Is This What Our Country Looks Like?

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Force Buildup in the Persian Gulf

According to a recent New York Times article, the US has been steadily building up military first strike forces in the Persian Gulf region over the past few months. These include the buildup of strike aircraft in bases in Qatar and Saudi Arabia, as well as an increased naval presence in the Guld region. An Amphibious Assault Ship, the Ponce, has also been deployed to the region to serve as a possible command and control vessel for an assault on Iran.

An analysis of the Navel positions of the current American Pacific and Atlantic fleets show a disturbing trend

Based on the above, the US already has two aircraft carrier battle groups and an Amphibious Warfare Ship operating in the region of Iran. From both the East and West coasts of the US however, there are three carrier battlegroups and three amphibious warfare ships on the move. Their ultimate destination is unknown, however their current course could take them into striking distance of Iran.

The possibility of war with Iran is still not a probability however, as the US seems to be attempting to strongarm Iran more than provoke a war. The US wants to have the advantage in the region in case conflict breaks out, and thus is building up their military capacity in the area. A strike on Iran has always been kept on the table by the US government, however such a strike in the next few months is unlikely.

President Obama has an election battle to fight in the latter half of 2012, and thus is unlikely to greenlight a potentially unpopular war before the election period. Iran on the other hand is eager to rise to the American pressure by appearing tough through military exercises in the region. However, in reality, Iran does not want a war with America, which it would surely lose.

The strategic goal in any conflict would be the Strait of Homuz however. Whoever controls the Strait between Iran and the UAE will control much of the flow of Saudi Arabian oil to the US and China. In the event of hostilities, Iran would be likely to attempt to close the strait to hurt the US. In addition, other pipeline options from Saudi Arabia go north along the Syrian border and into Turkey. In the event of a conflict, the Iranian allied Syria would likely be tempted to attempt to sabotage the oil pipeline going north to further weaken US interests in the region.

Thus, both powers are facing off at the moment, with neither side wanting to make the first move. Israel is the unknown variable in this equation however, and is unpredictable in its relations with Iran. The nightmare scenario is an Israeli attack on Iran which results in a regional war between Syria and Iran and Israel and America.

The buildup of American arms in the region is also potentially about to spark a new arms race in the Middle East. With Saudi Arabia attempting to become the regional superpower, it is currently embarking on a military expansion through the purchase of Pakistani missiles which could deliver a warhead to any major city in the Middle East, including Tehran. As Saudi Arabia expands its military, other regional countries will feel compelled to level the balance of power by increasing their own military capacity.

In summary, a war with Iran would be very ill-advised given the current climate and position of the US. Any strike will result in all the issues of Iraq, and many times over.

We will keep on monitoring the situation and report any changes as they come in.

The Middle East Daily Brief

To my readers, I will be publishing an update as many times as possible on major regional and international events, focusing on the Middle East in particular.

Iran:

American legislators, and the US Treasury Department and the State Department, have extended an olive branch to countries such as Singapore and China who continue to trade with Iran and continue to purchase Iranian oil. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that such countries were not incuded in the fresh new wave of sanctions as they had reduced their importation of Iranian oil. Countries such as Pakistan were not exempted from these sanctions however, and Pakistani financial institutions face potential legal issues in engaging in financial transactions with American bodies.

This could be another shot across the bow by the United States against Pakistan, as relations between the two countries are at an all time low after many in the US accused Pakistan of being complicit in hiding Osama Bin Laden for years in Pakistan. The Pakistanis accuse the US of spying in the country, and also bad blood exists after the blue on blue bomb strike on Pakistani forces by US aircraft last year. The US is wary however, of issuing sanctions against China, given the growing economic power of the Asian giant, and the dependance on the Chinese market.

With discussions over Iran’s nuclear program intensifying, hawkish elements in the American government and press, such as the Foreign Policy Initiative thinktank, are pressuring for a military option against Iran to be put on the table. While this option, with Israeli support, has been floated for months, it is unlikely that such a strike will occur. Iran is no Iraq, and is far more unified and stronger than Iraq was. To fully eliminate the nuclear threat, the US and allies would have to commit to another ground war, something which the American people would be very unlikely to support at this time, especially after wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition, conflict in the region would vastly reduce shipping through the Strait of Homuz, and could spark regional conflicts between China, Pakistan, and Russia. A limited air campaign against Iran is a lower scale possibility, however the use of such attacks are limited, as the Iranians have specifically designed their suspect installations to resist such attacks. Any hostile action against Iran would also give the hardliners in government all the evidence necessary to demand an acceleration in the nuclear program.

Syria:

The tensions in Syria remain at a high level at the end of June. Following the downing of the Turkish F111 by supposed Syrian forces, tensions between the two countries remain at a high level. Turkey has positioned anti aircraft batteries along the border and has issued shoot on sight orders on any Syrian forces approaching the border. Syria has moved several tank divisions close to the border and is continuing to shell insurgent positions inside the country. The Free Syrian Army has changed both their tactics and their operations in recent months. Before it was primarily a people’s army, strong in spirit but weak in military training and equipment. This has changed, however, with the rebels carrying out a number of bombings in Damascas, targeting the Justice Ministry. These attacks indicate both an increase in sophistication of the rebels, but also a potential merger between Islamic insurgent groups such as Al Qaeda and parts of the rebel forces.

Questions remain about the amount of Syrian chemical and biological weapons which are unsecured and which could be acquired by radicals operating in the country.

Russia and Iran remain staunch allies of Syria, with Russia and China blocking any attempt by the UN Security Council to use force in Syria. Russia is also selling helicopters and missiles to Syria, in the face of international opposition, which Iran is supporting Assad with special forces units on the ground.

Tomorrow, the article will look at recent events in Egypt and Iraq.

 

Looking Forward – Saudi Arabia

The story of Saudi Arabia is the story of both great success and failure. A century ago, Arabia, as it was then known, was controlled by the Turkish Ottoman Empire, as was much of the Middle East. Following the defeat of Turkey in the First World War, their empire was divided up amoung the conquering armies. Arabia was controlled by the Turks only nominally, but the inhabitants belonged to any number of roaming desert Bedouin tribes who fought among themselves for power and influence. One of the strongest of these tribes, lead by Abdul Aziz bin Saud, siezed the critical city of Mecca in 1902 and embarked on a series of conquests over the next 30 years which established the modern state of Saudi Arabia (named after bin Saud)

In 1938, the relatively unknown state of Saudi Arabia was thrust into prominance with the discovery of vast oil resources in the country. Almost immediately the family of Saud, previously a desert nomadic clan, became fantastically wealthy as foreign investment and money flowed into the region. The new status of Saudi Arabia brought it new and powerful friends, who had previously ignored developments in the region. The Middle East had previously been a British domain, who fought over it with the Turks and later the Germans. However, the United States saw the value of the new wealth in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and thus began to court the new rulers. At the close of the Second World War, President Roosevelt and King Abdul Aziz bin Saud met secretly to develop an alliance between the two countries. In response for American investment, support, and military protection, bin Saud agreed to provide America with a cheap and reliable source of fossil fuel to support the expanding industrial power of America.

The relationship between the two countries was thus formed, and some say that this has led to an almost Faustian agreement between the two, with the Saudi oil dictating a large amount of Washington foreign policy in the region.

As any new kingdom, Saudi Arabia experienced several leadership crisis points from the late 1950s, with the death of King Abdul Aziz, until the rise of King Fahd in 1982. During this period, the Kingdom began to explore the dark path of Islamic extremism which it as so readily embraced in later years. The rise of an fundamentalist Islamic rival in Iran in 1979, and the Mecca siege of 1980, brought great pressure against Saudi Arabia from the entire Muslim World.

Muslims around the world were incensed at what they considered to be a secular, corrupt, and profigate (all true) ruling party in Riyadh. With the defeat of Arab armies in the Six Days War by Israel, Arabs began to question the legitimacy of the Saud family, who were supposed to be the protectors of Islam, with the two most sacred spots of Islam, Mecca and Medina, under their control.

In an attempt to stem the growing tide of Islamic wrath, the Bin Saud family began to fund and support radical elements globally, including groups in Indonesia, Chechnya, Iran, Iraq, Asia, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. The approach by the Royal Family was to keep the “crazies” out of Saudi Arabia and busy elsewhere in an attempt to stave off disaster.

The Saud family has another reason to be sympathetic to extremist movements. The origins of the Saud clan were in a strict Islamic sect known as the Wahhabis. Wahhabism was a uniting factor in the desert tribes in the early 1920s, and followed a strict understanding of Islam, one which was conservative, political, and intolerant. The Wahhabis had supported the Saud family, and now were incensed at their betrayal of fundamentalist Islam. In an effort to appease these powerful elements, the Saudi policy has been to establish a strict fundamentalist government upon the Saudi people, and to spread the doctrine of Wahhabist Islam worldwide, where it has taken root and been championed by leaders such as Osama Bin Laden. Indeed, the concept of modern terrorism in the form of Al Qaeda is a branch of the Wahhabist faith promoted by Saudi Arabia.

In part two, we will explore the status of the Royal family, the power struggles and complexities of their government, and also the internal decay, decadence, and depravity which characterizes the Saudi Royals.

In part three, we will seek to look ahead and predict a future for Saudi Arabia, as it now enters a period of transition following the death of the Crown Prince

New Years Resolutions To Increase your IQ

Dear Citizens of the World.

This is Human Civilization and Decency, and after 2011, I am unhappy to inform you that I am most unhappy and displeased with both your attitude towards me and your general behaviour in regards to our relationship.

Now, I understand that as a society, your average IQ has been decreasing drastically over the years, and will continue to do so, thanks to day time TV, Jersey Shore, Google, and MTV.

So, I shouldn’t be too hard on you I guess. With IQ falling exponentially with a rising population, this means that more and more people are falling into the below average category. So, like a special needs individual, a lot of leeway should be granted.

But, people! At least try to be intelligent! I realize that being intelligent, and making choices which aren’t dictated by Lil Wayne or the Simpsons may be difficult, but let’s work together on this. I really really really want to see a better society, and a more intelligent world population in 2012. To accomplish this I have suggested a few New Years Resolutions which you can make. Just try some. Believe me, I will be happy if you even take one on board, as that will limit the assault on the existence of sense and decency.

Resolution 1 – I Will Get My News from Different Sources

While the news was once the highlight of an evening, with families crowding around at 6pm to hear about the goings on in the world, news today has been replaced with a mindless ballyhoo of shoddy reporting of issues which can be broken down into four categories:

1. Sports
2. celebrities and Entertainment
3. Shock and Awe Reporting
4. Filler Stories

Instead of getting the news straight from whatever usual outlet you use, why not actually subscribe to some feeds from other news agencies? Take Al Jazeera, Russia Today, CNN along with your Australian news. It is easy to subscribe to feeds from these, and the top stories can be emailed directly to your inbox every day. It won’t take more than 10 minutes a day to skim the top stories, and you will have a much better understanding of current events and world stories.

Cut down on the sports news, and if you can, cut down completely on gossip, celebrity, and entertainment news. We are trying to raise your IQ here, remember?

Pro Tip: Following This Will Not Raise Your IQ

Also, keep in mind that reading political blogs (such as this one!), statements by special interest groups, and so called “grassroots news” outlets may be fascinating and will most likely provide your mind with stimulating fare, however they are most often biased and there to report only one side for whatever point the author is trying to score.

Which brings me onto my next point:

Resolution 2 – “There Is No Free Lunch and I will stop expecting one”

You would think after thousands of years of civilization, humanity would realize that nothing is free in the world, nothing is what it seems, and things “too good to be true” are prefaced with this prefix for a reason.

And yet, day by day, we are offered fantastic prizes, opportunities, and wins that we have done nothing whatsoever to deserve, but which have fallen into our lap by a stroke of fortune. Spend 1/2 an hour on the internet, and you will most likely be offered free iPads, free money, free phones, free horoscopes, or free job offers.

A quick look through my email spam inbox gives me offers for the following:

1. Discount Canadian Medication
2. “Opportunities to Win Huge Payouts” at Club VIP Gambling
3. A “Well Paid Job” of $51,000 a year from a guy with a .yahoo.com email address
4. A Free Dell Laptop
5. A Free Subway Sandwich

Now, with the exception of possibly the free sandwich, I highly doubt that any of the above offers are going to come true for me. Even the free sandwich would require me to sign up for spam email, possibly download 6 viruses onto my computer, fill out 20 forms about insane topics, and then in the fine print inform me that the free sandwich is 6 inches, has no toppings, and has been on the floor for most of the day.

In 2012, remember that there is no Prince wanting to give you piles of money, no company willing to give you free stuff when you download their favourite spyware, no handsome partner who will fly into your arms if you send him or her $20,000 in cash, and no start up company willing to offer you a job sight unseen for big money.

Point is, scammers play on people’s emotions, their greed, their fear of missing out, their natural trust of other human beings. Don’t keep falling for these society!

Also on the topic of a free lunch, don’t expect one from life either. Our friends at Occupy Wall Street may make as much noise as possible, but the fact still remains that if you want something : money, skills, popularity, even a higher IQ, you have to work at it. Life won’t hand it to you for free.

This New Year, your resolution should include a clause where you promise to stop expecting a free ride and also a promise to refrain from complaining when you do not get one.

Resolution 3 – “I Will Ignore Idiots”

Remember when idiot behaviour used to be politely ignored and the idiot was either quietly reprimanded or publicly condemned, depending on the scale of the idiocy? Lately, it appears as if the idiot is the new “Homo Novus”, the next stage of human development. Now, the idiot can get massive public interest in his actions. He or she can get a book deal, TV show, prime time TV, and even public support for their stupidity. Even if most of society points at the idiot and loudly condemns them, they keep coming back for more of the same.

The idiot doesn’t care about being condemned. He knows that enough people will support him, and that this support will generate enough public debate that his name will be famous, even for a short time. Thus, his objective has been achieved. The idiot has been noticed, and all the rest of the world is a little bit stupider from paying attention.

From Charlie Sheen to Corey Worthington, idiots get the limelight. Our entertainment is becoming idiotic, our advertisements are idiotic, our politicians are idiotic, and why not? As a society, this is the new “X Factor”.

Forget about a time when the guy who invented electricity was revered. Forget about a time when a woman who devoted her life to helping the poor and the sick was seen as a national treasure. Now, the true champions of our society are different. It is the young rebellious teenager who throws a house party that ends in riot police intervention. It is the retarded individual who goes on national TV with a reality show that follows their life of insanity. It is the celebrity who experiences a drug fueled meltdown and captivates an entire world while thousands are dying on the other side of it in Japan.

This publicity seeking display of idiotic behaviour has gone viral, with everybody seeking a piece of it. From YouTube “stars” to Occupy Wall Street Protesters, idiotic behaviour has never had a better audience.

Here is a hint. Maybe the real idiots are us? Maybe they are the people who watch idiotic behaviour, either condemn or condone it, but keep on coming eagerly back to see more. And like a good capitalist producer, society keeps on handing us what we crave.

Stop this. Stop paying attention to retarded anything. Don’t follow idiots, don’t talk about them with friends, don’t hang out to see what level of insanity they will reach. Ignore them. If idiots were ignored, pretty soon they will wake up and realise that nobody cares.

Resolution 4 – “I Will Think Before I Vote”

If you hear people complaining bitterly about those in power, ask them two questions.

1. “Did you vote in the last election?” If not, please don’t talk about this, you don’t have the right to have an opinion on something you decided to have no say in when you could have.

2. “Second, if you did vote, can you tell me in less than a minute why you voted the way you did”? If you can’t, again, you don’t have a right to talk here.

While the idea of democracy may be tarnished, the fact remains that people, at least in Australia, vote in and tolerate a leader. It is the people’s choice, when they go to the polling booth, to vote a certain way. Forget about those who didn’t vote, they didn’t have a say in the election of a leader, and thus don’t have a real say in criticizing the sitting government.

Selecting a leader should be a process of intelligent thought and decision. Leaders should be elected on the basis of past performance and the integrity of their current policies, rather than the will of stupid people. However, we don’t live in such a world. We live in a world where a debate between opposing political leaders, one of whom will guide the country through some of the most turbulent times in history, must be rescheduled so that people can watch a celebrity cooking show. Enough said.

I Mean More to You Than Your Political Future!

Here is a crazy idea. Maybe you should put some thought into who you vote for? I am not telling you who to vote for, or even who the best political leader is. However, your decision in this regard should be one made intelligently. Think about it…

Resolution 5 – “I Will Watch Less TV”

TV Will not make you intelligent. TV is not intelligent, and is not likely to be soon. Television is interested in ratings and getting you parked in front of it for the longest amount of time. And surprisingly, the thing which gets people parked in front of the TV the longest is also the most retarded.

What were the most popular ratings in Australia for 2011?

1. The Block – 3.4 million
2. Australia’s Got Talent – 2.98 million
3. Underbelly Razor – 2.79 million
4. Masterchef – 2.75 million
5. 2011 Melbourne Cup – 2.67 million
6. 2011 AFL Grand Final – 2.64 million
7. Two and a Half Men – 2.52 million
8. State of Origin – 2.49 million
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Australian_television_ratings_for_2011

Now, I will not comment on any of the above, but I ask those who have watched them, which of these are increasing your intelligence and providing new information to improve your mind? Out of the whole list, the majority of Australians were watching reality TV shows, gameshows, sports, and badly made sitcoms.

TV is made for stupid people. Like a baby’s rattle, it is a simple combination of light and noise to steal people’s attention and prevent them crying.

The baby is the one actually learning here.

Now, I am not saying to throw away the TV, or that sitting in front of it decreases your IQ exponentially. It’s a question of what you are watching and how long you spend there. In 2012, why don’t you watching something intelligent? Maybe the news? (Remembering Resolution 1). Or the Discovery Channel? Something that will teach you something.If you watch TV, watch TV intelligently

And if you get your entertainment predominantly from the Simpsons, Jersey Shore, MTV, Two and a Half Men, or any style of retarded reality TV show, please stop reading. Sorry to say, you’re too far gone – I think that Gordon Ramsey is about to swear at some water, you had better go and watch…

Now, I apologise if I have come across as being sarcastic in my rant. But I beg of you, please think about your actions in 2012. Try and act intelligently, or failing that, please stop acting stupidly. It will make me, society and decency, and all your fellow humanity breathe easier.

That is all…..Happy New Year……oh what? New Year? Great! Ok, you get a pass for the first 6 hours of 2012, as I know you are all going to do stupid things anyway. But from January 2nd, please think about this!

Regards,

Society


Critique of The Arms Trafficking Debate

A 2008 article in the Jakarta Post by Michael Richardson got me thinking. It proposes the accepted and popular idea that rogue arms dealers, funding war, revolution, and terrorism, are a main threat to global security.

Popularized by the rather far fetched film “Lord of War”, arms dealing has become cloaked in mystery and intrigue. In reality, arms dealing is a well established profession, carried out by many from the local gun shop, all the way to a government level. The kinds of arms dealing vilified in the public press are only a tip of the iceberg of the actual trade which goes on between countries.

In the Opinion Piece, “Inside global arms trafficking, terrorism”, Michael Richardson attempts to draw a solid link between organised crime and terrorism[1].

Richardson uses a number of examples of links between terrorist organisations and organised crime, including Hezbollah’s involvement in the lucrative narcotics smuggling routes of Turkey and Central America, and the Taliban’s funding of operations through Heroin smuggling.

The main focus of the article, however, is on the links between international arms sales and global terrorism. Richardson focuses on the larger than life Viktor Bout, arrested in 2008 on charges of attempting to supply weapons to the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC), a leftist terrorist group operating in Colombia, and themselves funded through Cocaine trafficking and protection[2].

After September 11, and the War on Terror, arms dealers are being targeted with the charge of supporting and arming terrorist organisations. In the request by the DEA for arrest warrants for Viktor Bout, the charge brought was Bout was not for sanction busting, but in supporting terrorist organisations[3]. With the arrest of long time arms dealer, Monzer Al Kassar, in 2007, the US brought a number of federal charges against him, including supplying terrorist groups. Senator John Kerry referred to him in the senate as “a notorious terrorist[4].

I would argue, however, that while an indisputable link can be drawn between illegal arms deals and global terrorism, the larger issue is the arming of terrorist organisations by sovereign states. A nation may have a number of reasons to wish to arm a terrorist group. Nations can seek to destabilize a region, or weaken a rival by arming hostile forces, or can gain protection from terror attacks in return for arming and supplying the group. Examples abound of state sponsored arms deals to terrorists. Iran has consistently attempted to arm anti-Israeli forces in the Middle East, including Hezbollah in this manner[5]. And while Viktor Bout was arrested for doing business with what he thought was the FARC (actually undercover DEA and informants), his earlier dealings with the FARC were masterminded by the long term head of Peruvian Intelligence[6].

It is hard to imagine that arms dealers could easily exist, let alone do business for years, without some form of government cooperation, either through corruption of officials or a deliberate attempt to gain a covert advantage. Therefore, I do not accept that the greatest asset to terrorism is organised crime or illegal arms trades. The greatest asset is a sponsoring state which has access to far greater resources than an individual weapons dealer, including strategic weapons such as nuclear, chemical, and biological, which a terrorist may be unable to obtain without state support. To fully prevent the arming of terrorist groups, authorities must be willing and able to bring nations to account which engage in these activities.

This critique is going to be the start of a new series published on this blog focusing on international arms dealing, the reality of the trade, and the inherent dangers which go with it.


[1] Richardson, M., “Inside Global Arms Trafficking, Terrorism”, The Jakarta Post, 14/03/2008

[2] Economist, “Victor Bout: Man in the Dock”, 30/09/10 , http://www.economist.com/node/17155738 accessed 17/03/11

[3] DEA Sealed Complaint, 27/02/08 by Agent Robert Zachariasiewicz against Defendants Viktor Bout and Andrew Smulian, Justice Department, http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2008/March/bout-complaint.pdf  accessed 17/03/11

[4] Roston, A., 2006, “Meet the ‘Prince of Marbella’ – is he really supporting Iraq’s insurgency?” The Guardian, 01/10/06

[5] Warrick, J., 2009, “Analysis: Arms smuggling heightens Iran fears”, Ya Libnan News, 03/12/09,  http://www.yalibnan.com/2009/12/03/analysis-arms-smuggling-heightens-iran-fears/ accessed 17/03/11

[6] Vranckx, A., 2009, “Arms Brokering in the Americas”, UN Disarmament Forum, http://www.unidir.org/pdf/articles/pdf-art2889.pdf , accessed 17/03/11

Responsibility to Protect Part II

Following on from our previous post, please find the second part of “Responsibility to Protect”

One of the major fears by states is that R2P can cause an attack on their sovereignty, as it implicitly upholds the view that human rights supersede sovereignty. In a summary issued by the ICISS, Algeria, Belarus, China, Cuba, Egypt, El Salvador, India, Iran, Pakistan, Russia, Syria, Venezuela, and Vietnam have openly rejected R2P, based on a number of reasons. For countries such as Russia, Venezuela, China, and Vietnam, rejection of this concept has a possibly political basis. China and Russia, in particular, as members of the Security council hold veto over interventions, and have used this often in the past, including in the cases of Kosovo and Syria. For countries such as Algeria, Cuba, Iran, Pakistan, and Syria, rejection of R2P can be potentially due to a fear that human rights abuses in their own countries would possibly lead to an intervention under R2P.

Overall, the general consensus for rejection by these countries is the perceived lessening of state sovereignty. The supremacy of sovereignty has been upheld by researchers such as Jonathan Charney, who writes that “The protection of human rights is also among the primary purposes of the Charter but is subsidiary to the objective of limiting war and the use of force in international relations, as found in the express Charter prohibitions on the use of force”. Others have been blunter in their condemnation of NATO, and particularly the US, mission to Kosovo “Citing the need to preserve stability in Europe and to protect the Kosovar Albanians against Serbian ethno-fascism, NATO—led by Washington—initiated an offensive operation against a sovereign European state. It is the latest and most aggressive of the U.S.-led “humanitarian interventions” of the post-cold war period”.

Is Sovereignty really under attack though? Pattison’s view is that the new concept of R2P moves the view of sovereignty from control of a state over its citizens to a responsibility by the state to protect their interests. He goes on to say that the R2P now can not only justify and condone intervention to prevent human rights abuses, but also carries a potential moral obligation to intervene.

In comparing traditional sovereignty compared to the Responsibility to Protect, it may be helpful to consider the concept of the Social Contract proposed by Hobbs hundreds of years ago. Too often it is convenient for states to forget that they also are required to uphold their part of the social contract – that is to provide security and safety to their citizens. Hobbs believed that security was the most important aspect of life, and one which held priority over all other values. In this view, a sovereign power was the most likely to provide this security. Thus, a collective group of people will surrender a portion of their own liberty for security from a state. The state will then rule with legitimate power if it fulfils its side of the contract. This argument which was implied by Hobbs is also echoed in the UN R2P – that sovereignty is more than just the right of a state to carry on internal affairs without external hindrance. It states that every state has the responsibility to provide the security described by Hobbs to its citizens, therefore preventing the use of violence or human rights violations by the state

It has been argued that the outcry against R2P based on a sovereignty argument is little more than tilting at a straw man. While the Peace of Westphalia did develop the concept of the absolute sovereignty of a state, this concept was refined following the First and Second World Wars. As far back as 1864, the First Geneva Convention stated that a state had the obligation to protect citizens in occupied territories . This concept has been affirmed in Article 2(7) of the UN Charter which guarantees that the UN will not intervene in domestic matters of a state. However, Article 2(7) is preferenced by the statement that the Article will not prejudice action by the UN under Chapter VII to respond to aggression.
There was a shift in thinking from the end of the Second World War onwards that a global responsibility to prevent human rights abuses existed. There was little international condemnation of UN approved missions such as Somalia (even though this mission ended in failure). Even the Kosovo conflict, while it led to a denunciation by Russia and China, was seen to be “illegal but legitimate”. For this conflict, the prevailing moral obligation to prevent genocide was seen to trump the UN Security Council Resolution. There is little support for unlimited sovereignty from any quarter today. The ICSS report stated that

“The defence of state sovereignty, by even its strongest supporters, does not include any claim of the unlimited power of a state to do what it wants to its own people. The Commission heard no such claim at any stage during our worldwide consultations”.


Given such a global shift in the view of the importance of human rights, and the concept of the responsibility for human rights, I would argue that the implementation of R2P is another step in the ever evolving nature of international law. The argument that sovereignty is absolute is outdated, and not applicable to the changing nature of the international scene. Like any legal concept, international law has changed significantly over the hundreds of years since it was first approached. An example of such change was seen in the response to the NATO involvement in Kosovo, which concluded that the intervention was seen as following the occasional legitimate departure from existing law as a means of effecting necessary change to it

.Therefore, while I would agree that on the surface, there is an apparent erosion of sovereignty caused by the concept of a Responsibility to Protect. However, if the actual meaning and legitimacy behind sovereignty is analysed, taking into account modern and pervasive views towards it, then R2P, rather than reducing the importance of international sovereignty, rather further defines what it is, and what responsibilities are required under it. Since 2005, there have been a number of proposed or actual humanitarian interventions carried out under the auspices of R2P. Through these, there can be seen the clarification and growth of an understanding regarding the appropriate situation where R2P can justify an intervention.
In writing regarding Libya, Pattison considers the ICSS test regarding the significance of human rights abuses. In this test, the UN would consider intervention only in cases where there are extensive abuses. The test considers “large-scale loss of life,” with or without genocidal intent, which is the product of deliberate action or neglect, or “large-scale ethnic cleansing,” whether carried out by killing, forced expulsion, or acts of terror or rape.”

Gaddafi’s speech calling upon the Libyan people to hunt down the purge the “rats” in Benghazi, and promising no mercy, concerned the international body, as it was apparent, combined with the regime’s previous activities, that these above tests could be met in Libya.
However, Pattison also believes that regime change is a radically different concept from intervention. The bar, he believes, should be far higher for regime change than for intervention, based upon the outbreaks of violence and surrounding instability in the area which occurs in the event of a regime collapse. The abuses in Libya may not have warranted a regime change, based upon this theory.

Based on the Libyan situation considered, there is still a significant distance before a workable international response to human rights abuses exists. The question of sovereignty is still one which is considered by states and some theorists. I would argue however, based on the analysis above, that this view of sovereignty is one which is outdated and effectively rejected internationally. In the modern interconnected world, states have come to realise that sovereignty comes with a responsibility to maintain the security and order of their internal population. I would like to think that Hobbs would agree to this view. Finally, moving forward, a greater commitment must be undertaken by the member states of the UN to support valid and legitimate humanitarian interventions. The approval process, and the process of establishing the existence of abuses has been improved by R2P, but more work remains to be done in this regard.

References:

Annan, K, 2000, “Millennium Report of 2000 : We the Peoples”, The United Nations
Barry T, Honey, M, 1999, “Bombs Away: A Call for the Unconditional Ending of the Bombing Campaign”, Foreign Policy in Focus, Volume 4, Number 13 May 1999
Bellamy, A, 2009, “Responsibility to Protect or Trojan Horse? The Crisis in Darfur and Humanitarian Intervention after Iraq”, Ethics and International Affairs, Vol 19, no 2 September 2009
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