Against Massacre: Humanitarian Interventions in the Ottoman Empire, 1815-1914 : the Emergence of a European Concept and International Practice

Against Massacre: Humanitarian Interventions in the Ottoman Empire, 1815-1914 : the Emergence of a European Concept and International Practice

Against Massacre: Humanitarian Interventions in the Ottoman Empire, 1815-1914 : the Emergence of a European Concept and International Practice

Against Massacre: Humanitarian Interventions in the Ottoman Empire, 1815-1914 : the Emergence of a European Concept and International Practice

Synopsis


Against Massacre looks at the rise of humanitarian intervention in the nineteenth century, from the fall of Napoleon to the First World War. Examining the concept from a historical perspective, Davide Rodogno explores the understudied cases of European interventions and noninterventions in the Ottoman Empire and brings a new view to this international practice for the contemporary era.


While it is commonly believed that humanitarian interventions are a fairly recent development, Rodogno demonstrates that almost two centuries ago an international community, under the aegis of certain European powers, claimed a moral and political right to intervene in other states' affairs to save strangers from massacre, atrocity, or extermination. On some occasions, these powers acted to protect fellow Christians when allegedly "uncivilized" states, like the Ottoman Empire, violated a "right to life." Exploring the political, legal, and moral status, as well as European perceptions, of the Ottoman Empire, Rodogno investigates the reasons that were put forward to exclude the Ottomans from the so-called Family of Nations. He considers the claims and mixed motives of intervening states for aiding humanity, the relationship between public outcry and state action or inaction, and the bias and selectiveness of governments and campaigners.


An original account of humanitarian interventions some two centuries ago, Against Massacre investigates the varied consequences of European involvement in the Ottoman Empire and the lessons that can be learned for similar actions today.

Excerpt

To be able to talk intelligently about what looks like the
extraordinary amount of intervention that occurs in the
present-day international system, or about the seemingly
original network of contemporary transnational relations,
it is useful to be able to compare the present system with
past ones. We may discover that the amount of interven
tion today is not at all that unusual and that the network
of transnational relations is far less original than many
have claimed.

—Stanley Hoffmann, “Hedley Bull and His Contribution
to International Relations,” in World Disorders
Troubled Peace in the Post–Cold War Era
, 1988

I BEGAN MY RESEARCH in Geneva at the end of the so-called humanitarian decade (1990–2000) when the subject and international practice of humanitarian interventions was one of the most controversial matters of discussion in international relations among academics, policymakers, and the mass media. As Robert O. Keohane wrote in 2002, “saying humanitarian intervention in a room full of philosophers, legal scholars, and political scientists is a little bit like crying ‘fire’ in a crowded theatre: it can create a clear and present danger to everyone within earshot.” Keohane does not even mention historians, who, with regard to this topic, have always been conspicuous by their absence. The only notable exception is Freedom’s Battle: The Origins of Humanitarian Intervention, published in 2008 by political scientist Gary Bass.

My research looks at the European roots of this concept and international practice during the nineteenth century. I dispute both the assertion that humanitarian intervention is a phenomenon of international relations that appeared after the end of the Cold War and the suggestion that it emerged abruptly during the nineteenth century. I investigate when, where, who, how, and for what reasons a humanitarian intervention was undertaken from 1815 to 1914. Through a nuanced historical analysis, I examine the claims of the intervening states to be aiding humanity, the complexity of state action, the reasons for . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.