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15 May 2013


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R2P, despite its noble origins, quickly got debased. Obama used it to gain public support for getting rid of a despot he didn't like and to open Libyan markets and resources to Western corporations and to prioritize their access to them. If Obama were animated by humanitarian motives, the despot ruling Bahrain would have been toast long ago (along with those in most of the Gulf.)

As Harper says, R2P is to liberal interventionists what "freedom and democracy" are to neocons. But I doubt any of them believe a word they say. R2P and "freedom and democracy" are just cynical use of language to dupe the American people into supporting more pointless and futile military adventures that threaten their Social Security, military, and civil service pensions.


Liberals are NOT of the left. No matter how many jerk-offs claim that they are. Liberals are capitalists just like the Nazis,Fascists and Falangists were. The U.S. didn't invent the political spectrum so they have no business trying to redefine it. Lenin himself knew not to trust Liberals.

w. patrick Lang


I agree with Harper's points except that I do not share his/her view of the seriousness of the Libyan matter. The Libyan revolution has yet to run its course and that small country is a suitable place for covert political intervention. We lost four men in Benghazi? I guess I have a different perspective on casualties having seen many. pl



"threaten their Social Security, military, and civil service pensions."
Not everyone has earned a military of civil service pension. There is far more at stake than one generations retirement income. What is happening is the creation of a culture of citizenship without obligation.



A driver is stuck in a major traffic jam.

Nothing is moving. Suddenly, a man knocks on the car window.

The driver rolls down the window and asks, "What's going on ?"

"Terrorists have kidnapped all the Moslem Brotherhood Members of
Parliament and they're asking for a EGP100 million ransom...!!!
Otherwise, they are going to douse them all in petrol and set them on fire.
We are going from car to car collecting donations."

"How much is everyone giving, on average ?" the driver asks.

"Roughly three liters ...!!!"

Medicine Man

I am glad you commented, Col. I remember well your arguments regarding the Libyan intervention and found them persuasive--and still do, in fact. I don't remember either you or TTG claiming that post-war Libya would be a utopia.

If Harper is driving at the finer point that post-war incidents in Libya have made the intervention a less useful event for the R2P crowd to cite as a precedent, then I'm more in agreement. A good portion of the Washington crew (usual suspects) took the wrong lessons from that event.


A new documentary on the progress in Afghanistan

This Is What Winning Looks Like:

William R. Cumming

Does an atrocity equal a crime against humanity or war crime for the R2P crowd?

And 80 countries with likely atrocities? Wondering about that list and how it was compiled?

Has Congress ever held a hearing on R2P?

Bill H

"What is happening is the creation of a culture of citizenship without obligation."

Yes, precisely.

Alba Etie

I believe that We the People are immunized now against foreign adventures - since we were so clearly lied to regarding Irak, WMD & active alliances with al Qaida. We will not be going to Syria.


"When the Atrocities Prevention Board was first announced by President Obama, it was also revealed that White House staffers in the R2P camp had already prepared a preliminary list of countries in which it was likely that regimes would carry out future atrocities against their people. The list at that time already was more than 80 countries."

80 countries? Then they beat the neocons by 20.


As I said, R2P was conveived as an attempt to address grave and ultimately _rare_ situations like the genocide in Rwanda. As an exception for such an extreme case, I am emotionally and morally inclined to agree to the concept, albeit only under those narrow circumstances.

However, there is no imminent genocide by the government in Syria, nor was that the case with Libya.

Shooting protesters is not genocide. Reducing insurgent resistance in built up areas with civilians around is not genocide, despite civilian casualties. For instance, reducing Fallujah twice wasn't genocide.

And wasn't the Kent State anniversary recently? Of course that incident was excess, but nobody in their right mind would as a result call the US a country in need of an R2P intervention.

Just like the perpetual invocation of Munich 1938 over clearly incomparable matters by propagandists trivialises the holocaust, the perpetual invocation of allegedly imminent genocide likewise trivialises genocide.

As always when one makes the exception the norm, excess is the result.

The application of R2P in Libya, plunging that place into anarchy, was excess. The same goes for its application in Syria.

To expand on that: There may be instances when a pre-emptive war may be justified. However, making pre-emptive war the _norm_, as the Bushmen did when they invaded Iraq, also bred excess.

That is the underlying lesson nobody in DC is learning - that the regular application of exceptions causes excess.

In Libya, R2P was used as a moralistic fig leaf for intervention based on other grounds. In that sense, the idea of R2P is betrayed, and the concept is abused, discrediting an idea that at its core is probably even acceptable.

Bill H

"It would be pretty to think so." Public opinion is irrelevant to the execution of foreign adventurism. I won't dignify it with the word "policy."

The beaver

LOL !!!

I nearly chocked on a piece of quiche, reading SST on my lunch break


193 members of the UN
+2 sovereign non members ( Kosovo, Vatican City)
+ colonies ( Greenland, Puerto Rico et.al)
+ non-state states ( Palestine )
+ Sub parts heading toward independence ( Scotland, Catalonia )
80 places to intervene seems a bit unimpressive.


And your argument is hoisted by Godwins law.

I detest this American verbal shorthand; anything you don't like or don't understand is "socialism". Likewise any person similarly perceived is labelled as a "Liberal".

To put that in context, just so you know; how would you like to be labelled a "redneck racist"?

The folk in Washington pushing R2P are neither socialists or Liberals. They are not interested in the problems of the little man, only in amassing personal power and wealth by pushing an agenda which has legs because it can be dressed up to look like humanitarian concern. We have a term "Champagne Socialists" for people of a similar humanitarian bent - while they draw million dollar salaries and live off the fat of the land, but woe betide anyone try and interfere with their little gravy train and they turn out to be as greedy and disreputable as the others.

Everyone I know who is not crazy, be they Liberal, Socialist, Conservative or Calathumpian is asking why in Hells name would anyone support a Syrian "Resistance" let alone put weaponry in the hands of murderous Sunni Jihadis for any reason?

So stop with this liberal socialist thing, it can't take you anywhere useful.

William R. Cumming

Thanks CK!


Social Security recipients are part of a "culture of citizenship without obligation?" Is that why I paid my payroll taxes for years and years? Because I was refusing to fulfill my obligations?

This "without obligation" charge seems like a cheap shot against the hundreds of millions Americans who are paying for their retirements in advance.


Maybe we (US) aren't as stupid as we (this CoC) think we are. Another interesting catch by Moon of Alabama (thanks again, b?)


...scroll down to May 10, 2013, "Syria: Short Roundup", with a link to a UAE site :


...which contains a telling quote from a Syrian rebel "...commander - a moderate Sunni and an influential rebel leader from Damascus who said he has met intelligence operatives from Western and Arab states". Describing a meeting with US "officials" in Jordan, this guys says:

"The Americans began discussing the possibility of drone strikes on Al Nusra camps inside Syria and tried to enlist the rebels to fight their fellow insurgents.

"The US intelligence officer said, 'We can train 30 of your fighters a month, and we want you to fight Al Nusra'," the rebel commander recalled.

So, at least someone in the IC is trying to be smart about this. OTOH, it sound like we/they weren't smart enough (shades of the Russian fiasco): the result is NOT "moderate Syrian rebels" fighting Al Nusra. Instead, this guy explains our strategy & tactics to a public newpaper in... the UAE (though I've heard that the Islamist rebels in Syria are funded by KSA & Qater, not necissarily the UAE).

On the gripping hand, this could all be BS/propaganda.

And on one of my feet (sorry, ran out of hands, even Motie ones) it could be a fine thing if the Gulf States discover that we're not really on their side. It might help keep us from bombing Iran.

Alba Etie

Bill H
Did you recall Chicago in 1968 ? Direct military intervention by the USA , will bring massive civil disobedience here . IMO - We the People are all acutely aware that we cannot allow another illegal occupation in the ME . You and me can agree to disagree,..


"On the gripping hand"? I think I read that book.

Babak Makkinejad


I think Libya is a failed state only because Qaddafi wanted it to be so - he prevented the emergence of state institutions that could survive him (or his sons).

So when he was killed, the state ceased to exist.

He managed to stay in power by bribing and playing the 44 tribes there (33 of them being consequential), all the time making sure no part of the Libyan governing structures were strong enough to function independently of him.

You must have seen the footage of his anti-air missiles still in their storage - the man was willingly incompetent.

Where can one find competent nation-building dictators like Napoleon, Stalin, Hitler, or even Franco? I guess not in the Middle East.


Adam Curtis, journalist and author of documentaries on BBC, had made an excellent post about humanitarian interventionism on his blog after our intervention in Libya.

It is the whole history of humanitarian interventionism, from Biafra to Libya, and about the people who framed that ideology and their current advocates in western governments.



Thanks for that link. I primarily saw R2P in a purely legal context, and this entry provided a different angle.


Babak: To do nation building, don't you need an ideology bigger than the leader. Hitler took over a existing nation state and ruled with a "weak" dictatorship and a strong ideology. The Nazis were clearly defined ideologically, but Hitler delegated lots of power to his Gauleiters. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gauleiter

"Strong" dictatorships like Saddam's seem to be very fragile.


For sure, me too. And I'll bet Col Lang has read it as well. Quite a story, will probably dig it out to read again.


Babak Makkinejad is right that Qaddafi bears most of the responsibility for the failed state of Libya. He hired an army of foreign mercenaries to protect him from various tribal elements that wanted him out. He stockpiled enormous quantities of weapons all over the country. He spent the country's oil wealth paying off foreign dictators all over the African continent so he could be the quasi-dictator over Africa. The Chinese beat a path to his door because he was the gatekeeper for the continent. He was a useful fool for the European colonial powers until they had a reason to dump him, using some of the same assets who had been used in ousting the Red Army from Afghanistan (Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, now morphed into Ansar al-Sharia, Libya Shield, and scores of other militias). Recall that the New York Times reported that there were phone consultations between the White House, 10 Downing Street and the French Presidential palace the night before Qadaffi was summarily executed. The decision was made to kill, rather than capture him. It expedited the transition. There is plenty of stupidity and blame to go around. But I do believe it is important to understand this humanitarian interventionism phenomenon because the recent setbacks are not yet fatal. Like the neocons, these liberal interventionists are faith-based and will not give up. Susan Rice still believes that she is in line to be the next National Security Advisor, regardless of the Libya blowback.

Clifford Kiracofe

IMO a detailed examination of the policy process and players on Syria is in order. It goes beyond the R2P crowd so even if they are purged we still have other advocate networks like the Neocons and the Hegemonists and so on.

Just how has the interagency process on Syria policy been organized and operated? Just who have been the main players in key slots: White House/NSC/State/DOD? Which shops seem to dominate the decisionmaking?

We had a very clear picture of the Iraq War crowd with the Neocon network and their allies inside and outside USG. This time around with the Syria War it seems more opaque: Hillary, Anne-Marie Slaughter, Samantha Power, Fred Hitz have been players but who else should be examined?

I think you raise an excellent point about the R2P influence which I imagine can also be considered a Canadian disease and a British disease with Tony Blair as a main vector.


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