It is common for aggressors to adopt humanitarian pretexts to justify their acts of aggression, the reason they do this is because the real ideologies and ideas that motivate military aggression are often extremely unpleasant, if governments were to say, for example, that they were sending over forces to attack other countries to enrich themselves further by grabbing what the others have or that they wish to establish a permanent military presence in a region and control the fates of the governments and the people of the region it would make them look bad. When Hitler attacked and occupied Austria, his stated justification for doing so was to protect the rights of the Sudeten German population of Austria (Barnett, 1989).
In perusing a policy of war it is common for nations to engage in vilification of the enemy by casting the enemy as a force of evil, guilty of the most outrageous acts, once the enemy is seen as evil, the campaign against them can be seen as a moral crusade. One of the common themes of modern propaganda involves identification of the military campaign as a campaign for the rights of the children. Those opposed to the war can then be cast as ‘enemies of children’. For example in the first Iraq war, the daughter of the Kuwaiti Ambassador to the United States appeared before the congress as the nurse ‘Nayirah’ testifying how she witnessed the Iraqi forces throw premature babies out of incubators (an incident that never happened) (Secunda & Moran, 2007).
In the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Palestinian resistance groups are often one-sidedly targeted by western propaganda painting them as violators of human rights who coerce children into fighting for their cause. However, Israeli forces themselves try to coerce Palestinian children into becoming spies and informants; moreover the Israeli occupation sees little difference between children and adults. Sixteen year old Palestinians are charged and treated as adults by the occupation whereas Jews of the same age are considered children (Shomaly, 2004).
Military interventions are often championed by ethnic or ideological minorities of a region that have gained asylum or have otherwise immigrated to the West. The advocacy of war may often have little to do with their stated humanitarian objectives but may be borne of their hatred of their ethnic or ideological enemies. For example, in the US, the Cuban, anti-Castro exiles in Miami are the main advocates for the continued sanctions on the country despite the fact that these sanctions are the cause of much hardship for the common people of Cuba, whose rights the exile leadership claims to work for (Zebich-Knos & Nichol, 2005).
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