Sie sind auf Seite 1von 29

Imposing International Norms: Great Powers and Norm Enforcement

Author(s): Renee de Nevers

Source: International Studies Review, Vol. 9, No. 1 (Spring, 2007), pp. 53-80
Published by: Wiley on behalf of The International Studies Association
Stable URL: .
Accessed: 14/06/2014 23:21

Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at .

JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of
content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms
of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact

Wiley and The International Studies Association are collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend
access to International Studies Review.

This content downloaded from on Sat, 14 Jun 2014 23:21:40 PM

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
StudiesReview(2007) 9, 53-80

Imposing International Norms:

Great Powers and Norm Enforcement'
Departmentof Public Administration,Maxwell School, Syracuse University

What role does force play in changinginternationalnorms and who is it

used against?This essay arguesthat when great powersseek to promote
new norms, they willcoerce the weak;persuasionis savedfor the strong.
The interactionof two factors-the standing of the target state in the
internationalsociety of states and its power relative to the norm-pro-
moting great power-helps explain the use, or nonuse, of forceby great
powers seeking to promote norms. The cases of the slave trade, piracy,
and state sponsorshipof terrorismare examined to evaluate how the
attributesof norm-violatingstatesaffectthe likelihoodthat great powers
will interveneto encouragestatesto adopt new norms. Powerappearsto
be the best defense againstbeing targetedby a great power seeking to
promote norm change, but good standingin the internationalsocietyof
states is an importantdeterrent against intervention.

The United States' prosecution of the global war on terror could reshape our
understanding of sovereignty. Indeed, this is one of the Bush Administration's
stated goals. The National Security Council's (NSC) National Strategyfor Combating
Terrorism,published in February 2003, takes aim at states that sponsor terrorist
organizations, demarcating the obligations of sovereign states to prevent their ter-
ritory from being used by terrorist groups. It notes that the United States must win
"the war of ideas" in order to defeat terrorism; "with our friends and allies, we aim
to establish a new international norm regarding terrorism requiring non-support,
non-tolerance, and active opposition to terrorists." The Administration is frank in
its goals: "We must use the full influence of the United States to delegitimize ter-
rorism and make clear that all acts of terrorism will be viewed in the same light as
slavery, piracy, or genocide: behavior that no respectable government can condone
or support and all must oppose" (Bush 2003:23-24).
Significantly, the United States proclaimed its intention to compel compliance
with these obligations, backing up its words with military force. The Bush Admin-
istration invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 in response to the September 11,
2001 attacks in New York City and Washington, DC. It held both Al Qaeda, the
group responsible for the terrorist bombings, and the Taliban government that
harbored it, equally responsible for the attacks; the Taliban was overthrown, and Al
Qaeda was ousted from established bases in Afghanistan. The US-led invasion of
Iraq in March 2003 wasjustified in part by claims that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein
supported terrorist groups, including Al Qaeda.2 Moreover, the United States is

'The author wishes to thank Suzette Grillot, Theodore Hopf, Brian Taylor, participants in Cornell University's
Peace Studies Program Seminar, and three anonymous reviewers for their comments on earlier drafts of this essay.
2No credible evidence of cooperation between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda has been found. (see 9/11 Com-
mission 2004: 66). For a discussion of the range of arguments used to justify the invasion, see Lawrence Freedman
(2004) and Chaim Kaufmann (2004).

( 2007 International Studies Review.

PublishedbyBlackwellPublishing,350 MainStreet,Malden,MA02148, USA,and 9600 GarsingtonRoad,Oxford OX4 2DQ, UK.

This content downloaded from on Sat, 14 Jun 2014 23:21:40 PM

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
54 ImposingInternationalNorms

supporting military efforts to combat groups with suspected terrorist links in places
like the Philippines. These actions correspond to the stated US intention to
"ensur[e] that other states accept their responsibilities to take action against these
international threats within their sovereign territory... Where states are weak but
willing, we will support them vigorously in their efforts.... Where states are un-
willing, we will act decisively to counter the threat they pose and, ultimately, to
compel them to cease supporting terrorism" (Bush 2003:11-12).
The US resort to force in the war on terror raises a criticalquestion: what role does
force play in changing international norms? And when force is used to promote new
norms, who is it used against? Although both of the interventions noted above were
undertaken against sovereign states, nonintervention is one of the basic principles
associated with sovereignty. What do the earlier cases the Administration invokes,
particularlypiracy and the slave trade, tell us about when and where force is likely to
be used to promote norms-and how effective it is in eliciting norm change.
A range of mechanisms have been proposed to explain norm change, including
persuasion and socialization as well as the use of incentives and threats. But few
studies have examined whether these different mechanisms apply to different cat-
egories of states or actors. This essay will argue that different tools are used to
influence different actors. Notably, when great powers seek to promote new norms,
they seek to coerce the weak; persuasion is saved for the strong. The interaction of
these two factors-the standing of the target state in the international society of
states and its power relative to the norm-promoting great power-helps explain
the use, or nonuse, of force by great powers seeking to promote norms. When force
is used as part of a strategy of norm change, the targets tend to be weak. Moreover,
force is used against states and entities that fall outside the international society of
states, or those uncomfortably at its fringe, rather than against states that are ac-
cepted members of the international community. Focusing on the mechanisms by
which norm change occurs, then, is insufficient to explain the spread of new norms
in the international system. We need to look beyond the means and consider the
targets of intervention as well.
This essay has two goals: (1) to evaluate how the attributes of norm-violating
states affect the likelihood that great powers will intervene to encourage states to
adopt new norms, or new interpretations of existing norms, and (2) to examine the
cases of the slave trade, piracy, and terrorism to evaluate how well these factors
explain the great powers' resort to force to promote a new norm. The British-led
efforts to eradicate piracy and the slave trade are compared with the United States'
effort to eliminate state support for terrorism.3
The examination to follow is hard to classify as either a rationalist or construc-
tivist evaluation of norm change. Instead, it challenges and validates both. This
essay challenges the realist assumption that norms do not matter by showing that a
state's membership status in the international community affects whether it is
subjected to force. Power alone does not determine great power behavior. At the
same time, states generally promote norms in ways that are consistent with realist
logic. As constructivist scholars would expect, social factors such as sovereign status
matter, but weak states are treated differently than strong states and are more likely
to be coerced. Further, great power concerns about balancing power can take
precedence over promoting norms, even those based on strong moral beliefs.
The lenses through which major norm-promoting states view those whose behavior
they want to change matters. In norm promotion, great powers appear to "speak
softly" to those they regard as their peers, but they "carry a big stick" to force
others into line.

3The Administration also invokes the norm against genocide. It is not examined here because this norm
emerged and gained acceptance without serious great power efforts to promote it. Moreover, it is seldom enforced
(see Ball 1999; Mills and Brunner 2002; Power 2002).

This content downloaded from on Sat, 14 Jun 2014 23:21:40 PM

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

The essay begins by examining the role of force in norm change, laying out an
argument regarding international status, power, and norm change. It then exam-
ines the cases of piracy, the slave trade, and terrorism to determine when states
were targeted with force to promote new norms and when they were not. Finally, it
concludes by examining the implications of the discussion for the study of norm
change and how effective the use of force is in achieving great power goals with
regard to norms.

Norm Change and the Use of Force

When do great powers choose to use force to promote their normative goals?
Following Martha Finnemore (1996:22), norms are defined here as "shared ex-
pectations about appropriate behavior held by a community of actors." Implicit in
any discussion about efforts to spread norms internationally is the assumption that
states operate within a system in which they are concerned with the actions of
others and how such actions might affect them. The evolution of the sovereignty
norm, one of the foundational elements of the existing international system, shows
the development of a set of rules to guide state interactions--and to delimit
them-by ruling out interference in other states' internal affairs.
From a realist perspective, the international system has a minimal system of rules
that at most provides a baseline of acceptable state behavior. Realists generally
agree, however, that the system maintains guidelines for state interactions such as
the rights of sovereign states to territorial autonomy and nonintervention and that
states tend to be socialized to the system as a means of survival (Waltz 1979:127-
128). English School proponents and constructivist scholars argue that an inter-
national society of states can develop in which there are more deeply shared values
and beliefs and, thus, greater attachment to the rules on which the society is based
(Bull 1977; Wendt 1999; Jackson 2000). The guidelines that have developed have
varied in scope and durability over time with the great powers frequently ignoring
the rights accorded to smaller or weaker states in the system. But norms also have
influence because states tend to care about being recognized as legitimate members
of the community of states.4 As Thomas Risse and Kathryn Sikkink (1999:37-38)
point out, "countries most sensitive to pressure are not those that are economically
weakest, but those that care about their international image."
Norm change can involve either the emergence of new ideas or norm building, a
process of reconstructing existing norms (Kowert and Legro 1996: fn. 37). The
constructivist literature focuses on persuasion and socialization as key factors in the
process (Nadelmann 1990; Florini 1996; Finnemore and Sikkink 1998). Persuasion
is an effort to "[change] what people value and what they think is right and good"
(Finnemore 2004:152). This can occur through forms of debate such as argumen-
tative rationality, based on Jurgen Habermas's idea of "communicative action,"
which enables actors to share views and to engage in the exchange of ideas about
what is normatively "right," or argumentative persuasion, which relies on prin-
cipled debate to bring about social learning (Risse, Ropp, and Sikkink 1999; Risse
2000; Checkel 2001). Moral proselytizing or ethical arguments can also undermine
the normative foundations of previous state or societal practices by delegitimizing
the beliefs on which they are based and by manipulating the frames within which
policies or practices are viewed (Nadelmann 1990; Crawford 2002). Socialization
plays a role in the later stages of norm evolution, as norm leaders seek to induce
other states to adopt the new norm. The key dynamics involved are imitation and
pressure for conformity (Finnemore and Sikkink 1998:262).

4"International system," "international society," and "international community" are used interchangeably in this

This content downloaded from on Sat, 14 Jun 2014 23:21:40 PM

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
56 ImposingInternationalNorms

Whereas constructivist scholars examine the process by which beliefs change,

rationalist scholars focus more attention on the process by which states shape their
outward behavior and the concrete factors that convince them to "buy in" to new
norms through self-interest. Normative change, in this view, is the result of be-
havioral changes rather than the cause. States are induced to change their policies
by a combination of incentives and threats from those states promoting new norms.
Only after their policies (behavior) have changed do state leaders' beliefs come into
line with the new policies (Snidal 1985:585-590; Ikenberry and Kupchan 1990).
Although norms are often spread by international organizations, nonstate actors,
and transnational networks (Risse, Ropp, and Sikkink 1999:271), the interest here is
in the role states play in norm transmission and, in particular, their resort to co-
ercion. It is widely accepted that great powers affect norm change through both the
exertion and withdrawal of their influence. The norms held by successful states are
likely to receive greater attention and, thus, have a better chance of spreading widely
because these states participate in more forums and their voices are likely to carry
more weight (Nadelmann 1990:480; Florini 1996). Great powers have more means
at their disposal if they wish to promote a new norm. Moreover, they can link
support for new ideas with (material) side payments in other areas (Krasner
1993:166). Thus, "norms backed by the United States are likely to become more
widespread and effectual than otherwise similar norms originating in Luxembourg"
(Kowert and Legro 1996:491). For example, US pressure helped push both South
Africa and the Philippines to change repressive policies, whereas Gorbachev's with-
drawal of Soviet support in Eastern Europe removed a critical impediment to re-
gime change and the adoption of democratic norms there. Constructivist scholars
point out, however, that state pressure is helpful but rarely the deciding factor in
normative change, and that in many cases great powers are shamed into acting by
nonstate actors or transnational networks (Risse, Ropp, and Sikkink 1999:267-268).
Great powers have taken the lead in advocating norm change for instrumental
reasons and out of moral conviction. Great Britain sought to eradicate piracy when
it became clear that the British stood to gain more from maritime commerce than
from piracy and that pirates were hurting this trade (Rediker 2004:138-145). Ef-
forts to abolish the slave trade were driven by moral rather than instrumental
arguments (Kaufmann and Pape 1999). Current efforts to end state support for
terrorism have elements of each. The United States wants to eradicate state support
for terrorists to eliminate a national security threat; but its efforts are also driven by
the immorality of attacks against innocents-or, at least, the United States is willing
to use such moral arguments to further its instrumental goals.
Military factors have long been used as incentives as well as threats in promoting
changed ideas. Military aid, equipment, training, and even security guarantees can
be offered-or withheld-as an inducement to states to adopt or refrain from
certain behaviors. The US security guarantee to Japan and Germany, for example,
is designed at least in part to encourage these states not to develop their
own nuclear weapons, thereby bolstering the nonproliferation norm (Campbell,
Einhorn, and Reiss 2004).
But sometimes great powers simply use force to impose new norms. For realists,
this is unproblematic; power and the use of force are central factors in international
relations. Realists argue that great powers can set the rules as they choose and
enforce them because of their strength. Norms matter only when they support the
great power's instrumental goals (see Mearsheimer 1994-1995).
Constructivist scholars have recently begun to explore the role of power and
force. Martha Finnemore (2004) has examined the justifications states have used
when intervening with force in other states. She concurs with the realist view that
powerful states can influence when intervention is viewed as appropriate, but she
argues that great power interests are malleable, not fixed. The use of force against
other states has been devalued over time, its use increasingly linked to the

This content downloaded from on Sat, 14 Jun 2014 23:21:40 PM

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

legitimacy of both the means and the ends for which it is used. Even for great
powers, intervention is useful only if it achieves its intended aims.
Michael Barnett and Raymond Duvall (2005) have argued that the tendency to
associate power with the realist paradigm has prevented a thorough analysis of the
ways in which it influences international relations. They propose a typology of
power based on two dimensions: (1) how power works through different social
relations and (2) whether these relations operate through direct or indirect link-
ages. Four forms of power result: compulsory power, based on direct action by one
actor over another; institutional power, in which control over other actors is exerted
indirectly through institutions and other forms of interaction; structural power, or
how social capacities and positions are established; and productive power, which is
the way that discourses and practices indirectly shape social relations and identities.
The use of force is one form of compulsory power in their categorization.
More attention needs to be focused in this literature on whether different tools
are used for different targets. Because imposing international norms by force
clashes with one of the core elements of sovereignty (the right to nonintervention),
the targets of intervention become especially important. Against whom have great
powers used force to promote international norms? State interests and identities
may shape the range of policy choices that state leaders will consider appropriate
(Klotz 1995), but the range of acceptable policy options may depend equally on who
the policy is aimed at, in terms of both identity and power. Two factors in particular
appear to influence the decision to resort to force to promote or enforce norms: the
target state's standing in international society and its power relative to the enforcer.

Standing in InternationalSociety
States can be classified into three categories. Insider states, the first category, are
those recognized as members of the international society or system, with all the
rights accorded to sovereign status. By insider states are meant those accorded
international legal sovereignty and recognized as equal members of the existing
international community (Krasner 1999:14-20). Today the international society of
states is global, with almost 200 states granted sovereign recognition in the United
Nations. In earlier periods, this group was far smaller. Colonies, for example, were
possessions of the European states that claimed them.
The assumption of states as members of an international society implies certain
commonalities, such as shared norms, values, and outlook (Bull 1977). One central
norm is sovereignty. The international society of states developed in parallel with
the consolidation of the European state system; its members were sovereign states.
As Stephen Krasner (1999) notes, Westphalian sovereignty was a "constitutive" rule
of the society. As this society expanded, new members were expected to conform to
certain standards in order to qualify for membership. By the mid-nineteenth cen-
tury, these guidelines had become quite precise; a formal "standard" of civilization
was established delineating the diplomatic and legal systems required for states to
be granted admission to the international society of states (Gong 1984).
Outsider states, the second category of states, are those not viewed as equal or full
members of the existing international society. They are either not "civilized"states by
the society's standards, unequal states on the periphery of the established system, or
not recognized as sovereign entities. These states are not accorded the rights and
privileges of sovereignty.5 For example, although the European powers interacted
with the Ottoman Empire for centuries, they did not consider it an equal member of
the society of states that had evolved by the nineteenth century (Bull 1977:13-14;

5The very notion of an "outsider state" may seem jarring, because "state" has come to be associated with
sovereign status. It is used here to help clarify the distinction between political entities viewed as inside versus
outside the international system.

This content downloaded from on Sat, 14 Jun 2014 23:21:40 PM

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
58 ImposingInternationalNorms

Gong 1984:106-119; Simpson 2004). China was not considered a "civilized"state in

the nineteenth century; indeed, it was not accepted as a member of the European-
dominated society of states until it revised its diplomatic and legal systems to conform
to Western standards (Gong 1984). Taiwan is perhaps the clearest example of an
outsider state today. It lost China's seat at the United Nations in 1971 and was
replaced by the government of the People's Republic of China; it currently has
diplomatic relations with only 25 states. Although Taiwan has security guarantees
from the United States, it does not have official diplomatic relations with the United
States or other major states (Young and Kent 2004:471-473).6
Recognition of a state's independence does not automatically guarantee it mem-
bership in international society; factors such as race and power have affected how
well-integrated different states can be in the system. When "settler" colonies es-
tablished by European states gained independence, for example, their European
inhabitants were generally regarded as members of the international society, who
shared that society's values and deserved the rights accorded to sovereign equals
(Jackson 1990; Strang 1996). However, nonwhite states had a harder time gaining
full recognition; in fact, their status could fall along a "spectrum ... between full
sovereignty and the status of a colony" (Bull 1984:126). Haiti, for example,
achieved independence in the early 1800s and was recognized by France and Bri-
tain in 1825, but it remained on the fringes of international society because its
rulers were black, not white (Watson 1984:133). This differentiation was also seen
in the adoption of "unequal" treaties between white European states and nonwhite
states, which granted the Europeans greater rights and privileges.
States in the third category of states are those with contested status-and, sub-
sequently, contested sovereignty. These are states or territories whose status in the
international system is ambiguous or subject to challenge by other members of the
system. Several factors, both material and ideational, may motivate challenges to
these target states' standing. One is an interest in encroachment. Another state in
the system may contest the target's sovereignty because it wants to absorb or con-
quer the target. Alternately, the target may be the object of competition among
several great powers that seek to control its territory. The European great powers
sought to prevent one another from gaining control over the Ottoman Empire, for
example; and although France and Britain both wanted to control Siam in the late
nineteenth century, they allowed Siam to remain independent to avoid creating
greater friction between themselves (Strang 1996:38-42).
A state's status within the international system also may be subject to ideational
challenge. Other states may argue that the target state does not deserve member-
ship in the society of states because it is not living up to the system's rules or the
values that insider states hold dear. European colonization, for example, was pre-
mised on the view that the internal characteristics of non-Western states made them
inferior to the Western core of international society and, thus, subject to interven-
tion and "improvement" (Jackson 1990:56-62, Crawford 2002). To be sure, a great
power may use ideational arguments for instrumental reasons, to mask material or
national interests. It is still significant, however, that a state would employ rule-
based arguments to legitimate its goals (Barnett and Duvall 2005:55-57).
What enables a state to challenge or shift another state's status?Two factors can be
proposed. First, those states that are able to set the rules can significantly influence
who is in and who is out of the international society. As Barnett and Duvall (2005)
have noted, this agenda-setting ability is central to institutional power and favors the
states that dominate the international system. Moreover, it locks in their advantage.
Second, those states best able to shape discourse and the framing of issues--so-called

6Although it could be argued that Taiwan's status is contested, Taiwan's current status appears to be accepted by
most major states in the international society. To be sure, it has strong economic ties with many states, but so did
China and the Ottoman Empire when they were viewed as outsider states in the nineteenth century.

This content downloaded from on Sat, 14 Jun 2014 23:21:40 PM

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

productive power-are able both to create social identities and to classify states
within them (Benford and Snow 2000; Payne 2001; Barnett and Duvall 2005).
Prior to 1945, the great powers dominated both rule-making and discourse and,
thus, could largely determine who was inside or outside the system. After the formal
"standard" of civilization was dropped, new governments seeking to gain interna-
tional recognition of their authority sometimes found themselves compelled to
accept "stipulations" in order to gain recognition from the major states in the
system. Such conditions evolved from promising to uphold existing treaties, such as
the unequal treaties, to making commitments regarding governing practices, such
as holding elections or granting minority rights. Recognition after World War II
often depended on ideology as well (Peterson 1982).
In effect, after 1945, the picture became more complex with the expansion of the
international state system and the developing world's success in shifting interna-
tional discourse with regard to critical issues such as colonialism (Spruyt 2000;
Crawford 2002). The structure and rules of existing institutions continued to favor
those who established them, meaning the United States and other great powers.
Today's international society remains dominated by "Western" values (Puchala
2005) as well as Western understandings of the necessary attributes that accord
entities membership as sovereign states in the system. But the range of opinion in
the international system has become far more diverse since 1945. Even though
great powers remain better able to influence discourse and determine rules, their
views do not go unchallenged. Notably, although many of the states that have
gained admission to the international society since World War II criticize the prev-
alence of Western values and power, they firmly support the "Western" norm of
sovereignty as a foundation of international society and, in particular, its insistence
on noninterference (Acharya 2004).
How would we expect inclusion in different categories of statesto affectthe likelihood
that force will be used against a state in great power efforts to change norms? Insider
states are probably unlikely to be subject to direct force in efforts to change norms. As
members of the society of states, their sovereign rights are accorded respect. Great
powers are more inclined to use other means to elicit changes in their behavior.
Outsider states are probably more likely to be targets of force if their behavior
diverges from the norm being advocated. These states are not seen as entitled to the
right of nonintervention because they are not part of the society in which this
principle applies. The likelihood of force being used against states with contested
status will vary. If the target's status is contested because another state seeks to
encroach on its territory, then the use of force is likely. If the target, however, is the
object of strategic competition among two or more great powers, then the norm
enforcer's focus will probably shift to the status-and power-of the potential
opponent competing for control over the target state. The use of force against the
contested state is less likely, the more powerful the potential opponent. If the
target's status is contested for ideational reasons, then force is also possible. This
discussion is summarized in Table 1.
It is important to note that, in each of the cases examined here (that is, piracy, the
slave trade, and terrorism), the behaviors subject to normative challenge were
conducted primarily by nonstate actors, not states. Nonstate actors themselves thus

TABLE1. International Status and the Likelihood of Using Force to Promote Norm Change

Insider States Contested Outsider States



This content downloaded from on Sat, 14 Jun 2014 23:21:40 PM

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
60 ImposingInternationalNorms

constitute another category that might be targeted. The nonstate actors in question in
this essay vary in terms of their status and rights in the international system. Pirates
and terrorists, as stateless actors, are and were outside international society with no
sovereign protections. Slave trading vessels flying under the flag of their home
countries, however, were entitled to protections against incursion by other states.
State territory became a target in many of these campaigns as a way to deny safe
havens to the nonstate actors engaged in the contested behavior. As Janice Thom-
son (1994:18-20) has pointed out, eradicating piracy required that states fulfill their
sovereign obligations to ensure that attacks against other states did not originate on
their territory. The US effort to quell terrorism similarly seeks to deter states from
sponsoring or tolerating terrorists operating on their soil.
A state's standing in international society can be determined by examining the
historical record, particularly in cases involving contested or outsider status. Exam-
ining UN positions also can help determine status in the current period. Although
very few states have been ejected from the United Nations, factors such as whether
those holding a state's UN seat are the ones ruling the country or whether states
are the subject of UN sanctions help indicate if a target state is viewed as a member
of the international community in good standing.

How does a target state's power affect great power decisions regarding the use of
force to support new norms? Although much attention has been devoted to ana-
lyzing power in terms of resources, power is generally evaluated in relational terms
and is often explained with reference to two actors: A and B. Actor A has power
over Actor B if it can cause B to do things that B would not otherwise have done
(Baldwin 1985:18-25). Measuring power is difficult, because it is hard to determine
whether a state's material attributes enable it to affect another's behavior (Baldwin
2002). How power resources are used, and in what context, is equally important. In
this essay the goal is merely to determine whether a potential target is considered
weak or strong relative to the great power seeking to change norms or if the target
falls somewhere in between. Consider the following four categories. For the pur-
poses of this essay, at each end of a power spectrum are weak states, with limited
ability to defend themselves against others-particularly against a great power
-and strong states and great powers, the major actors in the international system.7
Two additional categories are "protected" and "defensible" states. Protected
states are those that are allied with, or colonies of, major powers. This third cat-
egory is important because a state's relative power cannot necessarily be viewed in
isolation. Who your friends are matters. Some states might not be strong enough to
defend themselves and their own interests, but they may avoid the vulnerabilities of
weak states through solid ties to other, stronger states. Defensible states are not
powerful, but they have sufficient capabilities to defend themselves and their in-
terests from incursions-at a minimum by making attacks against them costly
(Schelling 1966). In short, they can put up a fight. Finland's ability to stand up to
the Soviet Red Army in 1939, despite the great disparity in the two states' size and
military capabilities, is a case in point. Although Finland eventually had to acquiesce
to Soviet terms, its strong resistance is cited as one reason for Finland's continued
independence during the Cold War as opposed to absorption within the Soviet bloc
after World War II.8

7The distinction being made here should not be confused with discussions of weak and strong states in com-
parative politics (see Evans, Rueschemeyer, and Skocpol 1985).
8Finland's military had 37,000 troops as opposed to the Soviet Union's 1,789,000 in 1939; its population was
roughly 4 million, whereas the Soviet Union's was 170 million (Singer 1987). The Soviet inability to prevail quickly
reflects both the Finnish military's capability and resolve as well as problems in the Red Army, some of which were
due to Stalin's purge of the officer corps in 1937-1938 (Ulam 1974:289-294; Taylor 2003:154-164).

This content downloaded from on Sat, 14 Jun 2014 23:21:40 PM

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

2. Power and the Likelihood of Using Force to Promote Norm Change

Weak States Protected Defensible Strong States


We would expect a state's power to affect the likelihood that force will be used to
support norms in straightforward ways. Weak states whose behavior the great
power seeks to change are likely targets for the use of force. In the case of protected
states, the strength of the protectors, rather than the protected state, will determine
whether a great power is likely to use force to promote a new norm in the protected
state. Defensible states may avoid intervention if the costs of using force against
them appear to be too high. Strong states will not be subject to attack. The
argument is summarized in Table 2.
Of interest in distinguishing among weak, protected, defensible, and strong states
is how great powers perceive the strength of potential target states. Empirical
examinations of their material capabilities in comparison to other members of the
system are necessary to classify states as weak, protected, defensible, or strong.

Status and Power Combined

How does the interaction of these two factors, that is, standing in the international
society and power, affect the likelihood that a target state will be subject to inter-
vention? If a state's position in the international society outweighs power factors
when the two factors lead to different expectations, an argument can be made that
insider states will not become targets of force in great power efforts to promote
norms. Membership has its privileges-or, at the least, benefits. Outsider states, in
contrast, will have few normative protections. If a state's relative power is more
important than international standing, then strong states will not be targets of force
to promote norm change. All weak states are potential targets.
Combining these two factors leads to similar expectations with regard to strong
insider and weak outsider states. Strong insider states will not be targets of force,
whereas weak outsider states are likely targets. Combining these two factors, how-
ever, leads to diametrically opposed expectations regarding the use of force toward
weak insider states and strong outsiders. The status approach would expect the use
of force against the outsider but not the insider state, whereas the power approach
would expect force to be used against the weak state but not the strong. Table 3

TABLE3.Likelihood of Using Force to Promote Norm Change

Standing in International Society

Power Inside Contested Outside

Weak Disagree on Likelihood Agreement or Agree: Force Likely

of Force Disagreement Possible
Protected Agreement or Disagree on Likelihood Disagree on Likelihood
Disagreement Possible of Force of Force
Defensible Agree: Force Not Likely Disagree on Likelihood Disagree on Likelihood
of Force of Force
Strong Agree: Force Not Likely Disagree on Likelihood Disagree on Likelihood
of Force of Force

This content downloaded from on Sat, 14 Jun 2014 23:21:40 PM

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
62 ImposingInternationalNorms

indicates when an agreement or disagreement exists regarding the use of force,

given standing in the international system and power.
There is also disagreement with regard to the likelihood of using force in cases of
contested, protected, and defensible states. From a power perspective, the likeli-
hood that force will be used against a state in the protected category depends on the
strength of the protector. If the protector is strong relative to the targeting state,
then force is unlikely. If the protector is weak in comparison to the targeter, then
force is more likely. The state's international standing is less important from this
perspective. If standing outweighs the presence of a protector, however, then con-
tested and outsider states, even with protectors, should be potential targets for the
use of force to push norm change, and protected insider states should be unlikely
targets regardless of the relative strength of the protector.
Defensible states are not likely to be subject to the use of force because they can
stand up for themselves. If the state's international standing matters more than its
power, then the expected outcome is less clear. Defensible states whose status is
contested might be subjected to force, whereas outsider status should make even
defensible states likely targets for force because they do not enjoy the protections
inherent in membership in the international community. Expectations regarding
the two factors agree only with regard to defensible insider states; such states are
unlikely to be targets of intervention.
It is worth noting that particularly with regard to states whose status is contested,
power and international standing are hard to separate. If the cause of contestation
is an interest in encroachment, for example, the use of force is likely. If two or more
states are vying for control, in contrast, the determining issue between them might
be the opposing power's strength, not that of the contested state. If a state's status is
contested because a great power believes it is not living up to the system's stand-
ards, then the target state's strength might determine whether it was subject to
force. Let us now use this discussion to examine when force was used in campaigns
against piracy, the slave-trade, and terrorism to compare the relative importance of
standing in international society and power.

Targets of Intervention
Great powers had instrumental reasons for wanting to eradicate piracy and state
support for terrorism as well as moral arguments against these behaviors. Efforts to
end the slave trade rested on moral arguments alone. The targets of intervention in
great power efforts to combat piracy, the slave trade, and terrorism have generally
been nonstate actors or states with contested or outsider status. Few insider states
have been attacked, and no strong states have been targets of intervention. These
findings suggest that the target state's power relative to the great power promoting
the new norm may outweigh considerations of sovereignty and international

Piracy has been a chronic problem as long as maritime trade has been conducted.
Although generally viewed as a scourge, until the nineteenth century states sanc-
tioned acts of piracy against enemy ships during wartime under the rubric of
"privateering." Piracy and privateering coexisted, and one was encouraged where-
as the other was condemned.9 Britain took the lead in international efforts to
eliminate piracy, particularly after the 1690s; other great powers participated in
these efforts. Even though privateers had played an important role in helping the
British crown combat Spain and France during the wars of Spanish Succession

9Privateering was invented in the thirteenth century (Marx 1992; Thomson 1994).

This content downloaded from on Sat, 14 Jun 2014 23:21:40 PM

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

TABLE4. Targets in Campaign against Piracy

Standing in International Society

Power Inside Contested Outside Nonstate

Weak Greece (Crete), 1828 Algiers, 1830 Pirate Ships,

Malay Archipelago, 1690-1800
Brunei, 1840, 1849
Protected Florida, 1817
Cuba, 1824


(1702-1713), expanding international trade was becoming more profitable than

the spoils to be had from piracy, at least for large trading states like Britain
(Thomson 1994:50-51; Rediker 2004:31-35). Moreover, the war's end led to high-
er numbers of unemployed seamen, resulting in an upsurge in piracy. This had a
negative impact on international trade, including the extremely lucrative slave
The primary targets of state efforts to end piracy were pirate ships. Pirates were
nonstate actors; indeed, the "jolly roger" flag that pirate ships sailed under de-
liberately flaunted the pirates' rejection of state authority (Rediker 2004:164). Bri-
tain and other states also attacked pirate colonies in disparate locations. Together
with Omani forces, Britain attacked pirate colonies on the southeastern shore of the
Persian Gulf (what is now the United Arab Emirates) in 1819 to destroy the bases
and fleets of the Joasmees, a pirate group that had been attacking British bases near
Calcutta. The British destroyed a pirate base on Crete in 1828. The Royal Navy
sent forces into Brunei to destroy pirate bases in 1840, and it killed at least 800
pirates in a naval battle there in 1849 (Thomson 1994:114).
The French also used force to quell piracy. Napoleon took over Malta without a
fight in 1798 and abolished privateering from its territory; France invaded Algiers
in 1830 in response to its reliance on piracy and tribute and established French
sovereignty there (Thomson 1994:112-113). The United States attacked pirate
bases in Florida in 1817 and Cuba in 1824 (Marx 1992:277-278). It also destroyed
pirate forts in the Malay Archipelago in 1831 in response to attacks on US ships
(Thomson 1994:113; Mead 2001:113).
All but two of the states targeted in efforts to eradicate piracy can be designated as
weak by the classification proposed here, particularly relative to British military
power. Florida and Cuba can be classified as protected states and will be discussed
below. Along with Greece, they are also classified as states with contested status. The
other states targeted were outsider states. See Table 4.
Pirate ships, as nonstate actors unprotected by state patrons, fell outside the
system of states and had no protections. Brunei was not a member of the inter-
national society, and it was incapable of preventing British military activities; the
kingdoms of the Persian Gulf also fell outside international society at the time.
When France invaded it in 1830, Algiers was an outsider state. Although its ruler,
the Dey of Algiers, was a regent of the Ottoman Empire, the Ottomans had little
real authority there by the nineteenth century.10The Ottoman Empire itself was an
outsider state, as noted earlier.

'OIn previous years, European powers and the United States had paid tribute to the Dey to avoid pirate attacks
against their ships; they had also fought against the Algerian fleet over the issue of privateering (Field 1969:29-34;
Wolf 1979:54, 150, 334-338).

This content downloaded from on Sat, 14 Jun 2014 23:21:40 PM

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
64 ImposingInternationalNorms

Although Greece was nominally part of the international system in 1828 when
the British attacked Crete, Greece's status remained contested, so it did not
qualify as an insider state. Greece declared its independence from Ottoman control
in 1822, but Greek forces fighting for independence had failed to establish
authority at the time of Britain's action in 1828, and both Ottoman and European
powers had intervened in the conflict between the Greeks and Ottomans. The
great powers disagreed about what Greece's new government should look like and
how closely aligned it should be with the Ottoman Empire, of which it had
been part. Notably, the great powers of the day-Britain, France, and Russia-did
not include the Ottoman Empire or the Greeks themselves in the discussions
of Greece's place in the international system, indicating that it was not a member
of the international society at that time (Krasner 1999:157-164; Simpson
Florida also can be classified a contested state, whose territory was under en-
croachment by the United States. Although Florida and Cuba were Spanish pos-
sessions, the United States sought to erode Spain's control over Florida in the early
1800s. Spain had little presence in Florida, leaving the Seminole Indian tribes
largely in charge of the territory. In contrast to "settler" colonies with European
populations, Florida's rulers were not regarded as equal members of the interna-
tional community; the territory was, in fact, not well protected by Spain. The
United States fought a war against the Seminole tribes-the first of three-in 1817;
it gained control over Florida from Spain in 1821.
Although it had more attributes of an insider state than Florida, Cuba's status can
also be considered contested. In contrast to Florida, Spain had a strong presence in
Cuba, and by 1800 the majority of Cuba's population was of European descent
(Corwin 1967:12-13). Nonetheless, the United States clearly had designs on
Cuba. Not only had the United States already begun encroaching on Spanish ter-
ritory in both eastern Florida and the territories that became the Louisiana
Purchase, but strong sentiment existed in the US government for acquiring Cuba.
Thomas Jefferson, for example, suggested in 1820 that "the United States 'ought,
at the first possible opportunity, to take Cuba' " (Schlesinger 2005:44). As a con-
sequence, "American policy toward Spain was marked by aggressive designs and
disregard for international law" throughout much of the nineteenth century (Mead
As Spain's colony, Cuba was a protected state, which might have shielded it from
incursions. However, Cuba's protector, Spain, had been weakened during the Na-
poleonic wars in Europe and had lost control over much of its Latin American
empire. Although Spain remained far stronger militarily than the United States, the
two states' relative strengths were shifting, and Spain's ability to maintain its col-
onies by force was open to question. Additionally, even though Spain governed
Cuba, the island's comparatively large territory and coastline gave pirates ample
room to establish bases beyond Spanish authority, which had grown relatively
slowly in previous decades. The US attack was aimed at pirates who threatened the
substantial trade between the United States and Cuba and were not protected
actors. Thus, both Cuba's status and Spain's authority there were quietly ques-
tioned by the United States when it attacked pirate bases in 1824. The US acquired
Cuba in 1898.
Both status and power factors help explain the pattern of great power decisions
to intervene against piracy. No states that were clearly recognized as insider states
were subject to intervention. Although Cuba comes close to insider status, its co-
lonial status and the United States' open designs on it make it more accurate to view
Cuba's status as contested. States' weakness relative to the power seeking to enforce
a new normative stand against piracy also appears to play a significant role in
interventions. All the states attacked were either weak or protected states. Notably,
although both Cuba and Florida, as Spanish colonies, can be considered protected

This content downloaded from on Sat, 14 Jun 2014 23:21:40 PM

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

states, Spain's military disarray meant that its ability to protect its colonies from
intervention was constrained, thus increasing US willingness to intervene against
them in combating piracy.

TheSlave Trade
Like piracy, slavery was a fact of life when Britain passed legislation to end the slave
trade in 1807; it had existed in different forms in most cultures and was assumed by
most religions (Hochschild 2005:2). Britain initiated the effort to abolish the slave
trade and carried out this mission almost single-handedly. Although there has been
substantial debate about whether slavery was economically beneficial or harmful,"
the decision to ban the slave trade is best explained by a significant shift in public
opinion regarding slavery and the slave trade, propelled by the emergence of the
abolitionist movement in the late 1700s. British abolitionists focused on banning the
trade in slaves because they believed that, without a ready supply of new slaves,
owners would be forced to treat their slaves more humanely, a first step toward
abolishing the practice altogether (Walvin 1982b).
The primary targets of intervention in efforts to quell the slave trade were slave-
trading ships themselves, and the task of ending the trade fell principally to Bri-
tain's Royal Navy. An Anglo-Dutch naval force defeated Algiers' navy in Tangiers
harbor in 1816 and forced a peace settlement on the Dey that abolished slavery and
freed Christian slaves in Algiers (Wolf 1979:331). The Royal Navy maintained a
blockade of the main embarkation points for slaves on the coast of West Africa for
decades. Other states, including France, the United States, and Portugal, contrib-
uted ships to the blockade effort, but Britain's commitment was far more extensive
and sustained. Britain alone took on the task of ending the slave trade in the Indian
Ocean, and it led efforts to pressure the Ottoman Empire into changing its slave
trade policies (Austen 1981; Daget 1981; Walvin 1982b:18).
In addition to seizing suspected slave ships, the British also attacked slave-trading
outposts along the west African coast in the 1830s and 1840s, destroying the ware-
houses in which slaves were held. Britain also attacked suspected slave ships in
several Brazilian ports in 1850 (Eltis 1987:120-122; Krasner 1993). The targets of
British intervention were nonstate actors, outsider states, and one insider state; all
the states were weak relative to Britain. See Table 5.
The British use of force in suppressing the slave trade is particularly interesting
because of the tension in British policy between the moral goal of ending slavery
and concurrent British efforts to promote laissez faire economics and the rule of law
internationally. By the nineteenth century, Britain saw free trade as a way to "civ-
ilize" the world. This mandated encouraging other states to support the rule of law
as a way to ensure free trade and protection of British property and goods, which
complicated the effort to end the slave trade. Not only did British courts demand
high standards of proof of involvement in the slave trade in enforcing domestic laws
abolishing it, but Britain had to respect international law and other states' sover-
eignty if it wanted others to buy into this economic system.
This dilemma led to three contradictory sets of actions. First, the British simply
ignored the sovereign rights of slave-trading ships. Between 1807, when Britain's
first legislation abolishing the slave trade was passed, and 1817, the Royal Navy
boarded suspected slave ships with little concern for whose flag they were flying.
Prior to 1815 such behavior was justified by Britain's right to board neutral
ships during wartime. Indeed, Britain unilaterally determined that Portugal was
no longer a British ally so that it could board "neutral," as opposed to allied,

"The slave trade itself was quite lucrative. For discussions of the economics of slavery and the slave trade, see
David Eltis (1987) and Robin Blackburn (1988). On public support for abolition in Britain, see Seymour Drescher
(1982), Betty Fladeland (1982), James Walvin (1982a), and Chaim Kaufmann and Robert Pape (1999).

This content downloaded from on Sat, 14 Jun 2014 23:21:40 PM

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
66 ImposingInternationalNorms

5. Targets and Non-Targets in Campaign against Slave Trade

Standing in International Society

Power Inside Contested Outside Nonstate

Weak Brazil, 1850 Algiers, 1816 Portuguese and

West African States, Spanish Slave
1830s-1840s Ships, 1807-1867
Protected Cuba, 1840s-1850s
Defensible US Slave Ships,



Portuguese ships in 1814. This action was based on questionable interpretations of

Anglo-Portuguese treaties dating from 1654 and 1810. Spanish ships were boarded
illegally until 1817. David Eltis (1987:110) has noted that "almost every slave ship
captured in the ten years after 1807 was detained under instructions that were, as
Stephen Lushington pointed out, 'from the beginning to the end illegal.' "
Second was Britain's development, after 1817, of an extensive bilateral treaty
network to allow it the right to search vessels flying other states' flags. Most major
powers viewed these treaties as meddling in their internal affairs and an affront to
their sovereignty. Moreover, the right of "mutual inspection" that the British of-
fered was transparently one-sided, given that Britain no longer allowed its nationals
to participate in the slave trade. Indeed, many states initially viewed Britain's abo-
lition campaign in power terms, as an attempt by Britain to strengthen its hegem-
ony (Engerman 1981:12). Notably, Britain employed incentives, in the form of
monetary recompense, to convince other great powers to sign treaties. Over
?300,000 was promised to Portugal in 1815, and ?400,000 to Spain in 1817
(Soulsby 1933:14; Nicholson 1946:213-214).
Britain's effort to establish treaties is notable because it indicates Britain's desire
to keep its actions nominally within the bounds of international law and suggests an
effort to use persuasive and coercive tools short of force to gain acquiescence to its
policies from other insider states. Britain signed bilateral treaties with most of the
European states involved in the slave trade as well as with the West African slave-
trading states between 1814 and 1845. Many of the West African treaties were
obtained at the barrel of a gun.12 And, when it failed to gain Portugal's agreement
to a new bilateral treaty, in 1839 Britain again authorized its navy to board Por-
tuguese ships suspected of slave trading (Krasner 1993:153-154). Significantly, the
British government passed an Act of Parliament, which contained terms similar to
the treaties it had established with other European states, to legitimate its boarding
of Portuguese slave ships, a step that was "unprecedented" in peacetime (Eltis
Third was a tendency to justify incursions as legitimate in pursuit of the higher
goal of ending the slave trade. This was particularly the case with regard to in-
vasions into African territory. The British foreign office defended these incursions
on the grounds that states tolerating the slave trade were outside the pale of in-

12Britainwasalsoresponsiblefor gettingthe EightPowerDeclarationabolishingthe Africanslavetradeincluded

in the documentssigned at the Congressof Vienna as well as for effortsto establishmultilateraloversightof this
agreement(Nicholson1946:214;Finnemore2004:68, fn. 28). On the forced natureof treatieswithAfricanrulers,
see Eltis(1987:120-122).

This content downloaded from on Sat, 14 Jun 2014 23:21:40 PM

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

ternational law because the slave trade was a barbarous practice, and free trade and
the rule of law could not work unless such practices were ended (Eltis 1987:112).
Not only were these states outside the existing international system without equal
rights under international law, but the British sought to reinforce their status as
outsiders on the basis of their behavior.
International status appears to have influenced Britain's decisions about the use
of force. Only one insider state, Brazil, was subject to intervention; the other targets
were outsider states or slave ships. Brazil's status in international society in the
1800s is complex, however. Although it was an insider state, and a former "settler"
colony, Brazil nonetheless had been forced to accept unequal treaties with Britain.
Brazil's ties to Portugal and Britain also indicate that its insider status did not
guarantee it full sovereign protections. Portugal had been a great power and was
one of the first major imperial powers, with colonies in Asia and Africa as well as
Brazil. It was certainly viewed as an insider state. By 1800, however, Portugal had
been characterized by some scholars as a British protectorate; it was a long-time ally
of Britain, but by this point it was also virtually helpless. Indeed, Portugal was
overrun by Napoleon's armies in 1807, and its royal family fled into exile in Brazil,
under British protection (Francis 1985). Even after French forces were completely
evicted from Portugal in 1812-by the British-its king remained in Brazil; Por-
tugal was governed by a regency council led by a British minister until 1821, when
the king returned to Portugal. Britain's economic and military power relative to
both Portugal and Brazil enabled it to negotiate a trade agreement with Brazil in
1810 that was more favorable to Britain than that granted to Portugal (Haring
1958:4-11). The treaty also granted privileges to British citizens, making it an
unequal treaty in spite of the Brazilian elite's "settler" nature.
This complex history helps explain the British use of force against Brazil, and it
suggests that the full privileges of sovereignty have not always correlated directly to
membership in international society. Rather, the links between sovereignty, power,
and international standing can be fluid, as Krasner (1999) has suggested. Britain
was willing unilaterally to determine that Portugal was a neutral rather than an ally
in 1814, when it wanted to board Portuguese slave ships. Britain's history of in-
ternal involvement in Portugal and later in Brazil, sparked initially by Portugal's
weakness, meant that the sovereignty these states enjoyed at the time was perme-
able because of their relative weakness and dependence on Britain. Britain could
push for special privileges in Brazil. Indeed, one of the claims commissions that
Britain established to adjudicate claims against its government for seizing slave
ships was on Brazilian territory, in Rio de Janeiro.
Power factors also influenced British decisions regarding the use of force to
eradicate the slave trade. To begin with, the nonstate actors and outsider states
subject to intervention were all weak relative to Britain's military power, as was
Brazil. Additionally, it was harder for the British to get strong or defensible states
engaged in the slave trade to give up this lucrative business; they could not as easily
be coerced or induced to change their behavior. For example, although it ended in
stalemate, the War of 1812 between the United States and Britain made clear that
the United States was sufficiently strong to convince the British to stop boarding its
ships. Even though not yet a strong state, the United States was a defensible rather
than a weak state.1'"Smaller and weaker states were less able to stand up to British
coercion. For example, the British leveraged the Ottoman Empire's heavy de-
pendence on it and France for support during the Crimean War to demand
prohibitions on the slave trade in the Black Sea (Toledano 1982:116-120). Portugal

'3Although the United States had itself outlawed the slave trade in 1807, concerns about British impressment of
US seamen made the United States unwilling to accept British boarding virtually until the Civil War (Soulsby
1933:16-18;Corwin1967:77-79; Mead 2001:106).

This content downloaded from on Sat, 14 Jun 2014 23:21:40 PM

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
68 ImposingInternationalNorms

was too weak, as noted earlier, to protect slave ships under its flag from foreign
Power factors also help explain British nonintervention in the case of Cuba, the
last major slave-trading state in the Caribbean. As noted earlier, Cuba's status was
contested due to the United States' interest in encroachment; by the 1840s and
1850s, the United States' ability to act on this interest had grown. Notably, southern
politicians hoped to add Cuba to the Union as a slave state (Mead 2001:22, 44). The
focus of British calculations regarding the use of force, then, shifted from Cuba and
Spain, its protector, whose military power was weak relative to Britain's, to the
United States, a growing regional power in close proximity to Cuba.14 The British
avoided direct intervention in Cuba of the sort it had undertaken in Brazil against
the slave trade and, instead, covertly supported antislavery efforts there. The main
reason was concern that the United States would try to annex Cuba if given the
pretext of a British intervention. Groups in both the United States and Cuba sup-
ported Cuba's annexation, and private forces made some attempts to overthrow the
Cuban government in 1850-1851 (Corwin 1967:99-104). From Britain's perspec-
tive, continued Spanish control in Cuba, even if this meant allowing the slave trade
to continue, was preferable to Cuba falling into US hands. Similarly, Spain shifted
its policies regarding the slave trade and began to cooperate with British aims as a
way to gain British support against US encroachment in Cuba (Eltis 1987:210-211).
Even though both insider and outsider states were targets of intervention, they
were all weak. Moreover, the factors that led to Britain's attacks in Brazilian ports
also existed in Cuba, but power considerations constrained the British from inter-
vening with force to quell the slave trade in the latter. Similarly, slave ships whose
protector states were weak were subjected to boarding by the Royal Navy, whereas
ships whose protector states were strong or defensible were not.
Standing in international society cannot be discounted as a factor in this case,
however, because only one insider state was the target of intervention. This ex-
ample illustrates, as noted earlier, the multiple variations in sovereignty that exist
even for states recognized as members of the international community. It also
points to Britain's increasing willingness to resort to blatantly "illegal" acts under
international law to further its goal of ending the slave trade. Such illegal acts are
common in efforts to promote norm change, particularly with regard to morally
based norms; the willingness to take steps seen as "inappropriate" is used as a
means to challenge understandings of "acceptable" actions (Finnemore and Sik-
kink 1998).

Terrorism emerged as a problem for states in the late nineteenth century, when
anarchist assassins targeted government officials and heads of state. Although the
term originally applied to government measures to quell popular discontent, ter-
rorism has come to be associated with the actions of nonstate actors (Hoffman
1998). Terrorism was never viewed as acceptable by the international community
because leaders and government policies tended to be its targets. Yet, bitter debates
have raged for decades over whether particular acts should be condemned as ter-
rorism or accepted as legitimate in national liberation struggles against colonial or
oppressive governments. The adage "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom
fighter" exemplifies this controversy; even great powers have been willing to sup-
port groups that others considered terrorists. The United States, for example,

'4The US military remained small, roughly 22,000 troops in 1840. But its overall strength and capabilities grew
substantially between 1830 and 1850, an indication of its rising power. Britain's capabilities remained stable during
this period, whereas Spain's declined slightly. Although Spain's military remained larger than that of the United
States, it was also responsible for defending a broader swathe of territory and sea lanes (Singer 1987).

This content downloaded from on Sat, 14 Jun 2014 23:21:40 PM

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

supported the Nicaraguan Contras during the 1980s and tolerated domestic sup-
port for the IRA.
The United States has sought to quell terrorism since the 1970s, when airline
hijackings, kidnappings, and terrorist attacks in Europe made terrorism an inter-
national problem. US citizens and embassies were frequent targets, making this an
issue of self-interest. Despite strong rhetoric, however, the United States rarely
resorted to force in response to terrorist acts. The Reagan Administration, for
example, used military force to respond to only two terrorist events, even though
there were more than 600 terrorist incidents during Reagan's presidency (Wills
2003:6-11). The Clinton Administration used force in response to terrorist attacks
on just two occasions (Crenshaw 2004). This behavior changed after the September
11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.
As in the cases of piracy and the slave trade, states have been subject to inter-
vention in the pursuit of nonstate actors committing terrorist acts-and also as a
way to deter other states from supporting terrorists. The United States has targeted
five states-Libya, Sudan, Afghanistan, Yemen, and Pakistan-in using force
against terrorists.15In response to the bombing of a Berlin nightclub frequented by
US soldiers, the United States attacked several facilities believed to be integral to
Libya's support for terrorists on April 15, 1986 (Murphy 1989:106-107). A sus-
pected chemical weapons factory in Sudan, believed to be owned by Osama Bin
Laden, and several Al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan were bombed with
cruise missiles in August 1998 in response to Al Qaeda attacks on US embassies in
Kenya and Tanzania. The United States attacked Afghanistan in October 2001 and
overthrew the Taliban regime there in response to the September 11, 2001 attacks
on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. And the United States killed sus-
pected Al Qaeda operatives with unmanned Predator drones in Yemen in early
November 2002 and in Pakistan in May 2005 and January 2006.
These cases include states representing each classification of standing in inter-
national society: insider, outsider, and contested states. Most of the targeted states
were weak relative to US power. Pakistan should be considered defensible, given
that it has nuclear weapons. Afghanistan was clearly an outsider state. The Taliban
took control of Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, in September 1996, but it was never
internationally recognized as Afghanistan's legitimate government. Instead, the
Taliban were condemned by the United Nations and most of the international
community for their human rights abuses, including the atrocities committed in
their assault on Kabul and their treatment of women. Burhanuddin Rabbani, who
had served as president of Afghanistan from 1992-1996, remained the titular
president of the country and retained Afghanistan's UN seat, although he fled
Kabul after the Taliban takeover (Rashid 2000:43-50, 180-182). This discussion
and the one that follows are summarized in Table 6.
Libya and Sudan can be considered states whose international status was con-
tested for two reasons. First, the United States, the dominant international power,
sought to reclassify them as outside the system. The specific justifications for the use
of force in the cases of Libya and Sudan were self-defense and the prevention of
further terrorist attacks (Dycus et al. 1990:276-277; Wills 2003:211; Clinton
2004:798-799). Throughout the 1980s, the Reagan Administration sought to es-
tablish that state sponsorship of terrorism was unacceptable and that states had an
obligation to prevent terrorists from operating from their soil. Administration of-
ficials argued that terrorism represented a threat to "civilized nations." The Reagan
Administration drew a distinction between those abiding by international standards
and those violating them (Sofaer 1986). The US attempt to place these "rogue"

15Iraq is not included in this list because, even though Saddam Hussein's alleged link to Al Qaeda was one of the
arguments used by the Bush Administration to justify its invasion of Iraq, it was one of many. The central legal
justification was Iraq's failure to live up to its obligations under several UN resolutions dating back to 1991.

This content downloaded from on Sat, 14 Jun 2014 23:21:40 PM

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
70 ImposingInternationalNorms

6. Targets and Non-Targets in Campaign against Terrorism

Standing in International Society

Power Inside Contested Outside Nonstate

Weak Yemen, 2002 Libya, 1986 Afghanistan, 2001 Al Qaeda

Sudan, 1998 1998, 2001,
2002, 2005,
Protected Cuba, 1980s
North Korea,
Syria, 1980s-
Defensible Pakistan,
2005, 2006
Iran, 1980s-
Strong Soviet Union,

Non-Italics: Targets.

states outside the pale of the international community built on its policy of naming
and sanctioning states believed to be sponsors of terrorism (Lake 1994; Litwak
Second, the United Nations censured both Libya and Sudan by imposing sanc-
tions against them, an indication that they were not living up to international
obligations. After Libyan agents were implicated in the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am
flight over Lockerbie, Scotland, and the 1989 bombing of a French airliner over
Niger, the UN imposed mandatory sanctions against Libya in 1992 and 1993. Su-
dan's refusal to extradite individuals suspected of attempting to assassinate Egyp-
tian President Hosni Mubarak in 1995 led to UN sanctions as well (Cortright and
Lopez 2000; O'Sullivan 2003).
US censure alone is not sufficient to categorize these states as outsiders. But UN
condemnation does indicate a broader acceptance that these states had broken
critical international rules and norms. The United States' NATO allies by and large
did not support its attack on Libya, which occurred before Libya was sanctioned by
the United Nations. The United States in that instance acted in part because Libya's
actions had alienated it from many in the international community, in particular
several of its neighbors. Moreover, although Libya was linked with the Soviet
Union, by the mid-1980s the Soviet Union had made it clear that it would offer
primarily rhetorical support to its allies. Moscow cancelled a planned foreign min-
ister's meeting with the United States after its attack on Libya, but it did little else
(Garthoff 1994:274-275, 718-721; Young and Kent 2004:553-556). In Sudan's
case, the government's actions had alienated its neighbors; indeed, its support for
terrorist groups led to its isolation by the mid-1990s (Cortright and Lopez
2000:123-126; O'Sullivan 2003:240-258).
Since the September 11, 2001 attacks, the United States has explicitly sought to
revise the conditions under which states can claim sovereign rights to territorial
autonomy and nonintervention. In announcing the US attack on Afghanistan on
October 7, 2001, US President George W. Bush declared that state sponsors of
terrorism were beyond the pale: "If any government sponsors the outlaws and
killers of innocents, they have become outlaws and murderers, themselves." This
illustrates the Bush Administration's argument that state sponsors of terrorism
forfeit sovereignty. Notably, the US intervention into Afghanistan took place with
the United Nations' blessing. UN Security Council Resolution 1368, passed on

This content downloaded from on Sat, 14 Jun 2014 23:21:40 PM

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

September 12, 2001, noted both the US right to respond in self-defense and the fact
that those supporting the perpetrators should be held accountable.
Administration officials have argued that sovereignty implies responsibility as
much as rights. If states do not fulfill their obligation to prevent terrorists from
using their soil, they forfeit the right to nonintervention. This argument was
evident in the National Strategyfor CombatingTerrorism,noted earlier, and it was
elaborated in a speech by Richard Haass, then Director of Policy Planning at the
State Department, in February 2003. Haass observed that sovereignty should not
be viewed as a "blank check" by states; it required them to fulfill obligations to the
international community. Intervention is justified, he argued, in cases of genocide,
to defend against states supporting terrorists, and to prevent states with a history of
supporting terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction. "Sovereignty is
not absolute. It is conditional. When states violate minimum standards by commit-
ting, permitting, or threatening intolerable acts against their own people or other
nations, then some of the privileges of sovereignty are forfeited" (Haass 2003). The
concept of "conditional sovereignty" has gained currency in Washington since then
(Daalder and Steinberg 2006).
The United States also conducted attacks against terrorists in two insider states,
Pakistan and Yemen. These attacks were not directed against the governments of
these states or their forces, however; the targets were Al Qaeda leaders: nonstate
actors. Moreover, both Pakistan and Yemen are US allies in the war against ter-
rorism and accede to US operations on their territory. Yemen has cooperated with
the United States in tracking Al Qaeda activities on its soil and acquiesced in the
2002 Predator attack. Yemeni troops were the first to arrive at the scene after the
attack (Banks 2003).
Pakistan is one of the United States' most critical allies in the war on terror due
to its proximity to Afghanistan, but domestic political concerns in Pakistan make
close coordination with the US military problematic. The two Predator attacks in
Pakistan have brought tensions in the US-Pakistani collaboration against terrorism
to the surface. The Pakistani government simply denied that the May 2005 attack
took place, for example (Priest 2005). The government responded to the January
2006 attacks with a formal protest to the US government, but the country's presi-
dent also warned Pakistanis that they should not harbor foreign terrorists. It is
worth noting as well that the Pakistani government's control over the tribal areas
bordering Afghanistan where the attack took place is tenuous at best (Gall and Khan
2006). The government has been fighting militants in that region since 2004, and,
indeed, it ceded authority over these territories to tribal leaders in September 2006
(Khan and Gall 2006). US officials insist that Pakistan's government has not only
shared intelligence with the United States regarding the whereabouts of terrorists,
but it was informed about, and agreed to, the January attack (Witte and Khan 2006).
The cases of Yemen and Pakistan also illustrate the different means that great
powers may use to achieve their goals when insider states are involved. When it
sought Yemen's cooperation in fighting terrorism after 2001, the United States
initiated foreign assistance programs with Yemen that involve both training and
financial benefits (US Department of State 2006). In Pakistan's case, the United
States used both threats and incentives to win the government's cooperation in the
war on terror, including allowing US troops on Pakistani soil (Davis 2002; Bender
2004). Pakistan was famously the first country given the choice of acting "with or
against" the United States within days of the September 11 attacks (Woodward
2002:47). The United States has also used financial incentives to ensure Pakistan's
cooperation. US aid to Pakistanjumped from $91 million in 2001 to over $1 billion
in 2002. Between FY 2002 and FY 2005, Pakistan received $2.63 billion in direct
assistance from the United States; this figure does not include reimbursements to
Pakistan for supporting US counterterrorism operations in the region (Kronstadt

This content downloaded from on Sat, 14 Jun 2014 23:21:40 PM

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
72 ImposingInternationalNorms

Although the United States made clear its willingness to use force against state
sponsors of terrorism, it has not done so against all states that it classifies this way.
The absence of force against other potential targets is explained by both greater
disagreement regarding efforts to revise the sovereignty status of these states and
differences in power when compared with those states that were targets.
Along with Afghanistan, Libya, and Sudan, the states perennially cited as spon-
sors of terrorism are Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Syria (US Department of State
2003). Iraq was removed from the US list in 2003, after the US invasion and
overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Four factors help explain why other states suspect-
ed of sponsoring terrorists have not been the targets of force. First, as noted earlier,
since the 1980s, the United States has very rarely responded to terrorist incidents
with force, due to the difficulty of determining reliably who was responsible for the
attacks and how to attack them without endangering others (Wills 2003:211). The
October 2001 intervention in Afghanistan reinforces this point; the evidence that Al
Qaeda was behind the September 11, 2001 attacks was quite strong and its leaders'
bases were well known, making an attack on Afghanistan justifiable. Al Qaeda's
leaders managed to escape, nonetheless, illustrating the difficulty of targeting non-
state actors.
Second, in contrast to Afghanistan, Libya, and Sudan, the United Nations and
key members of the international community have not accepted US efforts to revise
the sovereignty status of Cuba, Iran, Syria, and North Korea. Other states, and in
particular other permanent members of the UN Security Council, have resisted US
efforts to classify these states as outside the international community. In part, this
has reflected power politics and alliance relations. The Soviet Union supported
Cuba, North Korea, and Syria during the 1980s, when the United States began
classifying them as state sponsors of terrorism, for example, and China supported
North Korea after the Soviet Union's collapse.16 Moreover, many European states
also disagreed with the United States about the means to elicit normative change
regarding support for terrorists. Several adopted the view that the best way to
convince states like Iran to change their behavior was through a combination of
trade and "critical dialogue." Engagement, not containment or isolation, was seen
as a more effective means to convince these states to change their behavior (Litwak
2000:82-87). To some degree this policy reflected varying economic interests be-
cause major European states like France and Russia had far stronger trade ties with
Iraq and Iran than did the United States and would suffer greater losses if these
countries were sanctioned. But it also indicated real disagreement about the ap-
propriate mechanisms for changing state behavior.
Added to the disagreement about means, the lack of consistency in US classi-
fication attempts weakened its efforts. These designations were widely perceived as
politically motivated. Iraq was removed from the terrorist list in 1982, for example,
when the United States threw its support behind Saddam Hussein in his war against
Iran, but it was added again in September 1990 after Iraq invaded Kuwait. Simi-
larly, Pakistan was the Taliban's strongest backer, but rather than being classified as
an outcast, the United States made Pakistan a key ally. Moreover, the criteria that
merit a state's inclusion on the terrorism list could apply to many more states than
those that have been officially listed as sponsors of terrorism (Guelke 1998:149;
Henriksen 2001).
Third, the power capabilities of these states made them less likely targets of force.
Protected states like Cuba and North Korea were less likely to be subject to attack
due to the strength of their protectors. Additionally, Iran, North Korea, and Syria
appeared better able to defend themselves against incursion in comparison with

16North Korea is one of the most isolated states in the international system, largely by choice. It holds a seat
in the United Nations and in the 1990s opened diplomatic relations with many Asian and European countries,
including Australia, the Philippines, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, and Canada.

This content downloaded from on Sat, 14 Jun 2014 23:21:40 PM

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
Afghanistan, Libya, and Sudan. In 2001, Afghanistan had no formally constituted
military force and a civil war continued between the Taliban and the Northern
Alliance (International Institute for Strategic Studies 2000:166). Libya's military
had 91,000 troops in 1986 and was involved in neighboring Chad's ongoing civil
conflict. In 1998, Sudan had 105,000 troops and was engaged in a long-running
civil war. In contrast, in 1990, Syria's military had 408,000 troops, Iran's
had 440,000 troops, and North Korea had 1,200,000 men under arms; in 2001
their troop levels were 321,000, 513,000, and 1,082,000 respectively. Cuba's mili-
tary dropped from a troop level of 297,000 in 1990 to 46,000 in 2001, a decade
after it lost Soviet support (Singer 1987). By the 1990s, however, US efforts
to ostracize Cuba had encountered significant resistance in both Latin America
and Europe.
Of course, numbers alone do not indicate whether a state can defend itself, as
shown by the Iraqi military's collapse in the 1991 Gulf War and the ease of the US
invasion of Iraq in 2003. Nonetheless, the United States did not achieve these
victories without significant military exertion. It assembled a coalition with forces in
excess of 670,000 troops to defeat Saddam Hussein's military in 1991 (Freedman
and Karsh 1991:25, fn 65) and roughly 300,000 coalition forces were deployed in
the Gulf region prior to the 2003 invasion (International Institute for Strategic
Studies 2003:152-153). US military operations in Afghanistan, in comparison, in-
volved roughly 7,000 US troops working with Northern Alliance forces. Coalition
forces in Afghanistan in the summer of 2002 numbered 8,532, including US troops,
and the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan numbered 4,848
(International Institute for Strategic Studies 2002:127). Both the Afghan and Iraqi
campaigns involved the extensive use of US airpower. The United States could
presumably conduct pinpoint attacks against targets in other states suspected of
sponsoring terrorism as it had against Libya and Sudan without assembling large
forces nearby. But this would fall short of holding regimes responsible or compel-
ling them to stop supporting terrorists as called for in the National Strategyfor
CombatingTerrorism.More serious military actions would require a significant com-
mitment of forces.
The one example of a strong state whose behavior made it a potential target of
intervention is the Soviet Union, which is believed to have sponsored terrorist
groups both directly and through its client states during the 1970s and 1980s
(Cronin 2004:31-32). Yet, the Soviet Union was not the subject of intervention to
prevent its support for terrorists. This fact corresponds to the expectation posed
here for strong insider states. The target state's strength, notably its massive nuclear
arsenal, made potential incursions by other great powers to enforce norms out of
the question. Its insider status as one of the five veto-wielding states on the UN
Security Council also made intervention against it highly unlikely.
A fourth explanation for the nonuse of force against other state sponsors of
terror since 2001 lies in the compellent effect that US officials hoped the attack on
Afghanistan and later Iraq would have (Schelling 1966:78-91). One goal in at-
tacking Afghanistan was to get the attention of states believed to be supporting
terrorists and to compel them to change their policies. This argument emerged in
discussions among US policymakers within a week or two of the September 11
attacks (Woodward 2002:98). By 2003, this logic was extended to Iraq as well.
Douglas Feith, the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, noted in early 2003
that the combination of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the deposing of two regimes,
"will influence the thinking of other states about how advisable it is for them to
continue to provide safe harbor or other types of support to terrorist organizations"
(Lemann 2003:72, emphasis in original).
The use of force to quell state sponsorship of terrorism is explained by both
power and international standing. The targets were primarily outsiders or states
with contested status in the international system. The attacks that occurred on the

This content downloaded from on Sat, 14 Jun 2014 23:21:40 PM

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
74 ImposingInternationalNorms

7. Targets and Non-Targets: Piracy, the Slave Trade, and Terrorism


Standing in International Society

Power Inside Contested Outside Nonstate

Weak Brazil, 1850 Greece, 1828 Algiers, 1816, 1830 Pirate Ships,
Yemen, 2002 Libya, 1986 Malay Archipelago, 1690-1800
Sudan, 1998 1831 Portuguese and
Brunei, 1840, 1849 Spanish Slave
West African States, Ships, 1807-1867
1830s, 1840s Al Qaeda,
Afghanistan,2001 1998, 2001, 2002,
2005, 2006
Protected Cuba, 1980s- Florida, 1817
North Korea, 1980s- Cuba, 1824
Syria, 1980s- Cuba, 1840s-1850s
Defensible Pakistan, United States Ships
2005, 2006 1820s-1850s
Iran 1980s-
Strong Soviet Union, 1970s-1980s


territory of two insider states, Yemen and Pakistan, were aimed at nonstate actors.
Moreover, the governments of these states were cooperating with the United States
when terrorist targets on their territory were attacked. Finally, both international
standing and power factors help explain why some states that could have been
targets of intervention were not subjected to force.

Several conclusions can be drawn about when great powers are likely to use force to
promote international norms. No strong states were the targets of intervention by
great powers seeking to change norms. One insider state became a target; attacks
against nonstate actors occurred on the territory of two other insider states, albeit
with their assent. Table 7 pulls together the data for piracy, the slave trade, and
terrorism. An examination of this information implies that sufficient power is the
best defense against being targeted by force if a great power seeks to promote norm
change. Insider status in the international society is also clearly important, as evi-
denced by the fact that there is only a single case of intervention to enforce a norm
in an insider state without that state's concurrence. Yet, because there is a hierarchy
of status and power even among insider states, it does not provide blanket pro-
tection against becoming the target of intervention. Brazil had acquiesced to un-
equal treaties with Britain and was too weak to prevent its attacks against slave ships
in Brazilian harbors. Yemen and Pakistan had acceded to US military activities on
their territory. Weaker insider states may have little choice but to go along with
great power wishes, even at the expense of some sovereignty. To be sure, the
United States used a range of means to persuade Pakistan and Yemen to cooperate
with it in the war on terror; though it is noteworthy that at least in Pakistan's case,
these means included threats.
As Table 7 shows, the majority of states that were targets of intervention in great
power efforts to promote norm change were weak, with either contested or outsider
status. The remaining targets were nonstate actors. The targeting of slave ships
flagged to insider states indicates two things: great powers will seek to use means
other than force to change the behavior of insider states, but power can still trump
insider status. Thus, Spain and Portugal were given financial incentives to sign

This content downloaded from on Sat, 14 Jun 2014 23:21:40 PM

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
bilateral ship-boarding treaties with Britain, but Britain boarded their ships prior to
negotiating these treaties because it could. US ships, in contrast, were not subject to
boarding after 1812 because the United States had shown itself to be defensible; it
was strong enough to put up a fight and unwilling to accept British boarding.
There are several examples in which force was not used against states that were
violating the norms the great power hoped to change. Most are in the struggle
against terrorism. Both the state's standing in international society and power help
explain the nonuse of force. All were insider states. Notably, most of these states are
regarded as insiders in spite of US efforts to brand them as outsiders due to their
support for terrorist groups: Iran, Syria, North Korea, and Cuba. This highlights
the difficulty confronting great powers seeking to determine classifications in the
current international system in comparison to the comparative ease with which they
could delineate categorizations prior to 1945. None of the nontarget states were
weak. In power terms, they were either strong states, had sufficient force to defend
themselves, or great power protectors-and, in North Korea's case, both of the
latter two.
Unlike Brazil, slave-trading ships in Cuba were not targeted by Britain in the
1840s and 1850s despite Cuba's contested status at the time. A state's sovereignty
status can be contested for three reasons: one state's desire to encroach on its
territory; two or more states competing for control over it; or argumepts that a state
is not living up to the values that insider states espouse. Cuba in the 1840s rep-
resents the second case, of multiple states competing for control. Some groups in
the United States were anxious to incorporate Cuba into the United States as a slave
state whereas Spain wanted to retain its hold there; Britain did not want US in-
fluence in the Caribbean to grow. This meant that Britain had to focus on the
United States' rather than Cuba's or Spain's power when contemplating interven-
tion to quell the slave trade in Cuba. Because Britain preferred continued Spanish
control of Cuba and did not want to give the United States a pretext to invade, it
refrained from using force against Cuba itself. In such cases of contested status, the
power factors causing the contestation help explain the likelihood that force will or
will not be used.
Although we can conclude that power may be somewhat more useful than in-
ternational standing in predicting whether great power intervention is likely from
the cases examined here, the absence of examples of strong outsider states as actual
or potential targets makes a complete comparison of these two factors impossible.
Two points are worth observing in this respect. First, in general there are very few
outsider states in the international system today; international society has evolved to
near universality (Bull 1984). Second, there do not appear to be any strong outsider
states in the international system. Once a state reaches a certain level of strength,
perhaps it cannot be left out of an international society. Japan gained membership
in nineteenth century international society both by adopting the "standard" of
international civilization-by incorporating Western military equipment and tech-
niques, which enabled it to compete militarily against Western powers (Suganami
1984). Arguably, the Soviet Union was an outsider state between 1921 and 1934,
when it joined the already weakened League of Nations. The Soviet Union was
politically isolated from the Western international community during the 1920s for
ideological reasons, although trade relations with some Western states were rees-
tablished after 1922; Stalin's unease about Germany's growing strength led him to
seek to "rejoin" the international society after Hitler's rise to power in 1933 (Ulam
1974). The major Western states were willing to include the Soviet Union for the
same reason; they shared Stalin's concern about Germany and sought to ensure
that the Soviets would not ally with Germany against them, given its growing
strength. Even at the height of the Cold War,the Soviet Union remained part of the
international society by virtue of its UN Security Council membership and its par-
ticipation in a range of international organizations; but this position owes more to

This content downloaded from on Sat, 14 Jun 2014 23:21:40 PM

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
76 ImposingInternationalNorms

its power than to a sense of shared values with other core members of that inter-
national society.17
How effective was the use of force in promoting norm change? The cases exam-
ined here suggest two conclusions. First, even with the use of force, norm change
can take a long time. The campaign to eradicate piracy took at least 200 years; and
even though it has been eliminated from the Caribbean and the Mediterranean,
piracy remains a chronic problem in southeast Asia. The campaign also became
more violent when it became clear that the great powers' goal was to eradicate
piracy, leading to a "bloodbath" in the Caribbean in the 1700s as pirates fought
against their elimination (Rediker 2004:37). The British campaign to abolish the
slave trade continued for roughly 80 years, with limited success.
Second, the use of force does not guarantee success. The campaign to prohibit
piracy succeeded only after the major powers recognized that to ensure the state's
monopoly over the use of force, they had to forego reliance on nonstate actors like
privateers to further state goals. This led to the adoption of a common definition
that outlawed all forms of piracy. The prohibition of piracy was, thus, directly linked
to the evolution of the sovereignty norm and the view that states should have sole
authority to use force (Thomson 1994:150-152). Similarly, there is little evidence
that the British resort to force succeeded in stopping the slave trade; rather, by
constricting the trade, abolition efforts made successful voyages more lucrative. The
slave trade did not end because of the Royal Navy's efforts to prevent it, but because
the main slave-holding states eventually abolished slavery.
The examples of piracy and the slave trade suggest that efforts to quell state
support for terrorism will take a long time and that force alone will not resolve the
issue. Certainly, the efficacy of force to end state support for terrorists remains
unclear. The use of force against Libya appears to have quelled Qaddaffi's enthu-
siasm for supporting terrorist groups; there is little evidence of major terrorist
support from Libya after 1986 (US Department of State 2002; Young and Kent
2004:677). The overthrow of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan eliminated an
important terrorist training base and disrupted Al Qaeda's activities. Although
there is some evidence of changed behavior by some state sponsors of terrorism in
the wake of US incursions into Afghanistan and Iraq, analysts disagree about the
degree to which this is due to the compellence effect the United States hoped to
create. Some have argued that certain states sought to use this opportunity to rid
themselves of the US designation as sponsors of terrorism. At the same time, US
difficulties in Iraq have led some state leaders to conclude that they do not need to
change their behavior (Hersh 2003; Leverett 2003).
That power is central to great power calculations regarding the use of force is
hardly news. But the fact that this is true even when the goal is to promote norm
change is notable given the scholarly focus on persuasion and socialization as the
central means by which norms are spread in the international system. The cases
examined here suggest that there is a need for further examination of norm dy-
namics and, in particular, efforts to spread norms outside the core states in the
international system. Even though persuasion and socialization are clearly impor-
tant tools for norm diffusion, force enters into the picture when great powers seek
to influence the behavior of weak states as well as those whose international status is
questionable or contested. Recent studies have suggested that states may resist
certain norms because they are perceived both as "Western"and as threats to state
sovereignty by creating precedents for intervention (Acharya 2004). This essay
suggests that the lenses through which major norm-promoting states view those
whose behavior they want to change matters as well. Norm-promoting states may

'7To be sure, the lip service the Soviet Union gave to "Western" values such as human rights contributed to the
downfall of its empire (see Thomas 2001).

This content downloaded from on Sat, 14 Jun 2014 23:21:40 PM

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
use tools other than persuasion in norm promotion simply because they think they
can, at least in the case of weak and outsider states.
A better understanding is also needed of the role that power plays in norm
promotion and how power factors affect great power decision making regarding
the use of force. This essay suggests that power matters in great power calculations
about norm promotion and enforcement. Status matters, but power matters more.
Weak states are most likely to be targets of intervention, whereas protected or
defensible states are less likely to experience forceful norm promotion. Insider
states are much less likely than outsider states or those with contested status to be
targets of intervention. There are no cases of strong states being subjected to the
use of force to promote norms. It may not be surprising that power concerns can
trump even deeply held moral norms, but it is important. This finding lends
strength to realist contentions that power factors dominate state decisions in the
international arena, whereas moral imperatives are honored when they do not
clash with power interests.

9/11 COMMISSION. (2004) The 9/11 CommissionReport. New York: W.W. Norton.
ACHARYA, AMITAV.(2004) How Ideas Spread: Whose Norms Matter? Norm Localization and Insti-
tutional Change in Asian Regionalism. InternationalOrganization58:239-275.
AUSTEN,RALPH A. (1981) From the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean: European Abolition, the African
Slave Trade, and Asian Economic Structures. In TheAbolitionof theAtlanticSlave Trade:Originsand
Effects in Europe, Africa, and the Americas, edited by David Eltis and James Walvin. Madison:
University of Wisconsin Press.
BALDWIN, DAVIDA. (1985) EconomicStatecraft.Princeton: Princeton University Press.
BALDWIN, DAVID A. (2002) Power and International Relations. In Handbookof InternationalRelations,
edited by Walter Carlsnaes, Thomas Risse, and Beth A. Simmons. London: Sage Publications.
BALL,HOWARD. (1999) ProsecutingWarCrimesand Genocide:The Twentieth-Century Experience.Lawrence:
University Press of Kansas.
BANKS, WILLIAM C. (2003) The Predator. National SecurityStudies Case #CS 0603-32. Syracuse: Max-
well School, Syracuse University.
BARNETT, MICHAEL, AND RAYMOND DUVALL. (2005) Power in International Politics. International
BENDER,BRYAN.(2004) Pakistan Lets U.S. Troops Conduct Raids in Frontier. Boston Globe, February
BENFORD,ROBERTD., AND DAVIDA. SNOW.(2000) Framing Processes and Social Movements: An
Overview and Assessment. Annual Review of Sociology26:611-639.
BLACKBURN, ROBIN.(1988) The Overthrowof Colonial Slavery,1776-1848. London: Verso.
BULL,HEDLEY. (1977) The Anarchical Society:A Study of Order in WorldPolitics. New York: Columbia
University Press.
BULL, HEDLEY. (1984) The Emergence of a Universal International Society. In The Expansion of
InternationalSociety,edited by Hedley Bull and Adam Watson. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
BUSH,GEORGEW. (2003) National Strategyfor CombatingTerrorism.Available at http//:www.whitehouse.
gov/news/releases/2003/02/counter terrorism/counter_terrorism_strategy.pdf.
Point: WhyStatesReconsiderTheir Nuclear Choices.Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.
CHECKEL,JEFFREY T. (2001) Why Comply? Social Learning and European Identity Change. Inter-
national Organization55:553-581.
CLINTON, BILL.(2004) My Life. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
CORTRIGHT,DAVID, AND GEORGEA. LOPEZ. (2000) The SanctionsDecade:Assessing UN Strategiesin the
1990s. Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers.
CORWIN, ARTHUR F. (1967) Spain and the Abolitionof Slaveryin Cuba, 1817-1886. Austin: University of
Texas Press.
CRAWFORD, NETA. (2002) Argumentand Changein WorldPolitics:Ethics, Decolonization,and Humanitarian
Intervention.Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

This content downloaded from on Sat, 14 Jun 2014 23:21:40 PM

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
78 ImposingInternationalNorms

(2004) Terrorism, Strategies, and Grand Strategies. In AttackingTerrorism:Elem-

ents of a Grand Strategy,edited by Audrey Kurth Cronin and James M. Ludes. Washington, DC:
Georgetown University Press.
CRONIN,AUDREYKURTH.(2004) Sources of Contemporary Terrorism. In AttackingTerrorism: Elements
of a Grand Strategy,edited by Audrey Kurth Cronin and James M. Ludes. Washington, DC:
Georgetown University Press.
DAALDER,IVO, AND JAMESSTEINBERG.(2006) The Future of Pre-emption. The American Interest
DAGET,SERGE.(1981) France, Suppression of the Illegal Trade, and England, 1817-1850. In The
Abolitionof the Atlantic Slave Trade:Origins and Effects in Europe,Africa, and the Americas,edited by
David Eltis and James Walvin. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.
DAVIS,PATTY. (2002) U.S. Confirms Troops in Pakistan: CNN.Com, April 28.
DRESCHER, SEYMOUR. (1982) Public Opinion and the Destruction of British Colonial Slavery. In Slavery
and British Society,1776-1846, edited by James Walvin. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University
SecurityLaw. Boston: Little, Brown.
ELTIS,DAVID.(1987) EconomicGrowthand the Ending of the TransatlanticSlave Trade.New York: Oxford
University Press.
ENGERMAN, STANLEY. (1981) Some Implications of the Abolition of the Slave Trade. In TheAbolitionof
theAtlanticSlave Trade,edited by David Eltis and James Walvin. Madison: University of Wisconsin
In. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
FIELD,JAMESA. (1969) America and the MediterraneanWorld, 1776-1882. Princeton: Princeton Uni-
versity Press.
FINNEMORE, MARTHA. (1996) National Interestsin InternationalSociety.Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
FINNEMORE, MARTHA.(2004) The Purposeof Intervention:Changing Beliefs about the Use of Force.Ithaca:
Cornell University Press.
FINNEMORE, MARTHA, AND KATHRYN SIKKINK. (1998) International Norm Dynamics and Political
Change. InternationalOrganization52:887-917.
FLADELAND,BETTY. (1982) "Our Cause Being One and the Same": Abolitionists and Chartism. In
Slavery and British Society 1776-1848, edited by James Walvin. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State
University Press.
FLORINI,ANN. (1996) The Evolution of International Norms. International Studies Quarterly 40:
FRANCIS, DAVID.(1985) Portugal 1715-1808: Joanine, Pombaline,and RococoPortugal as Seen by British
Diplomatsand Traders.London: Tamesis Books.
FREEDMAN, LAWRENCE. (2004) War in Iraq: Selling the Threat. Survival 46(2):7-49.
FREEDMAN,LAWRENCE,AND EFRAIM KARSH. (1991) How Kuwait Was Won: Strategy in the Gulf War.
InternationalSecurity 16(2).
GALL, CARLOTTA,AND MOHAMMED KHAN.(2006) Pakistan's Push in Border Areas Is Said to Falter.
New YorkTimes,January 22.
GARTHOFF, RAYMOND L. (1994) The Great Transition:American-SovietRelations and the End of the Cold
War.Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.
GONG,GERRITW. (1984) The Standardof "Civilization"in InternationalSociety.Oxford: Clarendon Press.
GUELKE, ADRIAN.(1998) TheAge of Terrorismand the InternationalPolitical System.London: I.B. Taurus.
HAASS,RICHARD N. (2003) Sovereignty: Existing Rights, Evolving Responsibilities, January 14. Avail-
able at http//
HARING,C. H. (1958) Empirein Brazil:A New WorldExperimentwithMonarchy.Cambridge, MA: Harvard
University Press.
HENRIKSEN, THOMAS. (2001) The Rise and Decline of Rogue States. Journal of InternationalAffairs
HERSH,SEYMOUR M. (2003) The Syrian Bet. The New Yorker, July 28.
HOCHSCHILD, ADAM. (2005) Bury the Chains. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
HOFFMAN, BRUCE.(1998) Inside Terrorism.New York: Columbia University Press.
Oxford: IISS.
London: IISS.

This content downloaded from on Sat, 14 Jun 2014 23:21:40 PM

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

London: IISS.
IKENBERRY,G. JOHN, AND CHARLESA. KUPCHAN. (1990) Socializationand Hegemonic Power.Inter-
national Organization44:283-315.
JACKSON, ROBERTH. (1990) Quasi-States:Sovereignty,InternationalRelations, and the Third World.Cam-
bridge: Cambridge University Press.
JACKSON,ROBERT H. (2000) The Global Covenant:Human Conductin a Worldof States. Oxford: Oxford
University Press.
KAUFMANN,CHAIMD. (2004) Threat Inflation and the Failure of the Marketplace of Ideas. Interna-
tional Security29(1):5-48.
KAUFMANN, CHAIMD., ANDROBERT A. PAPE.(1999) Explaining Costly Moral Action: Britain's Sixty-
Year Campaign against the Atlantic Slave Trade. InternationalOrganization53:631-668.
KHAN,ISMAIL, ANDCARLOTTA GALL.(2006) Pakistan Lets Tribal Chiefs Keep Control Along Border.
New YorkTimes, September 6.
KLOTZ,AUDIE. (1995) Norms Reconstituting Interests: Global Racial Equality and U.S. Sanctions
against South Africa. InternationalOrganization49:451-478.
KOWERT,PAUL,AND JEFFREYLEGRO. (1996) Norms, Identity, and Their Limits: A Theoretical Reprise.
In The Cultureof National Security:Normsand Identityin WorldPolitics,edited by Peter Katzenstein.
New York: Columbia University Press.
KRASNER, STEPHEN D. (1993) Sovereignty, Regimes, and Human Rights. In Regime Theoryin Inter-
national Relations, edited by Volker Rittberger. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
KRASNER, STEPHEND. (1999) Sovereignty:OrganizedHypocrisy.Princeton: Princeton University Press.
KRONSTADT, K. ALAN. (2005) Pakistan-U.S. Relations. CRS Issue Brief for Congress, Congressional
ResearchService. November 14.
LAKE,ANTHONY. (1994) Confronting Backlash States. ForeignAffairs 73(2):45-55.
LEMANN,NICHOLAS. (2003) After Iraq. The New Yorker,February 17 and 24.
LEVERETT, FLYNT L. (2003) How to Get Syria Out of the Terrorism Business. New YorkTimes,
May 4.
LITWAK, ROBERTS. (2000) Rogue States and U.S. ForeignPolicy: Containmentafter the Cold War.Wash-
ington, DC: Woodrow Wilson Center Press.
MARX,JENNIFER.(1992) Pirates and Privateersof the Caribbean.Malabar: Krieger Publishing.
MEAD,WALTER RUSSELL. (2001) SpecialProvidence:AmericanForeignPolicyand How It Changedthe World.
New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
MEARSHEIMER, JOHN J. (1994-1995) The False Promise of International Institutions. International
Security 19(3):5-49.
MILLS,NICOLAUS, ANDKIRABRUNNER,EDS.(2002) The New Killing Fields: Massacreand the Politics of
Intervention.New York: Basic Books.
MURPHY, JOHNF (1989) State Supportof InternationalTerrorism: Legal, Political,and EconomicDimensions.
Boulder: Westview Press.
NADELMANN, ETHANA. (1990) Global Prohibition Regimes: The Evolution of Norms in International
Society. InternationalOrganization44:479-526.
NICHOLSON, HAROLD.(1946) The Congressof Vienna: A Study in Allied Unity, 1812-1822. New York:
Viking Press.
O'SULLIVAN, MEGHAN L. (2003) ShrewdSanctions:Statecraftand State Sponsorsof Terrorism.Washington,
DC: Brookings Institution Press.
PAYNE,RODGER A. (2001) Persuasion, Frames, and Norm Construction. EuropeanJournal of Interna-
tional Relations 7:37-61.
PETERSON, M. J. (1982) Political Use of Recognition: The Influence of the International System. World
Politics 34:324-352.
POWER, SAMANTHA. (2002) A Problemfrom Hell: America and the Age of Genocide. New York: Harper
PRIEST,DANA.(2005) Surveillance Operation in Pakistan Located and Killed Al Qaeda Official. Wash-
ington Post, May 15.
PUCHALA, DONALD J. (2005) World Hegemony and the United Nations. InternationalStudies Review
RASHID,AHMED. (2000) Taliban:Militant Islam, Oil, and Fundamentalismin CentralAsia. New Haven: Yale
University Press.
REDIKER,MARCUS. (2004) Villainsof All Nations:AtlanticPirates in the GoldenAge. Boston: Beacon Press.
RISSE,THOMAS.(2000) Let's Argue: Communicative Action in World Politics. InternationalOrganization

This content downloaded from on Sat, 14 Jun 2014 23:21:40 PM

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
80 ImposingInternationalNorms


SIKKINK.(1999) The Power of Human Rights: Inter-
national Norms and DomesticChange. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
RISSE,THOMAS,AND KATHRYNSIKKINK.(1999) The Socialization of International Human Rights
Norms into Domestic Practices. In The Power of Human Rights: InternationalNorms and Domestic
Change, edited by Thomas Risse, Stephen C. Ropp, and Kathryn Sikkink. Cambridge: Cam-
bridge University Press.
SCHELLING, THOMASC. (1966) Arms and Influence. New Haven: Yale University Press.
SCHLESINGER, ARTHURJR. (2005) The American Empire? Not So Fast. WorldPolicyJournal 22:43-46.
SIMPSON, GERRY. (2004) GreatPowersand OutlawStates:UnequalSovereignsin the InternationalLegal Order.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
SINGER,J. DAVID.(1987) Reconstructing the Correlates of War Dataset on Material Capabilities
of States, 1816-1985. International Interactions 14:115-132. Updated online dataset 3.02,
SNIDAL,DUNCAN.(1985) The Limits of Hegemonic Stability Theory. International Organization 39:
SOFAER,ABRAHAM D. (1986) Terrorism and the Law. ForeignAffairs 64:901-922.
SOULSBY, HUGHG. (1933) TheRight of Searchand the Slave Tradein Anglo-AmericanRelations,1814-1862.
Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press.
SPRUYT,HENDRIK.(2000) The End of Empire and the Extension of the Westphalian System: The
Normative Basis of the Modern State Order. InternationalStudiesReview 2(2):65-92.
STRANG,DAVID.(1996) Contested Sovereignty: The Social Construction of Colonial Imperialism.
In State Sovereigntyas a Social Construct,edited by Thomas J. Biersteker and Cynthia Weber.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
SUGANAMI, HIDEMI.(1984) Japan's Entry into International Society. In The Expansion of International
Society,edited by Hedley Bull and Adam Watson. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
TAYLOR, BRIAND. (2003) Politicsand the Russian Army:Civil-MilitaryRelations, 1689-2000. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.
THOMAS,DANIELC. (2001) The Helsinki Effect: InternationalNorms, Human Rights, and the Demise of
Communism.Princeton: Princeton University Press.
THOMSON,JANICEE. (1994) Mercenaries, Pirates, and Sovereigns: State-Building and Extraterritorial
Violencein Early Modern Europe. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
TOLEDANO, EHUD R. (1982) The OttomanSlave Tradeand Its Suppression,1840-1890. Princeton: Prin-
ceton University Press.
ULAM,ADAM.(1974) Expansionand Coexistence:SovietForeignPolicy, 1917-1973. 2nd edition. New York:
Holt, Rinehart and Winston.
US DEPARTMENT OF STATE.(2002) Washington File: State Sponsors of Terrorism. May 21.
US DEPARTMENT OFSTATE.(2003) Patterns of Global Terrorism. Available at http//
US DEPARTMENT OFSTATE.(2006) Background Note: Yemen. Available at http//
WALTZ, KENNETHN. (1979) Theoryof InternationalPolitics. Reading: Addison-Wesley.
WALVIN, JAMES.(1982a) The Propaganda of Anti-Slavery. In Slavery and British Society,1776-1846,
edited by James Walvin. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press.
WALVIN,JAMES.(1982b) Introduction. In Slavery and British Society, 1776-1846, edited by James
Walvin. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press.
WATSON, ADAM.(1984) New States in the Americas. In The Expansionof InternationalSociety,edited by
Hedley Bull and Adam Watson. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
WENDT,ALEXANDER. (1999) Social Theoryof InternationalPolitics. Cambridge: Cambridge University
WILLS, DAVIDC. (2003) The First War on Terrorism:Counter-Terrorism Policy during the Reagan Admin-
istration. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield.
WITTE, GRIFFE,AND KAMRANKHAN. (2006) Attacks Strain Efforts on Terror. Washington Post,
January 23.
WOLF,JOHNB. (1979) TheBarbaryCoast:Algiersunder the Turks,1500 to 1830. New York: W.W. Norton.
WOODWARD,BOB. (2002) Bush at War.New York: Simon and Schuster.
YOUNG,JOHN W., ANDJOHN KENT.(2004) InternationalRelationssince 1945: A GlobalHistory.Oxford:
Oxford University Press.

This content downloaded from on Sat, 14 Jun 2014 23:21:40 PM

All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions