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Pitfalls of International Idealism, The
Journal Article

Published By

Daedalus

winter 2003

Universal jurisdiction, the new International Criminal Court, and demands for humanitarian intervention, are three of the most prominent manifestations of the new international idealism. Those who support these institutions and policies tend to believe that justice is best achieved when it is removed and isolated from politics and power. The new international idealism suffers from four fundamental flaws, however. First, it presupposes the possibility of general consensus not just on normative principles but on how and when they should be applied. Second, it minimizes considerations of power, and assumes that norms of right behavior can substitute for national capabilities and material interests. Third, it neglects political prudence: it offers a deontological rather than a consequentialist ethics. Fourth, it consistently slights the value of, and need for, domestic accountability.

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