Can you justify cross-border interventions?

Look around the world, and this issue is playing out again and again – most recently in Ecuador, Somalia and Gaza this week, on an ongoing basis in Iraq, Afghanistan, and DR Congo to name but three examples.

Just today, the leaders of Ecuador and Venezuela have called for clear international condemnation of Colombia for its raid against rebels inside Ecuador. If FARC were operating in Ecuador, does Colombia deserve to be condemned?

What about America in Iraq and Afghanistan? Turkey in Iraq? Israel in Gaza? Ethiopia in Somalia? I could go on. Does a perceived or actual threat justify cross-border intervention?

Does your nation have every justification to do whatever it can to protect you and your fellow citizens – including crossing borders to deal with a threat to your security?

Should any such action go through the United Nations? Or do some situations demand unilateral and immediate intervention, regardless of international law and convention?


Colombia into Ecuador

America and Ethiopia in Somalia

Turkey into Iraq

Israel into Gaza
Now I know that Gaza is a territory not a country but many of the principles of this discussion apply here.

Rwanda into DR Congo

America, the UK and others in Iraq

America, the UK and others in Afghanistan

74 Responses to “Can you justify cross-border interventions?”

  1. March 6, 2008 at 14:04

    Hello Ros,

    I think your list may invite people to say: “Yes, of course such interventions are justified because we should be allowed to fight terrorists.”

    So, perhaps you should make your list just a little longer and include the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Hezbollah’s brief incursion into Israel in which they captured two Israeli soldiers, Palestinians from Gaza capturing an Israeli soldier…

  2. 2 Xie_Ming
    March 6, 2008 at 14:17

    The recent murder of a Russian defector in London was a “cross-border intervention”. Such actions are specifically authorized by Russian law.

    Israeli law calls for the international murder of those who may represent a threat to Jews.

    Capture and “rendition” by the Americans have been commented on.

    This sort of activity is not new in history. It represents a regression away from any international rule of law.

    The fundamental choice for civilization is between an approach to universal law and an eventually fatal “law of the jungle”.

  3. March 6, 2008 at 14:25

    Yes, I support cross border to keep us safe in the Us, and I do not mind the Us doing unilateral and immediate intervention, regardless of international law and convention. The world has become dangerous with these terrorists. I am grateful for President Bush.

  4. 4 steve
    March 6, 2008 at 14:33

    Xie_Ming, can you provide some proof of your claim that says that “Israeli law calls for the international murder of those who may present a threat to jews” without linking us to a white supremacist, islamist, or anti semitic website? I bet you cannot. So please don’t make up baseless claims, and then say you aren’t an antisemite, you just don’t like Israel.

  5. 5 KWS
    March 6, 2008 at 14:43

    No. Have we not learnt from history. Without clear international rules, equally applied to everyone, there will be chaos. We has suffered through 2 world wars and the UN was created to prevent this from ever happening again.

    I am sorry to say that this is a result of US internatioanl policy, attitude to the UN and its power as a perminent member of the UN security council. The US has openly and unilaterally conducted many raids into foreign countries but can never be openly condemed by the UN security council because of it position.

    It is obvious then to the world that these international laws have no real meaning if it can’t be applied fairly. Thus, Columbia feel it has a right to cross the bourder into Ecuador to persue terrorist. No need to ask permission or politely inform the Equadorian president as intrnational diplomany and protocal might mandate. After all, the US has done so in the past and Columbia is a friend to the US.

    Then why should anyone follow any of the UN rules or international law. Why should Iran disclose its nuclear ambitions. What laws has it broken, International laws, UN resolutions. Seriously, the US has made the UN rules and regulations a big joke.

    So many be I should change my answer to yes, you can justify cross bourder intervention. Ultimately what real enforcable rules have been broken. If Equador is upset, let them fight its out. It is their problem, Maybe we need a World War 3 for the nations of the world to finally come to its senses and realise we are all citizens of 1 planet and everyone, in every counrty need to be treated equally.

  6. 6 Evan
    March 6, 2008 at 15:02

    It seems all but ridiculous to suggest it is not valid to do so. The exception of course is in being an aggressor… that is you must have a cassus belli against said nation.
    If one nation cannot control the militant activities within its own borders, than it leaves itself open to the attacks of opposing forces.
    Israel withdrew from Gaza, gaza became a platform for rocket attacks, therefore Israel gained Cassus Belli. Al qaeda attacked america, the taliban either controlled or were compicit in said attacks through relations to give america a Casus belli.
    In the recent arguments over columbia etc… Meddling in the affairs of a civil war, or at least being unable to protect your borders from becoming a safe haven and part of said civil war gives a casus belli to the opposing force.
    Essentially… if you can’t protect your borders, prepare to have them violated, by a nation, criminals, or terrorists. That is, and always has been, the rule of international relations.

  7. 7 zainab
    March 6, 2008 at 15:09

    hi Ros and everyone,
    well,during Saddam’s period, Iraq was considered a threat to his neighbour, through cross-border intervention, i mean when Saddam invaded Kewait.

    now the situation is turned upside down, Iraq is the goal of whoever wants to show his military power. America, Turkey, Iran…etc, taking terrorism as a pretext to enter our Land.
    While in Fact “terrorism” has come with/from them, to us. They just want to settle old accounts between each other.

  8. 8 VictorK
    March 6, 2008 at 15:52

    Can war ever be justified? Yes.Therefore the lesser phenomenon of ‘cross-border interventions’ is also justified, as it falls within the general heading of warfare.

    The UN is not fit to be a player in these situation on account of its institutional bias against the West, its impotence as a military and diplomatic force, and the presence on the Security Council of two semi-civilised regimes, one of which has illegally occupied another country for more than 50 years while the other has committed crimes against humanity on a colossal scale in Chechnya (though these never attract any attention because the perpetrator is not the US or some other Western state).

    Ecuador is in collusion with the FARC. It’s government should be grateful that it suffered a mere incursion and wasn’t toppled as it deserves.

    The US was right to intervene in IRaq and Afghanistan and wrong to remain in both places as an occupier. Bush the first showed how these things should be done. His neocon advisers have misled Bush II into twin disasters.

    The Israelis are giving the Palestinians a sharp and much-needed lesson in the operation of the law of cause and effect: if you elect a terrorist government you shouldn’t be surprised when you are subjected to wholesale anti-terrorist measures. Perhaps they will cast their votes more responsibly next time.

    The Turkish intervention is perfectly in order given the activities of the PKK terrorists.

    Somalia is a failed state dominated by ‘Islamist’ lunatics. Both the Ethiopians and Americans had legitimate concerns to justify their intervention (really, Ethiopian intervention, but the Bush-haters are determined to exaggerate the significance of the American role).

    The Rwandan presence in DR Congo is more suspect. They are just as likely to be interested in stealing Congo’s vast mineral wealth as they are in fighting rebels/terrorists. But Evan’s post made the point very well: if you can’t control things in your own country that affect outsiders then the chances are that outsiders will intervene to do the job for you.

  9. 9 Ros Atkins
    March 6, 2008 at 16:08

    Hi Ros.

    On the matter of cross border interventions, I would have to say that those who can, do it, and those who can’t, complain.

    I find the Ecuador/Columbia intervention interesting. On the one hand, I expect Ecuador to publicly condemn Columbia’s action, but the silence about FARC operating on Ecuadorian soil is odd. Ecuador’s Minister of Defense expressed outrage about the intervention, but treated the wounded Mexican FARC member as if she were some sort of victim. Wouldn’t it be more consistent to express outrage about Ecuador’s soil was being invaded by both parties?

    I lived in Ecuador when I was in the Peace Corps, and I have to say that one of the nice things about Ecuador is that the people have the common sense not to foster destructive, “revolutionary” groups like the Sendero Luminoso, ELN, FARC and others of their ilk.

  10. 10 Miche Norman
    March 6, 2008 at 16:18

    I would suggest that the 2000 rockets fired in the last two years at Sderot’s schools, the power station that supplies Gaza with Electricity are all examples of cross border intervention by the terrorists in Gaza in their war against Israel and their desparate battle to avoid the establishment of a Palestinian State. 8,000 rockets have now been fired by an organization whose stated aim is to liberate holy Islamic soil from the crusaders. No other country in the world would have shown the restraint that Israel has – Prince Harry has just got back from Afghanistan – what exactly did the afghans do to the british – how many rockets were fired at London?

  11. 11 steve
    March 6, 2008 at 16:23

    Miche Norman: There’s a double standard. We all must closely scrutize everything israel does, ignore every other world event, and then blame israel for Hamas launching rockets at israel, and then tell israel they aren’t allowed to retaliate, and then whine about propoertionately if Israel retaliates because not enough Jews have been getting killed. Then we have to whine about how Israel is committing “genocide” for responding to hamas rockets, and ignore what’s going on in Darfur because the Jews aren’t doing it.

  12. 12 Ros Atkins
    March 6, 2008 at 16:24

    From Kwabena in Ghana:
    I believe every nation should go any lenght to protect its citizens including breaching boarders,but there is a problem when such interventions are abused and used to promote the selfish interest of the intervening states govts, as we saw in the DRC. I think columbia did the right thing. Israel has gone too far in gaza.

  13. 13 Andre
    March 6, 2008 at 16:30

    I think that there are some exceptional cases in which cross-border actions can be condoned. That said, you are quite correct when you point out that most of the modern day interventions (USA in Iraq, USA in Somalia and Ethiopia in Eritreia are unjustified whether you examine them under international law or “imminent catastrophic threat” criteria.

    I have no problem with the US invasion of Afghanistan. The attacks on the World Trade Towers, the Pentagon and the destruction of four commercial aircraft with the loss of all crew and passengers fully justified the attack upon Afghanistan. The Taliban government that ruled Afghanistan at that time gave open protection and sanctuary to Osama bin Laden and members of his terrorist group. They rejected the US ultimatum to hand over the perpetrators on a hideous, unprecedented and unjustifiable mass killing. In short, they (the Taliban government of Afghanistan), chose to support and assist Al Qaeda in a surprise attack on the USA. This legitimized “any means necessary” to topple the government and pacify the country.

    I also believe that Israel is also justified in its retaliation against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Hamas controls the area but has made no attempt to stop the daily firing of Quassam rockets into southern Israel. It would be madness for the Israelis to try and conduct “peace talks” under such conditions. (If I were Prime Minister Olmert, I daresay that I would have completely stopped the flow of fuel to the Gaza Strip until Hamas agreed to a full ceasefire).

    The trouble the United Nations is that its procedures are slow, ponderous and easily blocked or manipulated by parties who have no stake in the outcome of a conflict. For example, do the Russians or the Chinese really care if Israel is shelled every day? Would Venezuela, Cuba or Iran have voted to “let America defend itself” against the Taliban?

    Which nation, with the capacity to defend itself, is going to allow its citizens to be killed, wounded and suffer grave economic losses to give the U.N. time to come out with a watered-down condemnation resolution that authorizes nothing. Does anyone remember how long the resolution authorizing the use of force for the Gulf War took to be authorized?

    Well, Kuwait was invaded by Iraq on August 2nd, 1990 and the resolution that authorized “all necessary means” to restore peace and security in the area was not passed until November 29, 1990 (http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/18076.pdf).

    My point is that the U.N.’s response is far too slow and too dependent on a few nation states to supply the troops to implement a resolution. No self-respecting country with any type of retaliatory capacity is going to wait on the U.N. to authorize military actions to protect its security. Therefore, we have to accept that some cross-border interventions will occur and their justification will not be found not so much in international law but more in the “law of natural self-defense”.

  14. 14 Anthony
    March 6, 2008 at 16:43

    You can justify it. If Mexico comes to the U.S. tracking someone down then there would be a huge problem, but if we were to do the same, what could Mexico really do? It depends on how powerful your county is, and how weak the country your invading is, and visa versa. Thats just the way things are.

    -Anthony Estrada, LA, CA

  15. 15 Ros Atkins
    March 6, 2008 at 16:55

    Hi Ros,
    Nice to know you are back. Hi to Peter, Martin, Ben, James Harold, Chloe, Rabia and the rest of the team.
    Nice to know Lubna is also with us on earth.
    The world system as it operates now through the UN and other international institutions need a massive overhaul now. We need to have a redefintion of what sovereignty is and means.
    I am not and will never be anti american but i will want to say that, though nations used to violate the sovereignty of others in the past, this behavour has only become more profound and common due to the American invasion of Iraq. America did this without international consensus and this has made all other nations believe that, if America was allowed, why not them. The Americans argue that they did it for their national security, hence , all others argue same.
    We should redefine what sovereignty means in the 21st century. After that, all nations including USA must abide by this definition otherwise we risk another world war!

    Accra, Ghana.

  16. 16 Nick,Kenya
    March 6, 2008 at 16:56

    I really do not agree with you Ros. There is a reason why boundaries are made, and they should remain so: Boundaries. By Countries forgetting where their colonies end and where others begin, as Colombia did, it means that if such a thing is left unresolved, then the next thing we will see is countries going through border s arresting people and demanding taxes. Then another Gaza stuff will definitely be on the offing.

  17. 17 steve
    March 6, 2008 at 17:12


    “Hamas controls the area but has made no attempt to stop the daily firing of Quassam rockets into southern Israel. It would be madness for the Israelis to try and conduct “peace talks” under such conditions. (If I were Prime Minister Olmert, I daresay that I would have completely stopped the flow of fuel to the Gaza Strip until Hamas agreed to a full ceasefire).”

    It’s not that Hamas has made no attempt to stop daily rocket fire, HAMAS IS FIRING THOSE ROCKETS! That’s the government of Gaza. It’s an act of war, and Israel is fully justified in doing whatever it takes to get the rocket fire to stop. Any other country would do it. If Mexico rocketed the US, if Mexican forces were launching rockets, Mexico would be a crater now. That Israel is not allowed to even retaliate shows the double standards the world has, where Jews are supposed to sit back and let themselves get killed.

  18. 18 Xie_Ming
    March 6, 2008 at 17:15

    The Israeli Cabinet gave Meir Dagan, MOSSAD chief, the responsiblity for broadly expanded international assassinations, including with the USA. Israeli diplomats confirmed this. See Google.

    “By Richard Sale
    UPI Intelligence Correspondent

    Israel is embarking upon a more aggressive approach to the war on terror that will include staging targeted killings in the United States and other friendly countries, former Israeli intelligence officials told United Press International.

    Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has forbidden the practice until now, these sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

    The Israeli statements were confirmed by more than a half dozen U.S. foreign policy and intelligence officials in interviews with UPI.

    With the appointment of Meir Dagan, the new director Israel’s Mossad secret intelligence service, Sharon is also preparing “a huge budget” increase for the spy agency as part of “a tougher stance in fighting global jihad (or holy war),” one Israeli official said.

    Since Sharon became Israeli prime minister, Tel Aviv has mainly limited its practice of targeted killings to the West Bank and Gaza because “no one wanted such operations on their territory,” a former Israeli intelligence official said.

    Another former Israeli government official said that under Sharon, “diplomatic constraints have prevented the Mossad from carrying out ‘preventive operations’ (targeted killings) on the soil of friendly countries until now.” …

  19. 19 John in Salem
    March 6, 2008 at 17:30

    Invading a foreign nation under the pretext of national security was one of the founding principles of the first city-states 6,000 years ago.
    Kinda makes you wonder about the definition of “civilization”, doesn’t it?

  20. 20 Brett
    March 6, 2008 at 17:31

    Here is the way the world views this topic (or at least what actions suggest):

    It is OK for cross-boarder interventions on countries which are smaller and weaker; But it is not OK for weaker countries to intervene in larger more powerful countries (because that, of course, would be viewed as an agression).

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  21. 21 Ros Atkins
    March 6, 2008 at 17:36

    Hello Ros,

    I am deeply concerned about this issue of cross border raids. It is unjstifiable under any guise. The resurgence of such acts is highly condemnable as its reduces the influnce of the united nations to that of a mere paper tiger.

    It is unfortunate that where ever such acts plays out, the shadow of the United States shows its monstrous gaze. America has set very bad precedents and now any country can invade the other over minor squabbles.

    The United Nations should come out with a position condemning such actions, else our world will be worse for it.

    Henry from Nigeria

  22. 22 Deo Byaruhanga
    March 6, 2008 at 17:51

    As a Ugandan, I have not witnessed a situation where the invasion of one country under the guise of bringing peace has worked. When Tanzania invaded Uganda to remove Idi Amin, what followed was untold suffering under the TPDF and UNLF trigger happy soldiers and the reign of terror of the installed Apollo Milton Obote. When Uganda invaded rwanda, the ethnic tensions escallated to record highs. The invasion of the DRC by Uganda and other countries after the downfall of Mobutu only witnessed the emergence of war lords and looting of the country’s resources. Sudan and Chad have treaded blows each invading the other to suppress rebels, the grass has suffered. Ethiopia recently invaded Somalia and the results speak for themeselves. In short, invasions only benefit opportunists who rely on the gun to survive

    Deo Byaruhanga Uganda

  23. 23 Dictatore Generale Max Maximilian Maximus I
    March 6, 2008 at 17:55

    Here is my comment to the HYS 500-character debate:

    Added: Monday, 3 March, 2008, 06:20 GMT 06:20 UK

    FARC releases hostages & Reyes is killed!!

    Those who work with USA will ONLY work FOR USA’s agenda. Recent history is littered with such events.

    The current issue is NOT cocaine or FARC in Colombia. It’s the slew of so called anti-US, left wing leaders in Latin America. The war on drugs will be & is being used as a smokescreen to tackle the biggest thorn in USA’s side: Hugo Chavez!

    So often we forget Newton: “For every action there is an equal & opposite reaction”!! Watch out for it!!

    [MaxMaxmilianMaximusI], Indian Caesar in, Singapore

    The FARC was created in 1964 after Gaitan was assassinated. If it got into drugs it was at a much later date. The right-wing paramilitaries (who allegedly work very closely with the powers that be in Colombia) have also been allegedly involved in drug trafficking.

    Cross-border intervention is a very complicated matter. Honestly, with just extempore writing, I could write for the next 24 hours with a multiplicity of examples. I’ll keep it short instead:

    There is an English saying Your liberty ends where my nose begins. A very pithy and apt statement BUT even this can be interpreted to suit either the ‘for’ side or the ‘against’ side of the cross-border intervention dilemma.

    The key is DO we want to honestly, ethically, morally, in spirit and in letter, in precept & in practice WANT to follow a set of commonly agreed rules – international law – in this case?

    My opinion & observation is: NO!

    USA & the erstwhile USSR have wantonly violated international law when they wanted to. So have other powers historically.

    What never ceases to amaze me is that the human animal evolves to the extent that it can wear clothes. It subsequently decides to clothe its pet dogs & chimps too! However, it then arrogantly assumes that due to these achievements & some more significant ones it has a firm understanding & control of the Universe or at the very least the planet Earth!

    What a self-deluding species the human animal is!

    See you guys later! (I have to go & refresh myself with some reading of Friedrich Nietzsche & some ancient Vedas & Upanishads stuff!)

  24. 24 KWS
    March 6, 2008 at 17:55

    I think my friend from Ghana understands my point. Yes the UN need to be overhauled. If it truly wants to follow democratic principles then there should be not permanent members on the Security Council with Vito power. Not everyone may agree with the invasions of Iraq, but if the majority voted then the war would be authorised. Western countries help create the UN and all the rule and principles. Funny that these same countries have problems abiding by them.

    I’m from a small Caribbean island state which joined the UN when it achieved independence. Peaceful and abiding by the rules. I must say, since the Iraq war, there has been an uneasy unrest in the back of the minds of every citizen not just in this country but many other small island nations. There was a perception that the UN would protect their sovereignty and independence. The bubble has burst and the realisation that the barbaric practice of Might is Right still lives on even in nations claiming to be world leaders. The Bush administration has come down heavy on many Caribbean nations for their support of the UN’s International Criminal Court, holding back funds and stalling negations on trade.

    You can then see the appeal of Chavez in the region. Offering help, talking equality for everyone and respecting each others rights. You may not believe Chavez sincerity but he has followed through on all of his international promises. My country has not fallen under his spell but we have oil and fortunate not to depend on Venezuela for much. However Venezuela is our neighbour. Should the conflict between the US and Venezuela escalate, who will protect us. The UN should guarantee our independent right to be neutral. However, recent world events are proving that there is no such thing.

  25. 25 George USA
    March 6, 2008 at 17:59

    Never say never.

    There have always been occasions when a cross border intervention was both justified and carried out.

  26. March 6, 2008 at 18:00

    Crossing a border into another country is called invasion. Invading another country is an act of war.

  27. 27 Justin from Iowa
    March 6, 2008 at 18:01

    If the UN as the world oversite power fails to take action against guerrillas, rebels, terrorists attacking a government and its people fromthe “safety” of a nearby country, what other course of action is there? A country harboring those terrorists, guerrillas, rebels without taking any action is by their inaction condoning and assisting them.

    The question I think should be two fold. Not just do countries have the right to cross borders, but should countries not be held accountable for their actions in harboring enemies of their nearby neighbors?

  28. 28 eric aka eks321
    March 6, 2008 at 18:01

    in the case of colombia chasing the colombian farc terrorists, the colombian government was completely justified to pursue those terrorists. the context of the situation is important. the colombian farc terrorists were cornered inside the territory of colombia. during the firefight between the colombian farc terrorists and the colombian government troops, the colombian farc terrorists fell back across the colombian-ecuadorian border, where they had established a camp, under the protection of their ecuadorian socialist government hosts. the colombian troops followed the colombian farc terrorists and wiped them out. since these farc terrorists are colombians, and are engaged in unlawful terrorist activities against the legitimate government and people of colombia, the colombian government was fully justified in their pursuit of the colombian farc terrorists. it should be remembered that the colombian troops did not harm one single ecuadorian civilian or any ecuadorian property, and that they withdrew as soon as the colombian farc terrorists were neutralized. there was absolutely no offense committed against ecuador. it was an defensive action that was carried out to protect the colombian people from the random terror that colombian farc is engaged in on a daily basis.

  29. March 6, 2008 at 18:03

    In 1985 the Colombian guerrillas put down their arms and joined the political process. They formed a party, the Patriotic Union, and took past in elections. In a few years thousands of their candidates and activists were assassinated by the death squads. So the guerrillas went back to war.

    More recently, FARC released several hostages to Venezuela after Uribe stopped negotiations. This angered Uribe, the border raid followed. And now we get the suspicious story of the captured laptop. Just like the laptop supposedly revealing Iran’s doings in Iraq. Smells like the CIA.

    Border crossing may sometimes be justified, but this is not one.

  30. 30 gary
    March 6, 2008 at 18:03

    Hello All,
    Borders are political boundaries. They may be variously defended, shouted about, cursed, crossed, penetrated, or ignored when these actions serve the interests of one, or both, of the divided political entities. They become really important, and noisy, only when they separate people from wealth. Thus; “You have my stuff and I want it back,” or You have more stuff than I do and I want it.” summarizes just about all border conflicts. All such conflicts are immoral on both sides of the fence. The gesticulating politicians involved are not significantly different, and certainly not more intelligent or moral, than the alpha baboons of opposing family groups fighting over a banana tree. The answer is simple. Everyone knows it; but none wishes to acknowledge it.

  31. 31 John LP
    March 6, 2008 at 18:12

    The Colombian incursion into Ecuador was premeditated and part of the Colombian State’s focus on killing rather than negotiating an end to the armed conflict. Colombian President Uribe acknowledged that such a planned attack was illegal when he told Ecuadorean President Correa that the incursion was in hot pursuit of guerrillas, an apparent attempt to justify the operation – but the ‘hot pursuit’ version later was acknowledged as false, as the guerrillas were killed in their pajamas by bombing from the air.

    Moreover, the guerrilla leader who was killed was the critical figure in attempt to negotiate the release of hostages held by the guerrillas. Uribe accuses Ecuador of having communicated with the guerrillas, yet Ecuadorean officials say they were on the verge of securing the release of high-profile hostages, including former presidential candidate Ingrid Bethancourt. The operation has set back these efforts immeasurably.

    Militarist leaders often focus only on the immediate ends, and neglect the many other impacts of this action – not only in the world of the UN, where Uribe presumably calculated some political cost – but in resolving the deep conflicts and divisions that afflict the society.

  32. 32 Justin from Iowa
    March 6, 2008 at 18:17

    Where is the UN in all of this? Both sides of the equation, cross border violators and harborers of terrorists and combatants should be held to account. If this isn’t what the UN is supposed to do, we need to create something that can do this.

  33. 33 Ruben, Colorado Springs USA
    March 6, 2008 at 18:17

    In concept, there is and will never be a justification for cross-border intervention without explicit consent of the targeted country/nation. In concept, such actions are and will always be a clear violation of the sovereign rights of the “victim” country/nation.

    In practice, a justification for such an act will always exist either by fabrication or real necessity. Each country/nation has the right to defend its people within & without its borders.

    The reality of this is that George Bush set the tone, and it will be very hard from now on to convince others that it is not okay!

    Even the most primitive animals know to respect the territory of others, unless they are ready to clash…

  34. 34 anakorez
    March 6, 2008 at 18:25

    Hello BBC.

    Cross boarder Military activities may not end if the world leaders doesn’t regard America`s Invasion of Islamic Nations as condemnable abuse of human rights.

  35. 35 kalypso-vienna, austria, by email
    March 6, 2008 at 18:26

    yes, i agree with ahmed from somalia: why does the US not go into somalia themselves, in stead they send ethiopia there. the US must start to care about human lives.

  36. 36 Steve, USA, by email
    March 6, 2008 at 18:26

    The suggestion that the US can target terrorist groups, but has to be more accurate so as to prevent civilian deaths. While everyone regrets civilian deaths except terrorists, terrorists like Hamas or al quaeda deliberately mix with civilians so that if they are attacked, civilians will get killed, so they get international sympathy. It is the terrorists goal that civilians be killed.

  37. 37 Mathew, USA, by email
    March 6, 2008 at 18:27

    Then what should Israel do? Sit there and take all the rockets of the terrorists? Yes, by all means, if they are terrorists, send in the F16s.

  38. 38 Steve USA, by email
    March 6, 2008 at 18:30

    Your caller seems confused. He says as an occupier, israel isn’t allowed to infiltrate what it occupies, using all kinds of circular logic. While it’s true many Palestinians have been killed in the Israeli raids which are in response to Hamas launching Rockets into Israel, the reason there are so many deaths is that terorists like hamas hide among civilian areas with the hopes of civilians being killed so the world can make a collective knee jerk response of outrage at Israel. Fact is, hamas needs civilians to get killed to get international sympathy. It’s time people, if they haven’t already figured it out, realize that Hamas is a group of inhuman terrorists that would rather all Palestinians die trying to destroy Israel rather than live beside Israel in peace.

  39. 39 Kwabena, Ghana, by email
    March 6, 2008 at 18:31

    I believe every nation should go any lenght to protect its citizens including breaching boarders,but there is a problem when such interventions are abused and used to promote the selfish interest of the intervening states govts, as we saw in the DRC. I think columbia did the right thing. Israel has gone too far in gaza.

  40. 40 Euridice Maputo Mozambique
    March 6, 2008 at 18:32

    It shouldn’t happen… special when airplanes are used… Imagine how it feels to think ‘what have we done to be attacked?’

    Civilians are the ones that suffer… It is horrible to leave in fear.

    Not being able to have news from your family, not knowing if you will survive another day….

    Why some countries think they can do whatever they whant?

    Respect please

  41. 41 Fahad Khan
    March 6, 2008 at 18:37

    i think Israel has the right to defend itself against Hamas rocket attacks, but how is cutting off electricity and food supplies to the entire population of Gaza a justified response? Has it stopped the rocket attacks? No, so why continue punishing the civilians there?

    I’m sure Israel is able to stop home made rockets with all of their high tech armory, right. They have a missile defense system and can’t stop home made rockets?

  42. 42 Eric
    March 6, 2008 at 18:42


    I think that, like too often, there are in practice two situations: the USA are taking actions or are in strong favour of the action, and the other situations. If the US interests are at the risk, then the rest of the world have to accept the result. If not, any country opposing the USA should worry about the wrath of that country. Remember France just to have said that it disagreed with the USA.
    Therefore, the UN are useless because of the importance of the USA. Indeed, Wolfovitz expressed loudly what all americans agreed with.

    In Middle-East, the basis is that Israel is considered as an illegal country with no right to exist. So the war is permanent and will remain for quite a while. Both sides are out of proportion anyway.



  43. 43 steve
    March 6, 2008 at 18:42

    Fahad, Israel didn’t cut off all the power. They turned off a small % of the power. It’s ironic that the same source of power that Israel did shut off, Hamas had targetted with rockets earlier.

  44. 44 Grif
    March 6, 2008 at 18:47

    Very dishonest analysis of Israel – Palestine by your guest.

    Israel has not, by any means, ended the occupation of Palestine. All it has done is move the guards to the prison wall. Israel controls all aspects of Palestinian life, border crossings, trade, access by the sea, population registry, etc., even down to the currency. Nor has there been any mention of Palestinian right to self-defense. Palestinians are killed and wounded by Israeli soldiers on a average of more than one a day – killed while in Gaza from shot fired from Israel for such crimes as “acting suspiciously” or “coming to close to the fence.” Yes, Palestine kidnapped some IDF soldiers, but Israel kidnaps as well. This is not a case of Israel acting in self-defense against the wicked Palestinians.

  45. 45 Erwin, Germany, by email
    March 6, 2008 at 18:49

    With respect to the legal situation of Gaza one should take into account not only the rockets launched from Gaza but also Israel’s permanent preventive war on Gaza or the West Bank. Israel kills Palestinian militants on a regular basis mostly by rockets launched from airplanes or ships whether the militants are active at the moment or not.
    Palestinian rockets are a reaction against Israel’s much more deadly preventive war and an attempt to stop it. Hamas repeatedly offered to stop its rocket attacks if Israel does so, too. Western Governments ingnore that completey, and also the BBC.

  46. 46 Fomba Kassoh
    March 6, 2008 at 18:50

    I think cross border attack to pursue a rebel army can serve as a basis for beginning a negotiation to stop the use of one country to terrorize another.

  47. 47 Ayub, Philadelphia, by email
    March 6, 2008 at 18:52

    I am an Iraqi Kurd. I agree with your guest that the UN has not been playing a role in any major military crisis in the world.In Rwanda the UN left only to leave tribes kill each other.3 years ago Egyptian police killed a dozen Sudanese refugees in front of the UN office and the UN could do nothing.In Iraq as well, the UN is just watching the situation powerlessly.Whenever something happens, the UN is the first one to pack up and flee.

  48. 48 Jean Philippe, by email
    March 6, 2008 at 18:53

    As a Colombian with the experience of the war. I would like to mention some important facts.

    Even though that crossing a border is not justified, supporting illegal groups is even worse.

    and the international community has to understand that the Ecuador and Venezuela are supporting such groups. The proves are in the computer found.
    For instances the Venezuelan government “donated” 300 millions dollars and the Ecuadorian government has had many meetings with the “secretariado” the bosses of the FARC to put two of uncountable proves.

    We as Colombians, are absolutely surprised with the support of these countries with the problem we have had for 40 years. And every rule has a exception this attack is absolutely justified.

  49. 49 Prince Pieray Odor, Nigeria by email
    March 6, 2008 at 18:55

    Condemn the government of the USA first, and absolutely, because it started it and it continues to violate international laws concerning territorial integrity, sovereignty, and independence as a tradition, with impunity, and without any provocation or justification.

  50. 50 Niels
    March 6, 2008 at 18:56

    In the case of the recent Colombian incursion into Ecuador, the position of the US seems to have changed somewhat.

    In 1988, the sandinistas of Nicaragua went into Honduran territory to attack camps of the contra rebels.

    The US protested and sent in the 82 airborne.

    If you follow the new line, btw, the Cubans would have the right of Bombing the Everglades, whe anti-Castro militias have trained for decades.

  51. 51 Ali Rabiei
    March 6, 2008 at 18:57

    First of all I think Palestine_Israel conflict is more of a war . It is a war over border conflict. It’s the case of a country occupies another country and the occupied country is reltailating. Imagine UK is occupied by France for example.
    Other mentioned conflicts are between two countries that are not at war and they don’t have any national or border dispute. In these cases a country which hosts an insurgent group, ISN”T or CAN’T stop the insurgents operating in neighbouring countries. So I think that neighbouring can do some limited short term operation if:
    1)Their citizens are killed in their own country.
    2)They merely operating on insurgents and not the civilians.

    I don’t think some terrorist Alqaida members in Somali have any chance to take a US Visa to entre US to endanger US citizens’ lives!!

  52. 52 steve
    March 6, 2008 at 19:54

    Question for the far leftists:

    You condemn everything israel does, but how come you never condemn terrorist attacks targetting civilians?


    Remember, when Israel attacks, it unfortunatley kills civilians because palistinian terrorist hide amongst civilians because they need civilians to win to get people like you to sympathize with them, yet people like you are silent when Israeli civilians are targetted by terrorists. Would one of you be honest enough to explain why, otherwise I will presume it’s becuase you hate jews?

  53. 53 steve
    March 6, 2008 at 20:02

    Shocking, another bombing in Iraq. Okay people, it’s the 21st century. There’s no such thing as God. That you kill over one sects fictional beliefs vs. your own fictional beliefs shows you are STUPID. Just mindlessly stupid. It’s FICTION. That people get killed over these fairy tales is so pathetic that I cannot describe, and I probably would get banned if I wrote my true thoughts down here. This is just insane how crazy, stupid, moronic people can be. Each bombing that happens means religion is delegitimized, but given it’s on a daily basis, there can no longer be any justification for religion. Can you imagine if someone killed your child because they believed in Harry Potter? God, humans have to be the stupidest creatures that ever inhabited this planet.

  54. 54 steve
    March 6, 2008 at 20:05

    Celebratory gunfire coming from Gaza now now that they’ve heard the news of the murders in Jerusalem today. Sick people. C ome on lefties, defend them. Maybe they’ll blow you up one day when you offer them hugs.

  55. March 6, 2008 at 20:50

    Can you justify cross-border interventions? That is what is called invading a country and that is a act of war. That is what Offensive Allied Governments are doing. That is the what sanctions and the blockades of enemy countries do. They cross their own lines and other countries. War is a crime of injustice against the offensive government and not the defensive government.

  56. March 6, 2008 at 20:52

    Can you justify cross-border interventions? That is what is called invading a country and that is a act of war. That is what Offensive Allied Governments are doing. That is what the sanctions and the blockades of enemy countries do. They cross their own lines and other countries. War is a crime of injustice against the offensive government and not the defensive government.

  57. 57 Dedi Ramba
    March 6, 2008 at 22:57

    I agree for sure. The problem is UN comes up with laws that other countries respect while others don’t. Unfortunately, there’s no mechanism in place to make countries abide by them.

    Utah, USA.

  58. 58 Thomas Murray
    March 6, 2008 at 23:18

    I agree with Atsu in Ghana and Henry in Nigeria.

    As a so-called superpower, the US set a terrible example for the rest of the world when we invaded Iraq.

    And yes, KWS, if the US can ignore UN advisories, then why should we expect anyone else to abide by them?

    In Iraq recently, Iran President Ahmadinejad cautioned Bush not to keep accusing Iran of interference. Ahmadinejad’s diplomacy has been maladroit at times. But he’s making good points. Let’s hope the Bush administration takes the hint.

    We broke it. We bought it. Now we have to repair it.

    That’s the price for an unjustified invasion: Courting supplication of ones enemies.

    I’ve read most of your blogs in the limited time I have in the library, and you’ve all made excellent points. (I just hope you edit these if you read them on air.)

    –Regards. Louisville, Kentucky, USA.

  59. 59 Rashid Patch
    March 6, 2008 at 23:28

    Hitler moving into Czechoslovakia was “Cross-Border Intervention” .

    “Cross-Border Intervention” = Invasion

    Repeat that 100 times, until memorized – or as many more times as are needed.

    Every instance of “cross-border intervention” is an act of aggression, and is a violation of the U.N. charter. Sometimes the rule of law is inconvenient. If someone injures me, I would like to just hit them now, rather than wait for competent authority to take action. Nations, like individuals, want what they want, and they want it right now. To be ruled by law demands patience.

    After the 2nd World War, most people, and most nations, agreed that rule by international law was absolutely essential to security and peace in the world. The United Nations was formed to ensure that nations respected international laws and agreements. The prevention of “cross-border intervention” was a specific goal. Again, Hitler’s moving into Czechoslovakia was “Cross-Border Intervention”.

    Since 1945, it has increasingly proved inconvenient to many nations to respect the U.N. charter. It is popular to ignore the rule of law. However, that has never made it right. Doesn’t matter who did it, or what the provocation. It’s illegal. it’s wrong. It is an act of war – and starting an aggressive war is the worst possible crime. Look up “Crimes Against Peace” in the U.N. Charter, and the Nuremburg Charter.

    Unfortunately, the powerful nations – and the U.S. especially – are abandoning even the pretense of lawful behavior. When the powerful freely break the law, the weak have no reason to abide by it either. Generally increasing lawlessness is the inevitable result. International security is hardly served by fomenting lawless behavior, but in the very name of security, the major powers – with minor powers in their train – are setting an example that will take many decades to overcome – if a world survives to overcome it.

    Rashid Patch
    Oakland, California, U.S.A.

  60. 60 gary
    March 7, 2008 at 00:01

    As a U.S. citizen: If the U.S. allowed a group to live here and attack the Mexican government, people, and infrastructure to destabilize that nation and we did nothing about it I would expect Mexico to do something about it. We, as any other nation, have a responsiblity to govern those living on our land. If they are breaking the law then the host government is responsible to do something about it.

    If my child vandalizes my neighbor’s house I do do nothing about it the authorities can come in my house to get my child. It’s the same type of situation.

  61. March 7, 2008 at 03:29

    Problem with such ‘interventions’ is the very nature of the beast. We are ‘civilized’ not by our technology and modern gadgetry but by the power inherent in the concept of LAW. Because We the People have willingly chosen to abide by the Law, to submit the will and the whim of We the People to the Rule of Law. Once WE, meaning nation or individual, justify breaking any law, anywhere, on any account and for any reason — what happens to “Law”? The whole edifice of “Rule by Law” which differentiates “civilization” from barbarism and democracy from tyranny is undermined and, eventually, finished, kaput! All the ‘interventions’ listed by Ross, too many for me to remember now, are only the paving stones of the road we travel, the road that stretches before us.

    The true terrorist we ought to fear and be on guard against is the failure such interventions represent, the failure to uphold and be ruled by law. Thus, the present we live paints a microcosm of the future that awaits us, just round the corner! With a global population running amok–6.5 billion projected to reach 9 by 2030, global food prices skyrocketing and water supplies plummeting, desertification, floods and climate change reducing food crops, and now with grains and crop lands for fuel not food, well… the stage has been set! America invaded Iraq for oil and the 14 military bases it has now built on Iraqi soil. But we hadn’t run out of oil… YET. What’ll happen as population climbs up and water/food supplies climb down–in the north or the south, the east or the west or all of them?

    Not the UN, but one single military power in the hands of a federated international government that would manage the interactions among nations and enforce international Law. Only that could, maybe, possibly, avoid or circumvent global chaos and prevent the United States from expanding the militaristic role it now plays into a global tyranny.

  62. 62 mike lee
    March 7, 2008 at 04:53

    Are cross border raids justified? Is it OK for Cuban planes to bomb anti-castro terrorists hiding out in Florida?

    As for the Israel-Palestine conflict, I think we should just get rid of Palestine and dump all the Palestinians into Israel. Israel can have all the territory it wants, but when you take the land, you have to take the people on it as well.

  63. 63 Tom from Oregon
    March 7, 2008 at 10:09

    Ros, I appreciate that you included a moderate today to provide some counter points and shed some light in addition to the usual raving ranting far-right winger who provides darkness.


  64. 64 Nancy by email
    March 7, 2008 at 10:12

    Thanks for the discussion;

    No. There is no justification for unilateral cross border attacks. It is an act of aggression that is intolerable and leads to further aggression. Sanctions should be enacted by the U.N. against the Columbian Government, the Israelis Government and The United States Government.

    For my part I believe that all military responses are inappropriate. The use of reprisals has never settled anything, except that one side may destroy another. Not one good thing has come from the United States response to the World Trade Center attacks. The real perpetrators are still loose and the poor people of Afghanistan and Iraq have been killed and maimed by the tens of thousands, as well as the tens of thousands of Americans that have died or been maimed or traumatized in this conflict.

    The same is true of the Israelis response to the rocket attacks from Gaza. One or two Israelis are killed for every 100 or more Palestinians and the perpetrators are not dissuaded, to the contrary, they are emboldened. This pattern is useless for resolving disputes, but it does sell a lot of weapons.

    The people of both sides can stop the violence. Israelis need to stop the attacks and be as resolute about the process of negotiated settlement as they have been about the military responses they are famous, or infamous, for. The Palestinians must call for the arrest of the people responsible for the rocket attacks if they will not stop on their own.

    The people of America need to elect leaders who will stop the endless war that George Bush and his oil hungry administration has started in the name of national security. America must repeal the person-hood of the corporations that control our government and return democracy to the people. Only living citizens of any country should have any influence on their government. All corporate contributions to political candidates for office must end. All Corporations must have a sunset term and when the term has passed the corporation must be absolved. Period…

    Thank you for this oportunity.

  65. 65 Azumi by email
    March 7, 2008 at 10:14

    The original matter was fairly simple: Colombia violated the territorial integrity of Ecuador. While the killing of Raul Reyes was a positive development in the fight against the Farc, Colombia’s action could not have gone unpunished because it would be a dangerous precedent. Ecuador should have appealed to OAS and UN, the member states should have condemned Colombia, and Colombia should have apologized.

    It only got blown out of proportion so dramatically because of Mr. Chávez reacted to it with his usual drama. Now, the real question is whether Colombia has really discovered evidences of Venezuela and Ecuador’s tie with the Farc.


  66. 66 Ros Atkins
    March 7, 2008 at 10:53

    Hi there, Ros! I go with the opinion that a nation should employ any means whatsover to protect her fellow citizens from possible threat to security. And that includes cross-border intervention or …….. Especially if the situation demands immediate intervention. However, channels for communication should always be created for possible consultation.
    I would not have a problem with my country doing anything possible to protect me.
    – Benedict, Nigeria

  67. 67 Paul, Liberia
    March 7, 2008 at 11:37

    “Sovereignty” is the only word that justifies cross-border intervention. Countries need to respect their neighbours’ sovereignty and if NOT the issue is bound to occur. So I say YES! If you respect me I will respect you no matter what…

  68. 68 Neal H
    March 7, 2008 at 11:42

    The US invasion of Iraq had of course nothing to do with fighting terrorism, it had everything to do with Bush II finishing what Bush I didn’t manage to finish. Defending daddy’s honor. Funny thing is (if there can be anything funny) that I believe Bush I thinks it was a bad idea now.

    I can’t really defend Israel’s actions lately, they are a powerful nation but in a hostile neighborhood, they should be bringing around plates of fresh baked cookies and making friends rather than throwing bricks through windows. Israel would not be acting nearly so brashly if they didn’t know the US was standing behind them with a big stick. We are always there to call for sanctions and to condemn all of Israel’s enemies, and to use our veto power in the UN security council to shield Israel from criticism.

    In many ways, I honestly feel that the abused have grown up to be abusers as far as Israel goes. They are wearing the hobnailed boot now.

  69. 69 steve
    March 7, 2008 at 12:24


    “The people of both sides can stop the violence. Israelis need to stop the attacks and be as resolute about the process of negotiated settlement as they have been about the military responses they are famous, or infamous, for. The Palestinians must call for the arrest of the people responsible for the rocket attacks if they will not stop on their own.”

    What you aren’t admitting or aren’t aware of, is that the people launching the rockets ARE the government. HAMAS is firing the rockets. They control Gaza. Do you think they are going to arrest themselves? Other than asking Israelis to sit back and take rocket attacks, what do you suggest they do given the Gazan government is launching the missiles?

  70. 70 Christian, by email
    March 7, 2008 at 12:29

    As a world citizen, I’m glad the Farc lost Raul Reyes. The Farc deserves being erased out of our region and I applaude the colombian government on that.

    But as an ecuadorian, I consider that Uribe should have ask permission first to Correa’s government to carry a military raid in OUR territory. They violated international law and practically ‘invaded’ us. Thats what worries us ecuadorians.

    This is a naïve example but it puts our situation with familiar names for ‘first world’ people.
    Imagine the US government detects high profile Al-qaeda militants in britain. They want them captured.
    Who would oppose that? No One! The world its better off without Al-qaeda. But you would expect the US government to let know the British security forces of that situation . Thats what anyone would expect, not come and do a raid by themselves, throwing bombs like its no-ones land, and even worst without first letting know Gordon Brown about it!

    The Farc is without a doubt a threat to our country, but a foreign government, any foreign government, using our territory for military operations without our consent its a threat as well.

    As for cross-border strikes in general:
    I don’t think its comparable the ecuadorian-colombian case with that one of lets say, Gaza, because unlike in Gaza, the ecuadorian government has both the capacity and the will to carry itself raids against Farc bases.

    Since the year 2004, 117 FARC bases have been captured and dismantled by the ecuadorian military (Diario el Comercio, jueves 6 de marzo del 2008, page 7)
    While in gaza the government doesn’t seem to be able to control whats going on in its own territory, so its up to Israel to make the work themselves.
    Colombia on the other hand, did have a choice.

  71. 71 Fonjong Terence Tah
    March 7, 2008 at 12:31

    Good day Ros,and the rest of the BBC team.
    It’s a pleasure for me to join you today.I’m very interested in all your topics.I’ll create time and answer most of your questions.
    Coming up to our topic of today,I feel that,there is no justification for any country to invade another nation,no matter the allegation.There is a right that governed all nations.The wind blows wherever it wishes; we hear the sound it makes,but no one can know where it comes from or where it’s going.A nation may be invade over night,I believe that ,the world have an organization UN.Important matters,should be taken to this organization.Some nations take power into their hands,and neglected those above them.when the trouble is above them,then they start to seek for help from other nations.Avoid problem before it come.
    I’m a Cameroonian.I remembered,when Nigeria invaded Bakasi, this matter was taken to UN,and it was resolved by United Nation Organization calmly.Don’t let others have their way at your expense.We should Fight and protect people,from those who want to wrong them,and we should be firmed in our judgment.
    Every citizen of any nation, should be ready to lift up the flag of its nation when there is trouble from another nation.No one can forget the womb he came from.
    Well,speak what you know and report what you’ve seen.
    It’s on that note,that I’m biding you goodbye from this end.Many thanks for staying with me.Have a great day with the rest of your team.
    I have been Fonjong Terence Tah
    May God bless you.

  72. March 7, 2008 at 15:29

    Natural civil law prohibits people to enter into other people’s homeS and fight them. In the same way, principles of international law forbids one country crossing into another country to invade it. So as a matter of principle, such acts should be condemned.

    But it appears that only weaker nations observe such principle. I think the strong countries must copy from their weaker counterparts. Should Ghana for example attack tiny Gambia for killing its 44 citizens without justification? NO

    However, to attack or not to attack other nations depend on what grivance channels or conflict solution and management structures we have put in place.I think the UN should establish effective channels for nation states to seek redress rather than taking the law into their own hands to attack others at the least provocation.

  73. 73 George USA
    March 7, 2008 at 19:40

    Cross border interventions respond to attacks using the other country as a safe haven.

    It is a double standard to say you may attack one way across the border but not the other.


    Never say never- cross border interventions are a response to attacks from that side.

  74. 74 Dennis Young, Jr.
    May 9, 2008 at 00:58

    crossing into another borders is called an invasion…..

    dennis ~~madrid, united states of america

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