Politics by Other Means
The title of Rajan Menon’s latest book puts the reader on notice: this is a full-throated assault on the doctrine of humanitarian intervention. The form of humanitarian intervention with which Menon is concerned involves military action by one or more states to halt a mass atrocity inside another state. Menon marshals a wide variety of arguments against humanitarian intervention and its close cousin, the “responsibility to protect.” He takes particular aim at advocates of humanitarian intervention who insist that there is global support for the even-handed application of forcible interventions to defend against egregious violations of human rights. Menon believes that the calls of “never again” that followed the Rwanda genocide are naïve, hypocritical, and descriptively inaccurate, particularly given states’ tepid responses to events currently unfolding in Syria and elsewhere.