By Meredith Aby
May 14, 2012
St. Paul, MN – Forty people gathered at Cahoots Coffee Shop here May 9, to hear from anti-war speakers at a program entitled “Syria: The Myth of Humanitarian Intervention” organized by the Women Against Military Madness (WAMM) Mideast Committee.
There is significant discussion in the international community and in the anti-war movement about whether ‘humanitarian intervention’ in Syria is justified. Speakers Mary Beaudoin, Margaret Safehjooy, and Dave Bicking gave analysis of the media’s role in drumming the beat for war, the role of the U.S. and NATO in ‘humanitarian interventions,’ and the reasons for not wanting to intervene in the conflict in Syria. This forum gave members of the peace movement an opportunity to discuss their concerns with military intervention in Syria.
Mary Beaudoin, editor of the WAMM newsletter and member of its Middle East committee, referred to the example of US/NATO intervention in Yugoslavia as a lesson for how humanitarian intervention can kill the very civilians they claim to protect. “The attacks by U.S.-led NATO countries on Yugoslavia were the test for humanitarian intervention that began this trend. The sovereign nation of Yugoslavia was broken into pieces, the proverbial village bombed to save it and humanitarian intervention in this form began to be established.”
Margaret Sarfehjooy, also member of the WAMM Middle East committee, explained her concerns for U.S. intervention in Syria. “What we do know is what the U.S. military is built and designed to do, and what it is capable of doing. The military wasn’t designed for humanitarian intervention. It is a force of destruction. The military is trained to kill people and destroy. People who believe that war should be a last resort tend to think that there’s an exception to humanitarian intervention because something is being done for the good. Humanitarian intervention is really a subset of war, not an exception to war. All of the caution for war should also be a caution for humanitarian intervention.”
Speakers encouraged attendees to ride the buses, organized by the Anti-War Committee and WAMM, to Chicago May 20 to protest the potential of U.S./NATO involvement in Syria.