Doctrines of International Intervention: Intervention Without End?

In an age of military interventions, from East Timor to Iraq, and Kosovo to Kabul, there will inevitably be doctrines justifying such action. The human craving for purpose, reason and order makes them necessary. Can international political thought, and international law, be adapted to accommodate the perennial need for, and reality of, interventions in the post-Cold War world?

The World Today
Published 1 April 2003 Updated 21 October 2020 5 minute READ

Adam Roberts

The Iraq crisis has confirmed the downside of interventionist doctrines. The principal doctrinal statement of the US administration, President George Bush’s National Security Strategy of the USA, published in September, aroused considerable apprehension internationally because, in advocating preventive action, it appeared to override the non-intervention rule which is the basic norm of the international system. It has reinforced the concerns of many states that, if they support the US over Iraq, they may appear to be giving a blank cheque to Washington for an unlimited number of interventions.

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