BigMo’s Blog

Politics and Economics in Israel


There was a time when an “intervention” was something your friends carried out when your behavior became a little to extreme. Maybe you were drinking a little too much, doing too many drugs or getting fired from job after job. Carrying out an intervention wasn’t easy: it required directly confronting the problem.

Then, intervention evolved from a social to an international phenomenon. Nowadays, it involves removing dictators from power. Still, it involves confronting a destructive force and stopping it.  There are many opinions on the legality of this, as any person who bothers to read a newspaper knows.

Some hold the line that intervention is necessary when the dictator threatens the vital interests of a state or a group of states. The US intervened in Panama, and again in Grenada, because those regimes threatened to destabilize an area on America’s flanks. NATO intervened in Bosnia/Kosovo because the area was threatening to destabilize Europe. Thousands were being killed and tens of thousands were fleeing the region for safer parts of Europe, i.e., western Europe.

Another school of thought has it that intervention is allowed when there is a mandate from some higher supra-national body. Such is the case currently in Libya, where both the Arab League and the UN have sanctioned a no-fly zone and protection of civilians using military means.

Yet, a third school contends that intervention into another country’s affairs is illegal and/or immoral. National interests and international approval are irrelevant as far as this line of thinking goes. Since intervention has always required military force and results in casualties, it is akin to correcting one evil with another evil.

Another school asks, ‘If we intervene here, why not over there also?’ In other words, all dictatorships should be confronted and destroyed. Depending on how one defines “dictatorship,” this would involve military intervention in at one-third of the world.

And of course, there are many variations on these opinions.  To be truthful, we must state that in most instances there are multiple factors to consider.

Panama’s Noriega was more corrupt than brutal, but his brutality was nonetheless considerable.  This combination of brutality and corruption created a potential weakness for the US, which was – and still is – dependent on the Panama Canal to rapidly transfer naval forces. Noriega’s regime allowed drug traffickers safe haven, logistical support and banking services – all for a fee.  Illegal drugs impose a heavy social and financial price on the US. Thus, there were multiple reasons for the US to take action.

In the case of Bosnia/Kosovo, the disintegration of Yugoslavia into multiple state-lets involved the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people. It triggered wars based on nationalism and religion that Europe thought it had already rid itself.  There was a perceived potential for similar conflicts to break-out between other states in the Balkans and Eastern Europe. Finally, there was the moral dimension: civilians were being rounded up and slaughtered.

Today, there are economic, political, religious and moral factors at work in Libya.  Economies based on natural resources tend to be unbalanced, and create oligarchies that exploit the wealth that is created, furthering the gap between rich and poor. Politically, dictatorships tend to be mercurial in their alliances as their overwhelming concern is to remain in power. They are not wedded to a single political or philosophical goal other than the perpetuation of their rule.

Religious wars have torn at mankind since he discovered God. Or since He created man, depending on your view. In either case, it frees the individual to commit heinous acts against other human beings simply because they do not read from the same Book. Or because they read from the same Book, but choose to interpret it differently.  Regardless, the religious and moral constraints that a religion imposes on its adherents are often tossed aside when dealing with the “non-believer.”

We need to look closely at how the intervention in Libya is being conducted, both militarily and politically.  We need to realize that the various coalition partners have their own motivations in seeing Colonel Gadaffi removed from power.  For some, there are economic benefits to be gained.  For others, political benefits to be had.  And yet for others, this intervention is a holy duty imposed from on High.

In all likelihood, Colonel Gadaffi will be removed from power.  World citizens monitor the conduct of this intervention, both during and after.  They must hold the leaders participating in it accountable.  If there is accountability, Libyans will have a better probability of achieving stability, prosperity and realizing their rights as human beings.  If not, the situation in that country will more than likely resemble that of Afghanistan and Iraq.

March 25, 2011 - Posted by | Middle East

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