Are you down with R2P? No, not the robot dude, but "Responsibility to Protect." (Hey, it has its own website!). What's that? It's the real reason that we're engaged in combat and firing all those Tomahawk missiles at Moammar's Place and elsewhere in Libya -- just don't ask President Obama to explain. Just like the vague and ever-shifting reasons for war in Iraq, it's the new causus belli that dare not speak its name.
I wrote about it in this much-ignored piece that ran in today's Daily News:
Q. So is there an argument in favor of war?
A. Yes, and the underlying moral concept is a sound one. Most experts say that aides in the Obama administration - including national-security aide Samantha Power, author of a Pulitzer Prize-winning book on genocide, and eventually Secretary of State Hillary Clinton - persuaded the president over time to back the principle of R2P.
Q. R2P! What the heck is that? Ah, good question. It stands for "Responsibility to Protect," and it's a concept at the core of Power's advocacy on genocide that is increasingly backed within the United Nations. Simply put, it's the idea that the international community has a responsibility to protect civilians from mass killing, to prevent yet another Rwanda or Darfur, even if that effort requires military force.
But the fact that the Obama administration has now endorsed that principle - some pundits were calling it "the Obama Doctrine" this weekend - with little public awareness shows that the prewar debate was insufficient.
Personally, I support this concept, even if I didn't know it had a name before yesterday. But the case needs to be clear and compelling. Rwanda is often cited, and I think rightly so, as a case where the global community had a responsibility to protect civilians, yet did not. But you have to wonder whether Libya is a perfect fit. Clearly, Gadhafi's government has slaughtered unarmed civilians, although that was particularly the scenario two weeks ago, long before the slow-moving international community epitomized by "No Drama Obama" could get its act together.
Now? It looks more like a civil war between the devil we know -- Gadhafi -- and...a bunch of people we have no freakin' clue who they are or what they stand for. I don't think we're in Rwanda anymore -- but if by some miracle they quaff Gadhafi in a few days and with miminal loss of life, ii will have been worth it.
If not? The international community will be very reluctant to do this again -- even if the situation is a real humanitarian tragedy on the scale of Rwanda or Darfur. Meanwhile, who's dowm with OPP -- Obama Projecting Power? (What did you think it stood for?)