When Does the United States Intervene Militarily for Humanitarian Reasons?

Roberta Haar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Although the end of the Cold War meant fewer constraints on humanitarian intervention, U.S. leaders continue to shy away from protecting innocents outside of the United States from harm. This is despite the fact that presidential candidates often campaign on restoring America's moral lead in the world and, in particular, on U.S. responsibilities to avert mass atrocities. Hagan's Logic of Political Explanation aids in understanding why, once in office, a president's initial response is to avoid the controversy of a risky involvement. When this strategy fails, he shifts to a strategy of legitimating a policy of intervention and/or to a strategy that insulates his foreign policy choice from domestic political pressures. Hagan's model facilitates in understanding the role of the domestic environment, especially regarding political opposition and the public's attitude toward a crisis, in shaping presidential decision making on humanitarian intervention.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-314
JournalPolitics and Policy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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