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Soldiers carry the remains of Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Dylan R. Merola from a military plane. President Joe Biden, first lady Jill Biden, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and others watch as the remains of Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Dylan R. Merola, 20, are returned to Dover Air Force Base, Del., Aug. 29, 2021 (AP photo by Carolyn Kaster).

When the Chips Are Down, It’s a ‘Me First’ World

Monday, Aug. 30, 2021

At first glance, the tenacity of vaccine nationalism and the shambolic U.S. departure from Afghanistan appear to be completely unrelated. And yet they both expose the moral costs of a world dominated by sovereign states that consistently place narrow national interest above the ethical imperative of alleviating the suffering of strangers. 

This is hardly a news flash. The question of how governments should square their duties to their own citizens with their obligations to those in other countries is an inherent and recurrent ethical quandary in international relations. It is at the heart of debates over humanitarian intervention, foreign aid, human rights policy, the global digital divide and much more. It is becoming more acute, however, as the world becomes more integrated politically, economically, technologically, ecologically and epidemiologically. As interdependence grows, we increasingly speak the language of cosmopolitanism. But when the chips are down, we remain nationalists at heart. ...

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