Peace missions, missions to protect the economic activity
The military intervention in Afghanistan took place after the attacks of 11S in 2001. Both the USA and the UK government’s explained the intervention claiming it was a legitimate right to self-defense, this meaning that the country is invaded in response to the attacks. This has been its legal coverage. This is a debatable justification given that the USA has not suffered from an armed attack but from a terrorist attack. Al-Qaeda carried out the attack and was supported by the Taliban government in Afghanistan. To this substantial reasoning is added that the legitimate right to self- defense must respect the criterion of proportionality, which obviously is not being done. This war has been going on for 12 years and has extended to all the country’s territory and it is recorded that throughout this period serious human rights violations have been going on. This makes the legality of such intervention a dubious topic.
The real reasons of the USA to intervene were of geopolitical nature, Afghanistan borders with Iran and Pakistan, near China, India and Russia. Near the main hydrocarbon reserves, the Persian Gulf, the Caspian Sea and very near Central Asia, where it had no military bases and is the most important economic expansion zone in the world. The intervention favors the particular interests of the arms manufacturer companies (the Afghan government received weapons from the USA worth 11.400 million dollars between 2006 and 2008 when its GDP does not go beyond 8.400 million dollars), of military service companies, of private security companies and of extractive companies (the country has mineral resources). Other reasons mentioned by the US government were the fight against drugs and terrorism, and the improvement of the people’s situation. We can say that these objectives have not been met, drug cultivation between 2000 and 2009 has doubled, the suicide attacks are unrelenting, there has been a proliferation of armed groups, the poverty situation has worsened and the life expectancy in 2008 was of 44.6 years.
The Spanish government gives two reasons to its involvement in the invasion with troops: to guarantee both humanitarian aid and security of the Spanish people and of the world.
“The fundamental approach and purpose still are the commitment with the humanitarian aid work and the reconstruction, as well as the protection of both and in second place, the support for security and the political and institutional development of Afghanistan and of its own proper security structures” (José Antonio Alonso, 2007 Minister for Defense). “Our participation is the result,... of our commitment with the allies and the Afghan peoples, but also backs up the existence of a real threat for security of all the Spanish,” (Carmen Chacón, 2008 Minister for Defense). “We are still there to prevent extreme terrorism from taking over Afghanistan and we will still be there to prevent this terror from shaking again our peoples” (Jose L. Rodriguez Zapatero, 2010).
The current operational matters in Somalia have the legal coverage of the removals 1816 and 1815 of the UN Security Council, with the aim to protect the humanitarian aid supply in Somalia and to protect the commercial and navigation international maritime routes of the zone. These resolutions enable the states to take the necessary measures, including military measures, to act against piracy.
Enshrined by these resolutions, the EU has established the Operation Atalanta, provided with 6 military ships, 4 patrol aircrafts, 8 helicopters and 1.500 soldiers, the USA leads the Combined Task Force 151 with the aim to fight against terrorism and piracy; the NATO is present through Operation Allied Protector, that patrols the east of the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, with monitoring and deterrence functions. Spain participates in the Operation Atalanta with a maximum of 395 soldiers, one frigate, one ship and one patrol airplane.
After the hijack of two Spanish fishing boats, the government authorized, trained and defrayed 50% of the costs, for the tuna fishing boats of capital or Spanish flag to hire private security services and that these companies use heavy weapons. Spain is the second world’s large producer of canned tuna and the first of the EU, in 2009 it produced 698 millions of euro in canned tuna. The EU spends 150 millions of euro every year so that the European ships can access fishing grounds in these coasts.
These military missions do not control the legality of fishing, they do not control if the fishing boats invade territorial waters and fish illegally in non-authorized fishing grounds or fish more tons that the ones that have been negotiated; this is not their mission, their main mission is to ensure the commercial route, to ensure the transport of resources. Through the Gulf of Aden circulate 22.000 ships every year, 8% of world commerce and 12% of petrol maritime transport. It is the route that connects Europe and Asia, especially with China.
We could go on commenting on the military interventions about Iraq, Libya or the threats of intervention about Syria. In all of them we can find common links. The Legal Coverage of the United Nations is pursued, it never intervened in Iraq, even though with time it is demonstrated that the resolution did not enshrine many of the events. In the eyes of public opinion it defends such interventions by saying it protects a citizenship that suffers from the political abuse of its rulers, thus, they are claimed as humanitarian reasons. With time it has been confirmed that the reasons of substance have been geopolitical, that some sectors of the economy, of the attacking countries, will benefit from such intervention, that the countries where there has been intervention have gone backwards in every essential indicator for life, the GDP, the life expectancy, the level of access to education, the healthcare, etc and the security levels have worsened. The interventions have made the rulers lose the political power that supported them and have left a country embroiled in internal armed battles for power-sharing, thus, in a situation where it is impossible to govern or in an unsuccessful situation.
Member of Centre Delàs (Justice and Peace of Barcelona) Ex vice-president of Justice and Peace of Spain