Prof. Michael Butler awarded fellowship to examine intervention ‘deficit’

Clark University associate professor of political science Michael Butler has recently been awarded a Marion and Jasper Whiting Foundation Fellowship to support continuing work on his research monograph “Shunning Strangers: Explaining the Humanitarian Intervention Deficit.”

Michael Butler Clark University professor Michael Butler

Butler’s work is concerned with examining what he calls a “humanitarian intervention deficit” arising from the increasing reluctance on the part of the international community to support third-party intervention in humanitarian crises characterized by mass atrocities, widespread civilian casualties, and extensive numbers of refugees and internally displaced persons.

Butler’s monograph will introduce and examine three possible explanations for the emergence of the “humanitarian intervention deficit”:

  • That the frequency, scope, and intensity of humanitarian crises are in decline;
  • That the provision of humanitarian intervention has been held captive to the machinations and strictures of power politics, particularly within the UN Security Council; and
  • That the doctrine of a ‘Responsibility to Protect’ has proven ineffective in generating the political and material support for humanitarian intervention it was designed to elicit.

Butler says he hopes this comprehensive empirical and theoretical assessment will allow not only for a diagnosis of the major factors inhibiting the international community’s response to humanitarian crises and complex political emergencies, but also for consideration of possible remedies.

The Whiting Foundation Fellowship will support Butler’s research by making it possible for him to accept an invitation to serve as a scholar-in-residence at the Institute of International Studies, University of Wroclaw, Poland, in the fall of 2014. There he plans to conduct a series of site visits and interview foreign policy officials in Poland and other NATO and EU member-states, as well as scholars at research institutions in Barcelona, Oslo, and Copenhagen. The visits and interviews will allow for direct engagement with, and fuller incorporation of, European perspectives on a subject that remains vitally important to international security and strategic thinking on both sides of the Atlantic. Butler also plans to deliver public talks and presentations to faculty at the Institute of International Studies and at other scholarly conferences and workshops. He plans to use this feedback to inform his research, as well as his teaching upon his return to Clark.

Butler’s research interests converge in the areas of conflict and cooperation, foreign policy, and global governance. He specializes in the study of foreign policy, armed conflict and military intervention, and conflict management and resolution. Recent publications  include "Global Politics: Engaging a Complex World" (with M. A. Boyer and N. F. Hudson), 2013; "Selling a Just War: Framing, Legitimacy, and US Military Intervention," 2012; and "International Conflict Management," 2009.

The Marion and Jasper Whiting Foundation awards fellowships to that enable teachers to study abroad or away from their home institutions. The aim is to stimulate and broaden the minds of teachers to improve and enhance the quality of their instruction.