The Skimmer

Freedom's Battle: The Origins of Humanitarian Intervention

By Gary J. Bass Knopf; 509 pages

It shouldn't be necessary to say this, but it probably is: Humanitarian intervention was not invented in the 1970s by Jimmy Carter. In fact, it was all the rage in the 19th century. European powers intervened on behalf of the Greeks against the Ottoman Empire (the poet Lord Byron died while taking part in that particular adventure); they sent troops to Beirut to aid Syrian Christians against the Druze; they helped the Bulgarians against the Ottomans (again)--and on and on. In Freedom's Battle, Bass tells the strange,...

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