The introductory chapter explores what general factors lead countries to intervene in foreign crises; it does not specifically focus on the crisis in Rwanda and instead draws on more general literature. The main part of the chapter begins with an illustration of how the normal response to such crises is to do nothing; in specific relation to 1990s Britain, it points out how the Conservative government had a natural suspicion of intervention. Having, shown that non-intervention is the norm, the chapter tests what factors influence the decision to intervene. It looks at: national interest, international law, Conservative views of state sovereignty, media coverage, the role of the bureaucracy and the impact of race. It demonstrates that three factors have to be present if intervention is going to be approved: first there must be a realisation that a humanitarian crisis exists; secondly, to overcome bureaucratic inertia there must be support for intervention at the most senior levels of government; and there must be a belief that intervention will be successful.
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