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Monday, November 1, 2021

The Myth of American Humanitarian Intervention

In the 1950s, the Americans invented the term “humanitarian intervention” to create the impression that their wars were motivated by altruistic and philanthropic concerns. They monopolized this term—only they had the right to attack another country for humanitarian reasons. If any other country intervened, the Americans would adamantly oppose the intervention and brand it as a savage invasion. In most cases, the American humanitarian interventions led to much bigger humanitarian disasters, probably because the real purpose of these wars was to capture natural resources and install puppet regimes in nations of geopolitical importance. 

The first American project of humanitarian intervention was launched in Indochina, between 1955 and 1975. In the name of saving Vietnam from Soviet communism, the Americans perpetrated all kinds of horrors on the country. Hundreds of thousands of heavily armed American troops poured into Vietnam and they conducted saturation bombing of several densely populated areas. The American dead have been counted—about 52,000 American soldiers died in Vietnam. But what about the Vietnamese casualties? Most analysts believe that the American military machine slaughtered around 2,000,000 Vietnamese civilians and 1,100,000 fighters. 

The story of America’s “humanitarian intervention” in Indochina does not end with their defeat in Vietnam. In the 1970s, the American establishment encouraged the insurgent movement called Khmer Rouge, led by the Maoist leader Pol Pot, in Cambodia. The thinking in Washington was that the Maoist communists of Cambodia would battle against the Soviet communists of Vietnam and that would worsen the situation in the region to such an extent that the world would beseech America to intervene. But once it captured power in Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge went out of control. They slaughtered about 25 percent of the country’s population in just four years. 

The American humanitarians did not intervene to save the Cambodians from the Frankenstein monster, Khmer Rouge, in whose rise they had contributed significantly. Ultimately, it was left to the Vietnamese to overthrow the Khmer Rouge regime. Vietnam’s invasion of Cambodia in December 1978 must be seen as a major humanitarian intervention. It saved the lives of millions of Cambodians. But the Americans didn’t appreciate Vietnam's intervention. They proclaimed that Vietnam had violated the rights of the Cambodians by invading their country. They encouraged China to attack Vietnam. But the Vietnamese were able to repulse the Chinese attack. 

In 1985, President Ronald Reagan declared that the policies of Nicaragua were an unusual and extraordinary threat to America’s national security and foreign policy. Nicaragua was (and still is) a virtually defenseless country—how could it be a threat to America? After the Vietnam debacle, it had become the policy of the USA to fight only the defenseless states, which could be defeated decisively and rapidly. The Americans intervened in Nicaragua because the country was defenseless. They attacked Saddam Hussain because Iraq was defenseless—it did not have any WMDs. North Korea had WMDs so the Americans would never dare to challenge its regime. 

Look at the global mayhem that the Americans have caused with their constant warfare. What have they done to Libya, Egypt, and Sudan? What have they done to Chile, Columbia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and several other nations in South America? The botched American war on drugs has led to several drug cartels taking over large parts of South America. The American war crimes never get investigated. If one American soldier dies, there is saturation bombing of the TV channels, newspapers, and social media with the pictures and videos of the dead soldier. But if a 1000 civilians are killed in a botched American attack, there is no coverage. 

The conservative thinker Samuel Huntington has rightly noted that much of the world sees the USA as a “rogue superpower” and “the single greatest external threat to their societies.”

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