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Former secretary of state Madeleine Albright famously described the United States as the “indispensable nation,” entitled to lead because it “sees further than others do.” She was one of the many government officials who believed their country had “special responsibilities,” and was therefore different in some way from other states. Such claims are sometimes made to rally domestic support for some costly international action; at other times they are used to exempt a great power from norms or constraints that weaker states are expected to follow. In Special Responsibilities: Global Problems and American Power, a distinguished group of six co-authors looks at the tensions, complexities, and competing ethical claims that surround this familiar concept.
Walt, Stephen. Review of Special Responsibilities: Global Problems and American Power, by Bukovansky, Mlada, Ian Clark, Robyn Eckersley, Richard Price, Christian Reus-Smit, and Nicholas Wheeler. Ethics & International Affairs, December 2013.