Document Type

Honors Project


This paper examines why the US intervenes militarily in some humanitarian crises, but not in others. While US national interests at stake in humanitarian intervention scenarios initially guide policy formation, causal factors such as domestic and international influences, and 'historical milieu' create an 'operational environment' in which national interests and intervention policy evolve. These causal factors are then applied to the 1999 US-led NATO intervention in Kosovo, and the US' current non-intervention in Darfur. US humanitarian interventions and non-interventions form a broader, non-linear trajectory of engagements in which past precedents and experiences continually reshape subsequent intervention policy. The critical denominator in American humanitarian interventionism is neither solely 'humanitarian' concern nor simply furthering national interests. Instead, policy-makers process a convergence of domestic and international pressures through the 'historical milieu' of past experiences and a context of evolving international and legal norms.



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