Humanitarian intervention is always cloaked in altruism. Noam Chomsky says, “Almost every aggressive act by any great power is justified on humanitarian grounds.” Helping people who are suffering is laudable but injecting military force can lead to even worse outcomes. Libya is a perfect example of what can go wrong. The specter of atrocities was raised. A U.S., U.K., France and Canada bombing campaign ensued. The attacks destroyed most of Libya's infrastructure and killed thousands, leaving the country, Chomsky adds, "in the hands of warring militias." In addition, there has been a flow of arms and jihadis into West Africa and the Middle East, which has become the major source of radical terrorism in the world – largely a consequence of so-called humanitarian intervention in Libya.” We should be very leery when this doctrine is invoked as a justification for intervention.
“Everyone is entitled to their opinion,” sums up most peoples’ understanding of the First Amendment. Many were dumbfounded when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a conservative organization named Citizens United, in the case of Citizens United versus the Federal Election Commission (FEC). The 2010 ruling has further undermined democracy. Political campaigns are now flooded with dark money, untraceable funds that often determine the outcomes of ballot initiatives and elections. And unsurprisingly the electorate recognizes the advantage dark money gives the rich and powerful and opposes the Supreme Court’s far-reaching decision, as do many members of Congress, and the current President.
In 1970, at the height of the U.S. wars in Indochina Edwin Starr came out with his classic song: “War.” In it he asks, “War, what is good for?” And he answers: “Absolutely nothing.” Well, for the giant weapons manufacturing corporations, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, General Dynamics and all the rest, war pays off big time. They make money hand over fist especially with their cost-plus contracts. And then there are the delays in delivery and technical problems. Whether they are F-35 fighter jets, stealth destroyers, Trident submarines or aircraft carriers, the Pentagon gets what it wants. And taxpayers foot the bill. Policy makers in Washington always come up with rationales to engage in war. Since 2001 the U.S. has been continually at war and it has greatly expanded the number of countries it is attacking. Is war ever justifiable?
This program features a debate between David Swanson and Pete Kilner. Swanson answers no to the question, is war ever justifiable. Kilner argues yes.
Michael Chertoff was former Secretary of Homeland Security during the presidency of George W. Bush and co-author of the USA Patriot Act.
David Gibbs is Professor of History at the University of Arizona. He has published widely on international affairs. He is the author of First Do No Harm.
David Cobb, a lawyer and activist, was the Green Party presidential candidate in 2004. He is a leading voice in the Move to Amend the Constitution to repeal corporate rights.
David Swanson is an activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director WorldBeyondWar.org and author of War Is Never Just and Curing Exceptionalism. He has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Pete Kilner served more than 28 years in the Army as an infantryman and professor. A graduate of West Point, he deployed multiple times to Iraq and Afghanistan. He is a graduate of West Point.