The first major post-Cold War conflict, the 1991 Gulf war, indicated how much had already changed. Saddam Hussein had enjoyed Western support in Iraq's war against Iran in the 1980s, but was abruptly cast as the 'new Hitler' after his invasion of Kuwait in August 1990. This book is about how the media have interpreted conflict and international intervention in the years after the Cold War. By comparing press coverage of a number of different wars and crises, it seeks to establish which have been the dominant themes in explaining the post-Cold War international order and to discover how far the patterns established prior to the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks have subsequently changed. The key concern is with the legitimacy of Western intervention: the aim is to investigate the extent to which Western military action is represented in news reporting as justifiable and necessary. The book presents a study that looks at UK press coverage of six conflicts and the international response to them: two instances of 'humanitarian military intervention' (Somalia and Kosovo); two cases in which the international community was criticised for not intervening (Bosnia and Rwanda); and two post-9/11 interventions (Afghanistan and Iraq). There were a number of overlapping UN and US interventions in Somalia in the early 1990s. Operation Restore Hope was the first major instance of post-Cold War humanitarian military intervention, following the precedent set by the establishment of 'safe havens' for Iraqi Kurds and other minorities at the end of the 1991 Gulf war.
pulled out in March 1994 and all other UN troops had
left by March 1995. Operation Restore Hope, the largest operation,
deployed over 30,000 US and allied forces, with the declared objective
of protecting the delivery of humanitarian aid against looting, and was
the first major instance of post-Cold War humanitarianmilitaryintervention, following the precedent set by the establishment of
the President and Prime
Minister, the roles of Congress and Parliament, the role and limits of
intelligence, the management of public opinion, and the ethics of
humanitarianmilitaryintervention. The case is unusual for such a
contemporary event in that much official documentation is publicly
available, allowing students to gain a nuanced understanding of both the
process of going to war in Iraq and the making and
precipitate a general humanitarian crisis in the country concerned, likewise had to be respected; or that the sovereignty of a regime that presided over people starving to death through its own misrule had also to be respected. A system of international law that accommodates such things must surely be accounted gravely deficient.
To this it may be counter-argued that the threshold under discussion applies only to humanitarianmilitaryintervention; the perpetrators of state crimes may still be brought to justice after the event. The point is an important one. Dispensing
as either genocidal or such as to precipitate a general
humanitarian crisis in the country concerned, likewise had
to be respected; or that the sovereignty of a regime that
presided over people starving to death through its own
misrule had also to be respected. A system of international
law that accommodates such things must surely be accounted
To this it may be counter-argued that the threshold under
discussion applies only to humanitarianmilitaryintervention;
the perpetrators of state crimes may still be brought to justice
after the event
1991 and was then criticised for not intervening
enough. In Somalia, the US staged an elaborate and highly publicised
‘humanitarian’ militaryintervention, justified in terms of
a moral obligation to act, and was criticised for not doing enough or
for lacking stamina and commitment. In the case of both Bosnia and
Rwanda, the criticisms were similar, with the West apparently lagging
behind the demands
to belated top-down attempts to put a check on mass murders – through
humanitarianmilitaryinterventions, the formulation of a Responsibility to
Protect, the extension of the concepts of genocide and crimes against humanity in
international criminal law, the institution of international criminal courts, etc.
– left us wondering how the idea of progress could be defended or
resurrected from the bottom up.
As we moved into the new
argument recalled earlier debates about humanitarianmilitaryintervention: if the UN was unable or unwilling to act
decisively, a ‘coalition of the willing’ was justified in
enforcing the will of the ‘international community’.
‘Remember Rwanda or Kosovo, said Bush, when ‘The UN
didn’t do its job’ ( Guardian , 17 March). In reporting
these comments, the Guardians Nicholas Watt described Bush as
first to give Addis Ababa the green light to invade Somalia and then to support its endeavor fully.
The US airstrikes in support of Ethiopian boots on the ground against a common enemy in Somalia were further bolstered by Addis Ababa's reported sharing of significant intelligence with their US counterparts.
In addition, Washington, stung by its failed humanitarian/militaryintervention in Somalia (1992–94), much preferred having Ethiopia further its narrow security interests while keeping
‘Cosmopolitanism and organised violence’, p. 3.
17 Sen, ‘The uses and abuses of multiculturalism’, p. 3.
18 Kaldor, ‘Cosmopolitanism and organised violence’, p. 3.
19 Kaldor, ‘Cosmopolitanism and organised violence’, p. 4.
20 William Smith, ‘Anticipating a cosmopolitan future: the case of humanitarianmilitaryintervention’, International Politics, 44 (2007), 79.
21 Amartya Sen, Development as Freedom (New York: Alfred A Knopf,1999),
22 Amartya Sen, ‘It’s right to rebel’, Yale Global (19 November 2002), http://