INSTINCTIVELY I WOULD say yes and no. A contradiction in terms? It rather depends on the context. Am I over-complicating the issue? It wouldn’t be the first time.
‘Western’ governments have a tendency to think that the only way they can ‘intervene’ during some international crisis — whether it is a military coup or a so-called ‘natural disaster’ — is to bomb the shit out of people.
I regard myself (and given the political tradition from which I come) as an internationalist. I don’t have a lot of time for ‘nation states’ — partly for ideological but also very personal reasons. The BBC’s World Service have been reporting today (04/11/14) that many children, often born in refugee camps, have no ‘official’ status, no documentation; in essence — according to conventional ‘wisdom’ — no ‘identity’. This is, I think most visitors to/readers of Storyboard4 would generally agree, ludicrous! I am ‘Anglo/French’. I have a British passport and a French passport. What do people want me to do? Declare allegiance to one country/nation state? Unfortunately, yes, they probably do.
It is not inconceivable that you can provide aid to a particular struggle, in a particular country, for example, without sending in a ruddy tank. ‘Western’ political establishments don’t seem to be capable of getting their small-minded, private school educated heads around this concept. Dropping a bomb from a large, fast, airplane is so much easier. So much for private education; go in — kill lots of people — and then agonise for several years about how to get out.
Solidarity with an emerging progressive social movement, in a developing country for example, will, unfortunately, not always be ‘casualty-light’. Yet it is a far more constructive methodology than dropping bombs. Think about it. Given the choice between aiding or providing solidarity to an emergent progressive social movement or killing lots of innocent people who would you choose? If it’s the latter — then I’m unlikely to share a drink with you.
Having reported from various ‘conflict zones’ — Bosnia, Rwanda, Somalia; and as result was declared clinically dead on at least two occasions — I accept that I may have a rather prejudicial view. So what! My, allegedly, lefty views have as much value as those of ‘old-boys’ ‘twits’ from Eton; don’t they?
Internationalism can be precarious. That is not some tautological indiscretion; judgements have to be made — who to support, who to encourage or aid. I return to my previous point about current/existing political establishments; they look for easy answers. As a former correspondent reporting from some of the worst “conflict zones” of the late 20th century I can tell you one thing: they’re aren’t any easy answers ✪