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June 27, 2007

Poverty Alleviation: Do It Because It Feels Good
Posted by Ilan Goldenberg

I’m at the launch of the Center for New American Security - a new national security think tank.  They’ve got a lineup of real heavy hitters today and I’ll post a couple of pieces about it.

Richard Danzig argues that trying to alleviate poverty is a worthy goal because it promotes our values and is the right thing to do.  But in the short-term it doesn’t make us safer and it actually diminishes the value of what we are doing when we ascribe it strictly to security interests.  He quotes T.S. Elliot “The last temptation is the greatest treason: to do the right deed for the wrong reason.”

I tend to agree.  Linking AIDS, poverty alleviation, democracy promotion to security issues might be tempting politically and the argument is true to some extent.  But it makes me feel a little dirty.  Sometimes it’s just good to promote these things because it’s the right thing to do, and view the good will that they create as incidental.  I doubt that the political message that this is good for our security will ever really penetrate the political dialogue anyway.


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How do you feel about the opposite case. Propping up bad governments or the like when in the long term its both bad morally and bad for U.S. security. Think we should emphasize the security or the moral aspects?

Yes, sometimes it is just the right thing to do! Sadly this can be considered contraversial.

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