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By Catherine Lu

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67 Debates about the intrinsic versus instrumental or derivative value of the state thus will not settle the question of the legitimacy of intervention, although they may affect how interventions are justified. V Conclusion Understanding intervention as a moral problem in domestic, international and global relations requires an examination of the public/private construct that disciplines the public and the private lives of various kinds of units, including individuals, states and civil society actors at multiple levels of interaction.

Their interactions with other states are public in the sense of being visible and open to international scrutiny, debate and sometimes intervention. States are also public in a normative sense of representing, safeguarding and promoting the public interest domestically and internationally, although how we conceive of the public interest at both levels is hotly contested by competing normative visions of politics. The adoption of the public status of the state at the international level is thus not as 24 Just and Unjust Interventions in World Politics unproblematic as has been assumed by the formal rules of international law and sociability.

Waltz and other structural neorealists attempt to argue that the fault lies not in the nature of states, but in their stars, as it were; states are not innately selfish, but their self-centredness is imposed by their external environment, which is defined by the absence of common identities, interests, power, authority and norms. ’25 Given this absence, international politics can only be the by-product of clashes between mutually exclusive private actors and interests. ’28 It is important to remember, however, that a realist image of the international realm stems from its atomistic understanding of the nature of states, just as Hobbes’s state of nature finds its origin in his atomistic conception of the individual human being.

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