McMahan+-+Humanitarian+Intervention%2C+Consent%2C+_+Proportionality

McMahan+-+Humanitarian+Intervention%2C+Consent%2C+_+Proportionality

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44 3 Humanitarian Intervention, Consent, and Proportionality Jeff McMahan 3.1 INTRODUCTION However much one may wish for nonviolent solutions to the problems of unjust and unrestrained human violence that Glover explores in Humanity , some of those problems at present require violent responses. One cannot read his account of the Clinton administration’s campaign to sabotage efforts to stop the massacre in Rwanda in 1994—a campaign motivated by fear that American involvement would cost American lives and therefore votes—without concluding that Glover himself believes that military intervention was morally required in that case. Military intervention in another state that is intended to stop one group within that state from brutally persecuting or violating the human rights of members of another group is now known as “humanitarian interven- tion.” Those against whom the intervention is directed are almost always the government and its supporters, though this is not a necessary feature of humanitarian intervention. It is, however, a conceptual condition of humanitarian intervention that it does not occur at the request or with the consent of the government. The use of force within another state with the consent of the government counts as assistance rather than interven- tion. The principal reason that humanitarian intervention is contentious is that it seems to violate the target state’s sovereign right to control its own domestic affairs. Because humanitarian intervention is a response to human rights vio- lations within the target state, it is regarded as altogether different from wars of defense against aggression. Indeed, since aggression is normally understood to be war against a state that has not attacked another state, humanitarian intervention itself usually constitutes aggression. Yet, it can happen that a state will engage simultaneously in external aggression and internal oppression, so that a war against it could be intended to stop both the aggression and the domestic violation of human rights. Such a 0001099857.INDD 44 0001099857.INDD 44 8/21/2009 7:09:33 PM 8/21/2009 7:09:33 PM
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Humanitarian Intervention, Consent, and Proportionality 45 war would not be aggression, but would be both a war of defense and an instance of humanitarian intervention. So not all instances of humanitar- ian intervention count as aggression. There are two broad questions about the morality of humanitarian intervention. The first is whether humanitarian intervention can be per- missible and if so what are the conditions of its permissibility. The second is whether it can be morally required and if so in what conditions, of whom, and at what cost. I will address both these questions. In earlier debates, the question of permissibility was paramount. The reason why this was so is primarily historical. For a considerable period prior to the twentieth century, there were no legal constraints on the resort to war. According to a certain view of states that is traceable to the
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