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The Ethnic Conflict Research Digest

2005, Vol. 5 No. 1 .


Military Intervention: Cases in Context for the Twenty-First Century
William J Lahneman

Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers Inc, 2004
224 pp PB 26.95 ISBN: 0-7425-2951-7


Military Intervention: Cases in Context for the Twenty-First Century is a book on the very topical and important issue of military intervention. Although not compiled in time to include any case studies specifically addressing the Afghanistan and Iraq invasions, some of the authors who contributed did make reference to such events, therefore giving the volume contemporary relevance.

Rather than being a volume written by a single author, the book is instead a collection of nine essays on the topic of military intervention, with seven of these acting as specific case studies addressing intervention in conflicts involving Somalia, Bosnia, Rwanda, Cambodia, Haiti, Sierra Leone and East Timor. The authors of these case studies were commissioned by the US National Intelligence Council to write such analyses in response to a set of prepared questions in order to provide a volume of case studies which where suitable for comparative analysis. The result is a collection of well described and detailed case studies that discuss with expertise intervention issues such as goal attainment, exit strategies, terms of reference and the success of such operations. Such a collection is highly suited to those involved in peacekeeping operations, as well as policy-makers and academics who are interested in the task of military intervention.

It should be noted that the book is not an argument aimed to convince readers to favour military intervention in times of conflict. Instead, it is one that accepts already that intervention is necessary for differing reasons, these not always being altruistic ones. The book instead shows the successes and failures of specific interventions and how they could have been improved. It also tacitly demonstrates how conflicts could be lessened or avoided altogether via early pro-active diplomatic intervention.

Somewhat ironically the most appealing part of the book for me was Lahneman?s introduction and his concluding chapter ? ?Military Intervention: Lessons For the Twenty-First Century?. This is because he made clear that military intervention is not always conducted for altruistic reasons; that it is not always the correct or only choice of action; and that an intervention can also be an invasion, citing the recent Afghanistan conflict as an example. This sets a more critical tone towards military intervention rather than blindly accepting such action as always desirable and necessary.

The diversity of authors and case studies helped to maintain interest in the compilation, although the very academic and ?neutral? language of the authors did not always maintain my interest. The volume is therefore more suited to readers who have a keen interest in only a few of the case studies or for those readers undertaking a comparative study of different intervention operations. Nevertheless, the book is a well executed compilation and one which makes a worthy contribution to the field of military intervention studies.


Adam Guise is a non-affiliated and recent Law, Arts and Education graduate from Southern Cross University, Australia who maintains a keen interest in social justice and ecological sustainability.



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