Concern over Walzer's Case for Just Intervention
Walzer outlines a series of justifications for the intervention of one state towards another. They are drawn initially from Mill and largely from the legalist paradigm. They are as follows :
1) The formation of political communities within a nation due to secession or national liberation.
2) Counter balancing other external involvement.
3) Human rights and other humanitarian concerns.
Throughout the course of the chapter Walzer generates new permutations of the legalist position to cover all three of these contingencies. The final permutation being :
states can be invaded and wars justly begun to assist secessionist movements (once they have been demonstrated their representative character), to balance the prior interventions of other powers, and to rescue peoples threatened with massacre.
The argument is largely compelling and seems to fit with many everyday notions of when a war of intervention would be justifiable. However I am left with some lingering doubts as to how well Walzer has made his case, despite my wishes to agree with it. What Walzer has failed to prove ( or has failed to convince me of ) is that these are in fact the actual justifications for wars of intervention he cites. At every point in this chapter Walzer suffixes a disclaimer citing that the intervening nation may not act if it is against their best interests, and repeatedly fails by his own admission to find evidence of a war of intervention backed solely by these justifications.
In the case of the Hungarian Austrian conflict Walzer claims that
In the later two examples, the Spane-Cuba conflict and the Pakistani oppression, the actual concerns of the
The decision to intervene or not intervene by each country in question in these examples seemed primarily centered on their own internal well being as the primary justification for action ( or non-action ) at the time. This seems painfully obvious when Walzer writes :
On the other hand or perhaps for this very reason-clear examples of what is called "humanitarian intervention" are very rare. Indeed, I have not found any, but only mixed cases where the humanitarian motive is one among several.
It should also be noted that the actions of every intervening nation he has cited has mixed motivations ( not just the case of
Defenders of Walzer's position will argue that I am conflating justifications for war and when a nation ought to go to war. However it is clear in these examples that the intervening nation's self interest was present just as often, and rooted in some sort of pragmatic sense of self defense ( economic or otherwise ). This style of self defense alone may be enough to justify the intervention on the behalf of the states. It takes no stretch of the imagination to believe that their is a larger wealth of examples of states intervening due to defensive self-interest.
This being said I think their are wider areas of exploration to be had in Intervention many of witch are pressing considering current events, specifically in the areas of regime changes and nation building.
In such cases however I believe that Walzer would be forced to argue heavily in favor of non-intervention, especially in light of recent events. Having drawn heavily from Mill one would be forced to respect the autonomy of a nation until an independent political community reached fruition within it.