The Case for Humanitarian Intervention

On December 3, 1992, the U.N. Security Council, concluding that the situation in Somalia had become “intolerable,” authorized the dispatch of military forces to ensure the distribution of humanitarian assistance in a land beset by widespread starvation and suffering, thus saving the country from a complete breakdown of law and order. For the United Nations, and especially for the United States, which had taken a leading role in urging the intervention, this decision was almost unprecedented. Not since the 1840s, when Britain, France, and the United States dispatched cruisers to the west coast of Africa in order to hunt down slave ships, had the world seen a major military operation devoid of any strategic or economic benefit.

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