R2P, Syria and “dumb wars”
Remember the war in Libya? Remember how the doctrine Responsibility To Protect (R2P) was invoked as the reason to intervene?
Libya was somehow chosen as a country in which R2P must be exercised and quickly. Of course NATO airpower and arms shipments to the rebels did the job of overthrowing Gadaffi, and what has since established itself in Libya is as bad if not worse than what the people of the country suffered under the dictator.
But more important than where the doctrine was exercised is where it hasn’t been exercised. Syria … no R2P for you!
The U.N. said Tuesday that entire families were shot in their homes during a massacre in Syria last week that killed more than 100 people, including children. Most of the victims were shot at close range, the U.N. said.
Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said the conclusions were based on accounts gathered by U.N. monitors and corroborated by other sources. He said U.N. monitors found that fewer than 20 of the 108 people killed in the west-central area of Houla were killed by artillery fire.
"Most of the rest of the victims were summarily executed in two separate incidents," Colville told reporters in Geneva. "At this point it looks like entire families were shot in their houses."
He said witnesses blamed pro-government thugs known as shabiha for the attacks, noting that they sometimes operate "in concert" with government forces.
I recall the justification for intervention in Libya quite well – “we” had to protect civilians who were being killed by their government.
Ahem. Question for the decision makers – why did Libya qualify and Syria doesn’t?
Daniel Larison figured out the reason months ago:
Paradoxically, the Libyan war and its aftermath have had the unintended consequence of undermining the doctrine of "responsibility to protect" (R2P) that was originally used to justify the intervention. Many advocates of intervention believed Western involvement would strengthen the norm that sovereignty may be limited to protect a civilian population from large-scale loss of life. Instead, the Libyan intervention helped discredit that idea.
A key requirement of the "responsibility to protect" is that intervening governments assume the "responsibility to rebuild" in the wake of military action, but this was a responsibility that the intervening governments never wanted and haven’t accepted. All of this has proven to skeptical governments, including emerging democratic powers such as Brazil and India, that the doctrine can and will be abused to legitimize military intervention while ignoring its other requirements. The Libyan experience has soured many major governments around the world on R2P, and without their support in the future, it will become little more than a façade for the preferred policies of Western governments.
One of those “dumb wars” Obama condemned as a Senator. Meanwhile our Prez said yesterday, when speaking of war:
"I can promise you I will never do so unless it’s absolutely necessary, and that when we do, we must give our troops a clear mission and the full support of a grateful nation."
You mean like Libya?