19 May 2022


Genocide and US Military Intervention in Other Nations

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Academic level: College

Paper type: Research Paper

Words: 1240

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Since achieving independence from the English Royal crown, the US has been on a mission to be categorized as the most powerful country in the world. It achieved this feat in just a short period of time. Through the use of its military, the US has intervened on various occasions on other countries that experienced civil unrest. In so doing, the US identifies its duty to ensure that human rights are upheld in all regions despite the significant political or social disagreements between its members. Genocide is one of the instances where the US military has a mandate to intervene and prevent further death of innocent men and women. Due to the lack of a supranational government that police the world, the United States undertakes this role as an act of humanitarian intervention. In light of this, the following paper provides significant proof why genocide is a sufficient reason for US military intervention into other countries. Furthermore, it provides an explanation why opposing arguments are not persuasive.

Threshold Condition for Intervention

The proponents of humanitarian intervention identify that significant factors should be occurring before a foreign country can use military force. The proponents for this action identify the severity, scale and suffering affecting human beings as factors of the threshold condition in justifying it. One of the key justifications provided for humanitarian intervention is cases where massive violation of human rights is taking place (Straus, 2013). Usually in such instances, bare survival in civil unrest and minimal liberty seem to affect the people in question. The international Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) report that massive loss of life particularly that threaten genocidal intent provide nations a go-ahead on whether to move along with military force (Straus, 2013). The organization recognizes such actions as brutal to the basic human rights of the citizens of the country. Due to the fact that the government of the country is responsible either fully or partly, it is the mandate of other nations to take up arms and fight on behalf of the suffering individuals. 

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The ICISS provided a report in 2001 following the failures of international organizations and the US in protecting the people of Rwanda. The country in 1994 experienced an extraordinary number of deaths as other acts of abusing human rights were tragically taking place (Straus, 2013). Through the title of the report, Responsibility to Protect, the organization achieves two factors. On one hand, it avoids identifying humanitarian action as efforts by the military while on the other hand it evades approving military action in the name of humanitarianism (Pape, 2012). In this regard, high magnitudes of brutality and terror in a given country would mean that the intervention of foreigners is the only possible action that would enable the rescue of the suffering individuals. Numerous authors and policy makers recognize that mass murder and genocide are special cases of urgent rights that require immediate action. Others will point to other sensitive issues like torture, rape, and being killed as more important than basic rights of food, clothing and shelter. However, the culpability of the government on the events taking place determines whether an external party should intervene.

Just War Theory

As presented above, a specific threshold of conditions along with the government’s culpability help in justifying the moral intent of humanitarian intervention. However, a paradox is experienced in identifying the use of violent force as a measure of saving the lives of many people. In this case, the affected nations are analogous to persons where ethics and laws allow an individual to incorporate deadly force as a response to imminent threat. This analogy does not matter whether the endangered persons are relatives or strangers a state has the right to incorporate self-defense when attacked and further protect others who may be vulnerable to similar attacks (Clark, 2015). This practice has been employed by the US on numerous occasions in an attempt to uphold human rights and prevent tyrannical leaders from overstepping their powers. Such actions are considered benevolent as they help protect those with no defense. 

According to the just war theory, the jus ad bellum framework identifies numerous factors that should be considered in justifying war. There are a total of six factors to reflect on before recognizing war as a just cause. Consequentialist requirements include proportionality, probability of success and last resort which are three of the ad bellum factors. For instance, it is required that war is employed only as a last resort where all possible actions cannot effectively put an end to the violations of human rights (Pape, 2012). The probability of success looks to determine that the primary goals of the war are likely to be achieved by waging war. Proportionality attempts to ensure that the consequences do not overshadow the benefits realized. The other three considerations include right authority, just cause and right intention forming the deontological reasoning. The ad bellum framework hence depicts that the US is responsible for undertaking the humanitarian intervention with “just cause” as a central justification to using military force.

Argument against Military Intervention

Over the course of the 20th Century, the US military has played a major role in protecting the lives of the defenseless regardless of their geographical location. However, there are numerous people that identify the actions of the US as immoral and unjustified. The principle of using genocide as a justification for undertaking humanitarian intervention is recognized as a hypocritical action. According to a report by Kelly (2013), the US was built on the foundation of genocide whereby it eliminated the natives in an effort to successfully build its community. This practice was prevalent particularly in settling colonial societies (Clark, 2015). The behavior according to the author has not been eliminated but merely transformed as millions of innocent individuals die in the operations (Chesterman, 2011). This article identifies the global leader as a bully on weaker countries where it uses aggressive action against a country and passes it as its “responsibility to protect”. 

This argument by Kelly on one hand is correct in stating that the US has been involved in numerous actions of terror and brutal murder. In the case, of attacks to Iraq among other Middle Eastern countries, its military intervention usually has had little justification. It also failed to follow protocol in the rules of engagement as soldiers put lives of civilians in danger. However, it would be incorrect to state that the genocide is not a good enough reason for humanitarian intervention (Straus, 2013). This argument is best depicted by the case of the Rwandan genocide. Nearly one million people were brutally murdered in an ethnic battle between the Hutus and the Tutsis within a span of three months. The US suffered significant criticism for its failure to deploy adequate peace officers to put an end to the genocide. Many more individuals suffered from torture, rape and loss of human dignity due to the treatment they encountered (Straus, 2013). It serves as a basic reminder that no foreign country should watch as another experience such severe cases of violating human rights.


Genocide is depicted as sufficient reason for US military intervention whereby its use serves as a significant measure of protecting those who cannot protect themselves. The ICISS has provided countries around the world with a threshold of determining whether it is morally justified to use deadly force. Satisfying these threshold conditions will ensure that the country conducts an accurate assessment of the situation before waging war. The Just War theory is also another factor that gives the US military a green light in forceful intervention. The country considers six factors before using deadly force. However, the argument that US has been built on the basis of genocide is incorrect as it identifies that other human beings should continue dying when ruthless leaders overstep their powers. 


Chesterman, S. (2011). “Leading from Behind”: The Responsibility to Protect, the Obama Doctrine, and Humanitarian Intervention after Libya. Ethics & International Affairs , 25(03), 279-285.

Clark, N. (2015, Mar 30) Causing genocide to protect us from terror . RT, Retrieved from https://www.rt.com/op-edge/245217-us-war-terror-casualties-genocide/ 

Kelly, K. (2013, September 28) The United States of Genocide: Putting the US on Trial for Genocide Against the Peoples of Korea, Laos, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Iraq, and Elsewhere . Global Research, Retrieved from http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-united-states-of-genocide-putting-the-us-on-trial-for-genocide-against-the-peoples-of-korea-laos-viet-nam-cambodia-iraq-and-elsewhere/5352227 

Pape, R. A. (2012). When duty calls: a pragmatic standard of humanitarian intervention. International Security , 37(1), 41-80.

Straus, S. (2013). The order of genocide: Race, power, and war in Rwanda . New York: Cornell University Press.

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