But They Mean Well!

A reminder from Paul Miller that Libya is not Rwanda:

But Libya is not Rwanda. Rwanda was genocide. Libya is a civil war. The Rwandan genocide was a premeditated, orchestrated campaign. The Libyan civil war is a sudden, unplanned outburst of fighting. The Rwandan genocide was targeted against an entire, clearly defined ethnic group. The Libyan civil war is between a tyrant and his cronies on one side, and a collection of tribes, movements, and ideologists (including Islamists) on the other. The Rwandan genocidiers aimed to wipe out a people. The Libyan dictator aims to cling to power. The first is murder, the second is war. The failure to act in Rwanda does not saddle us with a responsibility to intervene in Libya. The two situations are different.

There’s another item Miller didn’t mention. Should the rebels prevail — an increasingly unlikely prospect — they would almost certainly fill mass graves with Gaddafi’s cronies. Would we then be obligated to intervene against the side we helped put in power?

“Responsibility to Protect” might have the perverse effect of prolonging deadly internal conflicts, rather than resolving them with minimal loss of life.