Despite potential good intentions, interventionist policies are often viewed by classical liberals as violations of individual freedoms.
- Intervention covers a range of activity broader than just war. Some interventions have more humanitarian aims, such as disaster relief and development aid.
- Oftentimes, the drive behind many instances of intervention involves some form of political, economic, or social outcome.
- There are important questions to consider regarding knowledge, goals, incentives, and unintended consequences. The answers to these indicate whether an intervention is necessary and appropriate.
Proponents of drones in foreign conflicts argue that it reduces harm for civilians and U.S. military personnel alike. Here's why that might be wrong.
- There has been a huge increase in drone usage since the war on terror. Proponents of drone warfare claim it reduces civilian casualties and collateral damage, that it's cheaper than conventional warfare tactics, and that it's safer for U.S. military personnel.
- The data suggests those claims may be false, says scholar Abigail Blanco. Drones are, at best, about equivalent to conventional technologies, but in some cases may actually be worse.
- Blanco explains how skewed US government definitions don't give honest data on civilian casualties. Drone operators also suffer worse psychological repercussions following a drone strike because of factors such as the intimacy of prolonged surveillance and heat-sensing technology which lets the operator observe the heat leaving a dying body to confirm a kill.
Trump's Middle East peace plan contains the first map of a Palestinian state that 'Israel can live with'.
- Trump's Middle East plan is the first U.S. proposal to contain a map of a two-state solution.
- Considering Israel's close involvement, this map represents a Palestine 'Israel can live with'.
- But Palestinians are unlikely to agree to give up East Jerusalem—or much else.
Caught between a napkin and a conspiracy
The Palestinians' only gain: two zones ceded by Israel in the southern desert, one for 'high-tech manufacturing', the other for 'residential and agricultural' purposes.
Image: The White House
"I say to Trump and Netanyahu: Jerusalem is not for sale," fulminated Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in a televised speech from Ramallah. "Your (…) conspiracy will not pass."
Meeting with such fury from one of the two parties it aims to reconcile, Trump's Peace Plan, proposed in Washington DC with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in attendance, is unlikely to succeed.
But there is one major difference between this and all previous U.S. proposals to resolve the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians: it contains a map. And even if the Trump plan will follow all its predecessors into the dustbin of history, the map remains a significant first.
Never before has a U.S. administration officially proposed borders for a Palestinian state. Considering the close political concertation between the U.S. and Israel—its main ally in the region—it is safe to assume that those borders have been seen and approved by the Israeli side. Which would also be a first. Not that no borders haven't ever been proposed, but they have never been published.
The Jerusalem Post cites the example of Ehud Olmert, when he was prime minister of Israel in 2008, showing Palestinian president Abbas a map during a private meeting. It showed Israel retreating from 94% of the West Bank (i.e. almost to the 1967 border), excepting some large settlement blocks. As an equivalent of the remaining 6%, land inside Israel was offered. Israel would also withdraw from East Jerusalem; the Temple Mount and the Old City would be placed under international control.
Due to the sensitive nature of Olmert's plan—surely too generous for hardliners on the Israeli side—the Israeli PM did not want to hand over the map to Abbas, who sketched it onto a napkin after the meeting. The 'napkin map' became public in 2013.
Under the Trump plan, Israel cedes 70% of the West Bank to the Palestinian state.
Image: The White House
The 'Conceptual Map' in Trump's plan is the first one ever published officially by the American (and/or Israeli) side. It is less generous than the Olmert plan:
- Under the Trump plan, Israel cedes 70% of the West Bank to the Palestinian state. The PLO countered that Trump's plan gives Palestinians control over just 15% of 'historical Palestine'.
- The entirety of Jerusalem and its immediate surroundings remain under Israeli control. Jerusalem remains the undivided capital of Israel. Palestinians may establish a capital in the city's east.
- Israel maintains territorial control over the Jordan River valley, cutting off Palestine from direct contact with Jordan. However, two roads and border crossings would offer access to Palestine's Arab neighbor to the east.
- Large blocks of Israeli settlements are annexed to Israel, cutting into (and through) Palestinian territory, which, as the map indicates, would not be a contiguous zone, but consist of several large 'islands'. Trump nevertheless said the U.S. would "work to create a contiguous territory within the future Palestinian state."
- The Gaza Strip remains remote from the rest of Palestinian territory, but would be connected to the West Bank via a tunnel running under Israeli territory.
- Compensation for the loss of territory in the West Bank would be provided in the form of two blocks of desert territory on the border with Egypt, linked to Gaza via a thin strip of land.
- Palestinian state would be granted access to seaport facilities in two Israeli port cities, Ashdod and Haifa.
President Abbas's fury is understandable. This proposal turns Israel's occupation and takeover of large parts of East Jerusalem and the West Bank into a fait accompli. But while the overall plan may fail, keep a good eye on this map. For the first time, it shows the extent of a Palestinian state that the Israeli state may feel comfortable living with. And that's an important step. Even if this may not be a state the Palestinians may feel comfortable living in.
Map found here on Donald Trump's Twitter.
Strange Maps #1008
Got a strange map? Let me know at email@example.com.
When it comes to foreign intervention, we often overlook the practices that creep into life back home.
- Methods used in foreign intervention often resurface domestically, whether that's in the form of skills or technology.
- University of Tampa professor Abigail Blanco calls this the boomerang effect. It's a consequence not often thought about when we discuss foreign intervention.
- The three channels to consider when examining the boomerang effect include human capital in the form of skills, administrative dynamics, and physical capital in the form of tools and technology.
Researchers believe that war exacerbates climate change, threatening the environment and making future wars more likely.
- In times of war, otherwise atrocious crimes against nature become routine.
- The U.S. Department of Defense is one of the largest consumers of fossil fuels in the world.
- By polluting the earth to prepare for war, the Pentagon prepares a world in which war becomes more likely.
The '20s came roaring in with two explosive headlines: reports of Australia's inferno, and the speculation that the United States could be hurtling towards another war in the Middle East after the government's assassination of Iranian military leader, Qassem Soleimani.
The two events seem ominous harbingers of our future, if warfare and the inherent ecocide that comes with it continues into the next decade.
The environmental costs of war
Image Source: Wikimedia
As power struggles between nations escalate to armed conflicts and hot wars, the environment and ecosystems remain silent casualties. War radically changes the parameters for normalcy, and otherwise atrocious crimes against nature become not only justified, but viewed as necessary.
In war zones, land and natural resources are often contaminated by the oil from military vehicles and chemical weapons. Depleted uranium from ammunition rounds used in Iraq, for instance, left behind radiation that poisoned the soil and water in Iraq, creating a carcinogenic environment according to studies that linked the chemical residue of the weapons to increased cancer in the country. Furthermore, there's the pollution caused by toxic fuel spills that can happen at air force bases, and the oil and chemical leaks that happen when infrastructure is damaged in war zones. Another problem is the deliberate destruction of oil fields and military base garbage that goes up in flames in burn pits.
In war-zones, deforestation can be another major issue. When wars drag out for a long time, people in those regions become internally displaced and need to migrate. In those situations, people try to heat themselves during the winter, causing deforestation further facilitated by warlords. In Afghanistan, cutting down timber and capturing wildlife for sale (like tigers) is encouraged by the Taliban to raise revenue for the group.
Fueling an army
War comes with major ecological consequences in terms of greenhouse gases emitted from mobilization, training, and combat.
Though it has cut back, the U.S. Department of Defense is one of the largest consumers of fossil fuels in the world, and consequently one of the world's top greenhouse gas emitters. In 2017, the Pentagon's greenhouse gas emissions totaled more than 59 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. If it were a country, it would have carbon emissions larger than Sweden, Portugal, or Denmark.Buildings and fuel are the main culprits of CO2 emissions. Forty percent of the greenhouse gases emitted are a result of the over 560,000 buildings and around 500 domestic and overseas military installations maintained by the Defense Department. Military operations account for the rest. For instance, in 2016 the Defense Department consumed approximately 86 million barrels of fuel for operational purposes. According to the Watson Institute at Brown University, the petroleum-guzzling vehicles and aircraft used by the U.S. military produces many hundreds of thousands of tons of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide as well as CO2.
War as a climate feedback loop
The justification for war is often to protect citizens, but human beings aren't separate from the web of ecosystems that they are threaded within. For each violent act of war, there is an equally devastating reaction. Those ripple effects could soon be reaching U.S. shores.
According to Dr. Neta C. Crawford, Department Chair of Boston University's Department of Political Science and the co-director of the study group Costs of War, military aggression and preparation exacerbates environmental problems that could lead to greater security risks and more war in the future as natural resources are depleted, causing a global refugee crisis.
"The Pentagon is very worried about the stresses of climate change leading to displacement... and they're concerned about climate war," Crawford tells Big Think in an interview. "They believe that it's coming to a neighborhood near you."
The problem, she notes, is that the Pentagon is a huge emitter of greenhouse gases and perpetrator of environmental destruction that increases the probability of war.
"They're preparing a world for which the risks and consequences that they fear are more likely," says Crawford, who believes that to decrease the likelihood of climate war, the Pentagon needs to be part of a large scale turn towards clean energy and the reduction of greenhouse gases. "But they don't think that way, they just think war is coming, it will be caused by refugee crisis and fighting over resources such as fresh water, and we have to be prepared for it."
The other option
Crawford believes that if humans can work out ways to prevent the worst consequences of climate change, and work to peacefully prevent any conflicts that are associated with increased environmental stress, war can be evaded.
"We can work out water agreements, we can negotiate prices, or we can provide, instead of a wall, to climate migrants, welcoming and care," she emphasizes.
As tensions escalate with Iran, new war would pour gasoline over an earth already engulfed in flames, increasing the chance for more armed conflict. Perhaps at no time in human history have the stakes for maintaining peace been higher.