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The Ethnic Conflict Research Digest

2001, Vol. 4 No. 1 .

Intervention: The Use of American Military Force in the Post Cold War World
Richard N. Haass

Washington: Brookings Institution Press, revised edition, 1999
295pp. Index. Pb.: $18.95; ISBN 0-8700-3135-X

In this volume Haass performs two valuable services for anyone interested in the use of force as a foreign policy tool in the post-Cold War world - he offers an insider's view into the world of American foreign policy making; and in a comprehensive set of appendices he presents us with 'documents that are highly relevant but not always easy to find.'(p.xii) An introduction to the post-Cold War world and the consequences of this environment for military intervention is followed in the main body of the text by analysis of 12 cases of American intervention. The chapter on the vocabulary of intervention, highlighted with case-study examples, is particularly interesting and informative. However, chapters on whether and how to intervene are frustratingly brief. Indeed, this is one of the major shortcomings of the work as a whole. A bare 180 pages (excluding appendices) is not sufficient to do justice to the ambitions and claims of the outlined topic material. This is particularly evident in the rather short shrift given to the additional five years covered by the "revised addition" - little more than a twenty page afterword, despite the author's admission that, if anything, the pace of intervention has picked up.

Whether as a result of the brevity of the work as a whole, or the author's personal and professional biases, the analytical framework is also limited in its reach. Despite at times touching on literary traditions as diverse as just war theory, international law, humanitarian intervention, the work of major strategists, and authors of works on limited war and international society, the normative debate that is perhaps the key identifying element of post-Cold War international relations is sadly truncated. While it is acknowledged that Realist tenets such as sovereignty and national interest have come under increasing attack, the case study analyses resolutely focus on the policy statements of members of various American government administrations. Strategic and policy considerations are emphasises to the virtual exclusion of the normative debate. Thus the question "when is it right to intervene?" is invariably answered in terms of when it is right for American interests and forces rather than when it is morally acceptable. Hence the conclusion 'legitimacy must reside in the policy and derive from the ends and means of the intervention, not from some external organization or international court of law.'(p.151) Furthermore, the author's pro-American and Republican bias shows through in his analysis of policy initiatives. I found his claim that 'the Qaddafi government carried out the destruction of Pan Am flight 103, resulting in the deaths of 270 innocent people' (p.27) with no consideration of the evidence and in anticipation of a verdict which if anything is likely to disprove Libyan collusion, disquieting.

This book is certainly not without merit, but would have benefited from a more comprehensive second edition rather than a revised addition that fails even to update the language and context of the earlier cases.

Brendan Howe

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