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EP PODCASTSXML

May 13, 2011

Wherefore Bradley Manning?

Behind barsPunishing Bradley Manning before he's even had a trial doesn't make sense. It's unjust, it's immoral, and later on it will tend to make it more difficult to establish the facts. To talk about Manning's case and related issues, including so-called "humanitarian intervention," I turned to Chase Madar, a civil rights lawyer and a sensible, gifted writer. It was pleasure to talk with Chase and hopefully we'll do it again. Total runtime forty minutes. Omnes sancti Mártyres, orate pro nobis.

Listen

« Possibilistic Judgment | Main | The Science of Interrogation »



Comments


Just a note on the Latin. Since "martyrs" is plural, the verb "to pray" must also be plural: "orate pro nobis".

[Thanks very much for your comment. I've corrected it. g.]

George,

It may be best to consider the humanitarian intervention meme as simply the updated version of the national self-determination meme that had previously been used by the US government as the over-arching principle legitimizing its foreign policy.

From the First World War until about 1960, the United States government trumpeted itself as the champion of national self-determination across the world. However, historians, particularly those of the American New Left school, have clearly shown that US-sponsored "national self-determination" was simply the flip-side of the Open Door policy, and as such was a weapon to break open the markets of the European colonial empires that had hitherto put up restrictions against US interests. For instance, US support for Indian independence no doubt was a response to the Imperial preferences policy laid down at the 1932 Ottawa Conference.

By the 1960s, however, the honeymoon between the US and many Asian and African nationalist movements was largely over. The national self-determination theme had been recaptured by Moscow, Beijing and Havana as a banner under which to challenge US influence across the Third World.

In response, the Carter Administration in the 1970s formulated the human rights meme as an ideological battering ram against the Soviet Bloc and uncooperative Third World elements. Humanitarian intervention is simply a logical extrapolation of the human rights meme. In the period of seemingly untrammeled US dominance of the 1990s, the humanitarian intervention meme was used to justify the eviction of French influence from a number of Francophone African countries. Today, it is a being hoisted again to provide cover for rivalry with China over access to African resources.

In retrospect, one can see that the national self-determination meme was only suitable for a world dominated by formal colonial empires. In those days, one could play the card of the nation against the empires. Once those empires are (at least formally) gone, one needs the card of the oppressed individual, sect or minority group to play against the nations.

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