"The problem with interventions is that they are a poor form of cure": The 2017 Cyril Foster Lecture

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    Image: John Cairns (

Sir Lawrence Freedman, Emeritus Professor or War Studies at King's College London, and Visiting Professor at Oxford's Blavatnik School of Government delivered the 2017 Cyril Foster Lecture to a large audience at the Examination Schools, on the subject of 'Fear and Loathing in International Relations'.

In a wide-ranging lecture, Sir Lawrence examined the justifications for and success of military interventions, arguing that "Addressing the problem of war in terms of the suffering caused, and justifying any intervention as protecting the vunerable, shifts the focus from causes to symptoms and from the politics to the violence", concluding that "the problem with interventions is that they are a poor form of cure, and not always a means of getting to a point where better cures, in the form of effective statebuilding are possible. Better to work harder on prevention, to look for the signs of political breakdown, and to act diplomatically and use economic means before the violence has taken hold. By the time you are at the point of routine fear and loathing, its probably too late."

Sir Lawrence was introduced by Professor Louise Richardson, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford and Professor Louise Fawcett, Head of Department at the Department of Politics and International Relations.

The podcast of the lecture will be available shortly.

Professor Louise Fawcett is Former Head of Department, Professor of International Relations, Wilfrid Knapp Fellow and Tutor in Politics St Catherines College