General Paper notes: Foreign Intervention

Excerpt – Adapted from GP tuition notes (politics) for website. Copyright: Knowledge Skills LLP


Politics is a heavy topic and is usually covered over several  lessons. For O-level standards, ‘politics’ exposure is usually parked under Social Studies.
In a previous article on government priorities, we highlighted several domestic considerations. To add on, one must also consider the external issues that  governments must juggle with.

The recent crisis in the Ukraine and in particular Crimea  raises several troubling and pertinent issues with regards to globalisation, nationalism and geopolitics.

For General Paper (GP), it is a useful example for a variety issues. One of which is to discuss the issue of foreign intervention.

In most normal circumstances, a policy of non-interference is adopted by most countries so as to uphold the right to national sovereignty that every state possesses.
Such  a policy of non-interference restricts nations in involving themselves in the international disputes. However, this has been sorely tested in recent years. From the oft-quoted example of the Iraq Invasion (Operation Desert Storm I and II),  to other humanitarian reasons  such as the UN led coalition against Gaddafi’s rule in Libya, the genocide in Western Sudan and now, the supposed protection of Russian citizens in Crimea.
Arguably, each are mired in controversy. Yet, while most democracies believe in autonomy and unnecessary non-interference, there remains very valid reasons for foreign intervention.

[note, this does not discuss the pros and cons of Foreign Intervention (covered in other GP tuition lessons) but merely the rational for doing so]

Point 1.
One of the most straight forward is the policy of non-interference vs. an ethical obligation to humanity.
When the lack of intervention leads to a loss of lives or when the government of the nation is
a) incapable of averting
b) the agent behind the catastrophe or continued loss of lives
it is seen as a moral imperative that nations who can assist, should step in.
A recent example in our South East Asian region would be the disaster of Cyclone Nargis, which left many dead and destitute.  Myanmar lacked the necessary resources and even refused help from  . .  . (excerpt cut)
Besides Myanmar, other countries such as North Korea or Sudan also are unwilling to accept help from the international community even if they need it and even when, sadly, it is their citizens who suffer the most from their willfulness. When the leaders of a country act without concern for and to the detriment of their citizenry, it raises questions on their right to authority and autonomy. Hence, non-interference cannot be a legitimate position for any country to assume.

Point 2.
Globalisation and inter-dependence.
The increasing interdependence of our world means that even geographically distant events can have consequences for local populace. This gives neighbouring nations the rights to step in and defend their own interests. Such was the case behind America’s invasion of Iraq.  . . 

(GP tuition tip: varying example types)
However, not all cases of foreign intervention must necessary be of a military response. Other areas we can consider is the use of sanctions and / or economic policies that . . .
Economic activities are so interwoven that the sub-prime mortgage crisis or even the Euro crisis have been cases  when central banks have been forced to respond with billion dollar stimulus packages (Quantitative Easing for USA) to keep their own economies buoyant on a wave of easy money.  . . .

Counter Point 1.
Poor contextual understanding – i.e exacerbating internal strife through intervention

‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” It can be argued that sometimes it is sensible to develop . . .

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End of Excerpt – filed under General Paper GP tuition notes