Operation restore hope and the illusion of a news media driven intervention

Piers Robinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


US intervention in Somalia (1992) and Iraq (1991) are held as evidence for a more powerful media in the post Cold War era and the thesis that media coverage of suffering people is a major cause of humanitarian intervention. This paper investigates the role of mass media during the 1992 decision to deploy ground troops in Somalia. A media influence model is outlined and then applied to the decision to intervene in Somalia. The research indicates that significant levels of media attention actually followed the intervention decision and that this coverage was framed in a way that built support lor the intervention. I conclude there is little evidence to support the claim that media coverage compelled policy makers to intervene or that media coverage was a major factor in policy deliberations. Overall, the role of media in causing intervention in Somalia has been substantially overplayed, instead other factors are likely to have had a far greater effect in causing the intervention. This finding challenges both the thesis that media coverage is a major cause of the deployment of ground troops during humanitarian crisis and suggests caution be exercised with regard to post-Cold War claims of a more powerful and influential media.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)941-956
Number of pages15
JournalPolitical Studies
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2001


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