Monday, November 2, 2009

When and when not to get involved

The Principle of the Norm of Social Responsibility states that “we should help when others are in need and dependent on us.” The Principle of the Norm of Social Justice states that we should help only when we believe that others deserve our assistance" (Glossary) In cases of conflicts between nations, this would involve another nation helping out one side because of an obvious need of aid. But should larger nations really be stepping into a war between two smaller nations when help isn’t called for?

Take, first, the case of the Vietnam War. The US went into Vietnam to stop the spread of communism. The US feared communism because communism spreads anti-western beliefs. Vietnam was in no way dependent on the US , and there was no apparent need for the US. This is a case where the US saw no responsibility but felt it was deserved by South Vietnam to help out. There was a policy put in place by the Geneva Accords to allow for an election, but the US feared that too much power would be easily granted to the communist party. The US couldn’t stand for that and decided it would be better to put a democratic party into power in Vietnam. (
Brigham) This is where the US should’ve just stayed out. The US went into the Vietnam war for selfish reasons. Who is to say that a communist party wouldn’t have worked? Why must the US spread democracy to all corners of the globe? 58000 American lives and over 1 million Vietnamese lives were lost in this combat. (Mintz, 2007) No nation should be allowed to decide what form of government is best for another nation, and take action based on that decision. If this were put into international law, at least half a million lives would be saved. That includes the American lives spent over in Vietnam and a good portion of the Vietnamese as many of them were killed by the Americans out of rage. Other nations should’ve stepped in against the US based on principle.

Another example would be the genocide in Rwanda. Virtually, NO ONE stepped in to stop the massacre. The US, along with all the other major world powers, should’ve stepped in, but no one did because none of the larger nations had any holdings in Rwanda. The larger nations saw no benefit to going in to stop the genocide in Rwanda. Therefore, they felt no responsibility on the whole for entering into a conflict. Lack of a belief in responsibility and Rwanda's lack of formal government caused a lack of belief that Rwanda deserved our help. The Hutus were killing the Tutsis because of an old power struggle going back to colonialism. The killings lasted for 100 days. During this time, the only force in place to keep peace was the UNAMIR. This force had no authority to step in and stop the massacre and was eventually pulled out of Rwanda. (Peace Pledge) All they could do was protect foreigners and stand back and watch. The US had proposed to send in aid to the UNAMIR, but by then it was already too late for those hundreds of thousands already killed. 800,000 civilians died in the massacre. (Genocide) At least 600, 000 lives could have easily been saved had there been something in place in international law that calls for the “world powers” to step in when human atrocities are occuring. Smaller nations are dependent on the “world powers” to help out when they are in need.

My last example is one of triumph, sort of. Aside from the economic reasons, the US stepped into the First Gulf war for a responsible reason. This intervention was due to atrocities brought against the citizens of Kuwait under the rein of Saddam Hussein. The citizens of Kuwait who were being oppressed deserved our help. Also, there was a threat to international supplies of oil, and international security. A large majority of the research and production facilities for nuclear and biological weapons were found and destroyed. Though not all of these facilities were destroyed and Saddam was not completely stripped of his powers, the US achievements were still considered a victory as they diminished the local and international threats. Only 293 American lives were lost in this effort. (Rokke) This effort can be considered as a triumph in the sense that a Nation, the US, saw fit to intervene in a conflict that involved international threats. I consider it a responsibility of a nation to deal with international threats.

Throughout history are examples of conflicts that definitely required involvement and some that would’ve been better left to those nations and people originally involved. There is a certain “understood” law of society and international society that when there are human atrocities being committed, then the world powers should come together to end it no matter whether there is a benefit or not to them. This “understood” law should be put into print and then signed as an agreement between the world powers. The nations signing this contract should be held responsible for keeping each other in check.

Brigham, Robert K. Battle field vietnam. Retrieved November 2, 2009, Web site:



Mintz, S. (2007).Learn About the Vietnam War. Digital History. Retrieved November 2, 2009 from

Peace pledge union information Genocide. Retrieved November 2, 2009, from Rwanda 1994 Web site:

Rokke, Dr. Doug Retrieved November 2, 2009, from Gulf War Casualties Web site:

1 comment:

  1. its very well written addie....:)