IS 302–Reading Questions for Freedom’s Battle (Bass)

The readings for this Friday’s seminar come exclusively from Gary Bass’s recent book Freedom’s Battle: The Origins of Humanitarian Intervention. Here are some of the questions that will orient class discussion

  1. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: Humanitarian interventions of the 19th century were less humanitarian than imperialistic. Great powers simply cloaked what amounted to self-interested military intervention in the garb of humanitarianism, when these interventions were nothing of the sort. Explain.
  2. Is the realist worldview tenable, given what you know about some of the humanitarian interventionS of the 19th century?
  3. What was the effect of media–the so-called CNN effect–on the humanitarian impulses during the 19th century?
  4. What does Bass mean by an “imagined humanity?”
  5. What does Bass mean when he says that “humanitarian intervention emerged as a fundamental liberal enterprise, wrapped up with the progress of liberal ideas and institutions?”
  6. Bass argues that 19th -century diplomats developed a myriad of tools to ensure that humanitarian interventions would not lead to imperialism, conquest and occupation, nor draw big states into rivalry, thereby risking wider conflagrations. What were some of these tools and analyse their use/effectiveness by comparing the Armenian situation with that of the case study–Greeks, Syrians, Bulgarians–that you read.
  7. How important is it that each of the groups dealt with at length–Greeks, Maronite Syrians, Bulgarians, and Armenians–are Christian? In other words, were these just instances of solicitude on the part of fellow Christians? Did this solicitude vitiate the “humanitarian” quality of these campaigns? Explain.
  8. Someone who knows a lot about the case you just read–Greeks, Syrians, Bulgarians–argues that what happened in this case, was not humanitarianism, but self-interest with a facade of humanitarianism used to justify military intervention. What are the best counter-arguments?
  9. Has the global security situation post-9/11 served to usher in a new era of imperialism? What does Bass think? What do you think?
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