The Question of Intervention: John Stuart Mill and the Responsibility to Protect

February 18, 2016

Since the end of the Cold War, the United States has conducted a number of humanitarian interventions. Following the UN’s enshrinement of the “responsibility to protect,” and in the midst of ongoing international instability, Washington is bound to face pressure to perform more such operations. Given that likelihood, policymakers need standards for deciding when to intervene abroad. In his new book, Michael Doyle provides a sophisticated analysis of the circumstances in which moral and security considerations supersede the norm of state sovereignty and justify foreign intervention. Building on John Stuart Mill’s 1859 essay “A Few Words on Non-intervention,” Doyle argues that the default principle of non-intervention should only be overridden in grave situations following multilateral deliberation. Please join us for an engaging discussion.

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