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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/16343/is-humanitarian-war-the-exception/

Is Humanitarian War the Exception?

April 4, 2011 by

Many people who otherwise oppose war in general terms make an exception for a so-called humanitarian war, such as the war in Libya. FULL ARTICLE by Marko Marjanovic


Horst Muhlmann April 4, 2011 at 10:05 am

No. This only proves that the Left opposed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (notice they didn’t oppose the wars in the former Yugoslavia and in Haiti?) only because the occupant of the White House had an “R” after his name.

Now that the occupant of the White House has an “D” after his name, war is good again.

Dick Fox April 4, 2011 at 10:21 am

Are humanitarian wars even possible? War is about destroying things and killing people. There is nothing humanitarian about that. I believe that at times war is necessary, but it is sick to classify any war as humanitarian – it is ghoulish, hypocracy in the worst sense.

JAlanKatz April 4, 2011 at 10:50 am

This point was addressed, long ago, by Noam Chomsky in Chomsky on Miseducation. He points out there that he’d be obligated to provide an argument against humanitarian wars, were any such wars ever proposed or fought. What actually happens, though, is that an action which is completely non-humanitarian is labeled as humanitarian. Then the news programs bring on two people to yell at each other: one shouting that humanitarian actions such as X are good, the other shouting just as loudly (and just as incorrectly) that humanitarian actions such as X are bad because they steal ‘our’ money/defense capabilities and apply them to non-military ends. The first person simply advocates policies under a false name, the second is saying that the real use of the military is killing people, not feeding people – neither one addresses the fact that X is all about killing people anyway, not feeding them!

So, given the rule that there are no humanitarian actions, I struggled a bit to figure out exactly what interest was served in Libya. A few LRC articles pointed out that the first order of business of the rebels, after getting US help, was to build a central bank. That seems to explain it pretty well. At the same time, another suggestion I thought of was that most of the uprisings there have been anti-American uprisings, most especially the one in Egypt. So by joining on the side of the rebels (perhaps Al-Queda will again be termed freedom fighters and become our new allies against Eurasia…er, against totalitarian dictators) the US clouds that issue, and makes the future more secure for arms dealers.

JE April 4, 2011 at 1:39 pm

It’s important that people challenge the idea of humanitarian wars, but I’m not exactly sure who this article was targeting.

While I completely agree that taxes are theft, this is a view that is held primarily by deontological libertarians. I suspect that even a large number of die hard mises.org followers disagree with that statement, despite holding consequentialist opinions against taxes. I’m afraid that “taxes are theft” alienates many readers who would agree with and/or appreciate the rest of the article.

In addition, though all cases of humanitarian intervention have undoubtedly been funded by taxes, taxes aren’t fundamental to humanitarian intervention. I don’t know which logical fallacy to label this as. Perhaps a red herring or poisoning the well of humanitarian intervention?

I can see the article being written to provide arguments for libertarians to use against proponents of humanitarian war, because it’s basically preaching to the choir (especially after the taxes statement). But to be used as arguments, the problems mentioned need to have more support. For example, are there any documented instances of “false-flag attacks” by groups benefiting from intervention?

Inquisitor April 4, 2011 at 7:51 pm

Trust me, very, very few libertarians (who are actually libertarians) disagree with it, consequentialist, nihilist, deontologist or whatever else they may be. Even if one grants that the state’s ownership of property is legitimate (what of the vast swathes of land which it has never really touched?), there are still so many problems with the notion of a unilaterally imposed contract that one can never terminate, whose terms are not fixed and which are solely at the discretion of the service provider.

John Cunnane April 4, 2011 at 2:00 pm

There are many well conceived arguments in this article that are easy to overlook. It may be true that the volume of arguments was uneccessary but it is possible that one person might agree with one set of arguments while another person may find others appealing.

The effects of intervening on the interventionists, making positions more deeply entrenched and the difficulty of withdrawing with regard to those internvening (they have to be able to claim they won and their goals were achieved) and on the society that results from the intervention (how to go on after the coercive force is gone) are problematic.

I think war becomes very personal. If your presence results in the death of a loved one, a blood feud results, my retribution results in the death of another that was loved by some, and so on.

Walt D. April 4, 2011 at 2:37 pm

Since the State initiating war gets to decide what is humanitarian and what is not, the point is moot.
Thus we need to bomb Libya for humanitarian reasons, but we don’t need to bomb the Ivory Coast, Zimbabwe or Nigeria.

newson April 4, 2011 at 8:06 pm

it’s worthwhile reading what bernard-henri lévy says, as he claims to have been the one to have brought sarkhosy into the interventionist camp (best intentions, naturally).

newson April 5, 2011 at 12:28 am

bernard-henri lévy’s humanitarianim is hardly universal:

newson April 6, 2011 at 1:13 am

this is the sort of freedom that comes through a depleted uranium bomb. enough to turn the stomach.

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