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The other night on The West Wing, the fake President created a new doctrine justifying U.S. military intervention in countries where, for example, genocide was being committed. They had a made-up country analogous to Rwanda, and the newest speech-writer was appalled at our indifference to the slaughter going on there. He pushed the issue and played a small part in changing the President's mind.

Well, I thought it was an interesting issue. I've blogged before about how, with the world getting smaller, increasingly connected, and increasingly interdependent that our knowledge of suffering and injustice in other countries increases, as well as our moral obligation to act. If we are truly global neighbors we should damn well act like it, and if you knew your neighbor was intentionally starving, torturing, or killing their children what the hell would you do?

So in the case of genocide, let's use a hypothetical (I know how everyone loves my hypotheticals). Let's say that a particular countries is cleansing a particular ethnic minority.

Now then, would Americans have any obligation to stop such an atrocity from continuing? Would we be justified in waiting for the U.N. to debate the subject over months or years? If the U.N. decided not to act, would we be justified in acting without U.N. approval?

Now, I ask these questions in earnest, not intending the situation to be completely analogous to Iraq or North Korea necessarily. But I would like to know the answers to the hypothetical above, because I do think it bears on American foreign policy now and over the coming decades.

In the situation I've outlined above, we have no interest other than a moral one.

1) We would not be acting out of imminent threat or danger, so it would not be self defense

2) We would not be acting to protect a particular resource

Would we be justified in intervening militarily. I think you know my answer...what's yours?

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