The problem with the conceptual framework of humanitarian interventionism is related to its abstraction from geoeconomics and geopolitics as well as disregard for the disparity of power and influence in the world. Notwithstanding the appeal of this discourse, the international system is not a level playing field. In a world where “might makes right,” the acceptance of Responsibility to Protect as the norm in inter-state relations gives the hegemonic powers ideological legitimization for intervening in weaker countries against noncompliant regimes.
Historical experience shows that there are good reasons to doubt the prevalence of humanitarian concerns as the foreign policy motivation of most nation-states. Not the least of which is the tendency of the big powers to cloak their foreign policy behind high-sounding moralistic discourses. The mixing of humanism and war on the part of an imperialist power is, and remains, an oxymoron. “Humanitarian” bombing and occupation are not measures to further peace, and military destruction is neither environmentally friendly nor energy saving.