Iraq War: Humanitarian Intervention? Term Paper

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Essentially, as Falk cautions, the United Nations must be involved and thoroughly supportive of any humanitarian intervention in order for it to succeed. But even United Nations support cannot guarantee success: The intervening nations must make sure they have viable successor plan in place if they are to wage war on Iraq for humanitarian reasons.

The United States and Britain would be hard pressed to justify a humanitarian war in Iraq without United Nations support, but if they go forward, as they probably shall, they must at least plan for a successor government in Iraq first that eliminates as many political factions and strifes as is possible under the circumstances.

Wartime effect of Human Shields

One of the most complicated situations arises in war when one combatant employs human shields to protect military establishments and other prime targets from being destroyed by their enemy.

Even if the forces that are forced to deal with the question of human shields have United Nations backing, the question is a difficult one, especially as the human shields may be women or children.

Falk cautions that first, a strong international mandate must be present in order to even contemplate progressing through human shields: "A strong inquiry into the cause and cure of human wrongs must cast a net wider than Westphalia. It needs to consider the question of human evil in all of its biological, neurological, cultural, psychological, and historical trappings, including the surprisingly robust reemergence of religion as a political force."

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In other words, before even considering the question of whether to penetrate human shields, the forces contemplating the penetration must truly question the worth of their overall goals and overarching intervention. In debating this question, these nations must look at wrongs that they themselves have committed on every level, and truly ascertain whether destroying further innocent life is worth their cause.

Term Paper on Iraq War: Humanitarian Intervention? No Assignment

But, on the other hand, Falk presents a more objective view, too: "The evolution of human rights as a self-conscious tradition was principally associated with western patterns of thought and practice, although formulated as if metaphysically grounded on principles of universal validity. There were many echoes and parallel ideas in scriptures and philosophical writings of other civilizations, but no coherent and consistent reliance on a rhetoric of human rights." Here, Falk notes that since there is no universal basis for human rights assumptions, if a coalition acting with the backing of the United Nations must debate a situation where their goals can only be met by penetrating human shields, perhaps that is an option. After all, human shields are not universalized either: Like Kamikaze pilots that Japan employed during World War II, or terrorist / freedom fighters at large all over the world today, individual cultures and nations might not view human shields as being all that different from any other tactic in war.

But Falk suggests a solution as well: "One way to address this question is to reevaluate morally the character of world politics, to acknowledge that international relations is a social construction, and that its normative emptiness is not a necessity." Human shields are indeed a version of international relations, a way of getting to an end via dubious means. However, that itself is a social construction: In certain culture, it may not at all be taboo for women and children to die for a particular cause. In America, for instance, we give death sentences to criminals including women, so it would be hypocritical of America at least, to divine what human shields might mean to another culture.'

One possible source to an answer as to what to do in a situation of human shields is to look to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Another possible solution is to look to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Surely a meeting in the United Nations if such a conflict with human shields arises may not result in a concrete answer, but it may flesh out the worth and moral backing of the intervention itself. And that may provide an easier answer to a very difficult and challenging question.

Falk, R. "Human Rights Horizons." (2000) New York: Routledge. Pg. 77

Falk, 77

Weston, B. "Human Rights."

Shelton, D. "Human… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Style

Iraq War: Humanitarian Intervention?.  (2003, March 13).  Retrieved September 21, 2020, from

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"Iraq War: Humanitarian Intervention?."  March 13, 2003.  Accessed September 21, 2020.