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Conditions of a Justified Intervention: The Hypothetical Case of St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Conditions of a Justified Intervention: The Hypothetical Case of St. Vincent and the Grenadines



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An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards (International Programme) Competition by Zach Wortzman. Originally submitted for Political Philosophy at McGill University, with lecturer Adam Etinson in the category of International Relations & Politics
An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards (International Programme) Competition by Zach Wortzman. Originally submitted for Political Philosophy at McGill University, with lecturer Adam Etinson in the category of International Relations & Politics

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Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Aug 31, 2012
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Conditions of a Justified Intervention: The Hypothetical Case of St. Vincent and the GrenadinesWith globalization in full effect, there is no more hiding the travesties of humanity. They arespilled over newspapers, flashed across computer screens, and relayed through news broadcasts. Thoseon the wrong side of the news do not last long, the list of them, however, does. To continue to tread,one must tread with exceedingly more care. The case of a justified foreign intervention is an especiallytricky one. Every detail must be considered and designed with the utmost fairness and impartiality for every side. This requires the finest of features which is so seldom shown: unabashed altruism.Since its inception, politics has been seen as an opportunity for gain. Nations hope to gain moremoney, more arms, more land. It is this competition that allows one nation to drive another into theground only to find themselves, whether it be decades or centuries later, in that same ground. If enemies could realize that cooperation was more beneficial than competition then it would not benations driven into the ground but the shovels and stakes of progress. Progress follows cooperation, notcompetition; an agreeable end to conflict must be pursued with unbounded vigour.After majoring in Political Science and History I have acquired an understanding of world historyand why things happened the way they did and why they continue to happen the way they do.Combining this knowledge with my readings in philosophy, the UN Charter of Rights and Freedoms aswell as the United Nations stance on foreign intervention, I ventured to provide a hypothetical outlinefor the conditions and conduct of a justified foreign invasion. Beyond these works, and those stated inthe bibliography, I relied largely on personal experience and my moral compass to try to find the best possible way a foreign invasion could be conducted.In writing this essay I outlined, before any research, what I felt would be the justified causes,conditions, and conduct for a foreign invasion on the basis of human rights. I was surprised that uponcomparing my list to that of the United Nations that mine was richer in detail. This struck me. Iwondered how a university student could come up with a more comprehensive outline as to whatshould be done before, during, and after a foreign invasion. I endeavoured to challenge myself to turnthis brief outline into a comprehensive (and perhaps more readable) guide. For such a consequentialmatter, it is in the world’s best interest to rework its official policy on foreign intervention.Keywords: Foreign Intervention, Morality, Impartiality, Nonviolence, Singular MotiveIt is justifiable, under certain conditions, for a foreign nation to intervene in another nation’saffairs on humanitarian grounds. The human rights abuses must be serious enough to warrant anintervention. For a justified intervention, the government must no longer be legitimate or it must give permission to the intervening government. If the human rights abuses are serious, it becomes a moralduty to intervene. The intervening nation’s sole objective should be to end human rights abuses. Beforea violent intervention, alternative, non-violent options should be explored exhaustively. If these fail,measured violent intervention can be acceptable. If the violent intervention is successful, theintervening nation is responsible for ensuring that such abuses do not reoccur.May it be assumed that St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ current government is not in control of its people. The ‘Vincents’ have began purging the island of the superfluous ‘Grenadines’ as theyunnecessarily elongate the name of their island. They have done this by kidnapping the Grenadines andthen placing them on deserted Caribbean islands with little chance of survival. May it also be assumedthat the Canadian government is determining whether to intervene on behalf of the Grenadines who, as part founders of the island, hold an equal right to it.In the preamble of the United Nations Charter, the United nation’s goal concerning human rightsis outlined; “to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human
 person, in the equal rights of men and women (United Nations 1945).” Human rights, in their mostsimple form, are found in the ‘golden rule’. If you do not want something to happen to you, do not do itto others. This rule is often ignored and human rights are often abused. The degree of human rightsabuses can vary dramatically. As a result, not all human rights abuses would necessitate a foreignnation to deploy an army to stop them. Consider the example of Christopher Moorehouse, who gained brief notoriety for throwing a banana at Wayne Simmonds, a black NHL hockey player. The act was,without doubt, racist and abused Simmonds rights as a human being. However, it would be lunacy for the United States of America to declare war on Canada for this abuse of human rights as it was notserious enough to necessitate a foreign intervention of any kind.The United Nations outlines what constitutes as just cause for foreign intervention, “Irreparableharm that is happening or imminent, [a] large scale loss of life, [if] the state has either failed to act or isthe aggressor, [or if] ethnic cleansing under any of the domains of killing, forced expulsion, acts of terror, [and/or] rape (United Nations 2001).” If any of these are present then intervention must beconsidered. In the hypothetical case, the Vincents forced expulsion and indirect murder of theGrenadines represent a human rights abuse serious enough to justify intervention. But this is just thefirst step in intervening on humanitarian grounds.Before a foreign nation can intervene in another nation’s affairs their government’s role must beconsidered. If the nation is not hostile to its people, help should be offered to them if they themselvescannot stop the abuses. If the nation’s government holds no authority over its people or cannot controlits affairs it becomes an invalid government. If the government is invalid then its permission tointervene is not required, however, it should be kept informed so long as the government is not hostiletoward the injured party. Permission is not needed if the nation’s government is the aggressor. These justifications find their foundation in the social contract. The social contract, put simply, states that if agovernment is harming or failing to protect its people from harm it can be replaced by another government that will. In these circumstances it is a foreign government that will play the role of  protector until the area becomes stable (to be addressed later in the paper). The social contract is notadverse to violence, if violence is used for the right reason. If a government cannot protect its people or is doing harm to its people and still refuses to step down, as a last resort, measured violence can beused to replace them. The government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines could not stop one group of its people from attacking the other. The island has no standing army and its police force is insignificant.It had lost control of its people. Because of this, Canada could justifiably intervene and try to stop theVincents from unlawfully deporting the Grenadines to a pernicious death. The reason why Canadawould choose to intervene must be addressed.A woman is walking down the street and sees a man laying in suffering. Whether she chooses tohelp that man or not, she is bound to feel badly that the man is suffering. This ill feeling comes from projecting the other man’s suffering onto herself, or as Hume argued: through contagious feelings of sympathy (Stroud 2010). When a person sees another person suffering they will imagine what it is liketo be that person and will feel, although to a lesser degree, how that person is feeling. It is from thiscontagious feeling which moral duties are derived. If one feels sympathy toward another because theyare suffering, it is one’s duty to stop that suffering. Mill had a different view of moral duties and believed that, “moral duties extend no further than the family; national or civic identity is altogether absent (Mill 364).” He substantiates his opinion, “the rules of ordinary morality imply reciprocity. But barbarians will not reciprocate (Mill 364).” Reciprocity should not be required as payment for moralduties. If a human rights abuse falls under any of the United Nation’s just causes for intervention, thenthere is sympathy for those who are abused. If there is sympathy then there is suffering. If there issuffering then there is a moral duty to stop that suffering. To do nothing is to allow the suffering tocontinue. As there is already an aversion and desire to stop suffering through feelings of sympathy,doing nothing is in conflict with one’s moral duty. It is everyone’s moral duty to end suffering,Edmund Burke would famously agree, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do
nothing.”The Vincents’ forced expulsion of the Grenadines, caused much suffering for the Grenadines.When the Canadian people heard of the Grenadines’ suffering they projected the plight of theGrenadines, stranded on an island awaiting death, onto themselves and felt sympathetic towards theGrenadines.The Grenadines are not as developed a nation as Canada, or as educated a people, and areunlikely to be able to repay Canada for saving them from destruction (How does Mill’s ‘barbarian’reciprocate for the rescue of its people anyway? It is a debt that can and should never be repaid).However, the Canadian people and its government felt a moral duty to stop the suffering of theGrenadines because of their deplorable situation. There should not be a need for reciprocation for saving a people plagued by inhumane treatment.After the events of 9/11, President George W. Bush declared war on terror. He sent thousands of troops to the region of the Middle East to eliminate the threat of terrorism. Bush, however, seemed toforget to mention his ulterior motive: oil. The United States of America depended on the Middle Eastfor its oil and if the area was unstable so too was their oil supply. This was a major threat to, arguably,the resource the United States of America depended upon the most. Their objective was unfocused andthe mission has largely been regarded as a failure.A war fought to stop human rights abuses should have only one motive: stop human rightsabuses. The possibility of economic gain or any other favourable ulterior motive should not beconsidered as this would only act as a distraction from stopping human rights abuses. The victimsshould be the sole concern. If, by chance, a profit is somehow made by the government because of thewar, all profits should be used to help the victims and repay debts accumulated during the course of thewar. Historically this unselfish aid has been a rarity. While Mill was writing, it was a commonstatement in British Parliament that Britain would only get involved in foreign conflict if their interestswere involved or if they could benefit from a conflict. Mill responded to these sentiments, “of all theattitudes which a nation can take up on the subject of intervention, the meanest and worst is to professthat it interferes only when it can serve its own objects by it (Mill 3).” The victims are most likely to besaved if the intervenor is concerned only with their well being. Ending human rights abuses must be thefirst and only objective of the intervenors.So far, all intervention alluded to has been of violent character. Violence should be the last optionacted upon. The purpose of violence is to harm someone or something in order to get what is wanted or needed. Violence should be avoided at all costs and only be used when all previous attempts atnonviolence fail.Before Canada violently intervenes in St. Vincent and the Grenadines they must do everything intheir power to make the Vincents stop their abuses. The first step should be to create a dialogue withthe Vincents and demand the end of the deportations. An end to the abuses should be negotiated. If negotiations fail, alternative pressures should be applied. These pressures could be in the form of a public condemnation, a trade embargo, or a worldwide appeal against the abusive actions of theVincents. If there is global awareness of the Vincents’ human right abuses then there will be a large base of support for the Grenadines and against the Vincents. With the world watching, the Vincentswill likely try to save face by trying to right their wrongs so they are not punished if (and when) their fortunes reverse. If these methods still do not work, further pressure can be applied. Threats of militaryaction can be used. Canada could do this by mobilizing their forces and stationing them within strikingdistance. War, and any form of violence, should be turned to only when all other non-violent attemptsto stop human rights abuses fail. Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Lester B. Pearson once said, “It has too often been too easy for rulersand governments to incite man to war (Haberman 140).” War is a very costly affair. It costs lives, itcosts innocence, it costs entire peoples, it can change the world. War is dangerous and to enter into one,it must be for the right reasons and under particular circumstances.

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As humourous as it is to the point, great work

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