Honors College Theses

Publication Date



Political Science (B.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Krista Wiegand


In 1999, the U.S. and NATO went to war against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia under the guise of a humanitarian intervention. American citizens outraged by images Kosovar refugees fleeing their homeland helped prompt this military action that eventually freed Kosovo from the grips of Yugoslavia. In 2011 Americans began to be exposed to images of Syrian war victims and refugees fleeing violence and persecution in Syria. The U.S., however, has remained militarily uninvolved in this conflict despite the mass scale of atrocities being committed by the Syrian government. Through this thesis I attempt to explain why the U.S. response in these two case studies was entirely different. In my analysis I ultimately determine that domestic politics, more so than any other factor, determines U.S. foreign policy in humanitarian crises.