2 August 2003

Asia Times - Australia joins US strategic revolution:
Therefore Canberra's decision suggests that finally at least some governments have understood that distant threats such as those in the Solomon Islands constitute a threat to international or at least regional security that must be dealt with expeditiously. Otherwise they can grow into phenomena like al-Qaeda and the Taliban or the Bali bombing and other terrorist examples, even leaving aside September 11. The justification of preventive action to forestall crises, ie genuine crisis prevention, undertaken by regionally powerful states who can assemble political-military support for their actions may prove to be a precedent that is usable beyond this case in other troubled areas. This precedent is unlikely to be a perfect solution to all the many examples of state failure, civic violence etc. But in the absence of effective multilateralism and given the UN's inability to function as a peacemaker or peacekeeper without great power support from all members of he Security Council, the Australian precedent could mark a step forward in international security, not to mention the 'war against terrorism'.

While Australia's new regional strategy is therefore clearly inspired by the US example and precedent, it also can serve as a precedent and example for other states facing this kind of security threat. And it can bring about genuine crisis prevention in a host of areas lest more such examples soon emerge. While this may not be a prefect solution to the problems of failing states, until and unless a better solution comes about, it may be the most effective one that we currently can devise. And in that respect it could actually mark a step forward in the construction of a stable international order. "

In short, I could not disagree more. The right to protect sets out 6 characteristics of international humanitarian intervention. They are:

  • just cause

  • precautionary principles

    • right intention

    • last resort

    • proportional means

    • reasonable prospects

  • right authority

The Solomons intervention is at the request of the Solomons government and parliament. There is no need for UN authority because the Solomons has itself requested and consented to the intervention, so the question of right authority does not arise as it does in Iraq. I would argue that the question of reasonable prospects and last resort damn the Iraq intervention even before you look at right authority.

Despite some slight vapourings on the subject by members of the Australian government the Solomons intervention cannot be conflated with Iraq. New Zealand and other Pacific Forum nations actually sought and got an undertaking from Australia that there would be no claim by Australia that the Solomons intervention justifies any pre-emptive war without UN sanction.

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