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  • Misguided Responsibility?

    The Obama Administration’s explanations for why the U.S. intervened in Libya reveal a common, disconcerting theme: a reliance upon the relatively new idea of a “responsibility to protect” (R2P).

    In a letter to Congress, President Obama announced that Libyan dictator Muammar Qadhafi “has forfeited his responsibility to protect his own citizens.” And, in his speech to the nation explaining the military operations against Libya’s leader, he said “we have a responsibility to act.”

    Where does this idea come from? It appears to have gained prominence in a report commissioned by the United Nations in 2001. At first glance, this idea seems to be something that many people would support, but in practice, R2P conflicts with American national interests. As Heritage Vice President Kim Holmes put it, R2P is “riddled with contradictions” and is “pure sophistry.”

    The impetus at the U.N. behind R2P came in the wake of the genocides in Rwanda and Srebrenica in the 1990s. Grappling with how the world should respond to such atrocities, the proponents of R2P based this idea on two arguments: (1) Every government has a responsibility to protect its citizens from large-scale loss of life like genocide; (2) when a government fails to do so, the “international community” takes on the responsibility to protect, even if it means military intervention.

    One problem with this idea, though, is that the U.N. has no way to independently implement it. The founders of the U.N. didn’t want an organization to become more militarily powerful than nation-states. Thus, the U.N. Security Council has to rely on member states to agree to use their militaries to help man U.N. peacekeeping missions.

    Another problem is that the U.N. Security Council usually has several governments sitting on it that are brutal oppressors of human rights. These governments are far more interested in protecting themselves from such interventions and diverting attention away from themselves. As a case in point, shortly after letting the Security Council authorize international intervention in Libya, several of these countries immediately began to criticize the intervention.

    Most importantly, R2P simply has no place in U.S. foreign policy. The U.S. military exists to protect and defend American citizens and their interests, not the world’s. The decision to use or not use U.S. forces and assets in U.N. missions must reside purely within the hands of American officials, who—as stipulated in the Constitution—are responsible to and held accountable by the American people via a simple system: elections. Giving the rest of the world any authority to exercise decision-making authority over where and when our forces are used is dangerous and wrong.

    Scott Nason currently is a member of the Young Leaders Program at the Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit: http://www.heritage.org/about/internships-young-leaders/the-heritage-foundation-internship-program

    Posted in International [slideshow_deploy]

    9 Responses to Misguided Responsibility?

    1. ranso, DC says:

      Hasn't Obama forfeited his right to protect us as well? What more could one do to undermine our economy and way of life?

    2. Marie Kavan says:

      What I would like to know is WHEN is Obama going to go to Congress for formal approval of his intervention in Libya? Evidently he is under the illusion that a letter explaining his (and I use this term very loosely) "rational" for the intervention to Congress suffices–it does not.

      How this President can spend hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars supporting this illegal intervention without approval from Congress is appalling. Yet NO ONE is challenging him.

      Congress needs to move immediately to defund this "kinetic military operation" immediately, if not sooner. To allow this power grab by Obama will only embolden him to further erode the power of Congress and eventually make them irrelevant. Which, I truly believe is his ultimate goal.

    3. Marie Kavan, Cape Co says:

      What I would like to know is when Obama intends on going to Congress for formal approval of his "kinetic military" intervention in Libya? Or, does he think his letter to Congress is sufficient? We have now spent close to $1 billion on an unauthorized action and Congress is seemingly powerless to stop him. Many now believe this action will be a sustained one which will cost the American taxpayers $60 million a month, probably more. Money we cannot afford. And Congress has done NOTHING to stop him or the unauthorized spending.

      I am appalled at the hubris of this President. He is, in my opinion, succeeding in making Congress irrelevant with actions like this. Factor in his end runs around Congress by having his agencies implement regulations that he knows will not pass in Congress, and you have a power grab that violates the power structure defined in the Constitution. And no one is attempting to stop him.

      By ignoring his actions, Congress will only succeed in emboldening him, to further erode the power of Congress. He ignores court orders, being cited for contempt of court in the drilling moratorium is only one egregious example. The EPA essentially enforcing Cap & Trade is yet another. Factor in the FCC implementing "net neutrality" despite a court ruling that clearly stated they did not have the authority to regulate the internet, we see a very disturbing pattern by this administration. A pattern that dismisses court decisions because the administration disagrees with those rulings. And no one is stopping him. One needs to ask WHY?

      Being elected President does not give him the authority to bypass Congress to implement his, in my opinion, radical agenda. Yet he continues to seemingly do as he pleases, grabbing ever more power and violating the Constitution. And Congress appears to be oblivious or unwilling to challenge him.

    4. Pingback: ~ JUST IN ~ {Extended} Daily News Digest for Saturday, April 9, 2011 | Just Piper

    5. Ed Philadelphia, PA says:

      This is just one more example of politics over the Constitution. The President and his posse of czars and interest groups attacked Libya without the approval of Congress. This President has no respect for our Constitution, and many in Congress routinely ignore it. For ordinary taxpaying citizens, this government does not represent us and acts contrary to our interests. Military intervention in foreign countries has become far too easy. Our involvement in Libya, Iran, and Afghanistan cannot be considered "national defense". At the same time, defense of our southern border is grossly inadequate. A "strong military" is not the same as constant political interventions and large deployments in Europe and Asia.

    6. Paul Terry Stone says:

      Why are we responsible to protect everybody? All governments are not perfect like we're supposed to be and are not ourselves. There are dictatorships a plenty

      but we're not responsible to pull every one of them down.

    7. Lloyd Scallan (New O says:

      The R2P idea comes from the socialist that is Obama's Foreign Affairs Advisor, who just happens to be be the wife of one of Obama's czars, Cass Sunstine. The UN adopted this document " riddled with condradictions" and is used by Obama,

      because it's a crutch to justify waging war on whomever the Securty Council chooses.

      Both Bush Sr, and Bush Jr. went to war after receiving confirmation from

      our Congress then removed the brutal dictator Saddam Hussein because he invaded his neighbors, was part of the 9/11 terrorist training, and killed millions of he own people with chemical weapons.

      Obama was dragged into Libya, kicking and sceaming, by France and England. His approval came, not from our Congress, but from the UN and Moslum led nations. Why did Obama commit our troups and billions of our tax dollars? Qadhafi will remain in power until the Moslum Brother hood makes a deal. Or perhaps because of Obama' connection with Qadhafi through Farrakhan, Rev. Wright. So why did Obama commit our troups (don't think for a moment that we don't already have boots on the ground in Libya) and our tax dollars? Because as history has taught, a president's poll rating go up during a war. Obama not only committed to Libya because of embarrassment, but for pure political reasons in preperation for 2012.

    8. Al at Glenwood says:

      Our Congess is toothless, inept and spinless. Our President is an empty suit if he's relying on a UN idea for his policy.

    9. Mark, Spokane Wa. says:

      The House isn't inept, it's gone. The American people are on their own to take action against those who are responsible for these problems, look to no one else, because they aren't coming. This is why" we the people", have a constitution. Time to use it! Remove from office those responsible.

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