The Washington Post
Can Intervention Work? (Norton Global Ethics Series)by Rory Stewart
Best-selling author Rory Stewart and political economist Gerald Knaus examine the impact of large-scale interventions, from Bosnia to Afghanistan.“A fresh and critically important perspective on foreign interventions” (Washington Post), Can Intervention Work? distills Rory Stewart’s (author of The Places In Between)/em>/em>/em>/p>
Best-selling author Rory Stewart and political economist Gerald Knaus examine the impact of large-scale interventions, from Bosnia to Afghanistan.“A fresh and critically important perspective on foreign interventions” (Washington Post), Can Intervention Work? distills Rory Stewart’s (author of The Places In Between) and Gerald Knaus’s remarkable firsthand experiences of political and military interventions into a potent examination of what we can and cannot achieve in a new era of nation building. As they delve into the massive, military-driven efforts in Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan, the authors reveal each effort’s enormous consequences for international relations, human rights, and our understanding of state building. Stewart and Knaus parse carefully the philosophies that have informed interventionism—from neoconservative to liberal imperialist—and draw on their diverse experiences in the military, nongovernmental organizations, and the Iraqi provincial government to reveal what we can ultimately expect from large-scale interventions and how they might best realize positive change in the world. Author and columnist Fred Kaplan calls Can Intervention Work? “the most thorough examination of the subject [of intervention] that I’ve read in a while.”
The Washington Post
With test cases from Korea to Iraq and Afghanistan bubbling up in the news, Americans have good cause to reevaluate the effects of interventionism. Author Rory Stewart (The Places In Between) is a good position to do so. As a member of the British parliament and a Foreign Service embassy official, he has made forays into troubled areas including Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan. In Can Intervention Work?, he joins with Gerald Knaus, the founding chairman of the European Stability Initiative, to explore the possibilities and pitfalls of interventionism and nation-building. A timely topic by two authorities.
A sober assessment of what "intervention" can and cannot accomplish.
British Parliament member Stewart (The Places In Between, 2006, etc.) and Knaus, the founding chairman of the European Stability Initiative, are not opposed to interventionper se, but they argue that many of its premises, and certainly the implementation, are faulty. Stewart takes up failures in execution of intervention especially in Afghanistan, and Knaus shows that the Bosnian precedent, often considered a model for success, was anything but. In Afghanistan, there is a mismatch between means and ends—the spending of $14 billion per year just on training the military and police cannot be sustained by a government with a budget of just $1 billion per year. Knaus deconstructs a succession of untruths or exaggerations about the Balkans War, where the so-called Brcko model was based on giving plenipotentiary or almost vice-regal powers to an administrator. After becoming generalized there, the program was transferred to Iraq, along with personnel, under the Coalition Provisional Authority. Knaus shows that the successes attributed to the model are largely mythical and that what was accomplished by the CPA was based largely on models other than those implemented in Bosnia. Stewart and Knaus stress that lip service to rhetorical or administrative formulas and standards and exaggeration of threat and achievement are no substitutes for truthfulness.
Two experienced authors effectively identify what those who decide to make such interventions require for success, that what is required often does not exist and that brute force is not a viable alternative.
Meet the Author
Rory Stewart is a member of the British Parliament and the former Ryan Professor of Human Rights Policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School.
Gerald Knaus, founding chairman of the European Stability Initiative, is a Carr Center Fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School.
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