The Question of Intervention

The Question of Intervention: John Stuart Mill and the Responsibility to Protect

Michael W. Doyle
Copyright Date: 2015
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    The Question of Intervention
    Book Description:

    The question of when or if a nation should intervene in another country's affairs is one of the most important concerns in today's volatile world. Taking John Stuart Mill's famous 1859 essay "A Few Words on Non-Intervention" as his starting point, international relations scholar Michael W. Doyle addresses the thorny issue of when a state's sovereignty should be respected and when it should be overridden or disregarded by other states in the name of humanitarian protection, national self-determination, or national security. In this time of complex social and political interplay and increasingly sophisticated and deadly weaponry, Doyle reinvigorates Mill's principles for a new era while assessing the new United Nations doctrine of responsibility to protect.In the twenty-first century, intervention can take many forms: military and economic, unilateral and multilateral. Doyle's thought-provoking argument examines essential moral and legal questions underlying significant American foreign policy dilemmas of recent years, including Libya, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-21078-1
    Subjects: Political Science, Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xvi)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-18)

    The question of intervention has been a significant and disturbing issue for anyone sharing a commitment to both universal human dignity and national self-determination. This disturbing quality is evident when we compare the lengthening list of interferences with the opening description of a policy to “let other nations alone.” On the one hand, liberals, who are committed to the promotion of human rights, have provided some of the strongest reasons to abide by a strict form of the nonintervention doctrine. It was only with the security of national borders, liberals such as Immanuel Kant and John Stuart Mill thought, that...

  5. 1 Nonintervention
    (pp. 19-50)

    Nonintervention is the norm of modern international law, international ethics, and the just war tradition. There is an obvious reason why this is so: states make the law; they shape the just war tradition; and from the standpoint of international ethics, wars are inevitably harmful and need to be justified as a necessary resort. But the nonintervention norm is more problematic than it may seem. Mill rendered that norm problematic at the same time as he more thoroughly justified it. Recent developments in international law and the emerging record of actual interventions have sustained and refined that central norm of...

  6. 2 Exceptions That Override
    (pp. 51-75)

    In the previous chapter, I noted that arguments against intervention have drawn on an appreciation of the dangers of starting a war (since wars are unpredictable); the duty to respect national self-determination (because foreign intervention is an inauthentic revolution); and the inevitable humanitarian harms attached to the use of force, which include the casualties of conflict and the likely outcomes of renewed civil war, renewed autocracy, or imposed imperial rule. Thus all three of my principles—national security, self-determination, and humanitarian protection—argue for nonintervention, the normative default principle.

    But just as I showed in the previous chapter that nonintervention...

  7. 3 Exceptions That Disregard
    (pp. 76-108)

    Arguments against intervention have taken the form of claims about three principles: duties to avoid threats to national security; duties to respect national self-determination; and duties of global humanitarianism. These principles have at least two exceptions: either external moral factors can override the nonintervention paradigm or they can provide arguments to disregard it. We have explored why some external considerations call for overriding nonintervention. Mill called them “considerations paramount.”

    Here we explore another set of considerations that can favor intervention. Rather than being overridden, internal presuppositions of the nonintervention paradigm may not hold, so nonintervention can be disregarded in exceptional...

  8. 4 Libya, the “Responsibility to Protect,” and the New Moral Minimum
    (pp. 109-146)

    On March 17, 2011, the United Nations Security Council authorized “ all necessary means”—the UN code words for armed intervention—against Muammar al-Qaddafi’s Libya. Was it legal? Was it ethical? The casualties experienced were nowhere near the level of past humanitarian crises that warranted intervention, such as Bangladesh in 1971 (200,000–300,000 deaths; 8 million refugees) or Rwanda in 1994 (800,000 deaths). Michael Walzer thus argued that Libya did not qualify as a humanitarian intervention because it was not a genocidal massacre like Rwanda; and surely he was right. He then reasonably concluded that it was instead just an...

  9. 5 Postbellum Peacebuilding
    (pp. 147-185)

    According to Mill, a just victor does not need to halt at the restored border. Following a successful defensive war against an aggressor, it can cross the border, intervening in order to remove a “perpetual menace” to peace and its security.

    So, again, when a nation, in her own defense, has gone to war with a despot, and has had the rare good fortune not only to succeed in her resistance, but to hold the conditions of peace in her own hands, she is entitled to say that she will make no treaty, unless with some other ruler than the...

  10. Conclusion
    (pp. 186-204)

    The age of intervention is far from over. In the past twenty-five years, and despite the end of the Cold War, interventions have proliferated. Following the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, the US intervened in Afghanistan to halt the Taliban’s support of Al-Qaeda. Two years later, in 2003, the US invaded Iraq, allegedly to protect US national security, though we now think the decision was based on biased and false information. In 2014, Russia mobilized the Russian-speaking population in Crimea and seized the Crimea from Ukraine, while destabilizing the rest of eastern Ukraine.

    And the...

  11. Appendix 1 John Stuart Mill’s “A Few Words on Non-Intervention”
    (pp. 205-226)
  12. Appendix 2 List of Interventions 1815–2003
    (pp. 227-259)
    Michael Doyle and Camille Strauss-Kahn
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 260-272)