Saturday, March 24, 2012

On the "art and science" of intervention....

A brief excerpt from the chapter titled The Case for Humanitarian 
Intervention from Arguably: Essays by Christopher Hitchens 

"Bass has a considerable gift of phrase - even though one might not rush to adopt his term 'atrocitarian' as a nickname for those revolted by acts of genocide.  He also has a jaunty flair for recognizing such cynicism in others:  It is not without relish that he cites Disraeli's dismissal of 'merciless humanitarians.'  And he is no Mrs. Jellyby, fretting only about the miseries of Borrioboola-Gha while ignoring shrieks for mercy from under his own window.  On the whole, he makes a sensible case that everyone has a self-interest in the strivings and sufferings of others because the borders between societies are necessarily porous and contingent and are, when one factors in considerations such as the velocity of modern travel, easy access to weaponry, and the spread of disease, becoming more so.  Americans may not have known or cared about Rwanda in 1994, for instance, but the effect of its crisis on the Democratic Republic of the Congo could have been even more calamitous.  Afghanistan's internal affairs are now the United States' - in fact, they were already so before Americans understood that.  A failed state may not trouble Americans' sleep, but a rogue one can, and the transition from failed to rogue can be alarmingly abrupt."

-Christopher Hitchens,  In Memoriam: Just Causes

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