Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Punishing Syria – and the Responsibility to Protect

Much of the determination by the Obama administration and other Western leaders to punish the Assad regime for gassing its own people is probably informed by a controversial doctrine that evolved in the aftermath of the international community's collective shame following its failure to intervene in Rwanda. As the world stood by, as many as a million civilians were brutally slain during the three-month bloodbath in 1994. 

Eight years ago, when this doctrine – known as The Responsibility to Protect, or “R2P” – was on the brink of gaining international acceptance, I wrote the following column in The Aquarian explaining what it is and why I believe it's an important step forward for global justice and security. 

But while R2P might be a motivating factor for those who would intervene militarily in Syria, it's very unclear if America's non UN-sanctioned action would meet the cautious R2P criteria. More to the point, of course, will it help or will it hurt?