In This Review

The Limits of Humanitarian Intervention: Genocide in Rwanda
The Limits of Humanitarian Intervention: Genocide in Rwanda
By Alan J. Kuperman
Brookings Institution Press, 2001, 162 pp

A succinct, pessimistic analysis of a horrifying episode in recent international politics. Kuperman starts by admitting frankly that he ended up in a different place than he began, concluding that even a massive Western intervention could have saved only a quarter (around 125,000) of the Tutsi lives lost in the massacres that swept Rwanda in 1994. His case is lucidly and powerfully presented, blending political and military analysis, and it is unrelentingly dark. Prevention is infinitely better than intervention -- which may in fact accelerate mass murder -- but it requires an almost impossible degree of foresight and acumen. Intervention may be better late than never, but it requires military effort on a scale and for a length of time that will make most developed countries' military staffs and politicians blanch. Essential if dispiriting reading for the tender-hearted and tough-minded alike.