Humanitarian Intervention

Topics: Kosovo, NATO, Serbs Pages: 9 (3188 words) Published: December 4, 2012
I would say that the perspective linking US strategic and economic interests to so-called ‘humanitarian interventions’ is a correct one. Following the Cold War, the US still maintained its designs for global hegemony. It had economic interests in many regions of the globe. The health of these interests mainly depended on accessibility and security for US investment in resource-rich areas. More importantly, in order to preserve the existence of NATO(which the US counted on in order to perpetuate its global aims), some sort of post-war function was necessary. There were also the interests of the military-industrial complex to consider. Basically, as the US saw the great convenience that was the Soviet Union crumbling, it began scrambling to create functions and purposes for all the institutions that had thrived during the Cold War. To find these functions and purposes in the face of a world that was largely already subjugated to the established hegemony was no small task. For instance, Europe no longer required the ‘security blanket’ the US had formerly provided to it to shield it from the ‘threat’ of the Soviet Union. In 1991, the European Union resolved to create a Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) as part of the Maastricht Treaty. This laid the groundwork for the creation of Eurocorps, consisting of 50,000 troops from 5 countries. This force remained purely symbolic since it consisted of the same national troops that were formally committed to NATO. However, it did set in motion the process whereby the EU powers could start to move towards a situation where they could deploy troops as a regional branch of NATO, without having to utilise the entire machinery of the broad NATO alliance. Although the CFSP was initially dominated by the French and Germans, it took an important step forward in 1998 with the signing of an agreement in St. Malo. London and Paris declared that the EU "must have the capacity for autonomous action, backed up by credible forces, the means to decide to use them and a readiness to do so in order to respond to international crises." What this meant in practice was that the European NATO states now had an agreed way to embark on collective military interventions without having to get the Americans to agree to lead and finance the action. The DPGD castigated such“Europe-only security arrangements which would undermine NATO.” Preserving the Cold War alliance structure was one of the central objectives of US foreign policy during the 1990s. But in the absence of the Soviet Union, there remained the problem of justification. The role of humanitarian intervention in this context is clear- it provided a rationale for US hegemony during the 1990s as well as the Cold War institutions on which this hegemony was based. It gave such institutions a new lease on life and also a new set of enemies. Humanitarian operations drew the capitalist democracies together in a glorious moral crusade that was rhetorically similar to the Cold War. This crusade was led by a seemingly benign US hegemon, which furnished the military and logistical support that these operations required. Bearing all this in mind, a new term was created- humanitarian intervention. Its connotation is one of a selfless sacrifice on the part of the intervening nation, and can perhaps be construed as the most recent incarnation of the ‘white man’s burden.’ Humanitarian intervention offered some advantages- Appealed to influential segments of the US public, especially political liberals, thus forging new constituencies for intervention. Shortcomings- US military itself was cool to the idea and went along with some measure of reluctance. The lack of clear-cut military objectives or exit strategies- conditions that typify humanitarian intervention- concerned military elites, who wanted to avoid a repeat of Vietnam. Even the civilian elements of the foreign policy bureaucracy, which were more supportive, held...
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