Friday, September 02, 2011

"Right to protect"

The foreign policy doctrine known as Right to Protect (R2P) goes back a decade, to discussions at the UN and elsewhere. Essentially, this is the idea that perceived human rights violations in foreign countries trump their national sovereignty. Some advocates go so far as to suggest, that at least for the smaller, more vulnerable nations, national sovereignty no longer exists.

However cloaked it may be in idealism, R2P is a grave threat to the international order. It has served, for example, as the pretext for intervening in Libya. There, as even many advocates acknowledged, the worthy ideal of protecting the civilian population quickly morphed into the goal of regime change, a task that has now apparently been achieved in that North African country.

I take no position on the Libya intervention; at all events that is done now. What concerns me is the use of this experience as a template for ambitious and costly attempts to extend the Pax Americana throughout the world, using "human rights" as a cloak. This strategy is not the same as the neocons' strong-arming, which came such a cropper in Afghanistan and Iraq, but the ultimate effect is the same: regime change.

A number of writers and scholars are active in the cause of propagating the dubious R2P doctrine. Perhaps the most prominent is Anne-Marie Slaughter, Dean of Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Along with her friend Hillary Clinton, she is a prominent member of the Neo-Wilsonian wing of the Democratic Party. (See my recent piece herein on the origins of Wilsonian interventionism.)

Slaughter also has links with the neocons, In 2004 she observed, chillingly, that "the biggest problem with the Bush preemption strategy may be that it does not go far enough."



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