Humanitarian intervention

Peace, or just war?

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"The instruments of war do have a role to play in preserving the peace." So said Barack Obama in Oslo last month as he accepted the Nobel Prize for Peace.

Obama's speeches are increasingly remarkable. His announcement of the 30,000 surge of troops to Afghanistan was made at West Point military academy to a near all-white audience. With shades of George Bush, he evoked visions of the US's manifest destiny and made repeated references to 9/11 as the continued justification for war in Afghanistan. He could have come straight from the pages of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Chorus of hypocrites

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It comes easy for liberal commentators to condemn some human rights abuses and invasions, but why do they always stop short of denouncing the outrages perpetrated by the Western powers?

What a year it's been for denunciations of oppression and militarism in the media, particularly the BBC. They have condemned the crimes of the Burmese junta, repression by Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, the Sudanese militias in Darfur, public hangings in Iran, Chinese repression in Tibet and now the Russian army in Georgia. Images of devastation have been accompanied by journalistic descriptions of brutality, denunciations by George Bush and Gordon Brown, Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy, John McCain and Barack Obama - and demands from liberal commentators that "something must be done".

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