Americans have spent much time in the last ten years arguing whether to intervene in places like Kosovo, Rwanda, and East Timor—and there will almost certainly be no policy consensus in future humanitarian crises of that nature, according to this report. Instead of phony consensus, this Council Policy Initiative lays out three separate arguments that would support distinct policy emphases on humanitarian intervention.
The State Department released this January 2000 report for a FOIA request on April 24, 2000. The report reviews U.S. actions during Kosovo, Sudan, Afghanistan, and the Hurricane Mitch in Central America and makes recommendation for future policy regarding humanitarian intervention.
The intervention in Somalia was not an abject failure; an estimated 100,000 lives were saved. But its mismanagement should be an object lesson for peacekeepers in Bosnia and on other such missions. No large intervention, military or humanitarian, can remain neutral or assuredly brief in a strife-torn failed state. Nation-building, the rebuilding of a state's basic civil institutions, is required in fashioning a self-sustaining body politic out of anarchy. In the future, the United States, the United Nations, and other intervenors should be able to declare a state "bankrupt" and go in to restore civic order and foster reconciliation.
Richard N. Haass traces the evolution of the critical debate surrounding U.S. military force, taking into account the impact of new technologies, new states, new weapons, and new thinking about new sovereignty and intervention.
The Council on Foreign Relations' David Rockefeller Studies Program—CFR's "think tank"—is home to more than seventy full-time, adjunct, and visiting scholars and practitioners (called "fellows"). Their expertise covers the world's major regions as well as the critical issues shaping today's global agenda. Download the printable CFR Experts Guide.