Monday, January 24, 2005

An Elaboration to My Prior Comments Regarding the Virtues of Military Intervention

Timmy the G stopped by to qualify his statements to some degree and point out that he does agree that "war is sometimes a necessary evil".

Declaring war a necessary evil is in itself a subjective thing. I tend to subscribe to the theory that there can be a "just war". By virtue of something being just, it no longer seems terribly evil to me. In its process it might require some distasteful and reprehensable acts, however, by virtue of it being war the moral compass is not what it once was.

I don't consider the war waged by the Allies evil in World War Two. In fact I consider it not only necessary, but good, just and in some cases heroic. Simmilairly the war in Afghanistan was just, as an oppressive regime ruled through tyranny not popular soveirgnty and harboured enemies of the free world.

Timmy makes the comparison between my suggestion that hard power as opposed to soft power, would be both more sucessful and desirable in dealings with Sudan, by stating that not using it would have prevented thousands of casualties in Iraq.

There have been thousands of casualties in Iraq yes, I really don't believe they are the 100,000 casualties which was the faluty median of what was a statistical range of 2,000 to 200,000 thousand in Lancet. Given that the actual number could have been any number within that range with no one number being any more likely, I'm more inclined to believed the estimates of 10,000 that have eminated from elsewhere. However, saying the number of casualties is twice that and 20,000 doesn't particularly affect my consideration of the wisdom of the war itself.

Iraq had a number of justifications for the pre-emptive war which was engaged in. There was a genuine and widespread belief by intelligence agencies in North America and Europe that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, a belief that Saddam himself fostered. There were also humanitarian justifications, those being quite simply that Saddam was a corrupt, brutal, genocidal and vicious dictator whom was long overdue to be deposed.

There was no particular manner in which anyone could be satisfied of either aim through soft power means, cooperation with inspection hadn't been successful in the past. Furthermore, sanctions had been flouted both through the corruption of Iraq's oil for food programs and illegal pipelines into Syria which fronted the oil. If the problem of Iraq was going to be dealt with it had to be dealt with by shooting.

Is it regrettable that war entails casualties? Yes, but a failure to engage in war would also have entailed casualties as Saddam continued to butcher even the slightest glimmer of restistance towards him, not to mention raping and torturing his own people just for the fun of it. A failure to take action carries consequences as well as taking action. Furthermore, the establishment of a democratic government and the long term stability, prosperity and freedom that will ultimately grant to the citizens of Iraq in opposition to further opression, offsets to a very substantial degree.

Given the two examples being juxtaposed, my example of the Sudan where millions have died while the world looked on and offered aid and attempted to use diplomacy to intervene and Iraq where the coalition of the willing came in and boot on the ground, there is hope in Iraq and only death in the Sudan.

The problem with soft power is that people try to convince themselves that it can be employed to the exclusion of hard power, either not wishing to get their hands dirty or not wanting to invest in hard power, and by doing so they render what "soft power" they have entirely ineffective. Diplomacy only works when one's implied displeasure with a course of action constitutions a real and substantial threat to the interests of the other country.

I would also disagree that DART's engagement in disaster relief is an exercise of soft power. Its a nice and charitable thing for Canada to be doing. Yes, perhaps it does improve our image in the world. So what? Our power is in no way magnified by the giving of aid. The notion that we've so how enhanced our influence by people having slightly warmer and fuzzier feelings about Canada doesn't entail that we have an iota of more imput into any decisions being made anywhere. Power isn't simply about looking good its about getting things done.

1 Comments:

At 1:25 PM, Blogger RightJab said...

I've always thought that the Liberal Party's concept of Soft Power was a load of crap. Power is something one party wields over another.

You either have power, or you do not. You are either powerful or you aren't.

Soft Power means attempting to get your way by coercing the other party to abide by your 'request'. But by what means?? Backroom financial dealings? Promises to compromise on an unrelated matter? If you are committed to continually compromising, where will you end up?

Is there really any difference between compromise and appeasement? Soft power has no place in current global politics, it is a currency that has no value and is not recognized by thugs and dictators.

If I said that I'm going to tell you to do something, and if you fail I'd twist your arm up your back, you might decide that since I'm only 4'11" you might want to take your chances. But, if I told you that instead of me doing the twisting, it would be one of my rather large paratroopers, you might decide to comply with my request. Fortunately, there are very few countries that require such athletic gestures, but sadly, these are the places that are causing the trouble.

 

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