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Humanitarianism Under Fire: The US and UN Intervention in Somalia

Kenneth R. Rutherford
Humanitarianism Under Fire: The US and UN Intervention in Somalia
ISBN: 978-1-56549-260-8
2008/217 pages/LC: 2008010160
A Kumarian Press Book

"This rich and detailed account of US and UN actions in Somalia provides compelling insights into the complexities of humanitarian and military intervention, multilateral action, and the future consequences of the choices made during such crises."—George E. Shambaugh, Georgetown University

"An excellent narrative of the international mission in Somalia [that raises] fundamental questions about the nature of current interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq."—Jody Williams, University of Houston

"A valuable addition to the heated debate over the motivations behind, and the legacy of, the US response to the crisis threatening tens of millions of lives in Somalia in 1992. Combining the methods of a scholar with the insights of a field-based humanitarian worker, Rutherford's contribution is at once highly readable and deeply compelling."—Richard Matthew, University of California, Irvine


Humanitarianism Under Fire is a candid, detailed narrative of the international humanitarian intervention in Somalia—an intervention that became a deadly test of the UN’s ability to carry out a peace operation using armed force.

Kenneth Rutherford presents new information gleaned from interviews and intensive research in five countries. His evidence shows how Somalia became a turning point in the relationship between the UN and US, and how policy and strategy decisions in military operations continue to refer back to this singular event, even today.


Kenneth R. Rutherford is professor of political science and director of the Center for International Stabilization and Recovery at James Madison University. He is cofounder of the Landmine Survivor's Network.


  • The Last Days of the Modern Somali State.
  • Ineffective Efforts to Stop the Chaos and Death.
  • President Bush Sets Out to Save Somalia.
  • Armed Humanitarian Intervention.
  • Armed Nation-Building.
  • The Mission Falls Apart.
  • Past As Prologue: Withdrawal and Re-engagement.