Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Political Science


America faces the moral dilemma of whether to intervene militarily, at great risk, in states which commit massive human rights violations against their own citizens. A systematic look at the intellectual ideas guiding international relations reveals such atrocities to be an established part of international behavior. Ending this structural violence is difficult because of the epistemological and ethical limits of social science, the rule of law, political theory, and moral philosophy. The resulting, insolvable problems of international politics--such as the preference for international order over individual justice, the unlimited aspirations of nationalism and self-determination, the conflicts of cultural relativism, and the lack of universal standards for state legitimacy--present obstacles to Americans changing their traditional foreign policy perspectives into a moral and effective policy of military humanitarian intervention. But there is hope, for non-military forms of humanitarian intervention provide the potential for greatly reducing structural violence.