There has been much debate about the merits or otherwise of forcible intervention to stop the killings in the Syrian crisis. This has never looked likely, partly because of the Russian and Chinese veto in the UN Security Council but also because of the inherent difficulty of the task, not least given the fragmented nature of the Syrian opposition. Given the impotence of the international community to prevent mass atrocities against segments of the civilian population is there any hope that the threat of being held to account will encourage the regime to show restraint, or are they free to continue to act with impunity?

Continue reading »

Posted in Mike Aaronson, Syria, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

People sometimes find it hard to grasp the difference between the concepts of impartiality and neutrality, as used in a humanitarian context. The current crisis in Syria shows the importance of distinguishing between the two.

Continue reading »

Posted in Mike Aaronson, Syria, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Right now it is impossible to watch the News on TV, to open a newspaper, or to go online, without coming across discussion about the merits or otherwise of international intervention in Syria and Iran. In the case of Syria the main driver is human protection in response to the government’s brutal crackdown on its citizens, whereas in Iran the issue revolves around the threat to international peace and security posed by the government’s continuing refusal to meet IAEA demands for transparency about its nuclear programme. Nevertheless a common element is an acceptance in Western policy, academic, and media circles that coercive intervention is a perfectly legitimate subject for discussion; one may be strongly for it, strongly against, or somewhere in between, but there is little if any questioning of why we are discussing this at all. Is this not rather odd?

Continue reading »

Posted in Afghanistan, Iran, Libya, Mike Aaronson, Syria | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The U.K.’s leading non-governmental aid agencies have launched an appeal for funds to support their work with people affected by the devastating drought in the Horn of Africa. The DEC appeal, launched on 8 July, will no doubt once again demonstrate the generosity of the public when they are asked to respond to this kind of emergency. But there are also lessons to be learned in terms of how we understand and categorise international intervention.

Continue reading »

Posted in Libya, Mike Aaronson | 1 Comment