The Case for Decoupled Armed Interventions

  • Amitai Etzioni
Part of the Library of Public Policy and Public Administration book series (LPPP, volume 11)


This chapter suggests that if the humanitarian goals of armed interventions are decoupled from coerced regime change and nation building, they can be carried out effectively and at rather low costs. In addition, it contends that the standard for justifying humanitarian interventions must be well-articulated and set at a high level, for normative reasons, not merely prudential ones. The thesis for narrowly crafted armed humanitarian interventions is supported in the following pages by showing that a mixture of idealism and hubris drives the West to assume that it can achieve much more than it is equipped to, and that its repeated failure to accomplish these expansive goals is leading to a consensus around avoiding armed humanitarian interventions altogether— tragically including those missions whose normative standing is strong and which can be carried out effectively. The observation that nations can employ nonlethal (normative and economic) means to promote human rights and democracy further supports the thesis that the use of force should be reserved to large-scale saving of life and not to be allowed to morph into coerced regime change, not to mention futile attempts at nation building.


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Amitai Etzioni
    • 1
  1. 1.The George Washington UniversityWashington, DCUSA

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