Against Massacre looks at the rise of humanitarian intervention in the nineteenth century, from the fall of Napoleon to the First World War. Examining the concept from a historical perspective, Davide Rodogno explores the understudied cases of European interventions and noninterventions in the Ottoman Empire and brings a new view to this international practice for the contemporary era.
While it is commonly believed that humanitarian interventions are a fairly recent development, Rodogno demonstrates that almost two centuries ago an international community, under the aegis of certain European powers, claimed a moral and political right to intervene in other states’ affairs to save strangers from massacre, atrocity, or extermination. On some occasions, these powers acted to protect fellow Christians when allegedly “uncivilized” states, like the Ottoman Empire, violated a “right to life.” Exploring the political, legal, and moral status, as well as European perceptions, of the Ottoman Empire, Rodogno investigates the reasons that were put forward to exclude the Ottomans from the so-called Family of Nations. He considers the claims and mixed motives of intervening states for aiding humanity, the relationship between public outcry and state action or inaction, and the bias and selectiveness of governments and campaigners.
An original account of humanitarian interventions some two centuries ago, Against Massacre investigates the varied consequences of European involvement in the Ottoman Empire and the lessons that can be learned for similar actions today.
"Scholars of international relations, law, and other disciplines have explored the phenomenon of humanitarian intervention, in which one or more states acting on behalf of the international community invades a sovereign state in response to the mass killing of civilians. Rodogno takes a historical approach to the issue in this deeply researched study of how the European Great Powers (primarily Great Britain and France) dealt with the massacres of civilians within the Ottoman Empire between 1825 and 1914."—Choice
"Enthusiasm for humanitarian interventions in foreign conflicts tends to go in waves, as David Rodogno demonstrates in this erudite and well-researched book."—James Pettifer, Journal of Ecclesiastical History
"Against Massacre fills a significant lacuna in the vast and growing literature on humanitarian intervention and will find readers among international relations historians and scholars."—Daniel J. Whelan, American Historical Review
"[T]his is an important and groundbreaking work that deserves a wide readership among Ottomanists, Balkanists, scholars of international relations, and public policy experts with interests in the possibilities and limits of intervening to stop mass violence against civilians."—Max Bergholz, Historian
"Against Massacre is a major contribution to a history of humanitarianism. Based on a multitude of Western sources, it profits from the new researches on late Ottoman history."—Hans-Lukas Kieser, Comparativ
"Through a closer examination of the issue of humanitarian intervention in the nineteenth century, this book has made a valuable contribution to the political history of humanitarian intervention."—Pinar Senisik, Insight Turkey
"This book is an easy read. It flows along nicely and will be popular with students and the chattering classes alike, for it says all the right things."—Kate Fleet, Journal of Islamic Studies
"A timely, ambitious, and clearheaded account of the complex history of humanitarian intervention in the nineteenth century. Rodogno astutely shows how European humanitarianism fed on views of the Ottoman Empire as barbaric and moribund, and its Christian subjects as uniquely deserving of sympathy. Stressing the selectivity of interventions and the mixed motives of their agents, Rodogno traces the interplay between public opinion, the journalism that fueled it, and European states' imperial and geopolitical agendas."—Jennifer Pitts, University of Chicago
"This excellent book offers a fresh and imaginative look at the history of humanitarian intervention by focusing on European action or inaction in the Ottoman Empire during episodes of violence against some of its Christian populations. Its well-researched and nuanced analysis illuminates the theory and practice of such interventions that remain very relevant for our own day. It also recasts through this prism the much-vexed 'Eastern Question' in highly original ways."—Aron Rodrigue, Stanford University
"Against Massacre is a comprehensive and readable account of the first modern humanitarian interventions by Western powers in the nineteenth-century Ottoman Empire. While the new 'responsibility to protect' norm is making more impact than Rodogno concedes, he is right to suggest that broad consensus on military action in mass atrocity cases will long be elusive: the nineteenth-century legacy of selective response lives on."—Gareth Evans, cochair, International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty
"In this outstanding, elegant, and informative book, Rodogno makes a powerful case for reexamining humanitarian intervention from a historical perspective by exploring cases of European involvement in the Ottoman Empire during the nineteenth century. With impressive research and insightful analysis, Against Massacre will have a major impact in international history and be of great importance to humanities and political science scholars."—J. P. Daughton, Stanford University
"Studying the emergence of humanitarian intervention in the nineteenth century and its implementation in the Ottoman Empire, Rodogno provides a new and interesting view on the concept as a whole. Rodogno's topic is excellent, his approach original, and his arguments sound and well-grounded. I know of no similar book."—Stevan K. Pavlowitch, emeritus professor of history, University of Southampton