For fifty years the world watched and held it’s breath as two hegemons narrowly averted conflict time and time again while building up enough weapons that could destroy the world many times over. As hard as it is to believe, the world was virtually stable, with two superpowers, with many allies on either side it was hard for a conflict to break out. With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 all that was stable began to disintegrate and one power remained, while the other quickly regressed along with it’s satellite states.
This left the world with a security dilemma it had never witnessed before… With only one superpower, where will the next conflicts arise and what will we do about them? The consensus is that the next wars will be intrastate rather than interstate wars and that these wars will be on ethnic grounds rather than political grounds; this much has been proven in Rwanda, Haiti, Kosovo, and Bosnia, where once ties between ethnicities existed, they have now collapsed and have resulted in civil wars, ethnic cleansing, potential genocides and genocides.
The purpose of this paper is to show how these conflicts arise and when the international community should intervene in them. Ultimately, one sees that the international community should intervene earlier and more often in these types of conflicts because the damages caused by genocide and ethnic cleansing are immeasurable and not only immoral but also present several security costs, indeed, there is a New World Orderi.
In order to establish this “moral criterion for intervention” we must first establish that there are some values that are held to be universal, and that these values should be upheld over values of a certain culture. It is my contention that the crimes of genocide or ethnic cleansing should be viewed as immoral acts throughout the world, as well as slavery and torture.
Michael Ignatieffii elaborates on this argument a little more: “the idea of human universality rests less on hope than on fear, less on optimism about the human capacity for good than on dread of human capacity for evil… A century of total war has made victims of us all… We no longer live in a time when violence is distributed… along the lines of tribe, race, religion, or nation. If new technology has committed a new form of war and a new crime-genocide-we have also witnessed the creation of a new kind of victimhood.
War and genocide have overturned the moral boundary markers of citizenship, race, and class that used to allocate responsibility, it is because a century of total destruction has made us ashamed of that cantonment of moral responsibilities… Modern moral universalism is built upon the experience of a new kind of crime: the crime against humanity. ” This argument essentially sets up the criterion for intervention; it is morally justifiable to intervene in another state when a crime against humanity is being committed.
It is my contention that those crimes should be held as universally bad. Edward W. Saidiii argues differently, he argues that the costs of American intervention around the globe is American Imperialism, he argues: “the idea of American leadership and exceptionalism is never absent, no matter what the United States does, these authorities often do not want it to be an imperial power like the others it followed, preferring instead the notion of ‘world responsibility’ as a rationale for what it does. Said even goes farther in arguing that this imperialism is nothing more than an attempt to re-colonize the places where intervention takes place and that this intervention offers the victims of Ignatieff’s human slaughter two options:iv “serve or be destroyed. ” While I do give Said’s argument some weight, it doesn’t really seem to answer the argument that intervention is justified in cases of genocide or ethnic cleansing; Ignatieff makes this argument even clearer,v “:genocide and famine create a new human subject-the pure victim stripped of social identity, and thus bereft of the specific moral audiences…
The family, the tribe, the faith, the nation; no longer exist as a moral audience for these people. If they are to be saved at all, they must put their faith in that most fearful of dependency relations: the charity of strangers. ” Indeed, obligations between strangers exist and not acting on these obligations is in itself immoral.
Another argument that Saidvi makes is that the very foundation of western involvement in another state is culturally subversive; he states: “the important factor in these micro-physics of imperialism is that in passing from ‘communication to command’ and back again, a unified discourse develops that is based on a distinction between the Westerner and the native so integral and adaptable as to make change almost impossible.
We sense the anger and frustration this produced over time from Fanon’s comments on the Manichanism of the colonial system and the consequent need for violence. ” I think that the same arguments made before apply, but John Rawlsvii, professor emeritus at Harvard University, brings up an interesting argument against this, he claims: “Outlaw states are aggressive and dangerous; all peoples are safer and more secure if such states change, or are forced to change, their ways.
Otherwise, they deeply affect the international climate of power and violence. ” I agree with this argument for the most part, the one part I find troubling is his characterization of states that don’t correspond to international norms as “Outlaw States,” while I think that these states are entitled to their own value systems, I also think that they should be held responsible when they violate universal values.
It is important to begin with a critical examination of how and why these conflicts arise, in order to do so this paper will focus on the events in Kosovo, Bosnia, and Rwanda leading up to the point where there was some level of international intervention. In Kosovo the problem dates all the way back to 1389 when Prince Lazar lead an army of Serbs and Albanians that was defeated by the Turks in Kosovo, this battle marked the beginning of the end of the medieval Serb nation.
For the next 500 years Turkey or the Ottoman Empire ruled Serbia, and the battle of Kosovo became a rallying cry for Serbian nationalists, much like Texas’s “Remember the Alamo. ” The seeds were sown for a conflict in the future between the Serbs and the Kosovars. In 1912 Serbia reacquired Kosovo as it drove the Ottoman Empire out of Europe, soon after Austria insists that Serbia and Montenegro give up part of their new territory to form an independent Albania.
Between the first and second world wars Serbia attempts to consolidate their hold on Kosovo by expelling Albanians, Muslims, and Turks. In 1941 Serbia was invaded by Germany and it’s allies and was divided up into puppet states, then in 1945 German forces were driven out of Yugoslavia and around 10,000 Albanians fought against 40,000 Yugoslav troops sent by new leader Josip Broz Tito and the rebellion was quelled; subsequently, hundreds of thousands of Albanians were deported to Turkey and were killed in various incidents in the 1950’s and 60’s.
In 1974 Yugoslavia drafted a new constitution that granted Kosovo autonomy but not independence, it is this same framework that led to the ethnic cleansing in Kosovo in the late 90’s and it is this same framework that the International Community supports todayviii. In 1990 Kosovar Albanian legislators in the province declared independence, soon after Serbia dissolved the Kosovo assembly and Yugoslavia sent troops, tanks, warplanes, and 2,000 more police to Kosovo to quell a rebellion.
In 1991 the rest of the Yugoslavian federation began to collapse as Croatia and Slovenia began the race towards independence as Germany and many other countries began to recognize themix. Soon, Macedonia and Bosnia Herzegovina followed. The only thing left of what was once a powerful Yugoslavia was Serbia, Kosovo, and Montenegro. Croatia and Serbia began to stabilize and conflict began to ensue in Bosnia and then escalated into a full-scale war that began to engulf the entire regionx.
Soon the international community began to intervene in the Bosnia conflict, finding evidence of mass graves and ethnic cleansing, the UN soon put sanctions on Serbia for backing rebel Serbs in Croatia and Bosnia. In 1993 the conflict took a new twist as Muslims and Croats began to fight each other after several peace agreements failed and the two allies against Serbs soon became enemies. It is this sudden turn of events that puzzles most political scientists; what made two groups that had been fighting in the same trenches, united against the same enemy suddenly become enemies themselves?
This still puzzles many people, that one-day you could be brothers and the next day you can be mortal enemies; this is the reason why intervention is necessary and it is the only option. In 1995, NATO started an air strike against Bosnian Serbs and soon after the two sides reached a peace agreement. As the Bosnian conflict began to calm down cries of help were heard from nearby Kosovo, where the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) was making its stake in the area well known.
In 1997, tensions grew as Serbian nationalist Slobodan Milosevic was sworn in as president of Yugoslavia and grew again in 1998 as the Yugoslav army launched a crackdown on KLA separatists in Kosovoxi. In September of 1998 NATO issued an ultimatum to Milosevic to stop the crackdown in Kosovo or face air strikes. In March of 1999 peace talks began to collapse and NATO warplanes started an air campaign against Serbian military sites. Yugoslav forces began to herd hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanians out of the province, furthering the cycle of ethnic cleansing in the regionxii.
After 78 days, the NATO air strike campaign ended without any casualties on the NATO side, with Serbia withdrawing it’s forces from Kosovo and the UN Security Council calling for “substantial autonomy for Kosovo,” soon after NATO led peacekeepers arrived. Currently the tides have turned in Kosovo as 95 percent of Kosovars are ethnic Albanian and there has been an effort to rid the region of the Serbian minority, as recently as November 23, 2000 another war was possible in the regionxiii.
In 1994 the international community watched with little regard as over 1 million Tutsis were murdered by Hutus in Rwanda, the United States took a proactive role in stopping international action in Rwanda, it went as far as blocking UN Security Council votes on the issue until the final days of the genocide. Karen Elshazly argues that the reason the United States did not intervene in Rwanda was because of the lack of public interest in moral foreign policies after Somalia and because the United States failed in it’s objectives in Somalia. The result of not intervening in Rwanda… million murdered and countless others forced out of their home and into the jungles of the Congo, where there is now a surging refugee crisis that eventually promises another war that may well reignite the genocide. All of this could have been prevented if the international community sent in as little as 5,000 troops. xiv It is this kind of conflict that raises the question of whether or not the international community is responsible for allowing a genocide to take place in other words; if the act that is committed intentionally by the Hutus is immoral, is it immoral if the international community commits it unintentionally?
The fact that the international community did not directly intend the deaths does not remove their causal and moral responsibility for them. xv In the Rwanda situation the United States is especially culpable for it’s unintentional actions during the Rwanda conflict. Karen Elshazly argues that this was the case in Rwanda, but also arguesxvi: “We may quibble over U. S. strategic interests in countries that most of us cannot find on a map. We may argue about the financial costs of involvement around the world.
What we cannot ever compromise is the ethic that compels concern for the victims of human slaughter. Does the suffering of people half a world away fall outside the human condition that we must sanctimoniously seek to enhance on these shores? Are African lives indeed disposable?… We can choose to respect the human condition in all of it’s forms, or we can speak of being the leader of the free world and the champion of human rights and yet consistently be unwilling to back up our words if it is not deemed to be within the political and economic interests of the United States to do so…
Where does the moral imperative lie? In the simple and inescapable fact that a war against children in Sierra Leone or ethnic cleansing in the Balkans or a genocide in Rwanda diminishes us all. ” This moral imperative requires the United States to intervene whole-heartedly and not just send our planes in to bomb a country, the presence of troops is necessary to stop the violence as it begins. It is also clear that we must commit our ground troops to occupy these places longer in order to help with the rebuilding process that is so necessary when ethnic conflict breaks out. vii Perhaps Michael Ignatieff said it best: “The chief threat to international security in the post-Cold War world is the collapse of states, and the resulting collapse of the capacity of the civilian populations to feed and protect themselves, either against famine or interethnic warfare. In a world in which nations once capable of imperial burdens are no longer willing to shoulder them, it is inevitable that many of the states created by decolonization should prove unequal to the task of maintaining civil order.
Such nations have achieved self-determination on the cruelest possible terms. Either they are torn apart by ethnic conflict, or they are simply too weak to overcome the poverty of their people. Former Yugoslavia belongs to a growing category of states, in the southern rim of the former Soviet empire and in Africa, that have collapsed, abandoning their citizens to the Hobbesian War of all against all, or some against some. What these societies need is internal peace followed by the construction of institutions in which the rule of law prevails rather than the rule of the gun prevails.
This is work that is totally ill suited to the post-Cold War style of instant intervention and quick exit. What is needed is long-term, unspectacular commitment to the rebuilding of society itself. Obviously, such commitment can be undertaken only by the people themselves, but an enduring commitment by outsiders can help. It is already clear that we have an obligation to intervene in cases of genocide or ethnic cleansing, but what about other cases of state sponsored human rights violations?
It is clear to me that when looking at genocide and ethnic cleansing you can evaluate intervention through both a deontological perspective and a utilitarian perspective, they are not mutually exclusive in these instances, nor are they mutually exclusive when it comes to human rights abuses. For example, recently there has been much discussion about China’s human rights abuses and that those abuses should make us sanction China, and not allow them into the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Perhaps economic sanctions are justified, but military intervention into China would be in no way justifiable. China and the United States both have many nuclear weapons as well as large standing armies, the outcome of any military intervention would be far worse, from a utilitarian perspective, than economic sanctions therefore you could act through both ideologies and actively sanction China. This could be carried out with other countries as well. It is clear that the United States shoulders a great burden as we enter the new millennium, what is less clear is what we can do about this burden.
Therefore the criterion for intervention is: military intervention into another state’s affairs is morally obligated whenever a society of peoples contextualized social relations have been destroyed and when there is evidence of ethnic cleansing and genocide. It is important for the United States to intervene in these conflicts because when the United States does something, other nations follow their lead. We must start nation building rather than being a policeman, this is what will help make a New World Order.