10 March 2014

Rainbow Nation Rituals


In clouds
One soul burns

Hot into the daylight
Flight, trays up prepare for
Crash, landing! What the bleep went
Wrong, false alarm. Merrily a reverie was
it, woke up. Alarm, Sweating brow beating

Eggs, toast, strawberry jam, bacon, bananas. Pack lunch?
Shower, shave, pills, frak where are the pills? Keys?
Clothes, cuddle, couch, caring, candy at this time? Car!
You drive. Me preoccupied. Stop at corner. Running to station.

Train, here like a bullet fast, no fumes, where am I?
Going, gum?, gone. Arrive Rosebank, doesn’t smell sweet. Fouros bakery
Does! Enter to left, hang right and pick up
A tray, baklava, croissant, prego roll for lunch?
Yes please, coffee, pay moffie at counter
Howzit Rosie, enter bakkie, arrive work

Crayons drip melted acid trips
Over the steps into
The expectant hands
Of animated


Also I’m not sure how to explain their obsession with bacon+bananas other than …

Bobotie and Beginnings

When we met my palms
were sweaty and your synapses
were sensual. It felt like a date, and
I needed a beer, you had a Savanna.

I worried you’d hate my open relationship and you said
"pish-posh my bestie is polyamorous, and 

I’m kinky so who am I to judge?"

You smelled like bobotie, what American smells like …agh? Anyways you were distracted by cricket on telly, then I remembered you told me you were a bowler. Then you asked me if the kid that called you poes  REALLY meant cunt because gosh what five year old ... ? Then you mentioned your love of Rodin, so I mentioned *just now* talking about him with my mum. Next day while you were in the guestroom, she said we were “soul-mates” and I agreed even though I’m a skeptic?

And when my bipolar diagnosis came in four days later, you insisted we’d still hang that weekend because “that’s what friends do when one is depressed.” But eventually I felt a bit better so we had a day-trip. First to the museum where you elf leapt over tricky steps and exclaimed “Ooooh Baskets!” Next at the winery you were more interested in the sculpture outside, our Japonesque amuse bouche, and vines than the wine. But last thing remember from our adventures was you standing in the pouring rain on the hill in front of Rhodes memorial, and I warmed by your smile while taking a picture.

I wanted to spend
every moment
I could
with you
before you left.

So I did!

27 January 2014

You Sleep Perfect with Me (Poem, 4th rev.)

You sleep perfect with me

I miss your malva scent and the way
Our water bottles line up next to each other
The way your body heat tempers
My coolness

Our water bottles line up next to each other
One drinks in silence
The water, its’ coolness
How refreshing

I drink you up in silence
Then shuffle into the part of your bed that sinks in
Refreshingly it’s a perfect
Perfect fit for my curled body

You roll into the other part of your bed and sink in
We toss and turn in rhythm
You perfectly hug my curled body
Never waking me up 

We toss and turn in a rhythm
You cup my breast and
It doesn’t wake me up
I notice it in the morning

I miss your cookie scent and the way
You cup my breast and your verdant eyes
The way your heat tempers, my djembe heart
Beating a morning notice  

21 July 2013

"I Love Her But the Sex Has Died": The Brain Chemical That Can Kill Libido in Long-Term Relationships



"I Love Her But the Sex Has Died":
The Brain Chemical That Can Kill Libido in Long-Term Relationships

Trying to sustain a long-term relationship that is also sexual presents humans with a chemical catch-22.
July 9, 2013  |  
Writer Carole Jahme shines the cold light of evolutionary psychology on readers' problems.
From an anonymous male, aged 40+
I have been in several very loving, amorous, "serious" relationships as an adult, none frivolous and none (at least on a conscious level – who the hell knows what's going on with me subconsiously) with the intention of being short-term.
Inevitably, however, my sexual attraction for my partner wanes to the point where we become virtually non-sexual. This can happen in less that a year after the relationship started. This condition consistently contributes to the relationship falling apart. My emotional feeling of love stays constant, and the breakup is traumatic for both of us. Add to the mix my undeniable enjoyment of and never-failing satisfaction with masturbation, and it seems to be a recipe for disaster. Is there an evolutionary take on any of this?
Carole replies:
Trying to sustain a long-term relationship that is also sexual presents humans with a chemical catch-22.
Studies on the length of relationships have shown that couples in harmonious, stable and trusting long-term relationships have higher blood levels of oxytocin (a chemical that regulates attachment, promotes cooperation and facilitates sensations of joy and love) than people who are not in compatible relationships. These happy couples also reap other benefits in terms of longer lifespan, lower rates of alcoholism, depression and illness, and more rapid recovery after accidental injury.
But there are conflicting chemicals at work in sexual relationships that sometimes prevent them from ever becoming long-term. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in the limbic system – the brain's primitive reward centre. It mediates both the sex drive and addiction to drugs. Brain scans have shown that the rapid rise in dopamine levels during orgasm is similar to that seen in a heroin high. But dopamine falls rapidly following orgasm in both males and females and is replaced with rising levels of a hormone called prolactin.
Both are part of the brain's "dopaminergic" reward system.
At first, rising prolactin causes sleepy post-orgasm contentment. (Interestingly the amount of prolactin produced is far greater after sex with a partner than after masturbation. Thus there is little prolactin relief for those who masturbate.) But once this sleepy feeling of satiation has passed, prolactin may go on rising and cause problems for couples wanting to sustain a long-term sexual relationship. In both men and women excess levels of prolactin can cause loss of libido, anxiety, headaches, mood swings and depression.
High prolactin is associated with sensations of despair. When the prolactin levels of newly caged wild monkeys were monitored, the hormone was seen to rise once the animals realised they were trapped. Levels of the hormone were much higher in monkeys incarcerated for months compared with wild animals that had only just been caged. Science has yet to determine how long prolactin continues to rise and remain high in humans after orgasm, so this is speculative, but in a relationship with lots of sex it could mean levels are elevated for weeks or even months.
How does all this tie in with your predilection for maturbation? There have been some illuminating studies of this behaviour in non-human primates. It has been found, for example, that male monkeys who masturbate tend to be of low status, whereas high-status male monkeys are likely only to experience ejaculation during sex. It also seems that the frequency of masturbation is higher in captive primates than in wild animals. You can make of this what you will.
The dopaminergic system varies among humans, some people exhibiting more reward-seeking behaviour than others, and this may go some way towards explaining why many relationships are burnt out after a year. In reproductive terms, 12 months is long enough for fertilisation to take place. It is also certainly long enough for prolactin levels to rise. Once your libido flags and anxiety sets in, the short-term reward gained from masturbating may give you a dopamine "high" without risking bringing on that post-orgasmic prolactin "low".
Chemical compatibility is essential to all good relationships. Couples lucky enough to enjoy long-term partnerships may have similar sex drives (perhaps not too much sex, or even none at all?) and dopaminergic systems that don't flood their bodies with too much prolactin. Human behaviour seems to be under the control of two evolutionary programs: one that results in fertilisation, disillusionment and a series of partners, and the other that enables humans to develop the lasting relationships that lead to long, happy and healthy lives.
1. Carter, SC (1998) Neuroendocrine perspectives on social attachment and love. Psychoneuroendocrinology; 23(8): 779-818.
2. DeVries, C, Glasper, ER (2005) Social structure influences effects of pair-housing on wound healing. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity; 19(1): 61-68.
3. Coan, JA et al (2006) Lending a hand: social regulation of the neural response to threat. Psychological Science, A Journal of the Association for Psychological Science; 17(12): 1032-1039.
4. Holden, AEC et al (2008) The influence of depression on sexual risk reduction and STD infection in a controlled, randomized intervention trial. Journal of Sexually Transmitted Diseases; 35(10): 898-904.
5. Holstege, G et al (2003) Brain activation during human male ejaculation. The Journal of Neuroscience; 23(27): 9185-9193.
6. Heaton, JPW (2003) Prolactin: An integral player in hormonal politics.Contemporary Urology; 15: 17-25.
7. Suleman, BVM, Mbaruk, A et al. (2004) Physiologic manifestations of stress from capture and restraint of free-ranging male African green monkeys (Cercopithecus aethiops). Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine; 35(1): 20-24.
8. Thomsen, R, Soltis, J (2004) Male masturbation in free-ranging Japanese macaques. International Journal of Primatology; 25(5): 0164-0291.
9. Guo, G, Tong, Y et al (2007) Dopamine transporter, gender, and number of sexual partners among young adults. European Journal of Human Genetics; 15: 279–287.

28 February 2013

Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau Comparison Grid

Given all the recent kerfluffles in anthropology and related sciences it is good to take a look at the three basic political and philosophical "wells" from which these views diverge and relate to as the different "sides" seem to be being taken for the most part along these. Particularly Hobbes-ish versus Rousseau-ish, as someone more partial to Locke (minus his Protestant religious stuff) or even Montesquieu (minus the idea women cannot head a family stuff). Pay special attention to their views on "State of Nature." 

State of Nature

The state of nature is a state of war.  No morality exists. Everyone lives in constant fear.  Because of this fear, no one is really free, but, since even the “weakest” could kill the “strongest” men ARE equal.

Men exist in the state of nature in perfect freedom to do what they want.  The state of nature is not necessarily good or bad.  It is chaotic.  So, men do give it up to secure the advantages of civilized society.

Men in a state of nature are free and equal. In a state of nature, men are “Noble Savages”.  Civilization is what corrupted him.
Purpose of Government

To impose law and order to prevent the state of war.

To secure natural rights, namely man’s property and liberty.

To bring people into harmony. To unite them under the “General Will”.


Governments are designed to control, not necessarily represent.

Representation ensures that governments are responsive to the people.  Representation is a safeguard against oppression.

Representation is not enough.  Citizens cannot delegate their civic duties. They must be actively involved.  Rousseau favors a more direct democracy to enact the general will.

Impact on Founders

Governments must be designed to protect the people from themselves.

1.       Governments must be designed to protect the people from the government. 
2.       Natural Rights must be secured.

1.       Governments must be responsive and aligned with the general will. 
2.       People make a nation, not institutions.
3.       Individual wills are subordinate to the general (collective) will.

16 February 2013


(inspired by Tuna Casserole and Spicy Tuna Rolls)


One or Two Cans of Tuna (depending on size and amount of food wanted)

Garlic (to taste)

Mushrooms (to taste)

Cooked Rice (to taste)

Fried Onions (Can style – I like Trader Joes or Japanese brands)

Mayo or Cream (I used Olive oil based mayo)

Sriracha or Favourite (red) hot sauce (to taste)


Roast some garlic and mushrooms (whichever ones you like I used peeled cloved but minced is fine and shiitake [Lentinula edodes]) and drain of excess oil. Keep oil to use for frying eggs or whatever as it has a nice umami flavour and can be used again. Make a nice mix of no more than half garlic/mushroom mix to rice but at least 1/6th garlic/mushroom mix to rice. Drain tuna of fishy-water, usually give it to the pet. Mix that all together with as much mayo needed to make moist but NOT soggy. Add a hot sauce to taste and mix again. Sprinkle canned Fried onions on top. You could also sprinkle Seaweed or Furikake if you want to lean more Asian. It’s a fusion dish so either ways fine.

28 January 2013

January so far ...

January has been crazy busy. I finally took over the DNS for the National Association of Student Anthropologists and have big, HUGE plans on how I'd like to see it upgraded. Most of those plans are of course based on a survey of the membership which I've yet to have time to actually read all the responses to. I've been assured though based on the survey there's a demand a Forum and am looking to add that. Relatedly I've been re-reading a lot of HTML books and webpages on how to use Word Press. Guess anthropology has finally given me and excuse to resurrect my inner computer nerd that my sexist father tried to squash out of me as a child. Yay! more nerd credz. 

Something I'd also like to mention is that this term my department head Dr. Samuel Connell and his family are in the field. First stop in Vietnam! They will be blogging their experiences at http://labigblog.blogspot.com/ and his kids at http://labigblogkids.blogspot.com/. If you look you today (28 Jan 2013) one can already see some wonderful pictures of Halong Bay on the children's blog. If you're interested in globalization, resistance, archaeology etc. I'm sure he'll cover these topics at some point because that's bailiwick. He's really an amazing professor and I hope you enjoy learning from him as much as I did. However I believe by the time he comes back from his sabbatical I'll be in the field and when I come back he'll be in the field again. So I might not see him in real life for a long time. After that I'll then I'll one Foothill class left (not an anthropology one) then I transfer so even when we're both back I probably won't be seeing much of him. However I will be following his adventures via his blog above - and on Facebook. 

Speaking of writing and Facebook, my writing partner killed his Facebook. He's lucky to be in such a position and kudos to him for offing it. However too many of my current school/AAA and other coordination points are on it so it actually cuts down on my work rather than adds to it. Also I'd have a hell of a phone bill with all those overseas friends/family without it - so I'm screwed. On a good note we have started on our Sci-Fi novel and are at the point where we have the basic outlines for major cultures and philosophical conflicts and am starting to sort out the changes to my original plot idea which are dependent on the changes to the two conflicting cultures as I initially saw them. It's been interesting working with the differing time zones - all I can say is thank Google for Google Drive! Maybe I should send them a fruit-basket? 

I've also been in the midst of planning some fieldwork for May/June. I'll be volunteering with Lefika La Phodiso - The Art Therapy Centre in the Johannesburg area of South Africa. This will be the first time I'll be setting up such work independently of a volunteer recruitment organization and so I'll be having to set up everything from almost scratch. To this effect I'm going to be announcing a KickStarter campaign fairly shortly. Hopefully I can get enough funds that my husband doesn't have to help sponsor me ... who knows? He's already letting me use his miles for the flight so I'm hoping that it works out that way. Either way though I'm going, that's what I do know! 

Hum, well there's lots of other stuff too but those are the things I feel comfortable sharing on a blog which anyone can read.

Toodles for Now!


21 December 2012

The United Nations Approach to Humanitarian Intervention (Review)

Norrie MacQueen. Humanitarian Intervention and the United Nations. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2011. xv + 240 pp. $32.50 (paper), ISBN 978-0-7486-3697-6; $100.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-7486-3696-9.
Reviewed by David Williams (Swansea University, Wales)
Published on H-Genocide (October, 2012)
Commissioned by Elisa G. von Joeden-Forgey

The United Nations Approach to Humanitarian Intervention

One simply cannot consider intervention in the current world climate without taking into account the United Nations. In Humanitarian Intervention and the United Nations, Norrie MacQueen explores the capability of the UN to use its members’ military assets to defend human rights. Whilst this is not the first book on the subject, even by this author, it does fill a crucial gap in providing a straightforward, detailed analysis of the relationship between the UN and intervention. More than this, it makes a valid contribution to the critical analysis of the present world system that has dominated intervention research in the last twenty years and provides a fundamental insight into the limitations of the current legal and political infrastructure surrounding intervention. Its central proposal is that the world stage has not changed as much as recent scholarship indicates, and this means that the UN remains the most effective body for implementing intervention. The extent to which the UN has ever been effective is, however, questionable.

For those who are not familiar with humanitarian intervention, this is the practice of attempting to halt humanitarian concerns, like genocide and the fall-out from natural disasters, in a foreign state. Whilst in practice intervention is often attempted in a number of non-military ways (for example through economic sanctions or refugee management), the most concerning and indeed the most studied is armed intervention. MacQueen is entirely focused with this military dimension, as he well should be. Scholarship on this area is fixated on the challenges these types of interventions generally face, particularly the tension between the notions of international order and state sovereignty, on the one hand, and the upholding of justice and human rights, on the other. As others have pointed out, this should be an area in which international law, and by extension bodies like the UN, should create a legal exception to its own conflicting laws.[1] But at present, armed intervention, even with the objective of halting genocide, is nowhere near as easy to execute as it should be. Any text that deals with intervention therefore needs to reconcile how sovereignty plays off against human rights. Due credit should thus be given to MacQueen’s introduction, which is a masterpiece of succinctness. It avoids the quagmire of complex concepts such as the Responsibility to Protect but deals directly with the interminable debate between sovereignty and human rights. The result is a great overview of the role the UN has played, continues to play, and will play in future interventions. Humanitarian Intervention and the United Nations is highly recommended reading for anyone unfamiliar with the general issues surrounding intervention.

The first half of the text deals with the conceptual and ethical aspects of armed intervention and the United Nations. Initially MacQueen charts the development of humanitarian aims alongside the UN, claiming a heritage from the subtly successful League of Nations towards the armed interventions in the Congo and Lebanon, ending with Darfur. In this part MacQueen criticizes the recently emerged argument that the basis of international politics has started to shift. Common consensus is that the nature of international relations has changed over the last three hundred years. From the late 1600s the prevailing model has been based on the Westphalian system, with a state having absolute authority within its own borders by right; any action within its borders is therefore the state’s own affair. In recent years, after the publication of the Report by the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS), many thinkers have proposed that the ideas around sovereignty have changed--now sovereignty is seen as a responsibility and it is only granted if a state is capable of defending the human rights of its citizens.[2] This, of course, has had progressive repercussions for thought surrounding intervention, with the idea of sovereignty as a responsibility justifying the action entirely. When states can no longer ensure the human rights of their citizens, their own right to sovereign borders is forfeited. However, MacQueen takes his analysis beyond the common wisdom, providing a critical analysis of the real state of this proposed post-Westphalian system. As he concludes, there is not as much evidence of a worldwide acceptance of the responsibility to protect as is necessary to prove the existence of a post-Westphalian world. Whilst many will disagree, the ICISS report has had a long honeymoon period with intervention scholars, and perhaps now is the right time for its ideas to be reassessed. 

The implications of this conclusion for the future of military intervention are not, however, as detrimental as one might think. Instead, MacQueen argues, the UN provides a key facilitator for humanitarian actions and, having been developed in a Westphalian system, remains as effective today as it ever has been. What is most illuminating in MacQueen’s argument is the long-term analysis of how intervention has been dealt with inside the limits of this state system. He places a significant amount of emphasis on the legacy of the League of Nations and how the UN has had to react to avoid facing the same fate as the League, whilst also trying to meet similar objectives as its predecessor. In MacQueen’s reading the League of Nations proves to have had a significant legacy in providing a precedent for an inter-state body making physical changes to the real world, with the League's establishment of the Saar region and the Permanent Court of International Justice as exemplars of this. Despite the ultimate failure of the League of Nations, these small glimmers of success gave credit to the burgeoning idea of an international organization to bring peace. This demonstrates the capacity for the UN to enact interventions inside the limits of right-based sovereignty.

What follows is an extended discussion of the UN and intervention after the Second World War. It is no surprise that the shape of international relations was affected by the Cold War and this continually altered the approach the UN had to take in staging interventions. A very clear and concise summary of this period is delivered which covers areas including the development of humanitarian law, the rise of peacekeeping, and the growth of a human rights ethic. MacQueen also deals with some of the more challenging examples of interventions and explains how these have moved the history of intervention. The United Nations Operation in the Congo is explained as a game-changer, in so far as it was an intervention rather than a peacekeeping mission and marks a shift from traditional models of state conciliation. Most refreshing in this first section of the book is the exploration of little-known interventions. The examples of Kashmir, West New Guinea, and Palestine, despite their successes, have all been overshadowed in recent years by more violent interventions that have garnered media focus. A reprisal of these early interventions is therefore timely, and MacQueen proves convincing in assigning these examples genuine importance.

MacQueen then goes on to explore the changes that the end of the Cold War brought to the UN. After the collapse of the USSR there was an extraordinary increase in the number of interventions and peacekeeping missions undertaken by the UN, and attempts are made to explain why this was the case.[4] This period is described as one of “new peacekeeping,” although this seems to be due more to the quantity of interventions than the quality. A part of this change in quantity is attributed to the fact that the number of problems that limited the practical efficacy of the UN in staging interventions dropped dramatically. MacQueen follows on from the “new and old wars” theory proposed by Mary Kaldor, which argues that since the end of the Cold War the nature of conflict has changed to small-scale wars between people rather than states and  hat this generates increased human rights violations.[4] The implication is not only an increased demand for intervention, but also that the nature of this intervention has changed as genocides now rarely occur across state borders. This has obvious and dire consequences for the unique role that the UN can play in intervention as an institution concerned with states. Still, perhaps some of MacQueen’s thought has grown out of date, with situations like Kosovo marking a close to the immediate post-Cold War period of intervention, and the application of the ICISS’s recommendations. Another constructive component of this section is one of the most comprehensive analyses to date of former UN secretary general Boutros Boutros-Ghali’s An Agenda for Peace. This quite rightly concludes that intervention needs to change to a multifunctional practice that focuses as much on pre-emptive action and post-conflict peace-building as on prevention at the time of violence.

Whilst MacQueen’s discussion of this period is solid, in being so based on the international system there is a distinct lack of awareness of other factors. Since the close of the 1980s intervention has flourished. As the author argues, this has, in part, been due to both a shift in the dynamics of state interaction and the contributions of individuals like Boutros-Ghali and Lakhdar Brahimi, a UN special advisor on peacekeeping. But there are other explanations that are less explored. MacQueen does describe a growing awareness of genocide from a world media which suddenly offered 24-hour coverage and gained an increased audience, leading to what has been termed “the CNN effect.”[5] The physical and emotional distance of viewers from victims thousands of miles away started to close with the rise of the world media at the same time that interventions started to increase in frequency. No one can deny the extent to which the news media influenced the decision to intervene in Kosovo, especially after the revelations of Rwanda. Whilst factors like this are covered in some regard, perhaps it would have been beneficial to look to a broader spectrum outside of an international relations context to appreciate why interventions increased. Recent studies have, for example, examined a genuine belief held by states that intervention could create deep social changes in the intervened state, and generate political currency at home.[6] The belief that intervention was also becoming easier helped increase the practice as well. The emphasis is put on changes on the world stage, but there is a far more complex picture in explaining why interventions increased in this time. MacQueen ends this section of theoretical engagement by addressing the extent to which the responsibility to protect has altered the underlying function of intervention.

The first section of this book does do a good job of discussing the theory of intervention. It deals with the development of this theory, giving due prominence to key individuals who have furthered the practice. In the main it discusses the capacity of the UN to initiate an intervention, and the point in time when this is most appropriate. It also assesses the aptitude of the UN for operating in a Westphalian context. The book then shifts tact, and explores the actual practice of UN intervention, ultimately with the aim of analyzing if and how we can call any intervention a success. Here there is a balanced appraisal of UN interventions, both recent and in the past.

This second half of this book comprises a number of case studies, including Africa, the Balkans, and East Timor. These provide a practical balance for the theoretical arguments put forth previously. They introduce the reader to some of the better known and more commonly cited interventions, again in such a way as to familiarize readers clearly and concisely with the examples. Good connections are made both between consecutive cases of interventions and between interventions and the UN. The section on Africa makes the deliberate and well-furnished argument that one intervention leads to another, or in some cases to the absence of another. In this manner the decision to avoid intervention in Rwanda is explained, and it is uplifting to see that MacQueen avoids the often used argument that the lack of oil or diamonds explains why the outside world did not intervene. There is some loss of engagement with theory here, and little of the second section directly relates to changes and continuities in the Westphalian system. More effort is made in illustrating the idea that the end of the Cold War brought significant changes in intervention and increased the number of cases where interventions were appropriate. While the focus remains on the capacity of the UN to intervene, it is important to note that MacQueen also looks at alternatives, exploring the notion of African solutions to African problems and non-UN-backed enforcement in the Balkans. Although the general thrust of his argument is somewhat lost in this part, it does enforce the idea that the UN is the most suitable intervener.

The book closes with the argument that it is not always appropriate to intervene, and there seems to be a pessimistic streak throughout the conclusion. War is supposedly necessary, and the sole way in which political and social conflicts that reach certain levels can be resolved. Whilst this realist tone dominates his argument, MacQueen does accept that the case for intervention should be forwarded on a casuistic basis. This dictates that there are cases in which conflicts need to run their course, but that there is also a place for interventions that come at the point in a conflict where an opportunity for external help ebbs to become part of the resolution process. A very good comparison of Angola and Mozambique supports his argument. Aside from a discussion of what constitutes success, which must also be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, MacQueen concludes that if intervention is to be carried out, the UN is the only body capable of dealing with it. The UN sits on a world stage that has not yet moved beyond its Westphalian limitations. There is no other body that can suitably balance all the demands of an intervention with the limitations that the present international situation places on it. At the very least the UN provides a legitimate body to approve intervention. Nonetheless, MacQueen realizes that there are weaknesses to the UN system. Rapid reaction and clear objectives are something that the UN can only rarely provide. Despite this MacQueen concludes, to paraphrase Winston Churchill’s quip on democracy, that the UN is the worst agent of intervention, apart from all the others.

This book certainly provides a solid and critical approach to intervention theory. It is easily accessible without dumbing down the subject and engages the reader in a stimulating way that avoids overburdening them with complex theories and unnecessary information. Amongst all this it also provides a clear argument, that the UN is not as capable of staging interventions as it claims to be but is still more capable than any other alternative. As I have described, the close association of this book to international relations theory is a weakness in terms of really answering the research questions set out. But it also proves a great strength in making this text relevant and accessible. Whilst the number of publications that consider the topic of humanitarian intervention has grown progressively larger in the last decade, there is still no real standard basic text on the subject. It  may be presumptuous to claim that MacQueen has produced a work that could fill this need, but this book is certainly to be recommended as solid introductory reading, for theory on the topic at the very least. I only wish that a text as clear and precise as this had existed when I was introduced to the subject.


[1]. Nicholas J. Wheeler, Saving Strangers: Humanitarian Intervention in International Society  (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 28.
[2]. Gareth Evans and Mohamed Sahnoun et al., The Responsibility To Protect: Report of The International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (Ottawa: International Development Research Centre, 2001).
[3]. Between 1988 and 1992 the annual budget for UN peacekeeping operations grew from $230.4M to $1689.6M. See Boutros-Ghali, Supplement to An Agenda for Peace: Position Paper of the Secretary-General on the Occasion of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the United Nations, UN Document A/50/60-S/1995/1, available at http://www.un.org/Docs/SG/agsupp.html.
[4]. Mary Kaldor, New and Old Wars. Organized Violence in a Global Era (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1999).
[5]. Gary J. Bass, Freedom's Battle: The Origins of Humanitarian Intervention (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2008), 25.
[6]. Stephen Wertheim, “A Solution from Hell: The United States and the Rise of Humanitarian Interventionism, 1991–2003,” Journal of Genocide Research 12, nos. 3-4 (2010): 149-72.
If there is additional discussion of this review, you may access it through the list discussion logs at: http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/logbrowse.pl.

Citation: David Williams. Review of MacQueen, Norrie, Humanitarian Intervention and the United Nations. H-Genocide, H-Net Reviews. October, 2012.

Transitions (poem)

Sometimes I think in another life
you were mine and
I gave shelter to you in my bosom,
Like pillows they cradled your head and
We were one flesh

Circumstances have changed our ages
So different this spin on the Kalachakra  
Now I barely know you, yet I know you still
I feel close though we have just met
again through kismet

This is all unreal to you
because you’re a Skeptic 
and you are not who you were,
Only a mirror of what you will be again though
What cannot be for us this cycle is coupling

Love must now take a different form because
I am promised in love's rings to another
who I wish never to hurt and for whom vasopressin flows 
And yet to not have you pains me
like an arrow through the amygdala 
So I seize your camaraderie
and pleasure you through music
Hoping someday another will encircle you in love

Time is sick and the universe fickle
Pounding a sickle into the ground relentlessly
Forming new combinations with leftover seeds
Becoming different beings

Through this puckish epoch
Promiscuous I must not be with flesh
But care for you with melody and mirth instead as
Love does not end just transforms