Jim Whitman
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The origins of the British decision to go to war
Tony Blair, humanitarian intervention, and the “new doctrine of the international community”
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Ambivalence about war and its purposes is by no means a historical novelty, and nor are deeply felt and carefully articulated principles and codes concerning the conditions under which it can be justified, or limits to its conduct. Tony Blair defended the rightness of the 1999 NATO incursion into Kosovo with the assertion, "This is a just war, based not on any territorial claims, but on values." Blair himself is quite clear that states are not and cannot be altruistic. Their impulses to humanitarian action are inspired by a more familiar calculation of national interests, or at least tempered by them, as his conditions make plain. Humanitarian need in distant lands never overwhelms national interest; instead, when the two coincide, the humanitarian goals are deployed to overwhelm international law, and possibly to win public support.

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