Thursday, July 26, 2007
George Packer writes today to applaud the success of international intervention in Sierra Leone. Frances Trix, writing at Informed Comment, says the success of the international mission in Kosovo is somewhat more qualified. There are two lessons to take away from these similar pieces. First, a humanitarian intervention can save lives and save a nation, if it's conducted with narrow tailoring to meet feasible goals. Second, we must always be on guard for the lack of knowledge or understanding of other people that makes hubris and over-reaching in humanitarian interventions possible or likely. Balancing competing considerations before engaging in humanitarian missions or nation-building is not as sexy as claiming that should do something before a "smoking gun becomes a mushroom cloud", but it's the only realistic way of approaching such problems.