1st Edition

Post-Cold War Anglo-American Military Intervention
A Study of the Dynamics of Legality and Legitimacy

ISBN 9780367028480
Published November 6, 2019 by Routledge
264 Pages

USD $160.00

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Book Description

Exploring case studies from the first Gulf War to the Syria crisis, this book discusses different approaches to the use of international law and the role it plays in international power politics.

Analysis of the post-Cold War overseas military involvements of Western powers has focused on their legality and legitimacy, allowing for a conflation of the concepts and distracting from the true source of international legitimacy. Demonstrating compliance with international law can be helpful, but it plays a secondary role to other, more powerful considerations such as national interest and shared national security concerns. Exploring the key drivers for decision-makers, this book identifies the impact of previous experience on the use of international law in the quest for legitimacy ahead of launching military action. Patterns in approach and of relations between close Western allies (in particular the UK and US) are identified, offering valuable lessons for future strategic decision-making.

This book will appeal to scholars and students of International Relations and International Law. Think Tanks focussing on International Relations and the use of force and practitioners working in the realm of foreign policy with a focus on the UN and international law will also be interested in the study and conclusions drawn.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction. Raising Issues of International Instability, International Law and Military Intervention

Chapter 2 What Is Legitimacy and What Is Consensus?

Chapter 3 A Chequered Past: The Long History of Intervention

Chapter 4 The Last Hundred Years: The Impact of The Great War, The Second World War and The Cold War

Chapter 5 The Gulf War: A New Dawn?

Chapter 6 Kosovo: Legitimacy to The Fore

Chapter 7 Sierra Leone: Idealism Masks Realism

Chapter 8 Afghanistan: Clarity in Crisis

Chapter 9 Iraq: Reality Bites

Chapter 10 Libya: Designed for The Return Of Legitimacy

Chapter 11 Syria: Realism Reasserted


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James F. D. Fiddes works in the UK Foreign Office, prior to which he was a practising lawyer. He holds a law degree, an MSc (with distinction) in Strategic Studies and a PhD in International Relations, all from the University of Aberdeen.



"This lucid, comprehensive and highly accessible analysis of the Anglo-American military interventions of the post – Cold War era is be commended. It accurately captures the political and strategic realities of a dynamic international environment and how difficult it has been for the West’s two leading military powers to project military force to faraway places. This book delivers a thorough and balanced measure of the tensions and the confusions permeating the crucial issues of legality and legitimacy whenever a liberal democracy undertakes force projection. If found wanting by the court of informed public opinion in regard of legality and, especially, legitimacy, the prospects for effective military intervention are much reduced. As aptly stated, ‘legitimacy is the holy grail of international intervention’. From the Gulf War of 1991 to the more recent challenges of Syria, the core issues of legality and legitimacy are reviewed and judged in a thoughtful and impressive manner. Inevitably, there will be more interventions by the Anglo – American democracies, and scholars and practitioners of military intervention will be well-served by having read this important study." - James H. Wyllie, Reader in International Relations and Director of Strategic Studies, University of Aberdeen, UK.