Should the U.S. act in Nigeria to rescue the schoolgirls?

The modern phrase “with great power comes great responsibility” was popularized in Spider-Man comics, but Voltaire was its true author. FDR was scheduled to give a speech on April 13, 1945, in which he was to say, “Today we have learned in the agony of war that great power involves great responsibility.” Alas, he died on April 12. And of course, Jesus said, “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required.”

The point is the same in every version. The ability to do something creates an obligation. The obligation isn’t total and it’s by no means a legal requirement. But it’s there, like a moral compass pointing you in a direction. And the final destination may not be reachable in a straight line without the costs of getting there outstripping the rewards of arrival.

But some non-interventionists reject all of this, arguing that we have neither the right nor the moral standing to impose our ideas of right and wrong on others. This strikes me as an attempt to make a virtue out of having no compass at all.

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