The Conceit of Humanitarian Intervention

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9780199384877: The Conceit of Humanitarian Intervention

With the end of the Cold War has come an upsurge in humanitarian interventions-military campaigns aimed at ending mass atrocities. These wars of rescue, waged in the name of ostensibly universal norms of human rights and legal principles, rest on the premise that a genuine "international community" has begun to emerge and has reached consensus on a procedure for eradicating mass killings. Rajan Menon argues that, in fact, humanitarian intervention remains deeply divisive as a concept and as a policy, and is flawed besides. The advocates of humanitarian intervention have produced a mountain of writings to support their claim that human rights precepts now exert an unprecedented influence on states' foreign policies and that we can therefore anticipate a comprehensive solution to mass atrocities.

In The Conceit of Humanitarian Intervention, Menon shows that this belief, while noble, is naïve. States continue to act principally based on what they regard at any given time as their national interests. Delivering strangers from oppression ranks low on their list of priorities. Indeed, even democratic states routinely embrace governments that trample the human rights values on which the humanitarian intervention enterprise rests.

States' ethical commitment to waging war to end atrocities remains episodic and erratic-more rhetorical than real. And when these missions are undertaken, the strategies and means used invariably produce perverse, even dangerous results. This, in no small measure, stems from the hubris of leaders-and the acolytes of humanitarian intervention-who have come to believe that they possesses the wisdom and wherewithal to bestow freedom and stability upon societies about which they know little.

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About the Author:


Rajan Menon is the Anne and Bernard Spitzer Professor of Political Science, City College of New York/City University of New York, and a Senior Research Scholar, Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies, Columbia University. His most recent book, co-authored with Eugene B. Rumer, is Conflict in Ukraine: The Unwinding of the Post-Cold War Order (MIT Press, 2015). His most recent book for Oxford University Press, The End of Alliances, was published in 2007 and was named by the American Library Association as an Outstanding Academic Title for that year.

Review:


"Menon brilliantly explicates the several fallacies of the interventionists, while at the same time keeping the door open for intervention in reaction to atrocities when geopolitical
forces are effectively aligned and the likely costs realistically taken into account." -- ID: International Dialogue, A Multidisciplinary Journal of World Affairs


"Menon's main point is that states have not changed their foreign policies since the Cold War. The primary determinant, he says, is whether intervention serves the states' interests. This explains, for instance, why the US intervened in Kosovo but not Syria. Although not a scholarly analysis of humanitarian intervention, the book is recommended as an accessible introduction to an important international relations issue." -- R. P. Peters, Univ. of Massachusetts / Harvard Univ. Davis Center, CHOICE


"Menon has written a very smart book that shows the difficulty of getting countries to engage in humanitarian interventions, much less do them right. He also makes clear that the advocates of intervention do not lack for hubris, but do lack an understanding of the limits of the enterprise. Sadly, this sobering book leaves us with little hope that the so-called international community can do much to prevent the mass slaughter of innocent people."
--John J. Mearsheimer, R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago


"It's hard to imagine a more complete demolition of the idea that there is, or should be, a legal norm in favor of humanitarian military intervention to stop atrocities. The only relevant law is, as Menon demonstrates, the law of unintended consequences."
--Eric Posner, Kirkland and Ellis Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Arthur and Esther Kane Research Chair, University of Chicago


"This is an immensely admirable book - concise, lucid, and above all tough-minded. Proponents of humanitarian intervention will find Rajan Menon's stinging critique discomfiting - which is precisely why it merits their considered attention."
--Andrew J. Bacevich, Professor Emeritus of History and International Relations, Boston University


"There is such a thing as a problem - even a "problem from hell" - to which there is no solution. In showing that outrage against bloody atrocity almost never justifies a military response, Rajan Menon achieves the best available critique of humanitarian intervention ever written. Careful, dispassionate, and methodical, The Conceit of Intervention is most of all a debate with those who would wish away tragedy - especially the tragedy of lacking solutions, even when the problem is compelling - in the persistently self-interested domain of international affairs. A must-read."
--Samuel Moyn, Professor of Law and History, Harvard University


"Richly documented and persuasive...The Conceit of Humanitarian Intervention is an excellent guide for policy-makers, and for anyone participating in the policy discussion, the next time a situation arises in which talk begins about using military force to save lives."
--Paul R. Pillar, LobeLog


"[This] book serves as a sharp shot across the bow to those who urge the further entrenchment of - and who believe in the inevitability of - a deep, consistent policy of humanitarian intervention in all situations of mass atrocities."
--New Rambler Review


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Book Description Oxford University Press Inc, United States, 2016. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. The post-Cold War period has witnessed a substantial increase in armed humanitarian interventions-the use of military force by one or more states, acting with or without the imprimatur of the United Nations, to stop mass atrocities in another state, generally without its consent and thus without regard to its sovereignty. The increase has three sources: the emergence of the United States as a peerless power; Western states embrace and propagation of universal human rights norms; and the international human rights movement s dogged and effective lobbying, using national and international forums, in support of the project. The campaigns in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Libya demonstrate the salience humanitarian intervention has now acquired in world politics. In this new era, states sovereign immunity is being reevaluated and intervention based on universal human rights principles has become common. Rajan Menon s The Conceit of Humanitarian Intervention presents a trenchant challenge to the conventio. Bookseller Inventory # AAC9780199384877

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