CAN INTERVENTION WORK? by Rory Stewart

CAN INTERVENTION WORK?

KIRKUS REVIEW

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 intervention per 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.

 

Pub Date: Aug. 15th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-393-08120-6
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2011




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