Foreign secretary David Miliband this week reasserted 'our national interest never mind our moral impulse, in supporting movements for democracy'.
Such rhetoric obscures the real cost of Western intervention, not only in Iraq and Afghanistan, but anywhere in the Global South.
Consider the example of Africa. People tend to think of intervention in military terms – and this has been disastrous enough.
For example, US troops arriving in Somalia in 1993 were originally welcomed as a humanitarian intervention, but became loathed after they killed thousands of Somalis.
The truth, however, is that most Western intervention is economic.
For Britain part of promoting 'democracy' is pushing the European Union's (EU) neoliberal Economic Partnership Agreements.
These agreements open African countries' economies to EU goods avoiding tariffs on agricultural and raw material exports.
Far from offering freedom and democracy to Africans, military and neoliberal intervention is entrenching the poverty that has dogged the continent.