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24 Wis. Int'l L.J. 723 (2006-2007)
The Perils of Limited Humanitarian Intervention: Lessons from the 1990s

handle is hein.journals/wisint24 and id is 731 raw text is: THE PERILS OF LIMITED HUMANITARIAN
INTERVENTION:
LESSONS FROM THE 1990S
BENJAMIN VALENTINO*
The   1990s   have   been   called  the  era   of  humanitarian
intervention.' Of course, humanitarian intervention long predates that
decade, but the humanitarian missions of the nineties were considerably
more frequent and much more likely to be carried out by means of
military force than in any previous era. During that hopeful decade, the
United States, often in collaboration with other nations, undertook major
military humanitarian operations in Northern Iraq, Somalia, Haiti,
Bosnia, and Kosovo. Foreign powers also conducted dozens of smaller
scale humanitarian missions in troubled nations ranging from East Timor
to Sierra Leone. Throughout the decade, public opinion polls in the
United States and Europe registered strong support for the use of military
force to protect victims of genocide and other atrocities around the
world.2
Despite these seemingly promising developments, the efficacy,
and therefore the future of humanitarian intervention, remains in doubt.
Although humanitarian intervention became more frequent in the nineties
than it had been in the past, the quality of these missions did not rise
nearly as quickly as their quantity. Indeed, most major humanitarian
interventions of the decade barely intervened at all. They arrived only
after much of the killing was over. Many arrived without the military
capabilities, financial resources, or political mandate to protect victims
effectively.   More importantly, the international community failed
altogether to intervene with force to prevent the worst atrocities of the
* Benjamin Valentino is Assistant Professor of Government at Dartmouth College. His work focuses
on international security, especially the use of violence against civilian populations. He is the
author of FINAL SOLUTIONS: MASS KILLING AND GENOCIDE IN THE 20TH CENTURY (2004).
Michael Ignatieff, Editorial, Is the Human Rights Era Ending?, N.Y. TIMES, Feb. 5, 2002, at
A25.
2 Steven Kull, What the Public Knows and Washington Doesn't, FOREIGN POLICY, Winter 1995, at
102, 113-4. See also Richard Sobel, U.S. and European Attitudes Toward Intervention in the
Former Yugoslavia: Mourir pour la Bosnia?, in THE WORLD IN YUGOSLAVIA'S WARS 145
passim (Richard H. Ullman ed.,1996)(discussing American and European public support for
intervention in the former Yugoslavia).

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