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Foreign Policy Analysis
Ed Herman on “Humanitarian Imperialism”

Ed Herman on “Humanitarian Imperialism”


PAUL JAY: Welcome to The Real News Network.
I’m Paul Jay, coming to you today from Penn Valley, Pennsylvania. We’re carrying on our
discussion with Edward S Herman. Edward is an American economist and media
analyst with a specialty in corporate and regulatory issues, as well as the political
economy and the media. He’s a professor emeritus of finance at the Wharton School of business
at the University of Pennsylvania, and he co-authored Manufacturing Consent with Noam
Chomsky and recently The Politics of Genocide. Thanks for joining us again. EDWARD S. HERMAN: Glad to be with you, Paul. JAY: The whole way that military intervention
by the–mainly by the United States–has been dressed up as humanitarian, liberating, but
primarily, more recently, humanitarian, and there used to be, at least in international
law, the concept of self-determination and non-interfering in another country’s internal
affairs–and not that I don’t know anybody really really followed it; at least it was
a norm that was supposed to be followed. And that seems to have disappeared now with this
idea that if you can get enough countries on board and say there’s a humanitarian crisis,
you can’t intervene. This became a very important issue for you. So why, and speak about it. HERMAN: Well, because the interventions were
so outrageous. And I’ve been driven to quite an extent in my long career as a writer by
outrage. I mean, there have been so many outrages. And the humanitarian intervention era is a
new era of outrages. As a matter of fact, the development of humanitarian intervention
as a concept is actually essentially an overthrow of international law. The UN Charter, that
system was designed to protect sovereign states against aggression. If you look at the charter,
it’s really a charter outlawing international aggression. So along comes humanitarian intervention,
and that’s actually a cover for de facto aggression. JAY: I mean, to some extent this came out
of the Nuremberg trials, did it not,– HERMAN: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. Absolutely. JAY: –the idea that the highest crime is
war against–. HERMAN: Yes. Yes. Yeah. And I’ve always quoted
Robert Jackson where he describes aggression as–and the Nuremberg laws, the Nuremberg
trial findings mention aggression as the main crime, with war crimes kind of following on
in derivative from that fundamental crime. JAY: Okay, now, just one moment. For any of
the younger people watching this interview, if you don’t know what the Nuremberg trials
are, you’d better hit pause right now and get on Wikipedia and go read what the Nuremberg
trials are, because these are the trials that took place after the Second World War where
the leaders of the Nazi Party were put on trial for crimes against humanity and–. HERMAN: And the crime of aggression. JAY: Which is what led to this idea that you
don’t interfere in other countries. HERMAN: Yes, yes, yeah. And here, when United
States wants to go after Yugoslavia, it built up a whole arsenal of claims about the crimes
being committed by the Yugoslav government against the various peoples of Yugoslavia.
So we therefore have to go in and bomb as part of a humanitarian operation. And, of course, also the responsibility to
protect–the R2P doctrine–came into play in this same time horizon: we have a responsibility
to protect those poor civilians in countries where their leaders are doing damage to them.
This gives right to engage in what might be aggression if it’s just a cover. I mean, and, in fact, under the modern propaganda
systems, it’s extremely easy to find ethnic groups in practically any country that are
engaging in an uprising. You can actually subsidize them and encourage them. And, in
fact, in the case of Yugoslavia, it’s well-established fact, for example, that in Kosovo the CIA
was in Kosovo actually training and encouraging the Kosovo Albanians that they should do something,
and we were going to come and help them. Same thing was true of the Bosnian Muslims. We–actually, in the Bosnian case, culminating
of course in the Srebrenica massacre and the Dayton Accords, in that case, actually, all
the parties had agreed to a settlement, the so-called Lisbon Agreement, back in 1992,
and the Bosnian Muslim head withdrew, with advice from the U.S. ambassador saying maybe
he could do better. So here you had a settlement that would have prevented the serious ethnic
cleansing, mutual ethnic cleansing that followed and the Srebrenica massacre. It was sabotaged. JAY: This is supposed to be a fundamental
principle, not to interfere. HERMAN: Yes. JAY: Then why even get into the ins and outs
of whether the U.S. instigated this or didn’t instigate that or whether this crime is committed
or not committed? ‘Cause when I look at the debate about this, a lot of it winds up digging
into did they really commit such crimes (meaning the Serbian government, or if you want, the
Libyans or whoever) or didn’t they? Whereas if the issue’s an issue of principle, then
is the issue that it doesn’t matter whether they did or they didn’t, external players
should just stay the hell out? Can you ever imagine a situation–I mean, let’s say there
was an uprising in Saudi Arabia and the Saudis started slaughtering–in other words, a pro-American
government started slaughtering its peoples. Is there a situation there where you would
have some kind of responsibility to protect? Or is it simply you say everyone stays out
no matter what? HERMAN: Well, I’m against it, that kind of
intervention, altogether, because it’s so easily abused and because it falls so easily,
as it has been. It and humanitarian intervention have both been used strictly for the interests
of the United States and other Western powers and Israel. Strictly. So there’s no intervention
in Saudi Arabia or Israel or Yemen or Bahrain. There was none in Egypt JAY: Well, there was intervention in Bahrain
on the side of the government [crosstalk] HERMAN: Yes, yes, that’s right. Well, that
was the Saudis, actually, the Saudis. The United States and the UN never came in. And
there was–but Egypt is–here you had a miserable dictator for decades, and then you had an
uprising where a lot of people were being beaten and killed in the streets, and you
never had Mrs. Clinton ever asking for any application of humanitarian intervention.
Not once. Never. They’re getting away with the most unbelievable double standard imaginable.
They’re using the principles, the UN principles, nonintervention in sovereign states. But we
now have this phony humanitarian cover of responsibility to protect that covers over
the desire to violate the UN Charter, which we have been doing on a fairly systematic
basis. And this was also true in the Libyan case. They even got the International Criminal
Court [incompr.] to rush in to declare: we need the responsibility to protect those Libyan
civilians. And we’ve done it almost overnight, overnight, which shows the function of the
UN and the ICC these days. JAY: And we see Qatar and Saudi Arabia calling
for the same thing now in Syria. HERMAN: Yeah. Oh, yes. And they’re intervening
pretty fairly heavily in Syria. But in this case, Russia and China, Russia’s–has drawn
line, and the Syrian government is more powerful and capable of resisting then the Libyan government. JAY: And we never saw the Americans using
responsibility to protect with the Chechens and Russia,– HERMAN: No. JAY: –which–it’s all geopolitics: when it’s
in your interest, you bring up that card, and when it’s not, you don’t. HERMAN: No, absolutely. And the lack of principle
involved, the lack of–as you say, there is a principle, a UN principle, that’s been overridden
by this allegedly higher principle of the responsibility to protect civilians who are
victimized by their government, so that we have to go in. And we did this in Libya. And
a good chunk of the left fell for this, too, that we have the responsibility–. I raise–we
raised the question–I have raised the question, in the case of Libya, well, do you want to
leave this in the hands of the United States, who–it’s engaging in drone warfare all over
the world, has declared the whole world a free-fire zone, engaged in the most monstrous
aggression in Iraq, and it’s got away with–you want this imperial power to do the job in
Libya on this incredibly selective basis? Isn’t that a bad principle in itself, to let
them–to do it and then to let them do it, and to have faith that they’re going to do
it, not engage in regime change, which they’ve been obviously pursuing? I mean, the naivete
behind supporting that is–again, it’s breathtaking. JAY: We’ll go further in the next segment
of our interview series. So please join us for the next segment of our interview with
Edward S. Herman on The Real News Network.

42 comments on “Ed Herman on “Humanitarian Imperialism”

  1. just subbed to TheRealNews….. and instantly my subs are chocka block with their "news" lol. wonder what this channel is all about…. the "real" news behind the "normal" news, maybe. if thats the case, where are all the conspiracy ppl…? it definitely has that feel about it….

  2. the masterminds of the slaughter are free to carry on yet more slaughter. the trials eliminated their flunkies, not the real perps. until they are executed, the slaughter will continue. corruption thrives more now than ever, thanks to the brainwashed public and the mind control of their masters.

  3. It's a left-wing source for news and opinions. I've been subbed for a while, and haven't heard any conspiracy theory stuff from them; otherwise I probably would have unsubscribed, lol.

  4. This guy's understanding of the Yugoslav conflict is very shallow and somewhat messed up. . I understand that he's pointing out Western involvement in Yugoslavia as being a motivator for the war, but ethnic tensions were already brewing and there wasn't much that could've stopped it – I doubt the Lisbon Agreement would have. Furthermore, he seems to be doing a lot of victim blaming vis-a-vis the Bosnian muslims, especially with the word 'mutual'.

  5. How about viewing a series of their video before making guts judgment,
    leap to conclusion and just show yourself as being an ass ?
    Start by looking up a subject you know about and see if they report it wrong

  6. I'd rather label them as reality base news, but since reality has a liberal bias.. diss as you want.

  7. Psh, but you don't even mention the solution! US intervention, it wasn't the motivator, it was the solution. Ethnic cleansing was the motivator. More than a decade of neoliberal economics in the fractured FR Yugosalvia has created hell!. The countries of FRY are in a horrendous situation. Not a thing about this analysis is shallow IMO. I suggest the documentary "the weight of chains" which gives a detailed summary of Yugoslav history starting in the 1900s.

  8. I'm very well aware of the history, I'm just saying that I recognize the same problem with Herman as I do with Chomsky: they look at the history of Yugoslavia selectively; and to paint the picture of Western imperialism and involvement that they want, they tend to over-emphasize or even magnify out of proportion the role that Bosnian muslims played, to the extent that I always get the feeling that the victims are being blamed. See Chomsky and Living Marxism.

  9. actually, it's not that reality has a political bias, but has facts and most facts ('reality' ) based news get labelled liberal by right-wing morons

  10. just like intellectual that take the time to think out issues and approach with nuance instead of black and white prism get called liberal and progressive by those same right-wing morons

  11. ed herman is wrong about the bosnian muslims, he seems to blame them for bringing the sebrenica massacre of themselves. that is like blaming the jews for auswitz. 8000 boys and men singled out in one day for execution is still the largest number of deaths in europe since WWII. the then bosnian president who walked out of the 1992 agreement was primarily because slobodan milosovich wasn't ready to give muslims representational proportion in the govt. ed herman is justifying the acts of a butcher.

  12. "Western Super Powers?" Yeah that's right. We western nations simple can do it better and more than other nations that's all.

  13. I totally agree with Ed and Paul here but let me play devil's advocate for a second, because the counterpoints should be addressed. They're opposed to intervention based on international law right? But aren't the dictators or other "humanitarian" problems even worse violators of human rights and international laws, and therefore intervention is a lesser or two evils, even in terms of international law. Keep in mind there is a law protecting pretty much everything, freedoms, safety etc.

  14. I was able to get a reasonably important person to pass this on including to the editorial board of the primary statewide newspaper. Excellent Fantastic

  15. That's a nice thing to do I suppose, but I'm going to guess you haven't read Manufacturing Consent if you think a major publication is going to run a story that goes so strongly against the official narrative.

  16. This person who got behind this is the most important lawyer for many famous social justice issues.They will at least watch it. And the people themselves who have internalized these values it may make them see – the selfishness of always playing geopolitics. I read The Washington Connection and 3rd World Sub Fascism – every word volume I and II when I was 15. I used it to write my most important paper for my first college course.

  17. Yea totally true. Funny thing I was debating this with a buddy the other week. He a conservative, and was saying that humanitarian interventions are justified, like to prevent genocide in the balkans, or starving in somalia ('93) for examples. I pretty much got him to agree that the US intervenes for imperialist interests and usually does more harm elsewhere. to that he basically said, well if something good can come of it, then it's right. He also has a masters in international law….

  18. But that's common with schools. They don't evaluate the sanity & common sense intelligence of graduates. In some sense, Cromagnon was more intelligent. Schools graduate sociopaths & psychopaths, as well as sane people. The problem is the sociopaths & psychopaths, & schools graduate these sickos every year. No socio-psychological evaluation occurs.

  19. Royalties? Nah. Instead, just steal & if the victims complain, then just smack'em. Be like Canada, for it's the way it behaves. Paying royalties is informally but nevertheless forbidden in Canada. They just genocide & steal. If royalties are paid, then it's not going to the victims. It'll go to the racket politicians, banks, & so on. If the victims complain, then police or military state forces will be sent in to quiet the victims. "Oh Canada … land of the free", freeloading thieves.

  20. And I suppose that you get 100% on even the mere school work or any other things you do in life? You pretend to be perfect, not making any errors at all. Ed. S. Herman said he doesn't fully agree with Noam Chomsky. So, even if they could be co-authors for a book, it's clear that there're some differences in their views. I don't know either 1 of them, personnally, & can't really say more, but what's now been said might be worth carefully considering.

  21. Yep. It did. Well, actually, not if the area you're talking about is anywhere in the Americas, Africa, …, but if you mean war on Afghanistan, then yep. Otoh, if your plan is to dominate Asia, then you might also want to dominate Africa for extra military build-up, as Washington has been working on doing. Of course, you don't want to ignore Africa's natural resouces. Why pass up on profitable opportunties? It's against Corporate America "religion" to do that. Instead, steal all you can.

  22. Heh, do you think that thieves, pirates "make a living" by being nice, honest, …? Of course not. Take Washington, f.e., ….

  23. But if this world needs humanitarian based intervention against dictators & likes, then it can't be done non-hypocritically if it doesn't begin with the USA, Washington. That's where the greatest need is. Assad is definitely not worse than Washington. USA is the supreme international criminal on this planet.
    Forget USA disney schooling. Get real, instead. Else you support hypocrisy while accusing far lessers. Discussion should only be for mature, experienced, … ADULTS, not dreamy kids, svp.

  24. Who's going to conduct the so-called humanitarian intervention? The UN? You mean the UN dominated by the USA, which definitely is the supreme international criminal & rogue state on this planet, or do you plan on asking Martians from Mars to intervene? The latter idea doesn't seem bad to me, but they lost in the Independence Day movie. They zapped or fried a lot of Washington cons, but still lost in the end, so it's a story without a happy ending. 🙂

  25. Very fine interview for part 2 of 3. Now I'll move on to part 3. If it's like part 2, then 3 will be welcome.

  26. What the hell is he talking about the US arms, trains and finances the Chechens at every level running there propaganda in fact they have the same PR company Rudder Fiin as the Bosnians and Kosovo Albanians and the sepratist government is on the NED payroll with the foreign minister being a NED scholar and the ACPC lobby in the US filled with Neocons and former NATO and intelligence characters.

    The 9/11 hijackers themselves were recruited and operated through a protected EU/US network.

  27. They train both sides and the U.N. has the law in concept, but THEY send U.N. peacekeepers, and they do the same things (rape, pillage in the case of Somalia or other African countries)….the issues are principled, but all of them are corrupt. They only have Human Rights Watch and the interests are too valuable to too many countries. U.S. and NATO arm everybody, train everybody and have put dictators fund the uprising, or "rebel" group, etc.

  28. Sanctions of UN peacekeepers are done by the country of origin. It's out of UN hands (respecting sovereignty and all). Probably ought to be changed.

  29. I'm not american, but I thought being against the UN is pretty much official narrative in the US. (see very recent Arm trade agreement fiasco).

  30. They don't train both sides the explicitly train Turkish aligned groups like Bosnians, Kosovo Albanians and Chechens because they want to annex the North Caucasus so they can control the Caspian oil basin and pipeline routes that travel to Europe that bypass Russia.

    UN is a week, defenceless organisation deliberately undermined by the US and western powers who deploy peacekeepers while heavily arming terrorists and insurgents.

    Human Rights Watch is funded by George Soros.

  31. I had my suspicions about Soros and Open Source possibly being the catalyst for wikileaks. John Young said it was a front for the CIA (i wouldnt doubt it). Seems like every humanitarian organization like Agency for International Development is in on it.

  32. Don't know if wikileaks is genuine or not as Assange said the media censored itself and was selective in what cables it did and did not publish.

    USAID director in the Balkans and CIA head working with MI6 tried to arrange a sniper hit on western backed Serb president of Yugoslavia in 2002 called Operation Bandit.

    The current leader of Georgia was a managing director of a USAID sub-contractor NGO The Liberty Institute in Georgia.

    Soros is a British/Rothschild agent and I would go ..

  33. The Balkans have been totally suppressed by western media mass and alternative media and goes with the bogus Greater Serbia conspiracy that even the Hague tribuneral did not find Milosevic guilty of a single crime because it exposes there post Soviet era conspiracy of supported Islamic terrorists including Bin Ladin, organised crime and drug trafficking that is well documented with most terror attacks having a link to the Balkans (explosives used in the Madrid and London bombings came from th..)

  34. Excellent interview, and I hope that Ed Herman continues to live much longer, but he's elderly, so he unfortunately won't be around many more years. He's highly credentialed and clearly has a greatly sane, healthy analytical perception.

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