The Moral Logic of Humanitarian Intervention

Samantha Power made a career arguing for America’s “responsibility to protect.” During her years in the White House, it became clear that benevolent motives can have calamitous results.

The book inspired a generation of activists, helping to establish the doctrine of “responsibility to protect,” which held that the United States and other wealthy countries had an obligation to defend threatened populations around the world. It also made a star of its author, a charismatic, cracklingly smart presence who urged others to take up the cause. “Know that history is not in a hurry but that you can help speed it up,” she told Yale’s graduating class of 2016. “It is the struggle itself that will define you. Do that, and you will not only find yourself fulfilled but you, too, will live to see many of your lost causes found.”

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