew Rawnsley, Tony Blair or George W. Bush read history, they would probably know that British General Cromer had controlled the six million population of Egypt with five thousand soldiers. Authority is not achieved with just having more power. The truth is, the terrible performance of the US administration in Iraq was the main reason that led to chaos in Iraq. The resulting terrible situation was the reason why jihadists entered Iraq. In other attempts to appeal people to the principle of the illegal invasion which Mr. Rawnsley likes to call ‘liberal imperialism’, he mixes its meaning with another more acceptable ideology to people. He says that “[…] Mr. Blair has been trying to remake his case for an activist foreign policy which you can call humanitarian interventionism or liberal imperialism.” This is strange since, humanitarian interventionism is nothing like liberal imperialism, whatever he meant by the latter.

Mr. Rawnsley, along with the US administration and all western biased media, hid a major problem in analyzing the situation, which is totally forgetting about the opinion of those who are ‘intervened upon’, those are, the miserable Iraqi people. He does not mention that 80% of Iraqis –according to latest polls-, want the complete withdrawal of occupation. The majority of Iraqis did not agree on the US illegal intervention from the first moment it took place, and they still hold the occupation responsible for all the mistakes happened in their country. On the other hand, Mr. Rawnsley does not understand the perspective of Gandhi, which most Iraqis adapt, that sovereignty is the most important issue to any state. Aside from the miserable situation that Iraq has undergone in the past three years because of the unjustified intervention and is still suffering from it until this moment, Iraq’s national sovereignty, even with its dictatorship, saved more rights and dignity for Iraqis than the current occupation. Iraqis would argue that “much of the [current] country’s ailments [are] a direct result of the illegal war and violence that followed”. After all, the most important part of the situation in Iraq, and the most direct party affected by what happens on Iraqi soil, is the Iraqi people, and they should be the first ones to be listened to.

I think that Mr. Rawnsley’s perspective contained a lot of misleading information. He based his analysis on false dilemmas, false analogies, straw-man arguments and several deep logical errors. The perspective from which he sees the case of interventionism is not correct. Interventionism is not an ideal principle always, and it should not be carried out as a standard solution, but it is rather a final option used only in carefully studied cases. In the same sense, no nation has the right to position itself on a moral high ground or to intervene into other countries’ internal affairs according to its own standards.


Anonymous said...

Nicely written. I wonder at those who claim Bush gave Iraqi's their sovereignty several years ago, yet Iraqis are not able to charge US citizens with crimes and the mercenaries brought in by the USA do not even face military courts but proceed to kill with no accountability.

Before the US troops leave, the US mercenaries need to leave. Let the US lead by example by disbanding their own private army.

Then give the regular armies six months and let them go....

Anonymous said...


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