From: uruknet.info, Rome, Italy, 27 June 2005
The Doctrine of Humanitarian Intervention & The Neo-Colonial Implications of its Revival in our Unipolar World
by Jim Harding
Table of Contents
Where did the doctrine of humanitarian intervention (HI) come from, and does it really represent a new, more human-rights orientation to international politics in the wake of the supremacy of the America superpower? Does the revival of this doctrine signal a new potential for this liberal, corporate democracy to tackle the roots and consequences of terrorism and genocide? How is this doctrine actually reflected in the actions of NATO and the US in international affairs, and in the process, affecting the operations of the United Nations and international law? Specifically, is HI enhancing human rights and the international law that is aimed to protect these rights, including through peace and security?
What can we learn about the doctrine of HI, in terms of the advancement of peace and security and human rights, if we compare human casualties of the UN sanctions on Iraq (and the Gulf War and the US invasion and occupation of Iraq) with casualties from the authoritarian regime of Hussein, while remembering that it was the 'coalition of the willing' that helped get Hussein into power, and backed him during some of his most 'barbarous' years of rule?
And, finally, are there better explanations than HI for the US's urge towards unilateralism, such as its fairly long imperial history and the centrality of the military-industrial complex within its economy and culture? What does the U.S.'s planned weaponization of space, and the broader processes of corporate globalization, suggest about the pretences of HI in a unipolar world?
1. The Doctrine of Humanitarian Intervention
The doctrine of humanitarian intervention (HI) has its roots in past policies of European states intervening in the Orient. Legal legitimacy was asserted from moral pronouncements, and the notion of 'legitimate intervention' or the 'right of intervention' was created. This 'right' was advanced in some manner as justification for European interventions in Greece, Syria, Crete, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria and Macedonia from 1826-1905.
According to the doctrine of HI evolving before WWI, sovereignty was confined because countries are members of a 'community of nations.' The doctrine came to imply 'that whenever the 'human rights' of the population of a given state are violated by its very government, another state or group of states has the right to intervene in the name of the so-called 'international community'.' 1 This in turn evolved into the notion of 'limited sovereignty', whereby the 'international community' (which really meant Europe) could substitute 'their own sovereignty for that of the state against which the intervention is directed.' Accordingly, a minimum standard of religious freedom was guaranteed by Turkey, in its Treaty of Berlin with major European states in 1878. This made HI part of public law.
This legalistic reasoning, purportedly based on humanitarian motives, has to be squarely placed in the context of the imperial agenda of the European states at the time. Hans Kochler argues that HI was explicitly created 'to provide a kind of moral justification for the repeated intervention of European powers on the territory of the Ottoman Empire.' He notes that the intervening states were not disinterested parties, but had their own geopolitical goals. Furthermore, 'in the course of their own colonial rule', they 'violated each and every humanitarian principle they proclaimed.' The rights of Christian minorities were asserted but no comparable standards of treatment were advanced for indigenous populations with differing cultural-religious beliefs. The double standard was 'veiled' by Christian universalism and Eurocentric chauvinism, but normative principles were never clearly defined.
The roots of this Eurocentric-Christian 'universalism can be traced back to the Treaty of 1815, known as the Holy Alliance, whereby Austria, Prussia, and Russia accepted 'the precepts of that Holy Religion, namely the precepts of Justice, Christian Charity and Peace.' The rulers declared themselves to be members of the 'same Christian nation.' France and England soon joined the alliance, which equated the destiny of humanity with the Christian world. Hans Kochler concluded, 'The doctrine of HI was the natural outflow of the European powers' tendency to camouflage imperialist interests with lofty religious 'precepts.'
The doctrine was criticized for its lack of precision regarding what constitutes humanitarianism, as well as the inconsistent practices of colonial powers. It was seen to be a doctrine of double standards, with 'human rights' as only an 'accessory motive of intervention.' The colonial powers decided the criteria for applying the doctrine and were also their own judges. There was no democratic division of power between the authority formulating these criteria and the one executing the intervention. It was therefore a 'tool of power politics' which shielded the fundamental inequality between the European and colonial states as well as the authoritarian relationship between the rulers and their own 'citizens'.
If this all sounds strangely familiar, it should. The revival of the doctrine at the turn of this century is being touted by backers of the Bush Doctrine as a rebirth of moral consciousness in support of spreading democracy and human rights through regime change. But it could only have been revived in the context of the hegemonic politics in the world since the end of the Soviet Union. Though the revived doctrine incorporates 'spreading democracy' into its rhetoric, the thinking and its application remains thoroughly pre or un-democratic. The vision of humanitarianism is still clouded with ethnocentrism, though it is now more Americo-centric. And, while thinking about human rights has steadily evolved since WWII, there is still no international institutional legal structure giving global credibility to human rights' accountability.
2. Humanitarian Intervention over Genocide
The revived doctrine continues to be advanced primarily in righteous terms. When pressed, today's defenders may justify HI as a way to stop or even prevent genocide. The editors of a volume of writers taking this position say, 'far more often than the world's political leaders currently acknowledge, HI can work, can save lives, can overcome the political obstacles it inevitably faces.' 2 However, a look at the modern history of intervention over genocide will make us leery of such a claim.
Catastrophic, violent events like 'genocide' have to be named and better understood to be controlled and prevented. (This is also true for 'global warming'.) Naming is part of creating collective memory and action, which is one thing the WTI, was set up to do. Raphael Lemkin invented the term 'genocide' in 1944 after what was inadequately named the 'race murder' of one million Armenians in 1915, and the 'Holocaust' of Hitler's Germany in WWII. Hitler is said to have commented that no one really remembered the slaughter of the Armenians, and even after the invention of the term 'genocide' this is still somewhat true. Much work remains to be done to clear up the historical record of genocide without the prolongation of any double standards. 3
The UN's Genocide Convention of 1948 is primarily associated with the European Holocaust. Genocide that occurred elsewhere against other peoples during WWII, including the nuclear extermination of the Japanese civilians at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, has to be fully brought into the record. The deceit and manipulation of concerns about genocide involved with the invasion and occupation of Iraq compels us to keep this re-examination wide open. 4
It is vital to open up the book on the European Holocaust itself, to see genocide in its more multi-faceted terms. Six million Jews were exterminated with the aid of racializing ideology. And so, too, were five million Poles, Roma, homosexuals and political dissidents exterminated through other dehumanizing tactics. The Holocaust involved the manipulation of anti-Semitism, but it was also about establishing totalitarian political hegemony. We know that in other historical circumstances, such as with the Armenians in Turkey in1915 or the Tutsi in Rwanda in 1994, genocide involved other inherently violent 'racializing' notions. And the 'Holocaust' can itself be used as a political football. It is probably no accident that Hitler's killing of 'communists' and 'socialists', some of whom were among the front-line of the anti-fascist resistance, got little or no mention as the Cold War with the Soviet Union took shape. As well, the Holocaust has acted as a political football in the conflict over Palestinian land rights and Israel's national security.
Furthermore, the UN Genocide Convention did not even mention military intervention, so the thinking and strategies for preventing genocide at the time was an 'open book'. In the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials that held fascism accountable for its crimes against humanity, there was a mixed message about genocide and HI. Though the U.S. Bush administration tries to impose an analogy that its invasion and occupation of Iraq is like overthrowing Hitler's fascistic regime in order to liberate an oppressed people, there is a deeper, and quite reversed analogy. It was the aggression of Hitler against neighbouring states, and not the genocide per se, that was the main basis of the post-war Tribunal. So, to correct the analogy: the U.S. aggression against Iraq, and its manipulation of 'terrorism' (as well as the threat of WMD), makes the Bush's Doctrine reminiscent of Hitler's regime. 5
If we trace actions against 'genocide' from the origins of the term, we find a litany of evasions for imperial gain.6 After it entered WWI the U.S. did not declare war on Turkey, even though Armenians were being slaughtered in the imploding Ottoman Empire. Furthermore, the U.S. had no qualms about committing its own form of 'high tech', racialized genocide, when it dropped the two atom bombs on Japanese civilians on the, now very suspect, pretence of ending WWII and saving American lives. 7
In 1969, neither the U.K. nor the U.S. opposed the repression of the Ibo people of Biafra by the Nigerian military state. In 1971, U.S. President Nixon did not oppose the slaughter of the people of Bengali by Pakistan's military state. In 1972, perhaps as a precursor to the later Rwandan genocide, these western, imperial powers invoked 'sovereignty' as a reason to refrain from intervening to stop the Burundi Tutsi killing 100,000 Hutu people.
The U.S. directly helped create the conditions for, and in turn helped to cover up, the third largest genocide in modern history. Between 1975-79, in the chaotic regional aftermath of the imperial wars on Vietnam, (first by a U.S.-backed France, and then after the defeat of France, by the U.S. 'going it alone'); two of seven million Cambodians were slaughtered by the Khmer Rouge. Even after a Vietnamese military intervention ended this 'holocaust', for a decade the U.S. and most of Europe continued to back Pot Pol keeping his seat at the U.N. With its own imperial presence in S.E. Asia since WWII, the U.S. had no credibility to undertake any HI in Cambodia. The Nixon administration even considered using nuclear weapons on the country in its desperate attempt to contain the nationalist guerrilla resistance. The U.S.'s role in dislocating the region, and covering up the genocide in Cambodia, clearly constitute complicity in genocide.
In 1992, the U.S. and Europe watched as the Bosnian Serbs attacked both Muslims and Croats. The U.S. continued to support the arms embargo on the Muslims, possibly already seeding a 'clash of civilization' and war on terrorism with al-Qaeda. NATO intervened in 1995. In 1999 NATO launched its bombing attack on the Serbian army in Kosovo. Some believe that this saved thousands of Albanians from 'ethnic cleansing', while others believe this contributed to the cycle of violence that fuelled ethnic cleansing. The implosion of Yugoslavia and the reasons for western intervention in the aftermath of the Soviet empire, still require careful, critical analysis.
When you stand back from the charges and counter-charges of repression of minorities, including the Serbs in Kosovo, it seems undeniable that we have been witnessing the fragmentation of a multi-national state experiment. As a Canadian, living in a multi-national state facing fragmentation from U.S. continental power, Quebec separatism and the continuing failure to create fundamental justice with First Nations and Metis peoples colonized by European expansion, I remind myself how quickly this other multi-national experiment, Yugoslavia, imploded in the power plays after the end of the Cold War. These two cases, Yugoslavia and Canada, show that human rights not only intersect with sovereignty, but with globalization.
If we turn our attention to the Middle East we find a similar story. The U.S. and many European states were arming Hussein's Iraq when it was repressing the Kurds in 1987-88. In their desperation to find a 'righteous' excuse for the invasion and occupation of Hussein's Iraq, defenders of the Bush Doctrine referred to the need to stop Hussein from continuing this inhumanity. Yet there is evidence that the hard-won U.S. sanctions against trade with Hussein, sanctions that were initially opposed by the Reagan administration and US agricultural lobby stopped this form of repression. 8
The US-UK 'coalition' in Iraq has tried to re-script its invasion and occupation from being about WMD to being a means to save the repressed Kurds from the Sunni-dominated state under Hussein. But it is extremely na´ve to think that the U.S. and U.K. would have enforced 'no fly' zones in northern Iraq, and in the process develop an alliance with the Kurds of the region, were major oil and oil pipelines not in the area. Using the slaughter of the Kurds under Hussein as a rationalization for the U.S.'s geopolitical intervention in Iraq contributes to the obscuring of the roots of and strategies for the prevention of genocide. The 2003 war on Iraq challenges us all to disentangle the realities of 'genocide' from the imperial manipulation of 'genocide politics.' With the revival of the doctrine of HI a new strategy of imperial manipulation of 'genocide politics' seemed to be in the works.
Finally, we come to the 4th largest genocide of the modern world, the slaughtering of nearly one million Tutsi and moderate Hutu in Rwanda in 1994. The first thing to consider is why no HI occurred, when the number of victims greatly outstripped those from Bosnia, Serbia and Kosovo combined. The old imperial power, France, actually armed and defended the Hutu-led regime that instigated the killing. Having no major geo-political interest in the region, and with the debacles of the Somalia UN's HI fresh in mind, 9 the U.S. chose to ignore all the warnings and pleas for help. This was not unlike what the U.S. and my own country, Canada, did when the Jews were pleading, mostly in vein, for help and a more open immigration policy while being exterminated under Hitler's Germany.
3. Humanitarian Intervention in a Unipolar World
Has anything fundamental changed since Rwanda? Can NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia and Afghanistan, or the US invasion and occupation of Iraq be seen as small steps towards more principled and effective HI to stop genocide? To even attempt such an argument is to continue to ignore the larger and deeper historical situation.
The doctrine of HI was not revived to combat genocide. Rather, it arose due to the unipolar geopolitical situation that includes the interplay of the UN, NATO and the American Empire. In the short period since the implosion of the Soviet Union we have seen the workings of 'internationalism' shift from the UN to NATO to US unilateralism. We saw such a shift in the locus of international action and attempted legitimacy from the 1991 UN-authorized war with Iraq over Kuwait, to the 1999 NATO war with Yugoslavia over Kosovo, which received after-the-fact legitimacy from the UN, to the 2001 NATO attack on Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, to the 2003 unilateral US invasion and occupation of Iraq which was not authorized by the UN or supported by NATO.
These international actions have all been justified in terms of HI, but this obscures the more fundamental reasons and implications. Post-1989 changes in NATO signalled the return of the neo-colonial doctrine of HI. The North Atlantic Treaty that formed NATO in April 1949 recognized the mandate of the UN. NATO was to be a regional defensive organization, paralleling the UN Charter's emphasis on the rights of collective self-defence. (Art, 5 of NATO complements Art. 51 of the Charter.) And NATO's mission supported the peaceful settlement of disputes through the international legality of the UN. (Art. 1 of NATO complemented Art. 2 (4) of the Charter.) 10
All this changed on the 50th anniversary of NATO. The Washington Declaration (WD) of April 1999 set the stage for NATO taking on an aggressive, international role. While the language of 'self-defence' remained, it was surpassed by a new, broad approach to security, which included the possibility of conducting 'crisis response operations.' Such 'response operations' were to be launched over security risks such as 'terrorism', but also, more notably, over 'disruption of the flow of vital resources' (Par. 24). And this 'management of crises through military operations' (Par. 49) was now to be carried out 'beyond the Allies' territory' (Par. 52).
This set the stage for NATO's role in bombing Yugoslavia in 1991 and Afghanistan in 2001. Then, in the climate in the US after 911, these two rationales (terrorism and resources) became merged, which fit well with the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) doctrine brought into the White House and Pentagon with the election of the Bush-Cheney ticket. 11 However, deepening geo-political contradictions between the US and EU within NATO and the UN, kept NATO out of the invasion of Iraq in 2003, though NATO is playing a role in the occupation of Iraq.
The language of HI ' affirming democracy, human rights and the rule of law ' was inserted into the WD. It included the phrase 'we remain determined to stand firm against those who violate human rights' in addition to 'those who wage war and conquer territory' (Par. 7). There was no reference to human rights in the original NATO treaty.
After 1999 NATO no longer saw itself as subordinate to the principles of the UN Charter. As Kochler says, 'By going beyond clearly defined cases of self-defence against armed aggression, NATO?s new doctrine seriously undermines the UN Charter's principle of non-use of force and severely erodes the system of international law as represented by the UN as a universal organization.'
These changes were made in NATO because the multinational nature of the UN did not allow for the desired unilateralism of the American empire and its allies. The single superpower 'world order' clearly wanted to re-establish the right to wage war and to police the world for geopolitical and corporate interests. To do this the UN had to be manipulated or neutralized, both of which have occurred. The regional framework of NATO was revamped into a vehicle of international intervention. After the 1999 WD, NATO became the contemporary 'Holy Alliance', holding itself up to embody the future of civilization and humanity.
There, however, is reason for some hope for those wanting to adapt and reinvigorate international law in this unipolar world. Many of the undemocratic, imperial strategies in the post-Soviet world have already become transparent to the world's governments and citizenry. It's no accident that this citizen-based Tribunal is focussing on Iraq, for the US invasion and occupation of Iraq has exposed many of the international contradictions of the post-Soviet world. As Kochler says, 'Because of conflicting interests among the permanent members (of the UN), the constellation of 1990/1991 could not be repeated in the 1999 war against Yugoslavia or in the 2003 war against Iraq.'
In the aftermath of the invasion and occupation of Iraq, and all the 'flip-flops ' from WMD to regime change - to try to justify the aggression, the imperial agenda is pretty much revealed for everyone except those in the homeland who are in denial about America's own imperial history and/or still controlled by post-9/11 propaganda. As Kochler puts it, 'If the practice of intervention defeats the very principles the doctrine is based upon, the whole concept becomes ambiguous and loses its morally convincing and legally binding nature.' 12 This is happening quite quickly in an occupied Iraq. While regime change has allowed for the attempted re-colonization of the country as part of a neo-colonial strategy for Eurasia 13, the conflict is taking on characteristics that were tried and failed in Vietnam and throughout Latin America. US-trained counter-insurgency death squads may already be in the works.
4. The Not-So United Nations
The UN was on a slippery slope well before NATO's WD made the new geopolitical situation more dangerous. All the pious western talk of HI was already ringing rather hollow in view of the huge humanitarian crisis caused in Iraq by big-power, UN politics.
Prior to the 1991 Gulf War, where UN-sanctioned, US-led troops ousted Iraq's army from Kuwait, Iraq still had first-class medical facilities and services. This all changed after the UN Security Council (SC) imposed sanctions on a country and people already crippled by the Gulf War on top of the eight year, US-backed war with Iran. By 1993, UNICEF was reporting a resurgence of preventable diseases across Iraq. 14 The now exposed Oil for Food programme established in 1995 by the UN didn't fundamentally alter the reality that the sanctions were consolidating Hussein's power while punishing the Iraqi people. In 1997 UNICEF reported that more than 1.2 million Iraqis, including 750,000 children under five, had died due to scarcity of food and medicine. In 1998 the WHO reported 5-6,000 children were dying monthly due to the sanctions. By that year the once modernizing country of Iraq had slipped to 126th position of 174 countries on the UN's human development index.
It is hard not to think of this scale of preventable human death and suffering among the most vulnerable as itself a form of genocide. The contradiction between the Security Council (SC) that approved the sanctions, and the warnings by broader UN bodies (like UNICEF and the WHO) was already weakening the credibility of the UN prior to the crisis caused by the US's invasion of Iraq. The comparison in the attention given to the 3,000 victims of the 9/11 atrocity and the 1.2 million Iraqi victims of the war and sanctions pretty much exposes the ethical contradictions of those advocating HI by the West.
The UN functioned under greater duress after the fundamental changes to NATO reflected in the WD. The voting procedure of the SC (Art. 27 of Charter) was designed around post-WWII big power politics. (The assumption at the time that we were entering a post-colonial world has since been proven shallow and very premature.) According to the UN Charter (Chap. VII) collective force could not be used specifically for human rights enforcement, but was limited to threats to and breaches of peace and acts of aggression. The veto granted to the permanent members of the SC ensured that no action could be taken on behalf of the UN if it was seen to challenge any big power?s sphere of influence. (The question of what constituted an 'internal matter', however, remained contentious and confusing.) While action could be taken when there was no veto (as in Korea in 1950 and the 1991 Gulf War), the US and USSR had to act without international legitimacy when they engaged in any Cold War ventures.
This structure works very differently in the post-Soviet era. Even if the UN wanted to criticize NATO, the US or other permanent members' unilateral actions as threats to peace and security, its hands are now tied. As Kochler says, 'no effective measure can be taken by the international community against a self-proclaimed HI by NATO as long as its permanent members in the SC are determined to use their veto power.' NATO's military intervention in Yugoslavia and Afghanistan was guaranteed impunity by the veto control of the UN SC by three of NATO's major members. And to complete the circle of neo-colonial self-interest, it has been these permanent members of the SC in NATO who are 'the most active sponsors of NATO's doctrine of 'preventive crisis management' and of the 'humanitarian use of force'.
The manipulation of the UN structure by NATO and the American empire in a post-Soviet world shows how 'HI has become one of the key terms to legitimize what otherwise would have to be called 'acts of aggression' or 'interference in internal affairs.' " While we should have compassion for UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, for being at the apex of these international contradictions, he should also be held accountable for statements which can be taken to sideline the UN as the only rightful transnational system and which leave open the legitimacy of HI under existing international law.
In these unipolar circumstances, with the vacuum left within the UN-based system of international law, a new imperial order may continue to emerge. It will be an 'Anglo-Saxon' imperial order, driven by the US and its military-industrial power, but with the backing and expertise of the British colonial heritage. And it is no accident that some of the main 'liberal' and 'left' apologists for the new imperial order, men like Ignatieff and Hitchens who I discuss below, live and think within the politics of fear in this Anglo-American axis.
The revival of HI as part of this neo-colonial, Anglo-Saxon imperial order is not an anomaly. The desire of the PNACers controlling the White House and Pentagon, and of other 'neo-cons' is to normalize a new double standard in international affairs, which will give impunity to the US and its allies. To do this the US has to stay as far away from the mechanisms of international law as possible, and refusing to join the International Criminal Court (ICC) is part of this self-protection. However, the fact that a justification for HI cannot be argued from the mandate of the International Court of Justice shows that the US is already on some slippery ground. 15
The religious legitimacy claimed for the imperial uses of HI by European powers in the last century has now been complemented with a more secular 'human rights' discourse. This more secular influence has mostly come from Blair and Britain. The older, more 'mature' empire is, so to speak, coaching the new adolescent one. However, fundamentalist protestant ideology, and the post-9/11 'clash of civilizations', still operates in the US 'homeland' in ways similar to how such nationalist religious ideology did within British colonialism during its heyday. The Indian Mutiny of 1847, sometimes known as the 'first war of independence', functioned to self-justify more overt ('defensive') aggression by the British Empire in the Indian territories, something like 9/11 seems to now be functioning for the American empire in its aggressive interventions in the Middle East and Eurasia. 16
International law will have to be adapted and strengthened to help prevent the atrocities of a new imperial order. Peace will still have to be protected to enable justice (social development and human rights) to advance. And justice will have to be enhanced for peace to become more stable. For the most part, security will be derived from this protection of peace and enhancing of justice. And, of course, ecological sustainability will remain at the root of all this - of peace, justice and security. Disrupting eco-systems through military-industrial aggression, and the draining of limited human and natural resources into the military-industrial complex, are both antithetical to worldwide human development in co-existence with nature. Intervening to force regime change, in the name of HI that cloaks neo-colonial interests, contradicts and undermines this larger project of international law and global justice.
5. Anglo-Saxon Apologisms for Neo-Colonial Humanitarian Intervention
Since the invasion and occupation of Iraq is starting to look like a failed state in the making, Michael Ignatieff has put his defence of HI on the back burner. He may even be a little embarrassed about his past defence of 'democratic' imperialism. In his most recent work he tries to re-frame the new geopolitical instability as 'democracies defending themselves' against terror. He ends up defending what he calls the 'lesser evil'. In his earlier writing defending HI, sovereignty was to be sacrificed for human rights. Now, in his defence of democracy, human rights are to be sacrificed for the Security State. It is not surprising that his analysis leads him to consider 'nihilism'.
When civil rights are suspended in the homeland, as Ignatieff says must happen to 'fight terrorism', Ignatieff says there remains 'an obligation on government to justify such measures publicly, to submit them to judicial review, and to circumscribe them with sunset clauses'. 17 This 'lesser evil', of course, assumes that decisions within an imperial America are going to be accountable to such democratic processes. As we shall see, this assumption is terribly na´ve.
However, perhaps hoping his 'liberal' pleas will be prescriptive to those running the Pentagon and White House, Ignatieff writes 'actions which violate foundational commitments to justice and dignity - torture, illegal detention, unlawful assassination - should be beyond the pale.' However, later in his analysis, he admits, 'liberal democracies consistently overreact to terrorist threats'. He acknowledges that the appeal to so-called majority interests in a democracy 'has weakened liberal democracies'. (There was an element of this appeal to a majority and scapegoating of minorities in Hitler's rise to power, and also in the Bush presidency.) And, perhaps in an attempt to balance and justify (salvage) his argument and externalize the blame for taking away human rights, he says 'Far from being an incidental menace, terrorism has warped democracies' institutional development, strengthening secret government at the expense of open adversarial review.' Even a superficial scanning of American history will show that terrorism wasn't required for the growth of invisible government. 18
Ignatieff continues his argument for the 'lesser evil' by making abstract appeals to human rights and international law, as though this is going to fundamentally restrain the actions of imperial America while it is 'defending its democracy'. Without considering the implications of HI and the 'lesser evil' he is advocating for the deterioration of international law, he writes, 'International human rights conventions serve to remind democracies at war with terror that even their enemies have rights'. But will they really do this in an increasingly unipolar world where unilateral actions can undermine these very norms and accountabilities?
Ignatieff belatedly comes to the matter of global justice. He admits that without 'peaceful political means of redress' being available to the world's oppressed 'violence will occur.' He even says ' a counter-terror strategy that fails to address injustice cannot succeed by purely military means'. But he makes this appeal for global justice after narrowly framing the 'terrorist' question, assuming only righteous and defensive military and political actions will be taken by democracies, and then trying to justify undemocratic practices which he admits likely won't be checked within an over-reactive state. 'Justice' is treated as secondary, as an afterthought.
Ignatieff gets himself deeper and deeper into an intellectual quagmire of his own making. The analysis is built upon one questionable assumption after another. In his earlier work, there was the assumption that the military interventions of NATO, or the U.S. going it alone, were primarily humanitarian. 19 He asserts this without ever looking at the imperial roots of the very doctrine of HI that he has helped revive. Then, in his more recent work, there is the assumption that the curtailing of civil liberties in the homeland is being done strictly for defensive reasons, to protect democracy. Yet, there is much evidence that terrorism was more serious before than after 9/11, and that worldwide there are only a handful of casualties a day from terrorism compared to other much more serious forms of human violence, including forced poverty, controllable HIV, etc. 20 In spite of this Ignatieff totally accepts the imperial framing of the new geopolitics as a 'war on terror'. He is trapped within the imperial paradigm. This leads him to have to argue that these aggressive and undemocratic actions will somehow be kept in check by the very international codes that are being undermined by the actions he advocates. This is a very sloppy, compartmentalized analysis.
Collapsing the new geopolitics into 'liberal democracies fighting terrorism' leaves huge holes in analysis. For one thing, the U.S.'s actions under the Bush Doctrine are not the same as other liberal democracies' ways of handling terrorist threats to national security and public safety. The politics of fear and imperial designs interplay in the U.S. to create a very different domestic dynamic. Simply put under the present U.S. regime the threat from terrorism is a huge political and ideological football.
More fundamental, human rights have to be placed within the larger context of social (distributive) justice. Concentrating on HI to shore up failed states, to protect human rights, without looking at how the processes of global injustice - neo-colonialism and maldistribution of resources, etc. - undercuts state stability, is a little like taking in stray cats without having a spaying programme.
Writer Christopher Hitchens has also played a major, though more journalistic, role in apologizing for the U.S.'s unilateral actions in Iraq. In several essays written prior to the March 2003 invasion, he is nothing short of brutal in his condemnations of the global anti-war movement growing at the time. His ideas are not as systematically argued as those of Ignatieff. It is Hitchen's righteous but apparently fragile ego, and his tendency to see those who disagree with him as the 'enemy', which hold much of his writing together. This psychological substrata may even have made the righteous neo-cons with whom he is now more politically associated more attractive to him.
It is worth looking at this emotional undertone, for this may be more important, and make him more representative of others who defend U.S. unilateralism, than the validity of the ideas themselves. For there is little doubt that the events around and after 9/11 shook Hitchen's capacity to create self-critical perspective. 21 This event also appears to have put the final nails in the coffin of his version of 'socialism'.
The Twin Towers were only ten blocks from his home. For Hitchens, after the attack, 'islamo-fascism' or 'theocratic fascism' became the all-consuming objective enemy of all civilized and progressive people everywhere. In an essay called 'Chew on This', Hitchens wrote of how on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, 'I got a very early call from my wife, who was three hours ahead of me. She told me to turn on the TV. Everyone knows what I saw when I turned on the TV.' He continues, 'Now hear this. Ever since that morning, the United States has been at war with the forces of reaction. May I please entreat you to reread the preceding sentence? Or perhaps you will let me restate it for emphasis. The government and people of these United States are now at war with the forces of reaction.' 22
In a revealing, earlier essay entitled 'Armchair General', Hitchens says that when he was travelling on the Afghan border 'my wife was fighting her way across D.C., with the Pentagon in flames, to try to collect our daughter from a suddenly closed school, was attempting to deal with the possibility of anthrax in our mailbox, was reading up on the pros and cons of small-pox vaccinations, and was coping with the consequences of a Muslim copy-cat loony who's tried his hand as a suburban sniper.' 23 While this was a frightening time, it is what Hitchen's has done with his generalized fear that now requires our attention.
This personal identification with a total war on 'reaction' perhaps became Hitchen's version of 'jihad' 24, although he is now being forced by events in Iraq to pull back from his initial militant defence of the Bush Doctrine. He called his compilation of essays written after 9/11 and before the invasion of Iraq, by the qualified and even confusing title 'A Long Short War: The Postponed Liberation of Iraq.'
9/11 appears to have pushed Hitchens over the deep end, where he lost his ability to critically analyze. Before the invasion of Iraq he wrote a passionate defence of 'Regime Change'. In another essay, 'Prevention and Preemption', he argued that an invasion of Iraq wasn't aggression, and wasn't about 'imperialism'. Always writing with a righteous tone, he spends more time attacking his presentation of the position he opposes than he does exploring his own.
Just prior to March 2003, when in his own words he was 'fighting to keep my nerve' to support Bush's invasion, he wrote an essay that he hoped would stand up posthumously, to the unpredictable unfolding events, as 'arguments for war'. This became the introduction to his short book on the war. 25 It is interesting that this essay begins by discussing Paul Wolfowitz speaking to a meeting of Arab Americans supporting regime change in Iraq. Hitchens is typically hypercritical of positions that deviate even slightly from his own ideas at the time. However, he paraphrases Wolfowitz in the most sympathetic manner, saying, Wolfowitz 'hinted that the administration could be made to care just as much about democracy and emancipation' as about Iraq's disarmament. I am not sure what Hitchens would now say, after the U.S. tried to privatize the Iraqi economy prior to any processes of self-determination, twice refused to hold Iraq elections called for by the UN, and controlled the timing of elections to shape what kind of regime change occurred.
Hitchens continues his argument for war by placing Iraq in a larger context of the pro-democracy movements in the post-Soviet world. He completely fails to mention that none of these 'regime changes' occurred as a result of an invasion. (However, we would be na´ve to not think that U.S. intelligence and corporate interests were involved behind the scenes when they could be.) Without any clear geo-political or historically specific context, Saddam Hussein is placed alongside Serbia's Slobodan Milosevic and North Korea's Kim Il Sung. This, apparently, is Hitchen's own 'axis of evil' which groups these men together because they are seen to be part of the Stalinist 'national socialism' which ex-Trotskyite Hitchens despises so much.
Hitchens even says he feels 'na´ve' and 'betrayed' by what happened in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union. Apparently he was hoping for a quick revival of the revolutionary socialism that was stunted by 'Stalinism', which, for him, explained all that is bad with the left.
His biggest stretch in this 'timeless' argument for war is when he enters into reasoning about international law. His polemics are exposed as he tries to argue that the coming invasion will 'restore the vertebrae of international law'. Writing, again mostly to discredit his opponents rather than to affirm his own views, he says, 'I keep hearing that Saddam has not attacked the U.S. and therefore should not be attacked'. All right, so far, but he continues: 'even though - had Iraq openly done such a thing - there would be no need for the administration to have sought the enforcement of violated Security Council resolutions.' He then concludes: 'It could simply have evoked the clause of self-defence in the UN Charter and done so from the first.'
This is pure polemic, written as though Hitchens is actually siding with the international legal position about the right to self-defence. Certainly the U.S. could have done what Hitchens suggests under these hypothetical circumstances, but this right to self-defence doesn't apply under the reality as it was known. However, still trying to weasel his way into having some connection to international legal legitimacy, he later asks, 'But how preemptive is an intervention in Iraq, when undertaken to enforce a multiply reaffirmed resolution of international law'?
Perhaps 'dualism' and fear are the real enemies. When you try to decode Hitchen's shifting absolutes, you wonder if Buddhism isn't on the right track. But Hitchens doesn't want to look at his own fear, but rather, to retreat to some neo-leftist version of evolutionary psychology. In an interview with him after 9/11 he talks of the inevitability of theocratic fascism due to us being a 'poorly-evolved mammarian (sic) species'. He continues, 'Our pre-frontal lobes are too small and our adrenaline (sic) glands are too big. Our fear of the dark and of death is very intense, and people will always be able to profit from that.' 26
So, Hitchens ends up supporting HI by Pax Americana, defending the U.S. as the policeman of the 'civilized, democratic world.' Should we expect his defence of the U.S. weaponization of space as a means to overthrow his axis of evil.
6. Reality Testing Humanitarian Intervention
Ignatieff's 'idealistic' neo-liberal reasoning and Hitchen's cynical and demoralized polemics quickly collapsed under the test of events. With all the rhetoric about freedom, democracy and humanitarianism coming from the White House, it might be confusing for Ignatieff and others who defend HI, that, in its recent annual report, Amnesty International (AI) targets the U.S. democracy for violating human rights, ignoring international law and sending a 'permissive signal to abusive governments'. 27 In this report AI says that the U.S. thumbing 'its nose at the rule of law and human rights grants a license to others to commit abuse with impunity and audacity.'
AI was also critical of the U.S. for not calling a complete, independent inquiry into human rights abuses in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Its report says, 'Torture and ill treatment by the U.S.- led forces (in Iraq) were widely reported.' Though, in The Lesser Evil Ignatieff writes as though the Geneva Conventions will moderate the U.S. actions, AI found the U.S. to be in contravention of the Geneva Convention for harsh interrogation practices, ghost detainees, and rendering detainees to countries where torture isn't outlawed. 28 The AI report says the 'arbitrary and indefinite detention is in violation of international law' and will provoke 'counter-terrorism'.
It is not that surprising that rather than reflecting on his earlier role in reviving the neo-colonial doctrine of HI, Ignatieff has moved on to another angle of neo-liberal thought. While Bush Jr. was pronouncing that his 'war on terror' would bring democracy to Iraq and the Middle East, U.S. soldiers were using terror on Iraqis. While Bush was defending the U.S. invasion of Iraq as HI, soldiers in Iraq were systematically violating international humanitarian law.
After completing its invasion of Iraq, the U.S. set up a military prison in one of Hussein's most notorious prisons, Abu Ghraib. Thousands of prisoners were incarcerated after U.S. forces, seemingly stunned by the depth of the insurgency, engaged in 'increasingly random and panicky sweeps'. 29 Families of detainees were not informed of the whereabouts of their kin. Prisoners were systematically humiliated and tortured to try to obtain information on the insurgency. This was officially sanctioned policy, going back to Bush?s decision in 2001 to ignore the Geneva Conventions in his 'war on terror', and in the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. U.S. intelligence was bad before the invasion of Iraq, and it apparently has gone from bad to worse during the occupation. 'Torture at Abu Ghraib was born of desperation cloaked as necessity.'
In Feb. 2004 the Red Cross reported serious violations of humanitarian law, and the next month a U.S. military investigation of the 800th Military Police Brigade running the prison confirmed this. War trophies in the form of digital camera pictures of the inhuman practices used in the prison made their way onto American international media networks, and the cat was out of the bag. These horrendous, dehumanizing images likely put to rest any remaining propaganda value from the rhetoric of HI. While the official US position has been that there were a few rotten apples in the military that 'betrayed American values', and some (female) soldiers have already been scapegoated, the documentation suggests these practices come right from the top. 30
In its 2005 report AI also found the UN Commission on Human Rights to be lacking in holding the U.S. and other member states accountable for these violations. The Commission 'has become a forum for horse-trading on human rights 'according to the AI report. It has 'dropped Iraq from scrutiny 'and was weak-kneed on Chechnya, Nepal and Zimbabwe and 'silent on Guantanamo Bay'. Haiti and Congo were also earmarked.
AI called for 'sober reappraisal' and 'rapid and radical' reform of the UN human rights machinery. And the context of the impunity for these abuses must be part of such reappraisal. Ironically the very doctrine of HI, including its rhetoric about human rights, contributes to this impunity and the weakening of the UN itself. AI and Human Rights Watch were both astute and principled advocates of human rights when they refused to support the HI smokescreen for the invasion of Iraq.
Ignatieff also needs to engage in some radical reappraisal. He seems to think that the abrogation of human rights and international law is necessary to get information to make citizens of democracies safe from terrorism. In other words he fundamentally accepts the public justification given for the contraventions of human rights conventions by the Bush regime. And yet various analyses of the use of torture suggest its true purpose is 'to terrorize'. It is, as Naomi Klein has put it, designed to break the will to resist ' the individual prisoner's will and the collective will.' 31 Torture is being used as counter-insurgency by the US occupying army in Iraq much along the lines it was used by the U.S.-backed military regimes in El Salvador and other south and Central American countries. It's not so much a 'means justifies the ends' argument, as suggested by Ignatieff, as a 'means to create imperial ends' process.
7. Will There be 'Humanitarian Intervention' from Space?
The absurdity of the notion of HI being supported by writers such as Ignatieff and Hitchens is shown by carefully looking as what is propelling the American Empire at this time. The U.S. does not want to police the world to create a Human Rights' World Order under international law, along the lines of Amnesty International. This is even clearer after the invasion and occupation of Iraq. No, the U.S. primarily wants to police the world as a military-industrial complex (MIC).
One of Bush's three international actions laying the ground for Pax Americana and the Bush Doctrine was his withdrawal from the 30-year old ABMT (Anti-Ballistic Missiles Treaty) that banned weapons in space. The other actions were to withdraw from the ICC process and to not endorse the Kyoto Accord; and weapons in space, geopolitical control of oil and impunity from international law pretty much sums up the priorities of the Bush regime.
Bush Jr. had already backed the Missile Defence System, which, in spite of all the scientific critiques of its technical impossibility, was very lucrative to his donor 'defence' corporations. The weaponization of space has been part of the Bush doctrine since the small cadre of PNACers took control of the White House and Pentagon five years ago. Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, headed the Space Commission that in Jan. 2001 concluded that the military should 'insure that the President would have the option to deploy weapons in space.' 32 This Commission called for new 'national security guidance and defence policy to direct development of doctrine, concept of operations and capabilities for space, including weapons systems that operate in space'. It is important to remember that this was well before 9/11 and the ratcheting up of political and military rhetoric about pre-emptive war.
In 2002, after reviewing Rumsfeld's report, Bush Jr. pulled the U.S. out of the ABMT.
A 2002 Pentagon planning document had already set out two categories of planned space weapons. One, 'space control', is about anti-satellite warfare, and the other, 'space force application' is about space weapons to attack ground targets. Both are well underway, even though the Congress, media and American people have had no public debate on the development and deployment of such military technology. This says something about how 'democracy' is done within American imperial politics. Perhaps it is time we made a distinction between 'democracy by consent' and 'democracy through fear.'
In May 2005 the head of the Air Force requested official presidential approval to develop weapons in space. And as of mid June, 2005, Bush still had to give the official go ahead, but this will just be democratic optics.
The previous Clinton administration vetoed plans for space weapons. In 1996 his administration supported the use of space for spy satellites, arms control and non-proliferation pacts. So, in this regard, the expected support by Bush of the Air Force's space weapons' program is a major shift of policy. But we have to consider that this, too, may be more optics than substance, for the planning of weapons in space was well along when Bush Jr. became president.
The failure of each and every president to be completely 'on side' with the imperial trajectory of the Military-Industrial Complex (MIC) may be just a 'bump in the road.' It is now known that President JFK was not totally on side with the MIC, or with the CIA of his time, but that did not stop the imperial trajectory. There continues to be serious speculation that JFK's assassination may be related to something like an order to 'stand down', which reduced his own security, and perhaps a wider plot that changed the course of American and world history. Regardless of what one thinks about this or any other so-called 'conspiracy theory', new research and revelations about Pearl Harbour as well as 9/11 is making it more difficult to avoid hypothesizing that some form of 'invisible government' is at play in the shadow of the U.S. democracy. 33
In April 2005, the Air Force launched XSS-II, a micro-satellite able to disrupt military reconnaissance and communication satellites of other countries. Another weapons' programme plans to use laser weapons to hit targets on earth, and a third plans to turn radio waves into weapons that could 'toast' earthlings. The most astonishing programme 'aims to hurl cylinders of tungsten, titanium or uranium', to strike targets on earth at speeds over 7,000 mph 'with the force of a small nuclear weapon.' Showing how totally interlocked fundamentalist religion and militarist ideology have become in the new American Empire, this programme is called 'Rods from God.'
The General who heads the Air Force Space Command is fittingly named General 'Lord' (yes, this is true). He apparently takes his name and 'Rods from God' very seriously. He recently told Congress that this is 'the American way of fighting'. For him 'space superiority' is 'freedom to attack as well as freedom from attack'. There's little doubt how this 'Lord on high' sees American dominance of space. For him 'space is an American frontier', and space superiority 'can be our destiny if we work hard at it and continue to aggressively follow that.'
In April 2005 General Lord told Congress that the plans in the works would give the U.S. the power to destroy missile bases and command centres 'anywhere in the world.' Around the same time the head of the U.S. Strategic Command reiterated the same view at the Senate Armed Services nuclear forces subcommittee, saying space weaponry is being designed to enable an attack 'very quickly, with short time lines' anyplace on the face of the earth.' This strategy, called 'Global Strike', would utilize a space plane with precision weapons, called the 'common aero vehicle', which 'could strike from half way around the world in 45 minutes'. General Lord calls this 'type of prompt global strike' a top priority for our space and missile force.'
International opposition to Bush's weaponization of space is bound to grow as non-Americans continue to grasp the aggressive and undemocratic nature of this programme. While we shouldn't rule out some Orwellian attempt to justify this in terms of HI, it pretty much exposes the nature of Bush's Pax Americana project. Domestic opposition, however, will be restricted by a 'politics of fear' which blends American patriotism with the interests of the interwoven National Security State and Military-Industrial Complex.
The U.S.'s weaponization of space would likely jump-start another dangerous and wasteful arms race. The short interlude between the Cold War's nuclear arms race, and this new arms race veiled in the rhetoric of 'anti-terrorism' and 'humanitarian intervention', could shrink from collective memory. The expanded militarization of the U.S. and world economy would further undercut both social development and international law. Since withdrawing from the ABMT the U.S. has no technical treaty or laws banning it from putting non-WMD weapons in space. The attempt to obtain space superiority, however, totally undercuts international law and sustainable development. Space should be considered a 'global commons', and treating this global commons as a means for global strike is, simply put, a perversion of fundamental ecological and democratic notions.
Global mental strife grows with each expansion of the scope of military technology on the planet. The prospects of having U.S. weapons in space will be too frightening for some people to even want to imagine. Those unable to tolerate knowing of this threat to human sensibilities will become psychological castaways.
I grew up in Western Canada knowing that Strategic Air Command B52 bombers loaded with nuclear weapons were flying overhead towards the Arctic Circle and the Soviet Union. American missile-launching silos existed just south of the Canadian border in the northern States. This land and sky killing machine did not provide the basic security that children and youth require for healthy human development. Having US 'death stars' going over us every 10 minutes would further undermine the conditions required for human development worldwide.
The best way to resist and overcome such overwhelm is to better grasp the institutional dynamics that push us towards this more threatening future. The aftermath of the invasion, occupation and insurgency in Iraq is a key 'moment' in the imperial trajectory of the U.S. over the last half-century. The U.S.'s planned weaponization of space comes in the wake of the failure of the Missile Defence System. After 22 years and spending nearly 100 billion, the Pentagon still lacks a system that can reliable detect and destroy a 'threat.' A similar fate will hopefully be in store for the weapons in space programme.
In April, 2005 an Air Force consultant told the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations that 'the big problem now is its too expensive.' Estimates of the cost of a space-based weapons system range from $220 billion to 1 trillion dollars. The price of single weapons would massively escalate - for example, a space-laser weapon could cost $100 million compared to $600,000 for a Tomahawk missile. And past experience suggests that weapons' prices are underestimated in this mostly non-competitive market. The cost of the spy satellite program, Future Imagery Architecture, has already tripled, with less than promised results. The cost of a space technology for detecting 'enemy launchings' has risen by two-and-a-half times.
These rising military costs are part of the trajectory of the American Empire. They and the war on Iraq will continue to put pressure on the U.S. economy. While the American taxpayer continues to be exploited for such militarization, without receiving even basic public services like universal healthcare, the 'defence' industry continues to benefit and grow. This bastardization of Keynesian economics has a long heritage in the U.S., going back to fiscal and imperial strategies after WWII. The prospects of policing the world with a space-based global strike force could be very profitable for the chain of companies that constitute the MIC in the U.S..
With the U.S. now losing ground from stiff competition from rising manufacturing giants, such as China, the MIC becomes even more vital to its superiority and hegemony. The U.S. now seems positioned to dominate the global arms trade. According to a PricewaterhouseCoopers report, U.S. defence spending will equal the rest of the worlds combined within a year.34 The U.S. 'defence' budget was already at $417.4 billion by 2003, which was 46% of the global total. Less than 2% of this spending went outside the home market, and half of this (1%) went to the U.S.?s only major imperial military ally, the UK.
Furthermore, the expansion of NATO into the countries left by the implosion of the Soviet Union not only provides a new, lucrative market for the US MIC, it enables the US to spread its military muscle into these areas as part of its Eurasian geopolitical strategy. This immense control of the world's arms trade by the US MIC is bound to place pressure on European contractors and countries to co-operate more closely with Pax Americana ventures.
8. Unpacking Globalization and Humanitarian Intervention
Whether the American democracy is resilient enough to be able to stop this trajectory is, perhaps, the most pressing question. And Americans are in a real catch-22. America's unilateral aggressiveness comes from the two-sided isolationism of not wanting to know about its own imperial history, and not knowing how to engage with the larger world in a non-reactive, non-ethnocentric manner.
Humanity has nothing to gain from either form of isolationism. In the transitory period, where internationalism spreads and deepens in the U.S., communicative, cultural processes that bridge the U.S. and the rest of the world need to be encouraged. Americans who do not like the directions of corporate American may not be able to easily reach out, and anti-Americanism will further impede this. Changing the lens on America, to see vibrant City States rather than the expansionist empire, can help build this connectedness. New York, the location of 9/11, remains a vibrant multi-cultural international nexus of the arts and politics.
A failure to critically and empirically assess the realities of globalization is perhaps at the heart of the flawed thinking of the righteous humanitarian interventionists. Economic globalization, and the ascendancy of finance capital paralleling this after the capitalist crisis of the 1970s, may have peaked. The Bush Doctrine may even prove to have accelerated its decline. The 'aura of inevitability' is starting to dissolve as countries like Malaysia, who went against IMF advice by imposing capital control and currency stabilization, have reversed course. Meanwhile countries like Argentina, that fully embraced the ideological framework of trade liberalization, were plunged into deep economic and political crisis. It has been countries like India and China with state-led economic development that have benefited the most from market reform, while not having to embrace globalization ideology. 35
The cracking open of the ideology of globalization reveals its assumptions. And these are similar assumptions to those that lie beneath the doctrine of HI. The main assumption is that the fundamental determinant of the civility of a society is economic, and that by creating a free market economy, democracy and peace will flourish. Another is that there is a technocratic rationality that is universally applicable to accomplish this.
An important Canadian writer, Ralston Saul, disputes both of these assumptions. 36 He argues that civil society doesn't derive from the market, but vice versa. The 'civil' functioning of the market depends upon society's infrastructure, including public service institutions for the public good, and the technocratic foot soldiers of globalization continue to live in a deformed intellectual world shaped by their a historical, narrowly rationalist and economistic thinking.
As in his other books, Saul asserts that we are citizens before we are consumers. He rejects the dogma that making the world's peoples into corporate consumers will spread democracy and domestic and international civility. He notes that some of the indicators of globalization are even fraudulent. Trade within multinational conglomerates, currency speculation, and corporate acquisitions and mergers are not indicators of wealth creation but of the creation of the wealthy. Some individuals may become billionaires, but the discrepancies between 'haves' and 'have-nots' continues to deepen, both domestically and internationally. The most effective HI would be into these global economic relations so that the global crisis of poverty, violence and ecocide can begin to bereversed.
Furthermore, the near hegemony of the ideology of globalization in a unipolar world directly contributed to the international crisis we now face. As the reviewer of Saul's book wrote: 'that decision-makers in the West had an almost blind faith in the primacy of economic relations explains why they were unprepared for the devastating ethnic and religious conflicts and 'irregular warfare' that have broken out since the end of the Cold War.' 37 The attempt of the U.S. to privatize the Iraq economy, even before it had partial elections, and to impose corporate rule on this would-be oil and military client state, cannot be called by its name; so righteous sounding terms like 'regime change' and 'freedom and democracy' continue to be spouted.
There is no disputing we live in a more interdependent, world. Communications, travel, trade and multiculturalism are all at play in this. So, too, are ecological vulnerability and the globalization of disease - for example, the prediction of the next pandemic. In such circumstances it is simply foolish to throw down national borders in a frenzied rush for corporate greed. In the big picture, the defeat of the proposed Multilateral Agreement on Investment in 1998 may be more significant insofar as the future of corporate globalization than the 1999 bombing of Serbia by NATO.
Unbridled nationalism can create conflicts that are used to justify HI that veils other, deeper interests. However the alternative to unbridled nationalism is not imperialist unilateralism and corporate multinationalism. These actually perpetuate each other. More beneficial is a 'safe place for national identities.' While we have yet to see whether the EU can provide a safe shelter for nationalism, while establishing standards for social and environmental policy, and democracy and human rights, some version of the nation state will be required for both collective security and 'democratic agency.' And this will have to develop hand in hand with international law.
The U.S. and its imperial legacy reflect a model of nationalism developed among Europe's states during the height of their colonial and imperial rule. So it is no wonder that the US is spearheading the revival of the doctrine of HI developed in this era. As the surviving superpower of the Cold War, the U.S. now flaunts the export of democracy while, at the same time, acting outside of international and domestic law. It escalates a humanitarian crisis in the name of HI. Meanwhile, its internal democracy is one of the most manipulated and 'bought' democracies on the planet. Only 24% of Americans actually voted for Bush Jr. for his second term. While one-third of the electorate don't identify with either of the big parties, they have no real place to put their vote. Voter participation is the lowest among the democracies. For the present, fundamental electoral reform will continue to be resisted by the corporations that try to rule America. 38
The huge irony and most telling contradiction in all this is that, while the U.S. advances its own sovereignty supposedly to defend itself by bringing democracy and human rights to oppressed people, sovereignty weakens abroad and democracy and human rights are under even greater threat in the American homeland. Surely this historical contradiction tells us that it is time to rally around another non-imperial vision.
'The fate of Iraq is a sideshow, the terrorist threat is a red herring, and the radical Islamist's dream of a worldwide jihad against the west is a fantasy, but the attempt to revive Pax Americana is real.' Gwynne Dyer, Future: Tense 2004)
ABOUT JIM HARDING (Canada)
Jim Harding is a retired professor in the School of Human Justice at the University of Regina in Canada. He is a peace activist and former city councillor and author of After Iraq - War, Imperialism and Democracy. Since the 1970s he has worked as a researcher and activist for an end to uranium mining in his home province of Saskatchewan, which now houses the largest operating uranium mines in the world.
1 Hans Kochler, Global Justice or Global Revenge- International criminal justice at the crossroads. Wien New York: Springer-Verlag (2003). All quotes in this section from pp. 271-75.
2 Nicolaus Mills and Kira Brunner (eds.), The New Killing Fields: Massacre and the Politics of Intervention. New York: Basic books (2002):xi.
3 The slaughter of the Armenians has become more contentious as Turkey enters talks over joining the EU.
4 See 'Before the US attacked Iraq', www.informationclearinghouse.info/article9045.htm
5I discuss the dangers of American geo-fascism in After Iraq: War, Imperialism and Democracy (Fernwood, 2004): pp. 147-52.
6 The following documentation relies on Samantha Power 'Raising the Cost of Genocide', In Mills and Brunner, op. cit, pp. 245-64.
7 See Gore Vidal, 'Japanese Intentions in the Second World War', In Dreaming War: Blood for Oil and the Cheney-Bush Junta. New York: Thunder Mouth Press (2002): pp. 85-98.
8 See discussion in Powers, op. cit. p. 255.
9 Canadian forces also contributed to the debacles in Somalia. The scandal resulting from the 'racism' in the armed forces has led to the disbandment of one full regiment. The findings of the Commission of Inquiry into the Deployment of Canadian Forces to Somalia were so threatening to the Liberal government of the day that it disbanded the Commission before it completed its work. One Commissioner has documented the cover-up. See Peter Desbarats, Somalia Cover-Up, McClelland and Stewart, 1997.
10 See Hans Kochler, op. cit. All quotes in this section are from pp. 293-98.
11 Se discuss of PNAC in Harding, op. cit., pp. 34-38
12 The remaining quotes in this section, unless otherwise referenced, are from Hans Kochler, op. cit., pp. 301-313.
13 See discussion of the two-track (Middle East and Caspian Sea) oil security strategy of the US in Harding, After Iraq, pp. 47-57.
14 See George Melnyk (ed.), Canada and the New American Empire: War and Anti-war. Univ. of Calgary Press (2004); especially Colleen Beaumier and Joyce Patel, 'The Humanitarian Dimension of US-Iraq Relations', pp. 67-82.
15 See discussion of this in Kochler, op. cit., p. 310. Also see background on U.S. and ICC in Harding, op. cit., pp. 25-33.
16 I discuss this analogy in the forthcoming Between Ages.
17 Michael Ignatieff, The Lesser Evil: Political ethics in an age of terror, Penguin Canada (2004), p. viii. All quotes in this section are from his preface, where he outlines the fundamentals of his argument.
18 Vidal, op. cit., pp. 69-84, 107-40.
19 I have critically examined these arguments in After Iraq: War, Imperialism and Democracy (Fernwood, 2004) pp. 67-71, 120-25
20 Gwynne Dyer calls terrorism 'a nuisance' rather than an international threat, and points out that in the 1,000 days after 9/11 there were 1,000 victims from terrorism worldwide. See his 'Future:Tense: The Coming World Order' McClelland and Stewart (2004).
21 See the post-9/11 interview with Hitchens at www.johannhari.com/archive/arcticle.php?id=450
22 In Christopher Hitchens, A Long Short War: The Postponed Liberation of Iraq, Penguin (2003: 52)
23 Hitchens, op. cit., p. 20.
24 I am aware that 'jihad' has to do with personal struggle for good, and that the term has become a political football in the new geopolitics.
25 Ibid., pp. 1-16.
26 See footnote 21.
27 'Amnesty: US Leads Global Human Rights Violations', Aljazeera, May, 25, 2005.
28 This has happened to a Canadian Maher Arar. The public inquiry into this is investigating how the federal police and security agencies were complicit in Mr. Arar?s rendering to and torture in Syria. See Michael Den Tandt and Brian Laghi, 'CSIS wanted Arar kept in Syria, memo shows', Globe and Mail (June 04, 2005): A7, A4.
29Wesley Wark, 'Abu Ghraib: much worse than a few 'bad apples' ', Globe and Mail (March 12, 2005):D10-ll.
30 See Seymour Hersh, Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib. New York: HarperCollins (2004): Karen J. Greenberg and Joshua L. Dratel (eds.), The Torture Papers: The Road to Abu Ghraib. Cambridge Univ. Press (2005), and Mark Danner, Abu Ghraib: The Politics of Torture. North American Books (2005).
31 Naomi Klein, 'Torture's Dirty Secret: It works', Prairie Dog, May 26, 2005.
32 All quotes in this section are from Tim Weiner, 'Air Force Seeks Bush's Approval for Space Weapons Programs', New York Times (May 18, 2005). Also see Julian Borger, 'Bush likely to back weapons in space', Guardian (May 19, 2005).
33 See Vidal, op. cit., and David Ray Griffin, The New Pearl Harbour: Disturbing Questions about the Bush Administration and 9/11.Northhampton: Olive Branch Press (2004).
34 See Guy Anderson, 'US defence budget will equal ROW combined 'within 12 months' ', Jane's Defence Industry (May 04, 2005).
35 But we shouldn't forget that all of this market-oriented, global economic growth is putting pressure on the world's eco-systems, which, in turn will create more dislocation, strife and suffering, which the US MIC will try to turn into a more lucrative global police and security market.
36 John Ralston Saul, The Collapse of Globalization: and the reinvention of the world (Viking Canada, 2005).
37 Will Kymlicka, 'Saul tilts at the market windmills', Toronto: The Globe and Mail, May 28, 2005, p. D3.
38 For the workings of corporations within America and North America see Joel Bakan, The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power (Penguin, 2004).