By Kirthi Jayakumar
This post is part of a series that aims at subverting systemic approaches to producing, presenting, and consuming knowledge. Over the years, our use of the colonizer’s language and framing of arguments in accepted structures and formats has also fomented a form of structural violence. Limiting thoughts, opinions, views, and values into acceptable forms of expression also closes the table exclusively to those that can speak this language. This series centers voices that speak to themes of feminist foreign policy, the WPS agenda, transitional justice, and gender security through unconventional forms of articulation.
One of the foremost principles in international law has been the norm of non-intervention. Crystallized as treaty law under the UN Charter, it has attained the status of jus cogens, meaning that it is a peremptory norm from which no derogation is permissible. However, more often than not, military interventions have become commonplace in the name of humanitarian intervention. Instead of investing in dismantling structural and systemic factors that enable, normalize, and authorize war and violent conflict of varying degrees, the quintessential template of an imperialistic, Westphalian state assumes a sense of self-righteousness and pursues a campaign of military intervention.
In a series of memes, this post hopes to place the hypocrisy of military intervention front and center, and calls on actors that normalize war-mongering to introspect on ways in which the dedication to violent conflict has created a world order built on generations of injustice and trauma.
Traditionally, international law does not allow any room for sovereign states to intervene into other sovereign states. And yet, just like in the colonial eras, territorial boundaries are violated in the name of protecting human rights. Couched behind the excuse of supporting human rights, military intervention is simply entitlement and colonialism at play.
Source: @marxistleninistmemeparty on Instagram
There is no legal rule governing the exception of humanitarian intervention to the use of force, as there is for the use of collective security measures and self-defence. Chapter VII allows the Security Council to take action in situations where there is a "threat to the peace, breach of the peace or act of aggression". States have justified their decision or choice to intervene into other states in the name of pursuing peace, or installing/restoring democracy, or protecting human rights.
The easiest target for campaigns of humanitarian intervention are countries they can demonize: countries they can other, whose peoples they can racially other, and whose ways they can unilaterally label as backward/uncivilized. Never one of their own, of course.
The logic is pretty self-evident. Does the nation have resources that can be exploited? Check. Is it in need of liberal democracy? Check.
Adapted from: DankMemes
It may dress differently: but it’s really lipstick on a pig everywhere. The bottomline remains entitlement, and the assumption of power and the freedom to wield that power on other body politics of the world.
Rhetoric questioning war and military intervention seldom finds its place in policy: although it is used to win elections. Whether they call their policies feminist or otherwise, or even win elections on a liberal policy, the outcome is pretty much the same for the countries they choose to (neo)colonize.
The entitlement has historical sanction in “Columbusing,” or “the act of discovering something that is new to you but familiar to another group, especially a minority group, and behaving as though it is new to everyone.”
And somehow, just somehow after all the mess they make, they leave the nations they invaded to clean up after them.
The post-invasion extrication is invariably messy: there is little to no accountability, no transitional justice mechanism, no centering of the most marginalized voices who will continue to face the backlash that comes with their mere existence, and most of all, no apology, even.