- JAPAN ASSOCIATION OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
- 国際政治 (ISSN:04542215)
- vol.2014, no.175, pp.175_144-175_157, 2014
This article examines new/neo humanitarianism in a wider context of post-Cold War international relations and argues that its emergence corresponds to an important shift in the meaning of the political in today's international relations. It describes the shift in terms of the contrast between two logics of politics: the conventional "logic of distinction," whereby political processes take place between territorially separated, sovereign entities, and the newer "logic of translucency" in which new values (and risks) are generated by the actor's ability and will to extend beyond its material and ideational boundaries. The logic of translucency has been adopted by many actors who thereby aim to generate new values and extend the reach of their own activities. From this perspective, new humanitarianism, which seeks linkage to the activities that were once off limits to traditional humanitarianism (military intervention, development and governance), can be seen as another example of the ideational and practical socialization to a new political landscape. However, as political actors acting on the logic of translucency each try to extend themselves beyond their traditional realms, dilemmas, contradictions, clashes and conundrums tend to occur: the logic of translucency ironically thus generates diverse forms of "murkiness," creating in turn a new desire for translucency.<br>The current crisis in humanitarian assistance (kidnappings, killings and obstructions against humanitarian personnel) can be seen as part of the murky consequences of new humanitarianism and politics and, as such, cannot be blamed solely on the post-911 tendency of the humanitarianization of politics, i.e., the utilization by state authorities and militaries of humanitarian arguments and programs to serve their ends. This article also suggests that new humanitarianism as well as its murky consequences cannot be wished away by insisting that humanitarianism should go back to the basics, because the changing nature of humanitarianism has deeper roots in the changing nature of politics in general.