The Ethical Approach
Inherited Assumptions: Just War, Realism, and the Infernal Triangle
Intervention Justified: Triggers, International Law, the Politics of Rescue
Multiple Actors/Multiple Agendas, the Humanitarian Trap, Liberal Imperialism
Cases and Lessons

The ten years following the end of the Cold War and the nuclear balance of terror has been characterized by a growing number of humanitarian and peace operations. Security studies today, as Professor Shultz will tell you, has shifted from missile counting and the analysis of nuclear strategy (1970s and 80s) to low-intensity conflict and various iterations of peace operations peacekeeping, peace making, and peace enforcement (see Richard H. Shultz et. al. Security Studies for the Twenty-first Century). This shift in analytic emphasis mirrors the shift in geopolitics.

The end of the Cold War forces us to see the world in a new light, and humanitarian affairs are now central to this new reality and new agenda. Conflicts in the former colonial world (or Third World) were once seen as proxy wars for larger Cold War (great power) purposes. Unable to fight unwinnable nuclear wars, the struggle between communism and capitalism/democracy was waged in jungles and deserts ranging from Southeast Asia to Africa. Walter Lippmann's book of the early 1960s, The Coming Tests with Russia, articulated this proxy war idea from the American point of view. After meeting and taking the measure of Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, Lippmann saw the future, and the future was to be conflict at the margins - in places where probing and jabbing and counterpunching was possible. The result was an increase in American sponsored counterinsurgency and special operations to meet these tests.

Today, the interests involved in the proxy wars of the Cold War no longer exist. Today, the interests in places like Somalia, Bosnia, and Rwanda are quite different—in many respects, the interests in these places may be first and foremost human interests. Were Lippmann writing today about the conflicts in the developing world, he might title his book, "The Coming Tests with Ourselves." He might have asked, to what degree will human interests rise to the level of geopolitical interests? He might also have asked whether our current term—"humanitarian intervention"—is a valid one. After all, are not all interventions inherently political, and are not all politics based on power and interests? Can any intervention be purely humanitarian?

To organize our discussion for this session, I want to begin by saying something about the distinctly ethical dimension of this issue, and then move to our inherited assumptions about humanitarian intervention, our justifications for intervention, the complications of multiple actors with multiple agendas, and finally, a look at some specific cases and the lessons that those cases might suggest.The Ethical Approach

Let us return for a moment to our ethics lens. What difference does it make to look at this issue of humanitarian and peace operations through the lens of ethics? To review, we are discussing ethics in terms of choices - how one should live. What standards are we invoking? What justifications do we use? The process of ethical reasoning forces us to be explicit about our commitments. In engaging in an ethical analysis, we want to be both descriptive and prescriptive. That is, first we must describe the values that guide us in fact, as well as seek to articulate the values that "ought" to guide us. So in doing ethics, we want to be explicit about the "is" and the "ought," and to reason about ends, means, and consequences.

John Langan, a prominent Jesuit philosopher, suggests four sources of ethics as we use the idea of ethics in public life:

  • the reflected judgment of policy practitioners who profess standards as they see them grow out of their experience;
  • the standard philosophical traditions of deontology (ethics of duty) and utilitarianism (ethics of consequences);
  • religious traditions (the prophetic tradition); and
  • international law (codified agreements).

As we discussed earlier, these concepts and vocabularies often overlap and exist simultaneously within each of us. Our challenge is to unravel these claims and to examine them analytically. Just what are the moral arguments for and against humanitarian and peace operations? Can we evaluate not only our own recent actions, but the system or regime we have set up to deal with these problems? How have we done so far, and what might we do in the future to do better?

In a very helpful article in the latest issue of Current History, Chantal de Jonge Oudraat suggest that there are three overarching questions to consider in an inquiry into humanitarian intervention:

  1. Whether to intervene? Under what conditions should international actors intervene in domestic conflicts?
  2. Who should intervene? Which actors should take the lead and who should participate?
  3. How to intervene? What is the best way to carry out successful operations?

Let us keep these questions in mind as we proceed. For me, the prior question to these is how do we operationalize what for many is a question of intense, personal conscience? We begin with empathy and sympathy for those who are suffering. We begin, like Henri Dunant - who founded the International Red Cross after witnessing the horrors of the nineteenth century battlefield in Solferino - with the idea that every person who suffers as a result of conflict deserves relief. Victims deserve this relief simply by the fact that they are human. Dunant did not discriminate between victims. For him every sufferer is equal. This is the basis of humanitarianism—the equal dignity of every person.

While all sufferers may in fact be equal in their suffering, the uncomfortable fact remains that the causes of suffering vary in important ways. Some suffer at the hands of tyrants and dictators, and sometimes those tyrants use such aid to their great advantage. Recent history teaches us that relief efforts are sometimes cynically manipulated to prolong conflict. For example, in Somalia and Bosnia, political actors turned the humanitarian actors into (unwilling) parties in the conflict. The manipulation of the relief efforts became the focus of the conflict itself. Is it possible to think about the delivery of humanitarian relief in an apolitical way? And if so, is such an apolitical, neutral approach desirable? We must face the question of whether moral equivalence is always right in the context of humanitarian relief, as well as the possibility that past relief efforts have perhaps done as much as harm as good. Inherited Assumptions: Just War, Realism, and the Infernal Triangle

We begin with certain inherited assumptions that can provide us with guidance. Let me preface my remarks here by noting that each of these assumptions is complex and subject to interpretation. Each suggests a tension that sets up our overall dilemma. None suggests a simple command or answer.

First, let us consider the just war tradition inherited from St Augustine of Hippo (the 4th century North African bishop) and St. Thomas Aquinas who built upon Augustine's vision. The just war idea provides basic guidelines for the use of force and intervention generally. The tradition has two basic components: jus ad bellum (justice of war) and jus in bello (justice in war).

Jus ad bellum speaks to our questions of whether to intervene and who should intervene. The basic provisions are: just cause (self-defense, response to aggression); competent authority (that is, an authority that can be held accountable for its actions); right intention; last resort; and reasonable chance of success (intention alone is not enough). As you can see, like the electoral laws in the U.S. (and in Florida in particular) many of these principles are general in nature and subject to interpretation.

Jus in bello speaks to the question of how to fight. As Michael Walzer points out in his book Just and Unjust Wars, it is not enough to have just cause; to fight a just war it is essential that one fights honorably and well. In other words, morally speaking, the means are often as important as the ends. The major provisions of jus in bello are discrimination and proportionality. In using force, one must make distinctions between combatants and non-combatants, legitimate and illegitimate targets. Force must be used with some degree of precision - at least in its intent. In terms of proportionality, there must be some correlation between the amount of force used and the end that is sought. Using more force than is necessary to achieve your political goal is thought to be inherently immoral.

Jus in bello provisions are almost always hotly contested and debated. For example, the use of sanctions may seem on one level to be a humane alternative to war. Yet on another level, they can be interpreted as indiscriminate and disproportionate. While the target of sanctions against Iraq is Saddam Hussein and his colleagues in power, the actual targets feeling the effects of the sanctions are in fact the poorest and weakest of Iraqi society - especially women, children, and the elderly. There is also great debate about the doctrine of double effect; that is, the idea that in the pursuit of a just end, collateral damage is unavoidable. How much collateral damage is acceptable? There are no simple equations or calculations that can yield the morally "best" answer.

In terms of intervention, there are two strands of just war thinking that are worth considering. The first is an Augustinian notion, elaborated by St. Ambrose, emphasizing not only the permission to use force, but the duty to do so in certain situations. According to Augustine and Ambrose, force can and should be used to seek justice, "to rectify violations of justice." The purpose of using force is to restore a status quo and to punish an evil or wrong doer. As Ambrose puts it, "He who does not keep harm off a friend, if he can, is as much at fault as he who causes it." This presages Edmund Burke's much quoted aphorism, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." As I say, this strand or orientation of just war thinking emphasizes not only license for the use of force, but its necessity. The idea is to actively seek justice, and if necessary, to punish.

Contrast this strand to that suggested in the legalist, twentieth century version of just war put forward by Michael Walzer. Walzer begins with a presumption against the use of force. He emphasizes limits and restraints. Walzer quite self-consciously is less interested in seeking out justice and punishing wrong doers than in preventing war and conflict. Walzer has very sound reasons for his particular emphasis. As a liberal communitarian, he privileges the local (state) community as the arbiter of justice. It is only in the most egregious cases of injustice - massive human suffering and genocide, as well as the survival of the local community itself - does Walzer contemplate intervention.

Another inherited assumption that sets up our debates about intervention is the realist/liberal split. Realists are statists. They see the state as the natural unit of international activity, and they ascribe to the state moral standing (that is, each state is accountable to its own constituents). Liberals begin with the same premise, yet they emphasize the possibilities of ameliorating conflict through appeal to moral principles and increasing the influence of new institutions. As a realist myself, I am much persuaded by the work of Arnold Wolfers who makes a useful distinction between possession goals and milieu goals as they relate to this problem of intervention.

Possession goals are characterized as material interests: geostrategic considerations such as the protection of borders, access to resources, the maintenance of sea-lanes. Possession goals almost always refer to geography, economics, and military considerations. Classic examples of possession goals for the United States are access to oil in the Persian Gulf and the maintenance of stability in and around the Panama Canal.

Milieu goals refer to the desirability to create and maintain a stable political order. Milieu goals are predicated on the idea that predictability and stability are primary considerations. Of course milieu goals are available only to those with the power and means to achieve them. The question today for a hegemonic/unipolar United States is to what extent will milieu goals become a part of U.S. strategy? As we discussed in our last session, the notion of national interest is neither self-defined nor self-executing. This said, it remains to be seen just how elastic or broad ranging the United States will conceive of its national interest in the next decade. Will it be broad enough to include certain milieu goals, and if so, what will this mean for humanitarian and peace operations worldwide?

Realists and idealists alike face what we know empirically and normatively to be the legalist paradigm of international relations. When thinking about interests, we necessarily do so in a context we have inherited. What some call the legalist paradigm others call the infernal triangle. The triangle consists of three well-known points of reference: 1648, 1918, and 1945.

We begin with 1648 and the peace of Westphalia. We all know that the peace of Westphalia enshrined the two basic principles of international relations: political sovereignty and territorial integrity. International law and international relations generally begins with these two seemingly unshakable principles. From these principles we start with the idea that nations are equal in their sovereignty, and inviolable in terms of their territory.

We fast-forward to 1918 and Woodrow Wilson's proclamation of his Fourteen Points - the principles which he suggested would be the basis for a new world order, a world free from war and safe for democracy. Wilson added to the Westphalian idea that governments had to be perceived as legitimate, and they earned this legitimacy by providing for the self-determination of their people. At this juncture, states are no longer purely opaque. International society begins to take an interest in what is happening inside of them.

In 1945 with the proclamation of the UN Charter, and later in 1948 with the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the opacity of states becomes even further challenged. With these two new documents, human rights become a basic principle of international relations alongside of the others. States can no longer act with impunity toward individuals. Individuals now become a subject of international law and international relations right along with states.

The advent of human rights sets up our infernal triangle of competing claims. Humanitarian interventions are violations of territorial integrity and political sovereignty in the name of human rights. Our last three secretaries-general of the United Nations - Perez de Cuellar, Boutros Ghali, and Annan - have all paid heed to this newly relevant competition of principles. In fact, Kofi Annan's 1999 address to the UN General Assembly, titled "Two Concepts of Sovereignty," addressed this conflict head-on. In the address Annan noted, "To avoid repeating such tragedies [Rwanda, Kosovo, Sierra Leone] in the next century, I believe it is essential that the international community reach consensus - not only on the principle that massive and systematic violations of human rights must be checked, wherever they take place, but also on ways of deciding what action is necessary, and when, and by whom….The world has changed in profound ways since the end of the Cold War, but I fear our conceptions of national interest have failed to follow suit. A new, broader definition of national interest is needed in the new century, which would induce states to find greater unity in the pursuit of common goals and common values. In the context of many of the challenges facing humanity today, the collective interest is the national interest."Intervention Justified: Triggers, International Law, and the Politics of Rescue

Annan's concern in his 1999 address is for maintaining the legitimacy of humanitarian intervention. As he puts it, "in cases where forceful intervention becomes necessary, the Security Council—the body charged with authorizing the use of force under international law—must be able to rise to the challenge. The choice must not be between Council unity and inaction in the face of genocide—as in the case of Rwanda—and Council division but regional action, as in the case of Kosovo. In both cases, the UN should have been able to find common ground in upholding the principles of the charter, and acting in defense of our common humanity." Here you see the secretary-general arguing that the norm must come first - the principle of stopping genocide. It is then up to the politicians and bureaucrats to get the machinery of government to conform and comply. He also suggests that reform of the machinery might be necessary to make the machinery more reliable in the face of this newly powerful norm.

The triggers for humanitarian action are codified into law and are readily available for interpretation and implementation. They are as follows:

  • Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which provides for interventions to counter "threats to international peace and security." This is the umbrella provision that has enabled the UN to certify interventions in Bosnia, Somalia, Haiti, and Rwanda, among others.
  • The Genocide convention that raises the crime of genocide to an international level, thereby justifying interventions to stop it.
  • Massive and systematic violations of human rights, as well as the need to alleviate massive human suffering.

It is important to note that there is not a coherent and comprehensive legal framework in place to answer the question of whether to intervene. Chapters VI and VIII of the UN Charter also provide potential reference points to consider (in addition to those of chapter VII), even if they are somewhat cryptic and undeveloped. Chapter VI refers to the potential to deploy troops for peacekeeping missions (enforcing cease fires and agreements already consented to by warring parties, as opposed to peace making, where troops are deployed into ongoing conflict areas). Chapter VIII refers to the potential for regional organizations to become involved in these missions. Of course we need to remember that these are only patchwork reference points, none of which ensure timely action.

The backdrop for all of the recent activity in humanitarian and peace operations is that of failed states and their inherent ungovernability. In states such as Somalia where a government may have little or no control—or warring factions may control parts of a nation—sovereignty is, necessarily diminished. The question then remains: does the international community have the right and/or the obligation to intervene to stop the suffering that government (or the lack thereof) cannot provide?

Once the shift is made from "threats to international peace and security" to singularly humanitarian concerns, the notion of the "politics of rescue" is introduced. Before we leave the "threat to peace and security" idea entirely, we must remember that nearly all of these conflicts—ranging from Rwanda and its effect on the Congo and the Great Lakes region to Haiti and its effect on immigration to the United States—have serious geopolitical aspects. And yet, what about the purely humanitarian claims? Absent strategic interests, is there indeed a duty to rescue? How do we balance the simple demands of conscience and justice against the realities of limited capabilities and costs?

To give you some idea of the range of opinion on this, we can find, without much trouble, a spectrum of opinion ranging from staunch anti-interventionism to reluctant interventionism to duty-bound interventionism.

Our arch realist, Samuel Huntington, best represents the anti-interventionist view:

"…it is morally unjustifiable and politically indefensible that members of the armed forces should be killed to prevent Somalis from killing one another."

Huntington is incapable and unwilling to shed the realist concern with possession goals only. His concept of interest cannot be extended beyond material considerations.

Michael Walzer is a reluctant interventionist:

"Yes, the norm is not to intervene in other people's countries; the norm is self-determination. But not for these people, the victims of tyranny, ideological zeal, ethnic hatred, who are not determining anything for themselves, who urgently need help from the outside. And it isn't enough to wait until the tyrants and the bigots have done their filthy work and then rush food and medicine to the ragged survivors. Whenever the filthy work can be stopped it should be stopped. And if not by us, the supposedly decent people of the world, then by whom?"

For Walzer, the default position remains non-intervention. Yet when a community is suffering and threatened in terms of its values and ultimate survival, it is incumbent upon those who can help that they should. He does not make mention of the cost here, but is implied that cost should be borne and risks should be taken.

Finally, Stanley Hoffmann takes a maximalist position with his duty-bound interventionism:

"Every opportunity for a morally justified intervention - whether it is created by the media or by the atrocities that shake the public out of its complacency (as in Bosnia at the end of August 1995 after the latest massacre in Sarajevo) - needs to be seized upon and pushed as far as it can be so that the gap between what we ought to do and what is practically feasible will narrow. This means, for instance, that states, especially democratic ones, should exploit every formal and informal opening for prevention; that they should provide humanitarian operations with an explicit mandate, and with the military means, to protect the victims they try to help…."

Hoffmann is the ultimate milieu goal theorist. He seeks to expand the notion of interest by defining the milieu itself as the ultimate interest. Changing the milieu becomes the ultimate interest because it is the only change likely to protect innocent individuals over the long term.

The question of humanitarian intervention is plagued by the absence of clear criteria, as well as the absence of reliable and stable machinery. At the end of the day, we are left with vague standards and creaky operational structures. From the point of view of ethics there are perhaps two overarching considerations that inform most decisions regarding whether to intervene, and if so, who should do it and how should it be done. These two considerations are: the scale of evil being committed, and the ability of the interveners to make a difference.

These prudential considerations—scale of evil, and the ability to make a difference—cannot escape even the most ardent duty-bound interventionist (like Stanley Hoffmann). Kant's famous dictum of "ought implies can" certainly applies. If it is literally impossible to achieve a specific goal, then it cannot be a duty to achieve it. Similarly, the insistence on a uniform standard - "we must be consistent" - has limited utility. As some have put it, "just because we cannot do everything anywhere, does not mean we should not do anything anywhere. Prudential arguments are unavoidable in these discussions. In the end, decisions must be made concerning how much cost in terms of blood and treasure a society will be willing to make to provide humanitarian relief to others.Multiple Actors/Multiple Agendas, the Humanitarian Trap, and Liberal Imperialism

Here we must complicate matters even further by emphasizing that when we say "humanitarian and peace operations" we necessarily invoke a variety of activities with numerous actors. First of all, let me define humanitarian relief using Somalia as a paradigm case. That is, I refer to a case of warring factions that create a humanitarian disaster. There are of course other paradigms, for example, focusing on natural disasters (earthquakes, floods, famines). I am also limiting my remarks chiefly to the problem of military intervention. Much humanitarian work involves relief work - the supplying of medicine, and the basic elements of human existence. Relief itself is an intervention, rapidly politicized in virtually every instance of its use.

Any site of humanitarian activity is likely to have a wide variety of actors with a wide variety of agendas. All manner of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and private voluntary organizations (PVOs) are likely to be involved in a place like late 1980s Somalia. Such groups would include the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Medicins Sans Frontiers (MSF), World Vision, Catholic Relief Services, CARE, and many others. One would also find various UN agencies ranging from human rights monitors and commissioners to health, refugee, and relief agencies. One would also find national governments complete with their overseas development bureaucracies in operation. Regional organizations (NATO, OAU) are also likely to play a role. Last but by no means least, national military forces will have a key role in maintaining order and in managing the daily activity public life.

In any humanitarian emergency, there is an inherent need to divide roles, responsibilities, and risks. Until now, much of this has been done on a case-by-case basis. The question is: does our current ad hoc system work, and can we do better?

The journalist David Rieff argues that we in the West have fallen into a "humanitarian trap." By this he means humanitarian interventions have become a substitute for real policy - a substitute for policies that will deal with the root causes of conflict, and that will exhibit a true, long-term commitment to reform. Rieff fears that humanitarian actions are now just "a sop to western conscience," a way to make ourselves feel better without really solving any problems.

Rieff's worries grow out of his observations in the field of humanitarian relief as a big business. As various NGOs, PVOs, and international agencies jockey for the funds made available by western governments, nothing on the ground really changes in terms of meaningful reform. The international community, such as it exists, consists of adrenaline-fueled relief workers who hop from one humanitarian scene to another, securing contracts for their work yet having little long term effect on local conflicts. The problem with humanitarian intervention, argues Rieff, is that it gives the West the illusion that it is actually doing something constructive and positive.

The journalist Michael Ignatieff explains the psychological dimensions of the humanitarian trap by focusing on the way in which we receive our information. Part of the problem, according to Ignatieff, is cognitive—a result of the contemporary media age. On the one hand, television provides unprecedented access to images that should, in theory, strength the idea of world community and world solidarity. Yet on the other hand, television is two-dimensional and can be both shocking and superficial. Television is also unrelenting, sending out messages and images incessantly, twenty-four hours per day, seven days per week, and 365 days per year. Ignatieff writes:

"Journalism is closer to fiction than to social science: its stories focus on exemplary individuals and makes large an usually tacit assumptions about their typicality. This is synecdoche: the starving widow and her suffering children who stand for the whole country of Somalia; the mute victim behind the wire at Tranopole who stands for the suffering of the Bosnian people…synecdoche has the virtues of making the abstractions of exile, expulsion, starvation and other forms of suffering into experience sufficiently concrete and real to make empathy possible….Television personalizes, humanizes, but also depoliticizes moral relations, and in so doing, it weakens the understanding on which sustained empathy and moral commitment depend."

If we take Ignatieff seriously, we must then ask if it is possible or even desirable to deepen the ties between victim and potential rescuer. Is it possible to re-politicize this relationship and improve "sustained empathy and moral commitment?" David Rieff argues that such a commitment, at this point in history, would amount to "liberal imperialism." The prosperous and powerful west (and north) will need to make a commitment to imposing order on a weak and suffering south. There are suggestions of how such a new liberal regime would be organized. Perhaps the most celebrated is the plan suggested by former UN under-secretary Brian Urquhart who has called for the creation of an all-volunteer UN force that would be ready for rapid deployments, and that would be specially equipped and trained for relief work. The structure and operational control of such a force would naturally be the subject of great debate. But were such a force constructed, another hot debate would be sure to follow. Would the force require the resurrection of a robust UN Trusteeship council to administer these regions after UN interventions? A careful observer of the current situation might conclude that the UN has already begun to take steps in this direction. The administrations under Bernard Kouchner in Kosovo and Sergio V. de Mello in East Timor are cases in point.

As for the military issue itself, within the United States, there is much resistance to the idea of a standing UN force. Much of the resistance comes from the fact that the UN remains a member-state organization, and the governance of such a force would be problematic. The antipathy for this notion of a UN force is in keeping U.S. military sentiments that oppose many humanitarian and peace operations on the grounds that they fall outside their conception of missions in the national interest. Outside of the United States, there is also opposition to the creation of a UN force as well as the trends toward trusteeship. This opposition is readily explicable as a fear of a reversion to colonialism.

Within the U.S. military establishment, one can detect a split between a warrior culture and a police culture. The warrior culture retains a strict constructionist interpretation of national interest. This school argues that soldiers swear an oath to protect the Constitution of the United States, and to protect the nation against enemies foreign and domestic. Within this culture, there are great misgivings about becoming defenders of civilization writ large. The warrior culture believes that the U.S. military should be reserved for the protection of U.S. territory and interests narrowly defined. They particularly resent the use of limited resources (including the risk to personnel) in humanitarian operations.

There is a much smaller cohort in the U.S. political and military establishment willing to entertain a more expansive view. The more expansive view might be called a police culture. Members of this group believe that humanitarian missions and peacekeeping are missions worth pursuing. Some have even gone so far as to suggest the U.S. military ought to contemplate organizational reform so as to re-constitute a constabulary force within the overall force structure (see the work of Don M. Snider). Those in the police culture camp follow the ideas put forward by the preeminent historian of war, John Keegan. Noting that the nature of warfare has changed, Keegan writes: "The world community needs, more than it has ever done, skillful and disciplined warriors who are ready to put themselves at the service of its authority. Such warriors must properly be seen as the protectors of civilization…[against] ethnic bigots, regional war lords, ideological intransigents, common pillagers, and organized criminals."

So, we face a serious question as to whether or not it is time to re-conceptualize the nature of warfare for humanitarian and peace operations purposes. Traditional warriors will want to keep the status quo - that is, privileging a communitarian ethic, where state interests narrowly defined are supreme. Those willing to entertain the police culture might base this commitment on a cosmopolitan worldview that takes seriously the notion of world community.

One sidebar to this discussion has arisen in the wake of the Kosovo intervention where military force was in fact used for a humanitarian purpose - ostensibly to stop genocide. President Clinton and other Western leaders, you might remember, insisted that the stopping of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo was in fact a moral imperative. And yet Clinton and other leaders qualified this moral imperative by insisting upon a near zero casualty policy for allied troops involved in the operation. The mission, it seems, was important enough to use force (and take life), yet not important enough to risk casualties to U.S. troops in particular. Ignatieff has called this phenomenon "virtual war," where all risk is exported to the other side. Others have called it an example of "willing to kill, but not to die." Like the humanitarian trap mentioned above, perhaps sometimes force is too easy to resort to. Perhaps using force in a way that is relatively cost free to us makes us feel better, and perhaps sometimes it merely serves as a substitute for real policy.

What is most troubling about the Kosovo operation is the fact that risks to civilian non-combatants (innocent bystanders) may have been increased so that the allied troops could maintain little or no risks to themselves. Bombing from 15,000 feet made the war safer for the allies, but more dangerous for non-combatants on the ground in Yugoslavia. Was the NATO air strategy a moral policy? It is certainly worth a close analysis.Cases and Lessons

Since the end of the cold war, we have experienced at least two types of interventions. First, we still have the classic great power interventions where spheres of influence and balance of power considerations remain essential. Examples of this might be the Haiti and Bosnia interventions. In Haiti, the U.S. retained interests in its "backyard," as well as in the refugee crisis the Haiti situation was generating. In Bosnia, one could argue that alliance (NATO) politics ultimately proved decisive. The second type of intervention is more classically humanitarian. In these interventions—such as in Somalia and Rwanda—there was no clear material interest for the United States and many other western nations. There was, however, a great human interest in alleviating human suffering.

Before concluding, it is essential to mention one other, often neglected, category: non-intervention. How do we explain the non-interventions in places such as Sudan, Chechnya or even Algeria? There is of course always a human interest in these areas, and yet they are little discussed.

Perhaps one of the reasons that some crisis areas go unnoticed is the fact that little can be done in these areas. Remember, ought implies can. If a mission cannot be achieved, there is no specific duty to undertake it. The realists remind us that the first task of the moral actor is to weigh and connect where possible the competing claims of morality, interest, and power. Morality alone is not enough. In fact, morality alone is likely to get one in serious trouble (no good deed goes unpunished; and the road to hell is paved with good intentions). The moral course is to try to connect moral concerns to the demands of power and interest.

It would seem to me, that the real point of leverage in improving our capacity and performance in delivering humanitarian assistance is to think seriously about the connections between humanitarian needs and realist concerns. The United States and the West possess unmatched power; the goal for those who wish to promote a humanitarian agenda is to devise a system where power is used in the service of principle. Can we devise a regime where we pool resources and pool risk? Can we envision structural and bureaucratic reforms that will respond to the moral imperative of humanitarianism? In this age of relative peace and prosperity, can we find a way to accommodate the milieu goals that have been distinctly in the background until now? Foreign policy will always be interest driven, and it should be. The question remains, how broadly can that interest be defined, and are there ways to better accommodate the human interest that lies at the heart of the humanitarian and peace operations that are now central to the conduct of international affairs?