I guess, the need arose!!
“where is your brother Abel? I don’t know; he replied, am not my brother’s keeper”
If we are not our brother’s keepers, who is? If father next door abuses his wife and kids, shouldn’t we intervene, and if we do, how should we go about it and when should we intervene...
There are few issues which provoke such passionate dispute as the case for and against humanitarian intervention in failed or failing countries. Western powers have intervened in Iraq and Afghanistan but not in Rwanda or Darfur, in Kosovo and Sierra Leone but not in Zimbabwe or Burma, in Libya but not in Syria, oops they are about to!!!. Not only, despite several attempts to achieve one, have the members of the United Nations failed to build a lasting consensus on the circumstances in which it is right to intervene to protect human life, but even when the case for intervention appears unanswerable, they have been unable to agree on who should intervene and how.
The arguments about whether intervention is a form of imperialism or opportunism or whether, even with the best intentions, it creates worse problems than it is likely to solve cross ideological divides. But as as our TV screens bring us daily pictures of conflict, oppression and suffering, do we not have a responsibility to agree at last an ethical as well as practical framework for intervention?
Are you not your brother keeper?
Can intervention in these countries in pursuit of humanitarian objectives ever be considered legitimate and, if so, in what circumstances? How can the motives of those proposing intervention be assessed, monitored and policed? How should the principle of humanitarian intervention be balanced by pragmatic assessments of cost and how should the degree of desirability be measured against the prospects for success? How bad do conditions have to be and what other processes have to be exhausted before intervention takes priority over independence and power? What levels of cost and what degree of risk of failure are acceptable? How can (recent) history help establish criteria for intervention?
Humanitarian intervention on selective basis arouses suspicion and cynicism, undermines the credibility of institutions and divides the international community. International commission speaks nowhere of a duty and expresses no will to commit the countries to intervene, therefore a country can choose to intervene on cost and benefits analysis.
Going back to responsibility to protect, does a “responsibility” to protect have any true significance if we intervene only as we see fit? Because of this terminological nonsense and the association with the old colonialist notion of the "White Man’s Burden”, I do not subscribe to the RtP rhetoric.
Indeed, today’s possible military intervention in Syria does not represent an implementation of a purportedly universal “responsibility to protect” but an ad hoc consensus among powerful countries that the situation “constitutes a threat to international peace and security”. It is motivated by both humanitarian and national interests,
Establishing incontestable criteria for intervention is difficult. But failing to do so creates incalculably worse consequences for others.
Lastly I would like to recide from the great book, “where is your brother Abel? I don’t know; he replied, am not my brother’s keeper” what have you done, listen your brothers blood cries out to me from the ground”
Question I would like to pose to each and everyone of us hear is, are you not your brothers keeper?
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