U.S. Urged to Adopt Policy Justifying Intervention (R2P)

U.S. Urged to Adopt Policy Justifying Intervention by Mark Landler, New York Times.

When Samantha Power, President Obama’s nominee to be ambassador to the United Nations, faced senators at her confirmation hearing last week, the first question from Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, the ranking Republican, was how she defined an idealistic, if somewhat obscure, foreign policy principle known as “responsibility to protect.”

It was a politically loaded question to a woman who made her name as an academic by arguing that nations have a moral obligation to act against genocide and other mass atrocities...

Read on.

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Mahan:

"National interest alone is not only legitimate, but a fundamental cause for national policy; one which needs no cloak of hypocracy."

"The study of interests -- international interests -- is the one basis of sound, provident policy for statesmen."

Thus:

a. If we were simply to remove the distracting "cloak of hypocracy," for example: responsibility to protect (R2P), population-centric COIN (nation-building) and building partner capacity (BPC) -- which may make it seem that we are intervening overseas for humanitarian reasons rather than for the purposes of cold, hard national self-interest --

b. Then might we able to discuss these such proposals more honestly and more effectively?

Herein let us say that we intervene internationally, yesterday as today, in such cold, hard national interests as providing for, protecting and expanding the national, commercial and financial interests of the United States.

Example:

a. Today it is still seen to be in the cold, hard interests of the nations of the Global North to intervene in the affairs of the nations of the Global South.

b. There are vast quantities of untapped and/or under-utilized resources in the Global South (especially human resources) which tend, due to differing values, attitudes and beliefs (example: the rights of women), and differing political, economic and social systems (not optimally designed to facilitate commerce and global trade), to "wall off" much of the Global South from full utilization by the Global North.

c. Accordingly, it is in the service of these cold, hard national interests (not on humanitarian grounds) that the nations of the Global North seek to, via such initiaties as R2P, COIN and BPC, transform the states and societies of the Global South such that their untapped and/or under-utilized resources might be brought more "on-line" so-to-speak.

Thus, and now speaking in more general and overall terms, should such ideas and initiatives as R2P, pop-centric COIN, BPC, etc., be discussed and addressed along the lines of Mahan's "realism" (providing for, protecting and expanding the interests of the United States) rather than along idealistic or other lines?

it is in the service of these cold, hard national interests (not on humanitarian grounds) that the nations of the Global North seek to, via such initiaties as R2P, COIN and BPC, transform the states and societies of the Global South such that their untapped and/or under-utilized resources might be brought more "on-line"

Would this actually serve any pressing national interest? It seems unlikely, on even the most rudimentary balance sheet terms. The cost of transformation is simply too high, and the benefits too diffused, to make this a reasonable proposition in terms of "cold, hard national interest". Look at Afghanistan: what cold, hard interest is served? Even in a best case scenario the potential economic return is close to zero and wouldn't even begin to justify the cost. Even in Iraq, where the resource endowment is quite extraordinary, return on investment has not been and will not be even close to enough to justify the cost of the operation. In cold, hard interest calculations, transforming the global south is simply not worth the trouble unless (possibly) the nation being transformed is really a royal pain in the a$$.

I tend to agree with Dayuhan. The only interests it would serve is those private enterprises who basically got the public to fund "exploration". The dollars spent in this "resource exploration" and then the investment in the "exploration infrastructure" (e.g. democracy, to keep this metaphor going) are basically costs passed to the taxpayers. So what is the opportunity cost there? What is the investment in "the Global South" supposed to return that was better than whatever else those resources could have been used for.

I must say that while I see the Humanitarian rationale for this as cover more often than not, I do not think the "national self interest" model holds much weight either. It's more like "rational special interest". Which may or may not have any value to the national self interest.

Secretary Albright's report is linked in the article at the web site. For discussions of R2P my question is what do R2P advocates propose to do about the 23 million people suffering some of the most horrific human rights violations (or crimes against humanity) in the history of mankind in north Korea? Unfortunately (as in almost every discussion of R2P I have heard or read) that question is not addressed in Secretary Albright's report.

But the report provides some good background on R2P; the concept, background and evolution.

Here is the link: The United States and R2P: From Words to Action by Madeleine K. Albright and Richard S. Williamson.