A Responsibility to Define “Protect” in Libya

Libya, in the words of the Obama Administration, was “time-limited, scope-limited” engagement enacted under the responsibility to protect doctrine. After decades of dealing with Qadhafi’s nepotism and secret police, I hope that Libyans will be able to move towards a participatory democracy (and, I hope, we will see a continued airing out of all the zenga-zenga-ing the late Colonel engaged in with US lobbyists, oil majors and European defense contractors).

NATO went in hard by air, and then left the NTC in charge to ensure democratization and guarantee semblance of unity in the country. Some felt that the US had proven the efficacy of the “time-limited, scope-limited” interventionist model, even though some earlier incidents in Libya – such as reports of extrajudicial killings and the racially-motivated targeting of migrant workers – did emerge to sour the warm welcome that the NTC was enjoying in Western capitals. Further comments of this nature, Jadaliyya notes, have barely registered in the media, or, it seems, in the capitals of the states who helped put the NTC in power.

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Obama and R2P

Via POMED, the conservative Heritage Foundation raises the alarm that Obama may be committing the US to the Responsability to Protect doctrine after the Libya intervention:

Therefore it would appear that the Obama Administration has adopted both the basic philosophy and the operational characteristics of R2P. This should come as no surprise when the key decision makers regarding Libya included Samantha Power, who authored a Pulitzer Prize-winning book on genocide, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who promised during her presidential campaign to “operationalize” the R2P doctrine and “adopt a policy that recognizes the prevention of mass atrocities as an important national security interest of the United States, not just a humanitarian goal” and “develop a government-wide strategy to support this policy, including a strategy for working with other leading democracies, the United Nations, and regional organizations.”[5]

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