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Christopher Caldwell

Christopher Caldwell writes a column for the Financial Times. Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam and the West has just been published by Penguin.

Bernard Kouchner

Christopher Caldwell, 9 July 2009

It is Kouchner, more than anyone, who has eroded the distinction between philanthropy and combat. As a young gastroenterologist and self-described ‘mercenary of emergency medicine’, he helped launch Médecins sans frontières in the early 1970s. He broadcast the plight of the Vietnamese boat people in the late 1970s, advised Mitterrand in the 1980s, roused public indignation over events in Somalia, Bosnia and Rwanda in the 1990s, and served as interim governor of Kosovo after Nato’s attack on Serbia … Kouchner may not have invented the concept of ‘humanitarian intervention’, but he has been its symbol for decades.

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