The assault on the town of Mosul in Syria by the Rebel Army and a coalition made up of the militaries of the United States of America, the United Kingdom and France to liberate it from the grips of ISIS has brought to light the question of military intervention once again. Taking various forms from political to military, the term intervention can be defined as an act of intruding or intrusive action between others for various purposes. To justify one’s country’s interventionist act on another’s problems, one must fully understand the significance of what makes a country. In short, a country is a piece of land with its own sovereign government. Hence, a country’s interjection into another’s struggles can only be justified to a small extent such that the particular interjection mitigate the issue. Otherwise, it is largely unjustifiable.
The most compelling factor that demands participation of a third-party country is if the country in trouble is unable to save itself if left to its own devices. When a country is unable to cope and tackle its own crisis, especially when the particular issue progresses into a humanitarian crisis, foreign intervention becomes an imperative effort. The failure of one country to solve its own problem is an indicator that is unable to function normally as a country and hence can be said to have compromised sovereignty. This can be due to several factors, namely an incompetent or corrupt government, a major infringement on human rights, and an over-stretched, bloody war that results in the infringement on these basic rights. A prominent case study can be seen from the Syrian War that has been raging feverishly on for years. What started off as a less than peaceful attempt by the collective population to get a taste of Democracy and exercise the Declaration of Independance and remove the dictator-like President Assad, becomes a full-scale civil war of astounding proportions. So protracted and violent is the war that it has exploded into a full scale humanitarian crisis with allegations of the indiscriminate use of chemical weapons and high yield aerial explosives on civilian settlements by the Syrian Army, and cruel executions by the terror group ISIS. This has led to the intervention of several countries, as well as the United Nations (somehow), which then placed the human rights violations in check, and just last week, helped start the beginning of the end of the war, with a coalition attack on ISIS. Although one may view the intervention in Syria to be insignificant, it can be compared to the Rwandan Genocide, where for some barmy reason, received no form of intervention despite being in a massive humanitarian crisis, resulting in the preventable deaths of countless innocent people. Thus however insignificant the effects of that intervention in Syria, it is comforting to note that these effects have a gargantuan effect on those who received it.
Yet on that note, intervention however slight cannot be carried out without the consent of the host country, unless its government is compromised (which should not be up to the intervening country to decide). This concerns the most basic definition of what it takes to be a country. A explicitly stated earlier a country is a piece of land with its own government that is sovereign. The keyword in this case is Sovereign. A country’s sovereignty is an important factor to its independence, and affects its dignity, safety, the civilian’s faith in their government, as well as the mutual respect and recognition in the international community. By this line of reasoning, the intervention of any independent country, however good the intention, or desperate the situation, is akin to invading that country. This has profound impacts on the dynamics of the country, driving the faith of the people for the government low and hence undermining its ability to act as a leader, exacerbating the problem being faced by the country. This is seen from the Sri Lankan civil war, which stemmed from a cultural conflict between Sri Lankan Tamils and the Sri Lankan Sinhalese majority after Sri Lanka gained independence from the British. The sending of troops into Sri Lanka from India to participate and attempt to resolve the conflict, followed by the seemingly lack of protest by neither the government nor the rebel group (Liberation Tiger of Tamil Elam), raised many eyebrows in the international community. This made Sri Lana an outcast in the international community, and made the problem worse as people start to doubt the government’s authority and the conflict dragged on with elevated rigor. Hence, intervention is only justified if the country’s legitimate government government requests gave its consent.
Despite the above conditions stated, the extent to which a country’s intervention becomes justified turns into a confusing matter when argued on the basis of personal gain.
A country’s intervention in the problems of another is justifiable if the intervention helps the country. Though seemingly nonsensical, this is particularly true in the modern arena of geopolitics. The advent and accelerated progress of globalisation has brought about an increasingly connected world. According to an Old chinese saying, ” the teeth can’t survive if the lips die”. This increased connectivity worldwide means countries are more susceptible to the happenings of another over a wide spectrum, from economic recession to warfare or internal strife. For instance, during the Korean War, the Chinese Army was forced to intervene in the conflict when the western coalition pushed past the 38th Parallel towards the Yalu River, which separates China from Korea. The act was carried out of fear of a military threat that would face the communist country and a possible lost of sovereignty if the West staged troops just outside the border of China. As such, if the host country’s problems undermines the prosperity or safety of another, intervention is a logical solution.
To add on, these actions can also be an arm of diplomacy to foster goodwill between the two countries. Provided the host country acknowledges and allows, an act of intervention to solve that country’s problems acts like a handshake as well as a symbol of mutual respect and cooperation. It will serve as a form of reassurance to the other country that it is looked after for. Most importantly, the intervening country will be assured that their neighbour will help them if they ever get into any form of trouble. This can be seen from the End of World War II, when the global economy was in Shambles. Then, the United States, being a rising super power with a blossoming economy and nearly unmatched military strength, gave aid to those countries in need in the form of economic intervention. Strategies like the Marshall Plan has helped rejuvenate the economies of Europe within a very short time. In return, the United States gained many allies as those countries felt indebted and compelled to return the favour by supporting its various agendas and actions. As a result, the States not only gained friends and support as a global superpower, but also managed to avoid making enemies. As can be seen, intervention can be a win-win process, and when it is of such a case, it is henceforth justifiable.
Yet, paradoxically, the converse is true as well, where intervention is one-sided, done solely for the benefit of the intervening country. It can be seen from the a plethora of case studies, and the current situation of the Syrian Crisis is a perfect example. Despite the previously described praises of intervention by the superpowers in the Battle for Mosul, the situation is not that simple, and neither are the intention of those countries. As per the saying, “he who controls the Middle East controls Asia”, Syria is of a key geographical standing that gives excess to Russia, China and the rest of Asia in all its glory. Hence, the country is a key location for a superpower to consolidate its global position. Therefore this explains the seemingly desperate rush to place troops on the ground by both Russia, the UK and the USA, as well as the heated exchanges of gunfire coupled with the “accidental” bombings of emergency services if the other sides. This accelerated an already bloody civil war to a full-blown proxy war, resulting in serious humanitarian issues like the situation in the Town of Aleppo back in the year 2016, where thousands of civilians are trapped and subjected to indiscriminate shelling by Russian backed militants and soldiers. Therefore, it is evident that intervention with ulterior motives seldom benefits the host country and serves only to exacerbate the problem.
Furthermore, when one intervenes as an attempt to impose its ideals and beliefs upon other countries or to threaten and mock a third party, it is an act which is not only unjustifiable but also extremely selfish. The actions of the United States of America from the post World War period tie today, has time and again reminded us go the sheer irresponsibility if such an act, Its attempt to impose the ideals of Democracy upon other nations has resulted in the start of countless needless conflicts, and is one of the key factors of the start if the Cold War, which up till today is still lingering between the formerSoviet union and her Nato-affliated European neighbours. the involvement of conflicts in the Middle-East by playing around with the establishment of incompetent leaders in the name of Democracy has proved disastrous and decimated the once culturally vibrant region. Democracy though favourable, is not a one size fits all form of governance for countries with different backgrounds and cultural demographics. Hence, imposing it on an undemocratic country as in excuse to “liberate” it is not a valid excuse for an intervention of any kind.
In all, to quote from Dante’s Inferno, “the deepest levels of hell are reserved for those who maintained their neutrality in times of moral crisis”, a country’s interjection into the problems of another is important and justifiable without a doubt. However, its legitimacy only holds for as long as the purpose and intention of that intervention is angled to the betterment, and contains the consent of the host country.