Humanitarian Intervention and War on Terror after 9/11

I summarized legal argument and some issues on humanitarian intervention and War on Iraq in my previous blog post. The issues on Iraq War nevertheless started from terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. The humanitarian intervention in fact has changed since then. So, what did the terrorist attacks on 911 affect on humanitarian intervention? There are two views on this question.

Humanitarian Intervention and War on Terror after 9/11

9/11 Now and Then Picture Credit:

Skeptical Perspective on Humanitarian Intervention on Terrorism after 9/11

In the skeptical perspective, the US has places it own interests ahead of concern for human rights, both its citizens and overseas. It has become more willing to align itself with repressive governments who support against terror strategy. These governments were Tajikistan and Sudan. According to this perspective, it might have been difficult to marshal Western commitment to humanitarian intervention in the 90s, as it has become virtually impossible after 911. Since 2001, the Western contribution to peace operations has markedly declined. It’s because the worrying for the skeptics is the fear that the USA and its supporters actually undermining the consensus on humanitarian intervention by abusing humanitarian principles in justifying their use of force to regulate other states.

Optimistic Perspective on Humanitarian Intervention on Terrorism after 9/11

In the optimistic perspective, it springs from the core premise that Western states will only militarily intervene in humanitarian emergencies if they believe that vital security interests are at stake. Afghanistan seemed to show that there is often a critical linkage between terrorism and failed states. Hence, many optimists assumed that the war on terror could provide the necessary strategic interests to motivate intervention that is defensible on grounds of both national security and human rights. In their paper, Justifying Iraq as a Humanitarian Intervention: The Cure is Worse Than the Disease (2006), Wheeler and Morris claimed that the Afghanistan experience might be seen as supporting the optimistic viewpoint, although important questions were based on whether military means have been properly calibrate to humanitarian ends since the intervention in October 2001. However, the more recent experiences in relation to Iraq suggests not only that the war on terror has fractured the fragile consensus over humanitarian intervention, but also that the problem of political will continues to bedevil effective humanitarian intervention as it did over Rwanda.

Humanitarian Intervention and War on Terror after 9/11

In sum, skeptic view holds that the war on terror would encourage powerful states to clock self-interest in the veneer of humanitarian concern. Optimists hold different view that 9/11 injected self-interest into humanitarian endeavor, making states more likely to intervene to halt human suffering.

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