Four central themes dominate this book:
--There is a foreign policy vacuum in the post-post-Cold War era, but the existence of that vacuum signals the opportunity and necessity to reaffirm and reinforce humanitarian principles. The role of the military in humanitarian crises, which is indisputably expanding but with uneven effects, requires clarification.
--Relationships among policy-makers, humanitarian agencies, and the media are complex, even chaotic. But in the current political climate, each needs the other and ought to work better together. Indeed, the prevailing political retrenchment in international affairs throughout the West, typified by the priorities of the U.S. 104th Congress, dictates a fresh look by and at each of the three groups. Humanitarian crises should be understood and tackled from all three perspectives in concert, although workable strategies necessitate thinking about each as less than a monolithic entity.
--Public opinion matters, whether to generate the impetus for policy changes, to prepare the public for action, or to ratify policy. The media provide a central nervous system for this constituency-building process.
--New technology in information and mass media has both liberating and constraining implications for the capacity of the international community to respond to complex emergencies. Public education is still the prevailing need on which the new information age should build.