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   1 1 The Rise of Humanitarian Intervention We must act to save thousands of innocent men, women, and children from humanitarian catastrophe, from death, barbarism, and ethnic cleansing. —Tony Blair on humanitarian intervention The echoes of 19th century imperialism are there whether you like it or not. —David Rieff on humanitarian intervention The period following the end of the Cold War proved less stable and potentially less benign than many had hoped. Conflicts in Haiti, Afghanistan, the Balkans, and several regions of sub-Saharan Africa suggested that civil wars and ethno-religious hatreds had replaced East-West tensions as the principal pivot of world politics. These conflicts often led to atrocities and humani­ tarian emergencies. In light of these new concerns, the idea of humanitarian intervention has emerged as a major source of hope. Advocates of intervention argue that armed action by major powers, led by the United States, can attenuate the most destructive effects of local conflicts and might also help to prevent future ones. The doctrine has been applied in a range of cases. By far the most important cases of humanitarian intervention occurred in the former Yugoslavia, notably in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo. It is the Yugoslav cases, more than any others, which have influenced both the discussion and the practice of humanitarian intervention. This book provides a detailed examination of external intervention in these Yugoslav wars, and it proceeds from the premise that previous studies have seriously misrepresented these conflicts. Much of the discussion of humanitarian intervention is therefore predicated on a basic misunderstanding of what happened in these key cases. My purpose in writing this book is to correct the record, and to address this misunderstanding.The book also takes a critical view of the concept of humanitarian intervention, both in general and as it was applied in the Yugoslav case. We will see that external intervention was one of the principal causes of the conflict. Interventions helped 2   First Do No Harm to trigger the breakup of Yugoslavia and the various wars that followed the breakup; later intervention served to intensify the war, and to spread the fighting. External intervention did not resolve or attenuate the conflict; it helped create the conflict in the first place. In making this argument, I contest a large portion of the existing literature on this subject. Thus far, the dominant interpretation of the Yugoslav wars downplays the role of external intervention. According to this view, Yugoslavia’s breakup resulted entirely from internal factors, while international powers—notably the United States, Western Europe, and the United Nations—stood aside; initially the international community made little effort to resolve the war or to protect its victims. As a result of international inaction, this view holds, the world allowed major acts of genocide to occur. Samantha Power succinctly stated this overall view in her widely influential book “A Problem from Hell”: America and the Age of Genocide. With regard to the Balkans, she claims: “US policymakers did almost nothing to deter the crime. Because America’s ‘vital national interests’were not considered imperiled by mere genocide, senior US officials did not give genocide the moral attention it warranted. . . .The key question . . . is: Why does the United States stand so idly by?”1 Journalists and academics have widely accepted this view of US and Western inaction in the Yugoslav wars. In addition, when the United States finally intervened with military force in 1995 in Bosnia and in 1999 in Kosovo, this was seen (by Power and others) as a positive step that led to resolution of the humanitarian emergencies in both cases. In the context of widespread interest in the Yugoslav events, there has emerged a substantial literature on the doctrine of humanitarian intervention .2 As mine is primarily an applied rather than a theoretical study, what follows elucidates only the main points of the interventionist paradigm before I turn to the specifics of the Yugoslav case. The Paradigm of Humanitarian Intervention The advocates of interventionism have included some of the major intellectuals in the United States and Europe. In addition to Power, this group includes such prominent figures as Todd Gitlin, Mary Kaldor, Bernard-Henri Lévy, Václav Havel, Richard Perle, Susan Sontag, Paul Wolfowitz, Joshua Muravchik, Anne-Marie Slaughter, Stanley Hoffmann, William Shawcross, Elie Wiesel, Bernard Kouchner, Jean Bethke Elshtain, Christopher Hitchens , Michael Ignatieff, Michael Walzer, and Paul Berman.3 Some of these figures had, in earlier periods, expressed suspicion or even hostility toward the idea of intervention, which...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780826516459
Related ISBN
9780826516435
MARC Record
OCLC
468787278
Pages
360
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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