Can Military Intervention Limit Refugee Flows? *
Barry R. Posen
The problem of refugees, both those who have crossed recognized international borders, and those internally displaced who have not, has recently achieved greater policy prominence in the developed world. 1 This new concern has also prompted a greater inclination to consider and apply military remedies to specific refugee problems. Policymakers, analysts, pundits, and activists now perceive vastly diminished constraints on the exercise of military power in the service of "good" than they did during the cold war. The great preponderance of global power now enjoyed by the West as a result of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the greatly increased capability of airpower demonstrated in Operation Desert Storm have both contributed to this tendency. This optimism is misplaced; I argue below that the application of military power to this set of problems will often prove politically and militarily difficult.
This essay first briefly reviews the political and military causes of refugee flows. These are genocide/politicide, ethnic____________________