Just intervention requires a written legal code
Posted by Dave Bath on 2011-03-21
If, as some say, the UN’s military action in the internal affairs of a soveriegn state heralds the end of the Westphalian system, then I say good riddance, while lamenting the current unprincipled application of power.
If the action were based on a set of principles, laid out for all to see and debate, applied to all states based on the needs of the citizenry for decent treatment by those in power, I’d be far less troubled – for then the action would be based on something akin to law.
If truly principled, it would be the lives lost, the misery imposed that mattered, that demanded action, regardless of the nation in which the oppressed reside, regardless of whether the oppressors have power through hereditary monarchy, through ballot, through force of arms, or indeed, perhaps even greater power through force of purses.
If truly principled, the west would have waged war against cholera in Haiti, using good clean water, as readily as wages war against a man and his minions, using rockets.
That is, unless all the fun is in the firing of rockets, the collateral damage, the spilled blood of civilians and the lower military ranks, the reconstruction concessions, the swinging of dicks at diplomatic tables, unless the misery lifted, the lives saved, are not the true aim.
Unfortunately, in too many nations, throwing bombs and appearing patriotic is of far greater political advantage than giving a jerry can of water to a thirsty family and appearing humane – but is that the faukt of politicians or voters?
We do need principles to take action to relieve a people, without, or indeed against, the consent of the national power.
Those principles, like law in a lawful land, apply to all, equally: the offences are in black and white for all to see, as are the penalties.
Aid too, must be principled. Relief in the face of disaster, of privation, from agencies natural and of human making, deserves to be as similar from Australia to Zimbabwe as it is from Sydney to Perth, from Darwin to Hobart.
The actions of the world powers, to be deemed just, must apply throughout the world, justified by words written plainly for the world to see.
The only just way to impose something in the name of justice is in accord a lawfully written code – the arbitrary application of power at the whim of the powerful, whether beneficial in a particular case or not, only undermines the possibility of a lawful world.
And is there a leader of a nation, or even of a political party, anywhere, who’d dare put down, for all to see, a draft form of words for the principles that demand world action, that they’d use to guide action, to allow non-interference?
No? Not even a series of dot points?
No? Then does even one of them deserve even the mayoral robes of a small city?