The Doctrine of Intervention

The Doctrine of Intervention

Bibliographic Details

Princeton: The Banner Press. 1915

Book Review

The author's definition says: “Intervention is interference by a state or states in the external affairs of another state without its consent, or in its internal affairs with or without its consent.” This definition appears to include, among other things, war of any sort and also treaty rights as to internal affairs, and to exclude treaty rights as to external affairs. Thus there is a departure from the definition in Hall's International Law, which says merely that “intervention takes place when a state interferes in the relations of two other states without the consent of both or either of them, or when it interferes in the domestic affairs of another state irrespectively of the will of the latter for the purpose of either maintaining or altering the actual condition of things within it.” Variation in definition is natural, for the word is still used loosely.

Introduction to The Doctrine of Intervention

The author takes the familiar distinction between political intervention and non-political intervention, saying that the former “results more especially from disagreements between the sovereign powers as to acts or policies affecting the dignity or the security of the opposing state or the general body of states,” and that the latter “results, in the first instance, from the protection of citizens in some manner.” To political intervention he devotes a chapter of about forty pages, and to non-political intervention, under the heads of protection of citizens, denial of justice, protection of missionaries, collection of contract debts, protection of humanity, persecuted Jews, and right of asylum, a chapter of about fifty pages.

Context of The Doctrine of Intervention

Then follows a chapter of about fifteen pages on “special forms of intervention,” namely, recognition of belligerency, recognition of independence, recognition of insurgency, unneutral service, good offices and mediation, and consular and international courts. Then comes a chapter of about forty pages on non-intervention, under the heads of policy of the United States, policy of Europe in the Americas, and policy of Europe at home. The general discussion then concludes with a chapter of about twenty pages entitled “observations and conclusions.” Then follow two chapters of about thirty pages each on intervention in Mexico and interventions in the European war. An appendix presents the neutrality proclamation of President Wilson, the correspondence of Senator Stone and Mr. Secretary Bryan on neutrality, and a bibliography, which does not purport to be complete.

Thesis Statement

The total result is a presentation much longer than that found in general treatises on international law and much briefer than that given in the numerous extracts found in the first three hundred and sixty-six pages of the sixth volume of Moore's International Law Digest. The book appears to be intended for the general reader, rather than for the student or the expert. It is surprising to read that “the United States intervened in Mexico in 1846 ” (p. 10); and the surprise is not removed by the explanation that ” a state may intervene to regulate the internal affairs of another which, by reason of neglect or incapacity, has not controlled its citizens from doing damage or involving the internal security of the intervening state,” and that “the fact that the Mexican Government allowed or ordered part of its military force to cross that boundary resulted in a skirmish between the armed forces of the two nations, and was a direct violation of territorial sovereignty from the American viewpoint, threatening the self-preservation of at least a portion of the country ” (p. 24).

More about The Doctrine of Intervention

Yet as the United States certainly did interfere with the external affairs of Mexico without Mexico's consent, the case-like any other war-must be admitted to come within the author's definition. It is more difficult to bring within any definition of intervention the accidental descent of a German airship upon a French parade ground in 1913 and the French seizure of the airship (p. 25). If, however, the author has now and then treated as within the term intervention a case belonging elsewhere, the general reader will nlot complain and the expert will not be harmed. Indeed, perhaps it is well for the reader to discover thus that the word seems not to have a definite meaning and that the doctrines surrounding it have not yet been reduced to a science.

Book Review Details

This legal book review was published in:

The American Journal of International Law,Vol. 9, No. 3 (Jul., 1915), pp. 765-767Published

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References to the legal books also in the Legal Definitions, click here

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