Tuesday, August 27, 2013

“Armed humanitarian interventions since the aftermath of the Cold War have been selective, poorly executed, strategically naive, morally incoherent and even dangerous”

Far from reflecting, let alone having contributed to, a global consensus, they have been divisive. This is so not because the world has just done it wrong at this early stage of R2P awareness; it is so because of flaws in the concept itself. 
The widespread support for R2P as evidenced in official speeches and government and UN documents is profoundly misleading. R2P cannot withstand tough tests that could theoretically transform it into a template for future action. The reason is that when wars in support of (supposedly) transcendent ideals entail significant costs and risks, the major democratic powers—above all the United States—whose involvement is essential will pull back, not least because their citizens are far less enamored of such odysseys than are the high priests of humanitarian intervention. The latter see altruistic sacrifice undertaken by states in the name of their societies on behalf of others who are not their own citizens as moral, but they are dismissive of the notion that protecting and pursuing sovereign self-interest can ever be virtuous or moral as well. The assumption that disinterestedness is what qualifies action as moral is a form of ethical illiteracy. R2P is fundamentally flawed not because it can’t be implemented; it can’t be implemented because it is fundamentally flawed.
And Edward Luttwak puts it right in the NYT.
The war is now being waged by petty warlords and dangerous extremists of every sort: Taliban-style Salafist fanatics who beat and kill even devout Sunnis because they fail to ape their alien ways; Sunni extremists who have been murdering innocent Alawites and Christians merely because of their religion; and jihadis from Iraq and all over the world who have advertised their intention to turn Syria into a base for global jihad aimed at Europe and the United States.
Given this depressing state of affairs, a decisive outcome for either side would be unacceptable for the United States. An Iranian-backed restoration of the Assad regime would increase Iran’s power and status across the entire Middle East, while a victory by the extremist-dominated rebels would inaugurate another wave of Al Qaeda terrorism.
There is only one outcome that the United States can possibly favor: an indefinite draw.
That this is now the best option is unfortunate, indeed tragic, but favoring it is not a cruel imposition on the people of Syria, because a great majority of them are facing exactly the same predicament.
Non-Sunni Syrians can expect only social exclusion or even outright massacre if the rebels win, while the nonfundamentalist Sunni majority would face renewed political oppression if Mr. Assad wins. And if the rebels win, moderate Sunnis would be politically marginalized under fundamentalist rulers, who would also impose draconian prohibitions.

The idea that we can PROTECT the Syrian people because of humanitarian considerations by using our INTELLIGENCE to use drones and cruise missiles to so cripple Assad as to enable Al Qaeda to assume control is an ARROGANT farce, and as for using OUR POWER to put Salafist FREAKS on two of our ONLY RELIABLE ALLY’S BORDERS - Gaza and Syria, while Hizb’Allah is on a third, will GUARANTEE a cataclysmic regional war using EVERY SINGLE AVAILABLE WEAPON.
Luttwak is correct.

There is only one outcome that the United States can possibly favor: an indefinite draw.

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