Free Markets, Free People

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."

“Absolutely necessary?”

You mean like Libya?


Twitter: @McQandO

17 Responses to R2P, Syria and “dumb wars”

  • “Absolutely necessary?”
    You mean like Libya?

    OK.  He meant “next time”…!!!  Picky, picky, picky…
    Actually, the difference between Libya and Syria?  Air power and air defense.  An order of magnitude bigger military.

    • Oh, definitely. Libya = easy. Syria = hard. And hard = politically unpopular.

      • Makes the pols wanna say, “….hmmmm…”  “There is R2P…and then there is this OTHER thingy…”
        Reflex 2 Perpetuate (my time in office)

      • Bingo – it might not be a walk over.  Can’t have that.

  • “”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.”
    anther take……..Unless I need a war, to convince  you people that it’s not a good idea to change horses in Mid-Stream.  You need to support your President in time of war you know.  And that whacko Mormon bully who’s wife rides horses has no experience whereas I KILLED BIN LADEN!  And I’ve successfully (cough cough) fought three wars  in the Middle East.

  • “A key requirement of the “responsibility to protect” is that intervening governments assume the “responsibility to rebuild” in the wake of military action”

    I wonder. Since the only folks with the ability to actually perform such a task are the US and NATO (I know that’s a stretch, but we can’t be unilateral), could we call these responsibilities the ‘White Man’s Burden’? WMB?

    Just showing my right-wing racist, homophobic, misanthropic, mysogynistic, greedy, un-green side. I am cranky in the morning before my first cup of decaf.

    • Put down the Kipling, his views are wildly unpopular these days.   🙂

      • phettt…  That guy never even HEARD of Facebook.  What POSSIBLE insights could he have…???
        Good and necessary…watch and learn…bwaaak…

        • Erbie is one of those people destined to be astonished by the Gods of the Copybook Headings.

      • Unfashionable, maybe. Unpopular, not so much. Of course, even if he were not politically incorrect, his poetry rhymes; a definite nono.

        • I’m trying to imagine Gunga Din, or the Ballad of East and West not rhyming…

  • Well, Hillary did call Asaad a “reformer”…..

  • Oh, I don’t know.  Why Bosnia, and not Rwanda?  Politicians often play to the audience when making speeches.  It would be the same the President was a Republican.

  • With three words, Polish death camp, President Obama got a new, unnecessary war with Poland.
    The Poles probably already expect this kind of stupidity after that “missile defense shield” announcement on the anniversary of the Russian invasion of Poland.

  • Another reason that Syria is harder is that the Russian bear is lurking there. The Russians have their only naval base on the Mediterranean sea in Syria.