Monday, April 11, 2011

Lloyd Axworthy and the Responsibility to Protect

"Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."

Sun Tzu, The Art of War

It's not like I've read Sun Tzu in the original or anything, but with the interweb we have a translation from MIT that I've taken at face value, and is remarkable for common sense.

What is remarkable for the complete absence of common sense is the current UN "intervention" in Libya, or as Eeyore would have it, a "Confused Noise." Having achieved a remarkable unanimous Security Council resolution referring Ghadhafi (I'm not bothering about the spelling) et al. to the International Criminal Court - the jurisdiction of which is a subject avoided like Monica Lewinsky in Washington, but the resolution in fact establishing a precedent that the Americans acknowledge the Court's existence existence, an impressive advance that will surely come back to haunt them, all of them, including Obama - Resolution 1973 was passed 10-0 with 5 significant abstensions, authorizing a "no-fly zone". Shortly after that, over 100 cruise missiles and miscellaneous hardware were launched to protect civilians in Libya.

It's hard to believe that Sun Tzu, or Clausewitz, or Churchill, or Giap or any of these guys, would think such action to be anything other than adolescent folly. It's one thing to say R2P and it's another thing to do it. If we had Rwanda to do over again, what in fact would we do? And more to the point, what are we now doing in the Ivory Coast?

The "responsibility to protect" is a noble goal. Figuring out how to do it is, from an ordinary citizen's point of view, really, really difficult, so difficult that nobody knows how to do it, even if there is consensus that a tyrant shouldn't be allowed in plain sight of the world to annihilate citizens peacefully asking for personal dignity and human rights.