Intervention and Interventions

Courtesy Reuters

AT THE close of his career Talleyrand observed to his friends in London that he had finally reached the conclusion that "intervention" and "nonintervention" were "practically synonymous."

There is more than a superficial similarity between the state of affairs existing in the year 1833, when Talleyrand startled his English admirers, and that prevailing in this year of grace 1947. The major Powers loudly protest their respect for the sovereignty of weaker nations and vehemently decry any measures that seem to infringe their rights. Yet now, as then, it is notorious that in practice the lesser states are being subjected to every variety of intervention in their sovereign concerns whenever a major Power believes it can thereby serve its own interests.

Confusion worse confounded is enshrouding the thinking of an increasing number of people in the western democracies. Here in the United States there seems no longer to be any general regard for the moral values upon which the doctrine of nonintervention has been based. We seem to be oblivious of the fact that the Atlantic Charter, the Charter of the United Nations, the treaties upon which the inter-American system rests, and the official pronouncements of the objectives sought by the United States in the Second World War, obligate this Government and other governments to respect the sovereignty and independence of all nations great or small, as well as the inherent right of all free peoples to self-determination, and that intervention in the national concerns of any other state is a violation of those basic obligations. "Intervention" seems again to be becoming almost synonymous with "nonintervention."

Hall gives a precise definition of the term "intervention" in his "International Law:"

Intervention takes place when a state intervenes in the relations of two other states without the consent of both or either of them, or when it intervenes in the domestic affairs of another state, irrespective of the will of the latter, for the purpose of either maintaining or altering the actual conditions of things within

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