The Arab Spring, which started in 2010 and affected the countries of the Arabian world, was a major political event that drew the attention of the entire planet. In our paper, we will look into issues that were to be considered in the process of forming a political reaction of the USA to this situation, and think over factors which might possibly justify a military intervention in such circumstances.
Factors to be considered while formulating a foreign policy response to the Arab Spring
President Obama once stated that there were a number of factors to be taken into account while formulating the American foreign policy towards the Arab Spring (as cited in Keiswetter, 2012, para. 16). These factors are: countering possible terrorism and the threat of production of nuclear weapons; making certain that the peace is upheld in the region; defending Israel’s safety and promoting peace between this country and the Arabic world; and supporting the possibility of international trade.
The President also stressed the importance of such issues as standing up against violence and repressions towards people; advocating universal human rights, such as non-discrimination, gender equality, and freedom of speech; supporting people’s right to choose authorities; and promoting political and economical reforms that would satisfy the needs of people.
It is important to point out that, while the first set of issues is directly related to the safety of the United States (and many other countries), the second one is of essence not only for local people from the social point of view, but for the USA from the economic perspective, for, as Keiswetter (2012) observes, democratic countries usually prove to be much more reliable partners (para. 1).
It is stated that the leverage of the U.S. in the region was limited; therefore, it was at most possible to stand for the democratic elements which caused the Arab Spring by establishing non-government organizations which would provide humanitarian help, medical support and education for the local population (“United States security interests”, 2012, p. 52).
On the other hand, we would like to note that promoting tough international economic and political sanctions against the governments which used or threatened to use violence and aggression was also a possibility, because the more countries of the world would have been involved in such sanctions, the less opportunities for these government would have been present.
Conditions to be present to support military intervention
In our opinion, only the most crucial and threatening conditions could justify a military intervention. These conditions include a possible full-scale war, production of nuclear weapons by governments that are probable to use it, and a real threat of terrorism. In other words, the only acceptable excuse for hostilities is a certainty that these hostilities will eventually result in death of a smaller number of people than any other means will. It is our belief that economic considerations cannot justify military intervention.
Of course, this plain principle is, in fact, very difficult to realize, for usually it is impossible to unequivocally estimate all the possible outcomes not only due to the lack of information, but also because a simple chance can lead to unpredictable results in both cases.
As Peters (2007) points out, the peace in modern world is perhaps a fragile phenomenon if we take into account e.g. the abundance of various weapons (including chemical, biological, and nuclear) and the willingness of some countries to use them (The Environment of Defense Policy section, para. 7). Therefore, such crucial decisions should only be made after assessing all the implications, including the possibility of the intervention causing a full-scale war.
Therefore, while choosing a political response to the Arabic Spring, it was important to consider the factors that could lead to the disturbance of international peace, as well as those ones that would lead to exacerbation of social and political situation in the region. Both types of factors are of direct concern to the USA. However, the reply to such events should be careful; the usage of military force is only rarely justified and can always lead to unpredictable results.
Keiswetter, A. L. (2012). The Arab Spring: Implications for US policy and interests.
Peters, B. G. (2007). Chapter 14: Protective policies: Defense and law enforcement. In Peters, B. G., American public policy: Promise and performance (7th ed.) (n.pag.). [APUS Library version].
United States security interests, the Arab Spring, and Iran. (2012). American Foreign Policy Interests, 34(1), 52-53. doi:10.1080/10803920.2012.653722