The End of Humanitarian Intervention?

The concept of humanitarian intervention that, along with globalization, was so prominent in the 1990s disappeared from the vernacular when President George W. Bush took office in 2001. President Bush criticized his predecessor’s foreign policies as too interventionist and unfocused, since they had not been based on geopolitical priorities. In this context, the Bush administration rejected the genocide convention, the International Criminal Court, the treaty banning land mines, and the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, even though most nations had approved them.

Then came 9/11, which intensified the Bush administration’s ‘‘realist’’ and ‘‘unilateralist’’ tendencies. Counterterrorism and counterproliferation agendas have come to dominate U.S. foreign policy. The war in Afghanistan after 9/11, the first part of the war on terror, was far from a humanitarian intervention, although liberating Afghans from the Taliban had humanitarian aspects. Neither was the war in Iraq a humanitarian intervention, even though the Bush administration cited the ‘‘humanitarian’’ cause and promoting democracy among the reasons for the war. The humanitarian cause was used to justify an intervention that aimed at establishing a U.S.-centered regional order in the Middle East, which the United States regards as a hub of terrorism. The Bush administration is now realigning the force structure of U.S. overseas troops so that they better fit the war on terror.

Read the full article here.