chapter  1
11 Pages


Military intervention is the most contentious issue in international relations (IR) and in the post-Cold War era. With the end of the Cold War optimism rose for a New World Order (NWO), yet violence and war persist. The terrorist attacks against the US on 11 September 2001 have resulted in major military interventions in two states with dramatic repercussions for international society. Nicholas Wheeler writes that after 9/11 the ‘luxury of choosing whether to save strangers has been replaced by the urgency of using force to counter the perils posed by global terrorism and weapons of mass destruction’ (Wheeler, 2003: 50-51). This indicates a transformation in the motivations and justifications for, and practice of, intervention, yet has this really occurred? Have justifications changed? Have national interests openly re-asserted themselves? Has the character of intervention changed relative to the justifications given? Do the norms of international society constrain interventionist states or are norms replaced, elevated or weakened? Did 9/11 produce a radical shift away from an international society towards empire or hierarchy in IR? It is the engagement with these questions that make this book both interesting and timely. Through examining previous cases and looking to the current discourse regarding Iran, it is possible to trace the trajectories of competing norms in IR and point to future possibilities for world order. This book will critically investigate the extent to which there has occurred continuity or change in military intervention by the United States of America (US) in terms of the justifications for, and practice of, intervention. This analysis will, through its normative focus, add to the literature which examines the competing norms of IR and discuss where the traditional norms of national interest, sovereignty and territorial integrity stand against rising norms of human rights (Buzan, 2004; Bellamy, 2005; Dunne, 2005, 2007). It will also contribute to the debate concerning the legitimating and constraining power of norms in relation to intervention. This book can therefore be situated amongst work that seeks to examine the extent to which 9/11 was ‘a radical rupture interpos[ing] itself as in the case of a revolution’ creating change in the international system (Dunne, 2005: 66). Andrew Hurrell argues that the post-9/11 era ‘reveals deep tension between the constitutionalist order represented by international law and institutions and the

power political structures on which patterned political power rests’ (Hurrell, 2002: 202). The subject of intervention is central to any such debate since it is through this use of force that the competing norms of international society come into direct conflict. This creates an important interplay of forces to analyse as justifications, norms and interests interact in structuring the environment in question. This book examines the justifications for and practice of intervention in four cases from 1990 to 2003: the Gulf War, Kosovo and Afghanistan interventions and the Iraq War. In this way it will be possible to trace continuity and change across 9/11 and evaluate the extent to which the norms which underpin international society have been affected. The archival research is deep and original and its findings are suitable for use by all scholars of IR. The justificatory discourses examined in this book are those of US presidents. The justifications could not, therefore, be expected to reference legitimating ideas unrelated to either the state system in general or the US in particular. However, the justifications can indicate a shift away from international society towards a world society through the norms they reference, typically aligned with either cosmopolitan humanitarian claims or hegemonic egoist morality statements.1 Bull argued that an international society exists when states are, on the one hand, ‘conscious of certain common interests and common values’ and, on the other, ‘conceive of themselves to be bound by a common set of rules in their relations with one another, and share in the working of common institutions’ (Little, 2005: 48; Bull, 2002: 13). An international society is also aware of a common identity (Little, 2005: 49). The ‘extent to which states formed an international society was limited and constrained by the fact of anarchy’, with the society producing an order ‘better than a realist would expect but much worse than a cosmopolitan desires’ (Dunne, 2007: 136). What Bull’s definition does not point to explicitly is the variation in the society such that these interests and values and the extent to which they bind are variable, and can be considered thin or thick – hence the society can tend towards either the more anarchic world of the realist or towards humanitarianism (Buzan, 2000: 49). This book is concerned with the normative justifications used to legitimate intervention. Intervention is traditionally legitimated and justified through reference to norms of international society (Wheeler, 2000; Jackson 2000). As Freedman argues, ‘Justifications for war habitually draw on normative arguments, on expectations about how governments should behave towards their own people, and on how human beings and states should behave towards each other’ (Freedman, 2005: 94). This book examines the discourses of presidential justifications, focusing on the normative reference points of these justifications. The normative justifications and legitimation of intervention point to differing tensions within international relations as these norms solidify the society of states, elevate human over state rights and/or tend towards state-centric traditional understandings of order. This book positions its analysis in terms of the normative ideas that political ‘practitioners believed in and sought to implement’, and it is the

public justifications for these normative ideas that this book interrogates (Dunne, 2007: 132; Wight, 1991). International law and human rights justifications, for example, underpin international society to varying degrees, whereas egoist morality justifications point to the elevation of state interests, hierarchy or empire (Dunne, 2007: 139; Clark, 2005: 156). Importantly, the discourse or language of justification can also be seen as a norm. This book researches the language deployed by US presidents and will reveal the extent to which a ‘standard’ normatively charged language is utilised. In this sense language itself becomes normative as US presidents will, taking Wheeler’s position, refer to plausible legitimation, expressed in a common language (Wheeler, 2000: 287). In this way it is also possible to trace norm elevation and creation through changes in the justificatory language itself, particularly in terms of the referent object of the justifications.