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The True Costs of Humanitarian Intervention

The Hard Truth About a Noble Notion

Author: Benjamin A. Valentino
November / December 2011
Foreign Affairs


Intervening militarily to save lives abroad often sounds good on paper, but the record has not been promising. The ethical calculus involved is almost always complicated by messy realities on the ground, and the opportunity costs of such missions are massive. Well-meaning countries could save far more lives by helping refugees and victims of natural disasters and funding public health.

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