Kristof on Humanitarian Intervention

4 Apr

In his Saturday OpEd Kristof writes of the Libyan intervention:

Critics argue that we are inconsistent, even hypocritical, in our military interventions. After all, we intervened promptly this time in a country with oil, while we have largely ignored Ivory Coast and Darfur — not to mention Yemen, Syria and Bahrain.

We may as well plead guilty. We are inconsistent. There’s no doubt that we cherry-pick our humanitarian interventions.

But just because we allowed Rwandans or Darfuris to be massacred, does it really follow that to be consistent we should allow Libyans to be massacred as well? Isn’t it better to inconsistently save some lives than to consistently save none?

This seems like the right sort of question to be asking these days. Because we are constantly conditioned against intervention when it isn’t in reaction to the death of Americans, we lose sight of the good that can come out of blowing stuff in a non-Michael-Bay-sort-of-way. Of course the ends are never clear and its easy to be sucked in…but at least we can see some bravery in the risk that was taken by trying to do some good.


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