On altruistic war and national responsibility: Justifying humanitarian intervention to soldiers and taxpayers [Book Review]

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 13 (1):19 - 31 (2010)
The principle of absolute sovereignty may have been consigned to history, but a strong presumption against foreign intervention seems to have been left in its stead. On the dominant view, only massacre and ethnic cleansing justify armed intervention, these harms must be already occurring or imminent, and the prudential constraints on war must be satisfied. Each of these conditions has recently come under pressure. Those looking to defend the dominant view have typically done so by invoking international peace and stability, or the value of communal self-determination. But the internal aspect of legitimacy has been overlooked in all of this. If a government insists on defending the human rights of foreigners, it must also be sure not to violate the rights of its own citizens in the process. I argue that the current presumption against humanitarian intervention cannot be substantially relaxed for internal reasons, or given the obligations that states owe to their own constituents.
Keywords Humanitarian intervention  Social contract  National responsibility  Political realism
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