Evil by Any Other Name: Humanitarian Intervention for the 21st Century

By Palmer, Alex | Harvard International Review, Fall 2010 | Go to article overview

Evil by Any Other Name: Humanitarian Intervention for the 21st Century


Palmer, Alex, Harvard International Review


In 1978, Deng Xiaoping began the economic reforms now referred to as Gaige Kaifang, through which China ushered in an era of unprecedented receptivity to foreign influence. The shift to liberalized trade policy led to reduced poverty levels and set China on the path to economic strength. But the reforms also catalyzed massive change within the formerly centralized medical system. Medicine is now the domain of the private sector, along with provincial and local governments, rather than the national authorities. While market reforms in the economy have been a boon for the Chinese, similar reforms in the health care system have improved quality but also created unequal access to health care due to rising costs.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The 20th century was the most violent in the history of mankind. Looking back across the war-torn century, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan voiced the blood-soaked wisdom of the era in a 1999 speech to the UN General Assembly and urged for the next hundred years to be more peaceful. After a century marked by such violations--from the Armenian genocide and the Holocaust during World War II to the horrific reign of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, and from Slobodan Milosevic's "ethnic cleansing" campaign in Bosnia to the brutal Rwandan genocide--one lesson seemed clear: The timidity of the international community in allowing crimes against humanity to go unstopped or unpunished because of state sovereignty, was unforgivable. Throughout the century, millions had died at the hands of their own governments while the world watched and did nothing.

Taking this lesson to heart, US President Bill Clinton stated in 2000 that the United States had the right to intervene in any country it deemed to be abusing the human rights of its citizens, based solely on humanitarian grounds. It was a far cry from the turn of the nineteenth century, when the inviolable tenet of state sovereignty prevented punishment of even the most heinous crimes by state leaders.

A decade into this new century, looking back at two bloody--and ongoing--conflicts that the United States and its allies justified at least in part or in retrospect on humanitarian grounds, it is evident that repenting for the international community's inaction in the 20th century has likewise proven deadly and troublesome. Indeed, since the beginning of the decade, the European Union has intervened abroad more than 15 times under the justification of humanitarian intervention. Some interventions have been successful; many have not.

The concept of military humanitarian intervention--the most visible and controversial form of humanitarian intervention--is being rethought and redefined. The international community has realized that forcefully imposing Western systems of statehood and development is an onerous, painful, and perhaps impossible process that harms the occupier as much as the occupied. Indeed, some recent interventions have ended up being so violent and bloody that they can hardly be considered "humanitarian." But international players like the United Nations, the United States, and the European Union also refuse to abandon failed and struggling states like Somalia, Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Pakistan, Haiti, and Yemen--after all, there are cases where, both morally and politically, inaction is not an option. So where is the line to be drawn?

Just War?

Oxford University professor Adam Roberts, the President of the British Academy, has defined humanitarian intervention as "coercive action by one or more states involving the use of armed force in another state without the consent of its authorities, and with the purpose of preventing widespread suffering or death among the inhabitants." The term humanitarian intervention encompasses a wide range of possible actions--including economic sanctions and diplomatic efforts--and involves military force only in the most extreme cases. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Evil by Any Other Name: Humanitarian Intervention for the 21st Century
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    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.