Liberals, Neocons, and Realcons

How should we understand the politics of humanitarian intervention? Do American leaders decide where and when to use military force to prevent or stop humanitarian crises on a case-by-case basis from ad hoc motivations, or do overarching ideological predispositions determine when they act or abstain? While there is no doubt that domestic politics and particular circumstances affect when and how the United States engages in humanitarian intervention, a larger ideological backdrop plays a greater role. This essay explores the two major ideological poles in past and future debates about humanitarian intervention: liberalism and conservative realism.

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