Friday, July 15, 2005

Humanitarian Intervention in Hundred Acre Wood

One day, not long ago, Pooh found a book. The cover was black with large white writing. The writing said “Peace with Honour by A. A. Milne. It must have been a popular book as the cover also said 35th Thousand. On the title page Pooh read “Peace with Honour an enquiry into the war convention”. This was the FIFTH AND CHEAPER EDITION Pooh was pleased to read as that meant more money for honey. After gathering a pot of honey to place beside his favourite chair Pooh settled to read.
If everybody … thought as I do, there would be no more war … If a few important people thought as I do: if Ramsey MacDonald were Milne, and Mussolini were Milne, and Stalin were Milne, and Hitler were Milne, and anybody who might at any moment be in a French cabinet were Milne: then, however intolerable the prospect in other ways, there would be no more wars. If Beaverbrook were Milne, and Rothermere were Milne and the proprietors of fifty chosen newspapers … were Milne, there would be no more war. If only the Pope were Milne, and the Archbishop of Canterbury were Milne, then it is at least possible that there would be no more war.
Pooh was relieved it wasn't a world of Seumas Milnes.

Pooh read on. Past the chapters on Pacifism, England’s Honour, National Prestige and National Pride. So according to Milne war breaks out because of a difference of opinion and is best avoided by a system of binding arbitration. The steps to Peace are:
  1. Realization that Universal Peace is a vital necessity to Europe
  2. Conditional acceptance of Peace if certain claims are satisfied
  3. Settlement of claims
  4. Complete renunciation both of aggression and defence
Pooh pondered. And pondered some more. What if a nation had a ruler so despotic that they tortured and murdered their own citizens? What if the ruling elite of a country was so barbaric that the only option was for other countries to invade and overthrow the existing regime. A “settlement of claim” would be impossible as the ruling elite wanted to continue conducting genocide. And conducting purges of citizens. And attacking communities with chemical weapons. Would there not be a moral case for humanitarian intervention? These are the things Pooh thought. What did Milne have to say about such things. Pooh looked through the book. He found a chapter called “Fascist Interlude”. In the chapter, Milne said that
“Fascism is simply autocracy up to date. Being an autocracy it is based on force. … To keep the devotion of this army … all the picturesqueness of real war must be invoked: the salute and the uniform, the speeches, the banners and the war-songs: even, from time to time, the intoxication of victory over an elderly Jew or an outnumbered political opponent. That such an army should have occasional longings to ‘bring its human energies to a higher tension’ is natural.”
Who cared about the elderly Jew? I do, thought Pooh (desperately not trying to sound like his mat(e), The Cat in the Hat).

So, Pooh thought, Milne supported Jew–hating, anti-semitism and bullying as a natural event. Pooh remembered that Milne described himself as a pacifist. He also remembered reading Thomas Cushman’s introduction to “A Matter of Principle: Humanitarian Arguments for War in Iraq” that mentioned “George Orwell once noted in a famous epigraph, ‘Pacifism is objectively profascist’”.

Pooh finally decided which side he was on. He was for the moral case for humanitarian intervention.

He was against wishy-washy, woolly arguments for appeasing the forces of tyranny.

No comments: