Not long ago, humanitarian intervention was all the rage and produced a cottage industry of books, conferences, and plans for action, notably The Responsibility to Protect (R2P). Today, it appears to be on the back foot. This is not surprising given that the basic assumptions underlying humanitarian intervention were flawed from the get-go, yet rarely called into question given the near-unanimity among its proponents about the program's feasibility and international purchase. So what went wrong, why, and what are we left with?
Rajan Menon is the Anne and Bernard Spitzer Professor in International Relations at the Powell School, City College of New York/City University of New York, and Adjunct Senior Research Scholar at the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies, Columbia University.