Martha Finnemore is University Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at The George Washington University.
In The Purpose of Intervention, Martha Finnemore uses one type of force, military intervention, as a window onto the shifting character of international society. She examines the changes, over the past 400 years, about why countries intervene militarily, as well as in the ways they have intervened. It is not the fact of intervention that has altered, she says, but rather the reasons for and meaning behind intervention—the conventional understanding of the purposes for which states can and should use force.
Finnemore looks at three types of intervention: collecting debts, addressing humanitarian crises, and acting against states perceived as threats to international peace. In all three, she finds that what is now considered "obvious" was vigorously contested or even rejected by people in earlier periods for well-articulated and logical reasons. A broad historical perspective allows her to explicate long-term trends: the steady erosion of force's normative value in international politics, the growing influence of equality norms in many aspects of global political life, and the increasing importance of law in intervention practices.
Barnett and Finnemore reinterpret three areas of activity that have prompted extensive policy debate: the use of expertise by the IMF to expand its intrusion into national economies; the redefinition of the category "refugees" and decision to repatriate by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees; and the UN Secretariat's failure to recommend an intervention during the first weeks of the Rwandan genocide. By providing theoretical foundations for treating these organizations as autonomous actors in their own right, Rules for the World contributes greatly to our understanding of global politics and global governance.