R2P means “Responsibity to Protect“, and is the idea that the “International Community” has an obligation to “prevent and stop genocides, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.” This obligation extends regardless of whether or not traditional national interests are at stake. We can see that clearly in the case of the UN sanctioned attacks on Libya over the past five weeks.
The question is since the West is bombing Libya to protect and save civilian lives from a government attempting to put down a rebellion, how long until we start bombing Syria since they are doing the same thing as Libya. The even bigger question to my mind is when will it all stop?
The West is setting a dangerous precedent here, and one I am not sure the West is able to live up to. We are already seeing that the militaries of Europe and NATO have a difficult time maintaining the attacks against Libya without significant American help. That inability or incompetence on the part of the European militaries is a legacy of 70 years of anemic defense spending under the security umbrella of the American military that has only gotten worse since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989.
One of the biggest issues I have with R2P is that it goes against historical precedent for the use of the military for the last several hundred years. It also violates just about every tenet of Just War Doctrine as I understand it. Then again, I adhere to the classical theory as propounded by St Augustine of Hippo in Chapter 7 of Book XIX of his City of God Treatise and St. Thomas Aquinas.
Let’s start a discussion about this! Does R2P even make sense as a rational for military action? Is the entire West somehow obligated to be the world’s polceman?