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Agency and Ethics

The Politics of Military Intervention

Anthony F. Lang Jr.

Publication Year: 2002

Why does political conflict seem to consistently interfere with attempts to provide aid, end ethnic discord, or restore democracy? To answer this question, Agency and Ethics examines how the norms that originally motivate an intervention often create conflict between the intervening powers, outside powers, and the political agents who are the victims of the intervention. Three case studies are drawn upon to illustrate this phenomena: the British and American intervention in Bolshevik Russia in 1918; the British and French intervention in Egypt in 1956; and the American and United Nations intervention in Somalia in 1993. Although rarely categorized together, these three interventions shared at least one strong commonality: all failed to achieve their professed goals, with the troops being ignominiously recalled in each example. Lang concludes by addressing the dilemma of how to resolve complex humanitarian emergencies in the twenty-first century without the necessity of resorting to military intervention.

Published by: State University of New York Press


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title page copyright page

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p. v

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pp. vi-x

... a new French policy; it had been suggested by the philosopher Leibnez in the seventeenth century in order to undermine the power of the Dutch. In 1798, however, the enemy was now England. While invading England herself was not possible, striking at perfidious Albion through Egypt and India seemed more sensible. The intervention, however, was not only about power politics. Areport ...

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pp. xi-xiii

... like any other, is the product of many helping hands. While those I mention here played an obvious role, others I have inadvertently forgotten have been just as instrumental. When this book, in a much different form, began as a dissertation, friends at Johns Hopkins University were extremely generous in discussing its ideas or reading chapters: David Bernell, Martha Bishai, ...

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CHAPTER ONE: Introduction

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pp. 1-30

... intervention is not working. From Somalia to Bosnia to Rwanda to Kosovo to East Timor, the attempt by states to address complex humanitarian emergencies by means of military force has not been successful. The trauma of these failures has been further compounded by the often genuine moral urge that accompanies the decision to intervene. While it is probably impossible to act in a purely altruistic ...

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CHAPTER TWO: Intervention in Russia

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pp. 31-90

... laid out a framework for analyzing intervention based on state agents pursuing normative goals in a political context of competition with others. Using this framework, this chapter explores the American and British interventions in revolutionary Russia from 1918 through 1920.1 The first section explores the American intervention in Russia, beginning with the aide-memoire issued in July of 1918 by the Wilson administration and ending with the decision to withdraw American ...

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CHAPTER THREE: Intervention in Egypt

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pp. 106-169

... chapter continues to explore the normative and political nature of military intervention by analyzing the British and French intervention in Egypt in 1956.1 This intervention provides a good “test” of the argument for a number of reasons: One, this attack on Egypt is rarely considered to have originated from within any normative framework. It is usually ...

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CHAPTER FOUR: Intervention in Somalia

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pp. 155-186

... chapter continues with the themes articulated thus far with an analysis of the intervention in Somalia from 1992 to 1993. While the normative elements of this intervention are more well-known, the political ones will also be explored here. This chapter also expands the book’s arguments beyond the liberal democracies that have been the focus of the other case studies. The final section examines how the UN’s role in Somalia also ...

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CHAPTER FIVE: The Dilemma of Humanitarian Intervention

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pp. 187-206

... book has been an attempt to explain the failure of intervention by means of a deductive analysis of the practice of intervention supported through three case studies. This chapter uses the theoretical framework and the three case studies to move toward some alternative conceptions of humanitarian aid, political agency, and global politics. Specifically, I explore the dilemma of international humanitarianism; that ...


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pp. 207-214


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pp. 215-236


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pp. 237-240

SUNY series in Global Politics

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E-ISBN-13: 9780791489772
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791451359
Print-ISBN-10: 0791451356

Page Count: 266
Publication Year: 2002

OCLC Number: 52243001
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Agency and Ethics

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Intervention (International law) -- Moral and ethical aspects.
  • Humanitarian assistance.
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