When I read of the tragedy unfolding in Syria, the intense suffering in Central Africa, the mind-numbing poverty and starvation in Sudan, the cruelties in North Korea and the violence around the globe, I have to wonder – what do we do (collectively or individually)? When it comes to this mind-boggling conundrum, there are two choices: do nothing or do something.
In the “do something” realm, I thought about the options. And I thought I would complile a list. To ponder what kind of “something” might serve. Regrettably, there are not many possibilities:
Military Intervention – Always an option but never a very good one
Political Intervention – Getting involved in the local political process (nearly as bad as the military option unless it’s political “pressuring”)
Humanitarian – The “biggee.” Supporting with time, talent or funds those organizations which provide food, shelter, medical assistance, education and support for the oppressed
Prayer – Always an option with no downside
Mobilizing Others – This includes just “spreading the word” about the issues. Raising awareness. Encouraging involvement. Raising the prospects of meaningful contribution by our brethren (mainly in the “Humanitarian” area). Lobbying
In Walter Lippmann’s classic work American Foreign Policy, he spoke of how in foreign policy the United States should be motivated only by “national interest” (see post of 5/3/12). But is there a “national interest” in intervening in such situations? Can a pressing humanitarian urgency trump national interest? Actually, I see no inconsistency between the two except possibly in cases where national sovereignty is perceived as threatened (like North Korea). Yet there is a clear limit on what we can undertake – and accomplish. I’d be interested in your “take” on what – if anything – “we” should do. Or what more we can do. As individuals. Or as nations.