I've just had an article printed in Entelequia: revista interdisciplinar (no. 2, 2006), a peer-reviewed Spanish interdisciplinary social science journal published by the University of Malaga, on our "humanitarian" policy in East Timor over the last few decades, including the UN intervention of the late 1990s.
Although Australia's military intervention in East Timor in May 2006 raised obvious questions about western humanitarian motives, those of us familiar with the documented record of western interventionism in the region would not be surprised. My Entelequia piece is titled "Humanitarian Intervention in East Timor: A Critical Appraisal", and offers a historically-grounded critique of the idea that what we did in East Timor is "humanitarian" in any meaningful sense of the term. On the contrary, East Timor was the genocidal outcome of imperial logic at its finest.
After exploring a few of the theoretical issues in defining "humanitarian intervention", I apply the theory to the realities of what happened in East Timor in the context of our relations with Indonesia. It's a grim story of how Britain, the United States and Australia aided and abetted acts of genocide against the Timorese people, all the way until the 1999 UN intervention. The willingness of western power to deploy itself in the slaughter of hundreds and thousands of innocent civilians, all in the service of corporate-strategic interests, should not be forgotten. The ability to do so while deploying the mainstream media to effectively generate exactly the opposite simulacra of events, is also hugely instructive.
Our leaders are quite used to portraying imperial genocide as an act of the highest humanitarian benevolence, an institutionalized political habit that betrays the disturbing dark side of western civilization. This global imperial system, which routinely engages in state-terrorism to protect and perpetuate its own operation, is on no moral high ground.
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