Nat Hentoff has offered a weak argument for humanitarian intervention in support of the Bush administration’s war on Iraq. He raises the issue of Rwanda which is a fair example. It’s a clear case of international failure to stop an atrocity with very little risk, effort, and ambiguity. Thousands were slaughtered by machetes. A few thousand western troops could have prevented the mass killings and it would have been a good thing if they had. But that does not support Hentoff’s argument. The widespread political opposition to intervention in Iraq, the likely motives of the U.S., the vanishingly small probability of building a democratic nation in a deeply divided country with no love for its conquerors, etc., etc. suggest that matters may not get better for the Iraqis any time soon. The situation is very different from that of Rwanda. Sadaam’s days were numbered anyway and containment was working. Nor was he likely to engage in any more atrocities with the eyes of most of the world on him and without support from other Arab leaders. Hentoff is off the mark on this one.
Hentoff Misses the Mark