Vive Charlie Issue 19 - Page 54

Julie Lenarz is the Executive Director of the Human Security Centre and served as a Principle Consultant to The European Parliament Intergroup on the Freedom of Religion or Belief, and Religious Tolerance.


The Consequences Of Inaction Are Intervention’s Greatest Proponent

by Julie Lenarz

It is no secret that the climate in the West is quite hostile towards any type of military intervention, mainly as a result of the long and bloody conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq over the last decade.

It is irritating and frustrating to find yourselves the recipient of every demand, to be called upon in every crisis, and to always be expected to get involved everywhere. Intervention is an extremely delicate matter and it is only fair to appreciate the complexity of it.

There are many blurred lines. There are many grey zones. Action has consequences. But so has inaction. The consequences of inaction must not be neglected, ignored or forgotten, for they can sometimes have consequences even more devastating than the choice to take action.

The nature of war has significantly changed since the days of the great wars. Nowadays, we often find ourselves at war not with countries, but with groups which operate in ungoverned spaces, where anarchy and extremism have been left to fester unchallenged and where violence against innocent civilians becomes a daily occurrence without consequence or punishment. This is a trend that will only intensify and which we do not have the luxury of ignoring.

When we debate the question of war, it is of utmost importance to remember the many different types of interventions. You cannot compare a full-scale invasion of the kind we have seen in Iraq and Afghanistan to our intervention in Libya. Or to the air campaign currently being undertaken in Iraq and Syria. These are very much ‘apples and oranges’.