Magazine article Foreign Affairs

Recent Books: Political and Legal: The Conceit of Humanitarian Intervention

Magazine article Foreign Affairs

Recent Books: Political and Legal: The Conceit of Humanitarian Intervention

Article excerpt

Recent Books: Political and Legal The Conceit of Humanitarian Intervention BY RAJAN MENON. Oxford University Press, 2016, 256 pp.

In this contrarian book, Menon argues that the entire "project" of humanitarian intervention is deeply problematic. His critique is realist. Despite lots of talk about international norms and human rights, power and interests still drive world politics, he asserts. The United States and European countries waited three years before intervening in the Bosnian war, and they finally did so in part because nato's credibility was on the line. And Western powers chose not to intervene at all as humanitarian disasters unfolded in Rwanda and Darfur, because they did not see their national interests at stake. Menon thinks that the idea of humanitarian intervention is best seen as an artifact of the United States' post-Cold War unipolar moment, when Russia was in political free fall and China was only beginning its economic ascent. …

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