Except for euphemistically calling warfare “intervention,” I think this article in The Atlantic about our current military efforts in Libya “The New Standard for Humanitarian Intervention” is a good read. Says the author Robert Pape:
We may be witnessing an historic shift in international norms.
Pape’s article answers a question I raised a few weeks ago in my post asking “What determines the humanitarian military response?”
I will refer Pape’s article to my brother who, over the weekend, was challenging me on this — about Obama deciding to wage “intervention” against Libya without congressional approval, about the geopolitical wisdom of using warfare as a means to stop or resolve conflict and so on.
And it’s not just me and my brother. The chattering class (of which I am a card-carrying member) has been all over this issue as well, with some pundits who had been criticizing President Obama for not taking action in the Middle East now criticizing for him taking this action.
I recently looked at the reasons why I believe it is in our national interest to take aggressive “humanitarian military action” in Libya, as did Nick Kristof, who argues it is the better of several bad choices. For more than a month now, I’ve been citing stories about Ivory Coast that raise the question of why there has been so little international response to that crisis so similar in nature to Libya.
Pape goes beyond these specific cases and issues to look at what the rapid military intervention in Libya may mean for the future of foreign policy, and if it signals a more “humanitarian” approach by the international community — a lower threshold of intolerance for brutality. Says Pape:
Crises short of genocide, such as the Libyan conflict, justify a military response when it can save thousands of lives with reasonable prospects of virtually no or only very low casualties to international allies.