Knights in shining armor? : when humanitarian military intervention works and when it does not
When humanitarian military intervention works and when it does not
Stephen Van Evera.
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Military intervention for stated humanitarian purposes has been undertaken on several occasions since the end of the Cold War. It is bound to be attempted again, yet academics and policy makers have left fundamental questions unanswered. Have past humanitarian military interventions saved lives? Under what conditions is humanitarian intervention likely to save lives in the future? Case studies of humanitarian interventions in northern Iraq from 1991 through 1996, Somalia from 1992 to 1995, and Rwanda in 1994 reveal that seven out of ten military operations saved more lives than would have been saved in the absence of intervention. However, the number of lives saved was lower than is commonly believed, ranging from thousands in Iraq to tens of thousands in Rwanda, not the hundreds of thousands governments claim. Humanitarian intervention saved lives in all three countries, suggesting that contextual variables -- such as the immediate causes of death and the particular causes of political break down -- do not determine success or failure. Five factors determine success and failure. They are the (1) balance between an intervenor's humanitarian and political objectives, (2) strategy employed by the intervening force, (3) intervenor's capabilities, (4) level of coordination between humanitarian and military organizations, and (5) length of delay before an international response. My research suggests humanitarian.an intervention is very likely to save lives when the intervenor(s) has political objectives as well as humanitarian ones, follows an operational strategy that is determined by needs on the ground rather than preconceptions, has the capability to dominate the battlefield and communicate with the local population, actively coordinates the interaction between humanitarian and military organizations, and responds to a humanitarian emergency quickly. In most cases, the optimal conditions for humanitarian intervention are not present because the states that are capable of intervening do not feel their national interests are engaged. As a result, they respond slowly (timing), do not plan their actions well (strategy and coordination), and have little motivation to persist when costs begin to rise (objectives and capabilities).
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Political Science, 1999.Includes bibliographical references.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Political Science
Massachusetts Institute of Technology