chapter  5
18 Pages


This chapter addresses an uneasy question: the relation between cosmopolitanism and humanitarian military intervention.1 The reemergence of cosmopolitanism as a flourishing intellectual project has coincided with what Michael Ignatieff describes as a ‘new tide of interventionist internationalism’, whereby Western nations have become embroiled in various efforts to ‘put the world to rights’ (Ignatieff, 1999: 3). Perhaps the most contentious element of this interventionism has been the willingness to use military force for humanitarian ends. Prominent examples of allegedly humanitarian military interventions include US intervention, sanctioned by the United Nations, in Somalia between 1992 and 1994 and NATO’s air campaign, not officially sanctioned by the United Nations, in Kosovo and Serbia in 1999. Prior to the 1990s debate was provoked on this issue by India’s intervention into Bangladesh in 1971, Vietnam’s intervention into Cambodia in 1978-9 and Tanzania’s intervention into Uganda in 1979 (Wheeler 2000). In the first half of the 1990s the Security Council of the UN authorised peace-keeping interventions

in eight instances and military interventions in a further five. Today, there is extensive debate over the foibles and follies of the US/UK invasion of Iraq, the refusal of the UN to grant legitimacy to the military exercise and retrospective attempts to justify the invasion in humanitarian terms (McGoldrick 2004).