proclaims western beliefs and medicine superior to Liberian culture. This again feeds into the issue of lack of trust: and trust between those giving and receiving aid is a significantly large issues because it keeps the provision of aid and communication network efficient. Without trust humanitarian work cannot suffice. Another place we can look for the negative consequences of politicizing a humanitarian issue is in the situations of nonconsensual military intervention. Politicizing intervention can have significant negative consequence on the stability and security of a state.
In many instances sovereign states will intervene in other sovereign states, without consent, if they believe there is a humanitarian crisis at hand. From an outside perspective it may seem appropriate to intervene in a country without consent, if the goal is to help people and save lives. However the consequences of such intervention are generally worse than the positive outcomes. The reason Military intervention has negative consequences is because the very aspect of a military uniform takes the neutrality away. Wearing and American military uniform itself comes with an American political agenda.
Many people receiving aid from military will also not view them as impartial, but rather as interventionists. This creates an indirect consequence of mistrust and disconnection. There is no scenario where aid can be effectively distributed if those receiving do not trust the intentions of those receiving. A modern example one can look at is the recent war in Afghanistan. The war an intervention economic development to the middle east. Issues arose from Vast majority of the resistance in Afghanistan that was antwestern and anti-American based.
Critiquing the American military approach to this one can see that intervening a sovereign nation with a military is no way to gain the trust or connection with all local actors that will enable real development and change. Instead when humanitarian work is politicized such as in this case many people will be resistant and the overall impact will be negative. Anothers negative consequences of military intervention as a politicized form of humanitarianism can result from the actual deaths and damages caused when armed military are involved.
A good piece of evidence to support this is an article Thomas Geist detailing Saudi Arabian And US forces air strikes over Yemen. The purpose behind the air strikes was a politically motivated action in order to “stabilize” the Middle East; A goal to promote humanitarianism by spreading political stability and then in turn promote development in Yemen. This air strike is a string of many air strikes on Yemen by Saudi Arabia that has resulted in around 1700 known deaths, about 100 of which were civilians. Geist). Saudi Arabia and the US have been engaging in a strategic pack to control the security balance in the Middle East. Both nations engaged in these strikes, as a strategic intervention in what they thought would be a beneficial act in the Middle East. This is a clear demonstration of political intervention resulting an extremely negative consequence of civilian deaths. The goal at hand was to intervene and influence political stability, but instead over a thousand were killed.
Despite there being clear reasons and example of why politicizing humanitarian work causes more harm than good it is important to critique the often difficult premise of staying neutral when providing humanitarian work in a conflict. It is simply human nature to act in one’s view of what’s right and what’s wrong and that posses a major problem when trying to remain neutral is significantly difficult conflicts and challenges. In many scenarios there are tough decisions to be made in regards to taking political stance or politicizing action in humanitarian conflicts.
A great example to begin with is from the article by Tom Daschile discussing the current crisis in Ukraine. The piece covers that the Russian government is providing economic assistance and aid to pro-Russian separatist in Ukraine, while the Ukrainian military is outmanned and out of money. The dilemma this piece brings about is questioning whether or not the US and European Union should intervene or financially aid the Ukrainian forces. Is there a right to intervene between conflicts of state governments of two sovereign states?
Will the US appear as imperialist if they intervene and support a pro-Ukrainian side for the country? The idea of going in to Ukraine to “save” the Ukrainian people from Russia posses an issue to picking sides and consent against the pro-separatist in Ukraine who want to become part of Russia. The crisis in Ukraine does not appear in the same nature as many other humanitarian crises round the world. For the most part there has been a cease-fire and biological lives are not in immediate danger.
The danger comes from the 1. internally displaced people and an entire nation of Ukrainians who are being stripped of their right to choose their government and changes they want. (Daschile) This scenario provides a clear dilemma for the United States as an actor in world politics as well as an actor in humanitarian dilemma. For the US to provide military aid to the pro-Ukrainians would be politically taking a stance in the issue and cause the dilemmas that are associated with politicizing humanitarian issues. However if the US does not provide military aid to Ukraine, many citizens will continue to live displaced and live with violated rights.
This dilemma is what most humanitarians face in terms of the pros and cons of remaining neutral or taking a political side. As through the theme of this paper I still believe it is imperative for the US and any actor to not take a political stake in the humanitarian and human rights aspect of the crisis. Providing military aid will more than likely increase military combat which in due part create more deaths and damages. Overall it is more than evident that for humanitarian works to be effective and have positive result the focus must be on saving lives gaining trust and remain neutral.
Although in many scenarios it is found to be difficult, recent history shows that taking a political stance is not the answer to an effective measure of humanitarian work. Humanitarian issues are shifting from just saving lives to providing for the betterment of humanity. It will be increasingly difficult to deal with conflicts of human rights and development and political instability from a neutral perspective. From a western bias we may often seek to implement our way of life across the world; but is important to recognize the negative consequences when humanitarian work becomes a political issue.