President Obama justified the US-NATO intervention in Libya on the UN’s Responsibility to Protect, or R2P. That doctrine allows the international community to intervene in sovereign countries when their governments become an imminent physical threat to their citizens. It applied to Libya, we were told, because Gaddafi was set to commit genocide against towns where rebels were rising up against his dictatorship.
Why does R2P not apply to Syria, where dictator Bashar Assad’s forces are doing what Gaddafi threatened to do? That, the administration has not explained.
The Syrian army shelled residential areas in the country’s third-largest city Wednesday, killing at least one person in a sharp escalation in the government’s attempts to crush a popular revolt against President Bashar Assad’s autocratic rule, according to activists and witnesses.
Heavy tank- and gunfire rocked at least three residential neighborhoods in the besieged city of Homs, which has seen some of the largest anti-government demonstrations during the seven-week-long uprising.
“There were loud explosions and gunfire from automatic rifles throughout the night and until this morning,” a resident told The Associated Press by telephone, asking that his name not be used for fear of government reprisals. “The area is totally besieged. We are being shelled.”
The administration is hinting that it may slowly ratchet up criticism of Assad, which will do nothing.
The Obama administration seems to have done in the Middle East whatever was in the exact opposite of US national interests. In Egypt they pushed a longstanding ally out of power, making way for the Muslim Brotherhood to share power, and increasing the threat to Israel. In Libya, they have intervened in a state where the dictator had been largely cowed and his WMD program dismantled. If Gaddafi survives, and he is likely to, a return to his old terrorist ways cannot be far off. The Libya intervention has exposed NATO as hollow, divided and not even up to the job of handling a very limited operation in a state where the geography makes operations easy. This was the alliance that was supposed to hold off the Soviets? And in Syria, a dictatorship allied with Iran, that supports terrorists, assassinates leaders in Lebanon, has a WMD program, menaces Israel and is a constant threat to regional peace, the administration might get around to saying a mean thing or two about it killing its own people. Eventually.