Military Ethics – Humanitarian Aid In Somalia

2910 words - 12 pages

In August of 1992, President George Bush Sr. sent US soldiers into Somalia to provide humanitarian relief to those Somalis suffering from starvation. The major problems in Somalia started when President Mohammed Siad Barre was overthrown by a coalition of opposing clans. Although there were several opposing groups, the prominent one was led by Mohammed Farah Aidid. Following the overthrow of Barre, a massive power struggle ensued. These small scale civil wars led to the destruction of the agriculture in Somalia, which in turn led to the deprivation of food in large parts of the country. When the international community heard of this, large quantities of food were sent to ease Somali suffering. However, clan leaders like Aidid routinely hijacked food and exchanged it for weapons leaving thousands to starve to death. An estimated 300,000 Somalis died between 1991 and 1992 (Clancy 234-236). US soldiers were later sent into Somalia to capture Aidid, but when the operation got bloody, displeasing the American public, Clinton withdrew troops (Battersby 151). In The Morality of War, Brian Orend outlines ethical guidelines that should be followed in all three stages of war: jus ad bellum, jus in bello, and jus post bellum. Orend states that a nation can be moral going into war, but immoral coming out of one. Did the US act justly in all facets of the Somali conflict? The United States espoused all the guiding principles of jus ad bellum but right intent, upheld the principals of jus in bello, and clearly failed to uphold several aspects of jus post bellum during the armed humanitarian intervention in Somalia.
Jus ad bellum is defined as “justice of war” and is recognized as the ethics leading up to war (Orend 31). Orend contends that any state seeking to go to war with another state must show that its resort to armed force satisfies the following six rules: just cause, right intention, public declaration by a proper authority, last resort, probability of success, and proportionality. Each of these rules must be shown and satisfied. “Failure to fulfill even one renders the resort to force unjust, and thus subject to criticism, resistance, and punishment” (Orend 61). Just war theory is meant to be more demanding than international law. Even though the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) agreed to send troops to Somalia, this approving body does not automatically render the gesture moral. One must apply the principals of just war theory first.
Throughout The Morality of War, Orend argues that there are only two just causes for resorting to war: a war of self-defense and a war of other-defense. With regards to Somalia, the US and its allies justified entering the war based on Orend’s other-defense position. Although Somalia never committed crimes of aggression against another state, arguably, Somalia committed “acts that shock[ed] the moral conscience of mankind” (Orend 91). Walzer states that this is the only time when armed humanitarian...

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