U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon also said on Thursday that the justification for the use of force was based on humanitarian grounds, and referred to the principle known as Responsibility to Protect (R2P), “a new international security and human rights norm to address the international community’s failure to prevent and stop genocides, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.”
“Resolution 1973 affirms, clearly and unequivocally, the international community’s determination to fulfill its responsibility to protect civilians from violence perpetrated upon them by their own government,” he said.
Inside the NSC, Power, Smith, and McFaul have been trying to figure out how the administration could implement R2P and what doing so would require of the White House going forward. Donilon and McDonough are charged with keeping America’s core national interests more in mind. Obama ultimately sided with Clinton and those pushing R2P — over the objections of Donilon and Gates.
Remember that until Tuesday, the consensus around Washington DC was the US would not intervene in Libya. Obviously UN SecGen Moon’s communication of this new “principle” (R2P) isn’t something that he thought up that morning. Apparently it was communicated (and one assumes, agreed upon) well before then and, it would seem, may have played an important part in the decision to participate in a place in which which we have no real national interest at stake.
Read that last paragraph very carefully. Well, read the whole thing carefully, but you have to ask, what does agreeing with this “principle” mean in the future?
Do we intervene in Sudan or the Congo? Ivory Coast? And if not, why not? None of them, like Libya, put our core national interests at stake. But all certainly fit the new R2P principle. How about Bahrain and Yemen? Nepal?
Instead, what we see here is precisely what the left has decried for years – the US along with others who can afford it and are willing to do it –agreeing to police the world. However, in this case, it would be at the behest of the UN. We are agreeing that the UN can determine when and where we commit our military forces simply by invoking this principle. Invoke R2P and, by our precedent in Libya, we agree to respond.