HUMANITARIAN RELIEF: AMERICAN HUMANITARIANISM AND GREAT POWER DECISION MAKING
Simmonds, Holden Duane
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Humanitarian relief operations are among the most popular uses of a government, but despite this, not all disasters receive international attention. This thesis’ goal is to explore the question: why do countries participate in humanitarian relief operations? International relationships are complicated and messy affairs, and the decision to deliver aid to another country is equally as difficult. However, it is essential to understand why and how countries participate in relief operations, because they happen with such frequency. Each section of this thesis explores a different aspect of humanitarian relief operations. First, the United States has a strong history of humanitarianism. The roots of this belief system came from the Declaration of Independence which laid out the basic rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all of mankind. Herbert Hoover demonstrated through his humanitarian works that there are individual and religious trends to America’s relief operations. Second, the United States’ standard for participation also draws influence from the international community and soft power objectives. Both the 2005 Indian Ocean Tsunami and the 2011 Japanese Tsunami identify that the United States both responds to international pressure, and supports close allies in need. Lastly, China’s decision making for relief operations is explored. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) historically donated much less than the rest of the international community despite their booming economy. This is because China does not believe that humanitarian relief is a critical aspect to their current economic push, the Belt and Road initiative. Rather, China has responded to disasters rapidly with rescue teams, and then departed the area quickly after meeting minimum objectives. The results of this study identify that the United States will continue its leadership in this role while China will continue to ignore international pressure to change its ways.