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The Intervention Dilemma

CAMBRIDGE – When should states intervene militarily to stop atrocities in other countries? The question is an old and well-traveled one. Indeed, it is now visiting Syria.

In 1904, US President Theodore Roosevelt argued that, “there are occasional crimes committed on so vast a scale and of such peculiar horror” that we should intervene by force of arms. A century earlier, in 1821, as Europeans and Americans debated whether to intervene in Greece’s struggle for independence, President John Quincy Adams warned his fellow Americans about “going abroad in search of monsters to destroy.”