Keywords: Humanitarian Intervention; Shklar; Ignatieff; Human Rights; Liberalism of Fear.
In this article, I draw on Judith Shklar to provide an alternative to the liberal model of military intervention proposed in the last few years by intellectuals such as Michael Ignatieff. I suggest that Ignatieff misunderstands Shklar's liberalism of fear when he appropriates it as a foundation for military intervention on behalf of human rights. Through a reading of his Tanner Lectures "Human Rights as Politics. Human Rights as Idolatry" on one hand, and drawing on Shklar's entire body of work on the other, I highlight the profound differences separating these authors with regard to: their stance on natural law; the question of foundations and moral universals; the question of voice (Who speaks on behalf of the oppressed?); and their general stance with respect to the legacy of colonialism. I pit what I call Shklar's activism against Ignatieff's interventionism, and put forward a reading of «putting cruelty first» as opening a forum for contestation across nations and cultures.