MOOC (2): Conditions of War and Peace

“Conditions of War and Peace”

Week 1/  1.5: Invasion and third power intervention

                1.9: The case of Libya


  1. Summarize the content of the lecture and give your opinion

1.5: Every country has the right of self defense to the invasion, but not all countries can use that right because some nations lack in powers. This is when the power intervention comes in. Small powers would depend on large powers for defense, letting them enter as an alliance. But we have to understand that third powers do not intervene for humanitarian reasons like human rights. They do so normally to achieve political advantages. Small powers have to provide large powers several favorable conditions in return. And in the lecture, the professor also throws a question ‘will intervention produce stability?’ based on what I learned in the lecture and my opinion, I do not think so. Intervention is an issue with dilemma. Intervention could produce desirable results such as liberty but that is what comes after the destruction, major warfare and massive killings.

1.9: (I chose this unit thinking it would be good to study one case in dept but this is actually related to the contents I learned in 1.5!) This lecture is about what happened in Libya during Gaddafi regime, which is the result of spread of Arab spring. Gaddafi regime was very repressive and ignorant of its own people. On February 16th, civilians crushed on the security forces and many civilians were killed due to the governments’ violent reaction to the unarmed civilians’ protest. At this point the UN was very alarmed. In the similar case that happened in the past, the UN did so little, almost nothing, and the massacre followed. And after that the argument on the responsibility to protect became so popular and widely accepted. So in many ways, Libya became a test case whether their commitment to responsibility to protect can really be translated into actual foreign policy. The NATO intervened.

The military intervention to Libya had the possibility of producing two results, both of which were quite undesirable. One of them was power vacuum. This was the question of whether credible government could be provided in Libya if Gaddafi government is crushed. And another one was that intervention with all the gun power and military might kill civilians too. And it did kill people. Large powers intervene to protect civilians but if they go intervene and kill civilians not only the non combatants, can the intervention be justified? This is the dilemma mentioned in lecture 1.5.


My opinion: It would be good if the only result of international intervention on the wars between nations or the civil wars only have one result: preventing humanitarian disaster and providing liberal and credible government to the people. But as shown in cases like the U.S. intervention in Iraq or Afghanistan, that is not always the case. Last year when I was preparing for the university entrance interview, I read international newspaper every day. And I was updated with what was happening in Syria, also the Arab spring. I remember myself feeling angry about the U.S.’s vague stance on the intervention of Syrian civil war while hundreds of unarmed civilians were killed due to the government’s malicious use of chemical weapons and other weapon. I was aware of the fact that the intervention could result in the killing of civilians, but I didn’t buy this excuse. The U.S.’ military is equipped with state-of-the-art weapons and devices and they are not aiming at the civilians. There is higher probability of killing villains than civilians and also saving civilians than killing them. This, what I thought last year, is also my stance now. Furthermore, people who are suffering from the civil wars don’t worry about what experts are worried about, sitting in their safe and comfortable office. They don’t care whether intervention in their war can be justified or not. They just want help and the hope from outside, that some stronger force will stop the war.

  1. Compare it to your first MOOC review

– My first MOOC review was “Responding to 9/11: Counter-terrorism Policy in the 21st Century”. In comparison to the fist lecture, I found it easier to understand the first course because this one was an introductory lecture to the terrorism, whereas, the second course was more for people who have basic knowledge about the wars and history. However, I found the second course more interesting as I could relate this course to one of the subjects that I am currently learning in the university and also to one of the issues I used to keep myself updated, Syrian Civil War. If I am asked, which course I prefer, I would say the “Conditions of War and Peace”. And also, this is actually related to my passion, security.

  1. Comment on the level of the language used by professor (Was it easy to understand?)

– It seems like the professor who is teaching this course’s first language is not English but Japanese as this is provided by The University of Tokyo. So he speaks quite slowly, making it easy for me to follow but sometimes his pronunciation was a bit hard for me to understand. Due the lack of knowledge on the wars, it was hard for me to understand the examples he used. I think I could have understood the first lecture better if I knew more about the wars, like invasions made in the past, when they were made and under what excuse nations invaded other nations etc. The second lecture I took was relatively easier to understand as I knew about the Libya case and the Arab Spring in relation to Syria, like I mentioned above.

  1. Would you recommend the hosting site and the course to your friends?

– Yes! As I am not really close to computer, I had difficulties with using the other two websites. So I had to use Coursera once more for my second MOOC review. This site is the most convenient and easy-to-access which provides lectures in diverse languages and categories. So in the future, if I want to study something online, I will use this site and definitely, introduce to my friends who are looking for internet lectures.

  1. If you have the time, would you continue studying the full course?

– Definitely. Currently in Sookmyung Women’s University, I am taking a lecture called ‘War and Peace’ as a liberal art subject. We learned about how Wars like World War 1 and 2 broke out and how Europe maintained their 100 years of peace in the 18th century. I found it fascinating to learn about war in depth, such as looking at wars in three dimensions, international, national and leaders’ levels, to analyze about the causes of wars and national and international trends at the time of long peace. By just looking at the title of each lecture, there are some similarities between what I have learnt in War and Peace class and the online course. However, the online course actually lectures about other factors to conditions of war and peace. So studying the full course will help me with understanding the war in more various aspects, enhancing my knowledge.


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