The failure of humanitarian militarism
War — what is it good for? Achieving narrowly defined national security goals
When I was young, there was a big vogue for an idea often called “humanitarian intervention” which was basically the notion that rather than dismantling the Cold War project of global military hegemony, the United States could leverage global military domination in order to do good in the world.
This was inspired specifically by the thought that the U.S. could have intervened fruitfully in the Rwandan genocide or to prevent ethnic cleansing during the Bosnian Civil War, and it ultimately came to fruition in the brief U.S. war with Serbia that secured de facto independence for Kosovo. But it was also quite visible in pop culture. Films from “Air Force One” to “The Contender,” both of which I like a lot, toy with the idea of a president rousing the American people from the slumbers with a new doctrine of military humanism.
George W. Bush’s administration did not really take up this mantle, but it was in the mix…