Drawing on the reading and your own considered opinion and good
judgment, answer the question on the following pages. In giving
your answer, articulate what you believe are the most principled
grounds for arguing the way you do.
In thinking of objections to your own reasoning, do not just think of
any objections that someone might possibly come up with, think of
the best possible objections that someone might make, i. e., give
yourself a hard time. If you can respond to the other side at its
strongest rather than at its weakest point, that can only help to
strengthen your own case and make it that much more persuasive.
The paper should be about seven (7) pages in length, preferably
typewritten. It is due on Friday, April 16th, in class.
It is Tuesday, March 30, 1999. You pick up a New York Times.
Reading the Times front page from left to right, you read the
headlines: "UConn Upsets Duke to Grab N.C.A.A. Title" and "Dow Finishes
Day Over 10,000 Mark for the First Time" and then in bold, capital letters, the
biggest headline of the top three stories of the day:
Further down the page, you read the remarks of James P. Rubin, spokesman
for the State Department: "There are indicators that genocide is unfolding in
Kosovo," and that there is "no reason to await further confirmation . . .
because we can clearly say crimes against humanity are being committed, . . .
that abhorrent and criminal actions, I mean on a massive scale, are occurring
in Kosovo." You read further and notice reports of "whole towns being
ordered to flee by Serbian policemen in paramilitary units, the people robbed
along the way and stripped of identity documents down to their cars' license
plates." You notice, too, that "accounts appeared to indicate that the Serbian
campaign was methodic, organized and systematic."
Reading further still, you read of "other, sinister reports, more difficult to
confirm, of killings by the Serbian forces and bodies left by the side of the
road, as well as whole villages set afire. A hundred people were said to have
been executed in the village of Celine." The refugees that were streaming
across the borders into Macedonia and Albania and into the Yugoslav
province of Montenegro, at a rate of 2,000 every hour according to the U.N.
High Commissioner for Human Rights, were telling "harrowing stories" of
the places from which they had been forced to flee: "Isuf Morina, gray-haired
and neatly dressed, described hoiw Serbian forces had selected about 200 men
from his village of Krushe and forced them to give the three-fingered Serbia
salute before mowing them down with automatic weapons."
The day before you had heard Jamie Shea, the spokesman for NATO in
Brussels say on CNN that "we are on the brink of a major humanitarian
disaster in Kosovo, the likes of which have not been seen in Europe since the
closing stages of World War II" and that NATO was in a "race against time."
You think it somewhat of a cruel irony that these events should be unfolding
in Kosovo just now as a philosophy and legal studies course you are taking
has begun to discuss under what circumstances, if any, humanitarian
intervention by a group of states in the "internal affairs" of another state
engaged in systematic human rights violations might be justified. You think
to yourself that you are glad that you are not President Clinton, Jacques
Chirac, Tony Blair or Gerhard Schroeder, leaders of the four primary states of
the 19 member NATO coalition currently involved in a bombing campaign
in the Balkans. You are glad, too, that you are not William Cohen, Secretary
of Defense for the United States or, for that matter Madeline Albright,
Secretary of State.
The reason you are glad that you are"none of the above" is your strong belief
that they are all faced with some very difficult choices in the days ahead,
choices that may, in no uncertain terms have consequence not only for the
future of the NATO alliance but for the future of the international world
order. So you are glad you are a student at Brandeis, somewhat sheltered
from the "messiness" of the world. Indeed, all this reading about events
unfolding in the Balkans has made you a bit sleepy and although you have
only been "up" for a few hours, you decide to return to your room to take a
short nap. You lie down on your bed and before you can say "Human Rights
Violations," you are alseep.
Suddenly you are rudely awakened by a commotion outside your room.
You jump out of bed and rush to your window. There "outside" your
window you see several limousines and what appear to be a plethora of secret
service agents with walkie-talkies. Someone is getting out of the first
limousine: it's President Clinton. Then out of the two other limousines both
Madeline Albright and William Cohen emerge. Before you can wonder what
these three officials might be doing under your window on a Tuesday, there's
a a knock on your door.
"[Insert your First Name Here]. Is that you?"
"[Insert your First Name Here]?" you say.
"[Insert your First and Last Name Here] ," says the voice, as if he was reading
from a piece of paper or a student register.
"Yes," you say. And you open the door to find Sandy Berger standing on your
doorstep, with the President directly behind him and Madeline Albright
behind the President and William Cohen behind Madeline Albright.
"May we come in," Berger says.
And without waiting for your answer, he ushers himself, the President,
Madeline Albright and William Cohen into your room and gestures to
several secret service agents to move into position to stand "watch" at your
"Please," you say, "make yourselves comfortable," as each of these four seeks
to find a place to sit down in your rather cramped space of a room.
"Well," you say, clapping your hands together and looking from one to the
other after everyone seems to have beome settled, "what can I do for you
folks," or words to that effect, trying not to indicate the slightest "shock" that
President Clinton, Madeline Albright, William Cohen and Sandy Berger are
now sitting in your room.
After glancing quickly in the direction of Madeline Albright and William
Cohen, President Clinton leans forward, looks you in the eye and says: "We
need your advice."
"My advice?" you say, drawing in a quick breath. "Why would you want my
"We understand," President Clinton continued, " that you are enrolled in a
course on Human Rights."
"Philosophy 19A," says Madeline Albright.
"Yes, Philosophy 19A," says William Cohen.
"We understand," President Clinton continued without missing a beat, "that
you have been giving considerable thought to the question of humanitarian
"Oh," you say, somewhat taken aback by this sudden turn of events, "I
wouldn't say that."
"Oh," says President Clinton, turning to Sandy Berger. "Is there something
wrong with our sources?"
"No, Mr. President," says Sandy Berger, "we have a pretty good information
on this one."
"So," says the President, turning back in your direction, "is this true or is this
"It's true," you confess, looking down at your feet. "But," you say, suddenly
brightening up, "there are others in the class that have been doing a lot more
thinking than I have, a lot, lot more. Perhaps you should talk with one of
"We do not have a lot of time," says William Cohen.
"You've read Michael Walzer's Just and Unjust Wars, no?" asks President
"And you've had a chance to look at the readings in Internatiuonal Ethics
edited by Charles Beitz, in particular David Luban's essay 'On Just War and
Human Rights' as well as Michael Walzer's reply to his critics, 'The Moral
Standing of States?'"
"Yes, more or less."
"And you've had a chance to look at the hand-outs from the class and to do
some of the other reading on the Ethics of Intervention, essays by such
notable authors as Thomas Scanlon, Thomas Buergenthal, and Marc Wicclair
"Yes," you say a bit tentatively, thinking to yourself, "Oh my G __ ! President
Clinton has done all the reading for the course."
"Here's our problem," Says President Clinton, again leaning forward and
looking you in the eye. "My military advisors inform me that NATO cannot
bring about an end to atrocities in Kosovo and the ethnic cleansing and
slaughter of civilians that is reportedly occurring right now on the ground
within that province of the Ferderal Republic of Yugoslavia. We can re-direct
our air power against the Serb forces in Kosovo but we are unlikely, or so I
am now being told, to be able to make more than a One Per Cent (1%) dent
per day in those forces. This has to do, I am told, with the problems we face,
with the terrain and and the fact that we are also having to deal with built-up
areas and the problems we face due to poor weather in the region. We are
therefore not able to do the kind of damage we had hoped to cause from the
air that would lead to a call by Slobodan Milosevic for a cease-fire and a pull-
back of the Serb military, coupled with an agreement to have a NATO
peacekeeping force in Kosovo. NATO and the United States is thus now
faced with having to introduce ground troops into Kosovo to bring about an
end to the human rights abuses that are now being reported."
"I see," you say, somewhat amazed that the President is confiding in you
about these matters.
"Now," the President says as if he has read your mind, "everything I am
telling you is top secret information. You are not to breathe a word of this to
anyone. Nor are you to tell anyone that we were here. Is that clear?
"Yes," you say, "very clear."
"Now," the President says, "we do not want your military advice nor do we
want your opinion about whether or not ethnic cleansing is really taking
place in Kosovo or whether or not there are systematic human rights
violations on the order of crimes against humanity being committed. We
want you to assume that we shall need to introduce ground troops if we have
any hope of there being any Kosovo left to save. We have concluded that if
we continue the bombing that we are now carrying out and even if we re-
direct our targets, there will, in fact, be no Kosovo left to save, once the
fighting is done. In any event we must prepare for every contingency, so we
need your advice. We need your advice on the issue of humanitarian
intervention. We want you to assume that ethnic cleansing is taking place in
Kosovo and that systematic violations of human rights are occurring on a
magnitude that calling them 'crimes against humanity' is not too strong a
word. Is such an intervention in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia justified
if it is carried out solely to bring about an end to the systematic violations of
human rights that are taking place?
Now you know, as we know, that The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia has insisted
that what is happening in Kosovo is a matter of its own domestic jurisdiction,
and that it considers what NATO is doing to be a violation of its, Yugoslavia's,
right to self-determination. The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia also points out
that NATO actions in the Balkans violate international law such as
the Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations
and Cooperation among States in Accordance with the Charter of the United
Nations (adopted by the General Assembly in 1970) which puts forward the
principle that no State or group of States has the right to intervene, directly or
indirectly, for any reason whatever, in the internal or external affairs of any other
State. Consequently, armed intervention and all other forms of interference or
attempted threats against the personality of the State or against its political,
economic and cultural elements, are in violation of international law and this
principle, this Principle of Non-Intervention exists among all States, whether
they are members of the U. N. or NATO or what-have-you.
"We would like you to make an argument for or against humanitarian
intervention in Kosovo, think of the most powerful objections that anyone,
whether it be Slobodan Milosevic or a Professor from the Fletcher School at
Tufts, might make against the argument, and respond to those arguments.
"Surely," you say to yourself, "this must be a dream."
But if it is, it also slowly dawns on you that you shall not wake from this
dream until you answer the President's question.
You have until Friday, April 16, to put down your thoughts on approximately
seven pages of paper, a paper or, as it might better be called "A Report to the
President of the United States on the Arguments For and Against
Humanitarian Intervention in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia." It is due
in Shiffman 219 at Twelve Noon on April 16th, 1999.
You should feel free to make use of the materials Online, such as
the Web materials on Eyewitness Reports to Killings in Kosovo and
Ksovo Human Rights Flashes, information bulletins from Human
HUMAN RIGHTS PAGES
- Human Rights Syllabus (PHIL 19A)
- PHIL 19A Electronic Reserves
- Guide to Human Rights on the Internet
- Quick Links to Human Rights Sites
- Treaties & Conventions
- Multiple Eyewitnesses Confirm Killings in Kosovo
- Human Rights Watch Bulletins on Kosovo
- Macedonia Must Keep Border Open to Refugees
- U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Kosovo Update Speech
- Kosovo's Big Men
- Kosovo Relief Update
- Serbia Info News
- BBC News Kosovo
- NATO latest News
- USIA Kosovo Page
- Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- English translations of B92 News
- Radio B92
- Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
- U.S. Air Force Kosovo Updates
- Ground Forces: Why NATO Says "No"
- Kosovo Crisis In Depth
- BBC News Kosova Crisis Center News Updates
- Kosova Press Latest News
- Serbian Unity Congress News Commentary
- Bro okings Press Conference: What Should NATO Do?
- Get Ready for a Ground War
- U.S. Needs to Consider Ground Forces
- Kosovo Maps
February 14, 1998
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