Guns or Food: On Prioritizing National Security over Global Poverty Relief


  • Francisco García-Gibson Universidad de Buenos Aires



anarchy, global poverty, national security, political realism, right to life


Political realists claim that international relations are in a state of anarchy, and therefore every state is allowed to disregard its moral duties towards other states and their inhabitants. Realists argue that complying with moral duties is simply too risky for a state’s national security. Political moralists convincingly show that realists exaggerate both the extent of international anarchy and the risks it poses to states who act morally. Yet moralists do not go far enough, since they do not question realism’s normative core: the claim that when national security is really at risk, states are allowed to disregard their moral duties. I contend that there is at least one moral duty that states should not disregard even if their inhabitants are at risk of death by military aggression: the duty to reduce extreme global poverty. The reason is that even granting that national security is about securing individuals’ right to life, global poverty relief is about that as well.