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This paper looks at the public policy of R2P and humanitarian intervention abroad, which serves as a major drain on American resources and benefits a foreign country more than it does the U.S. The money spent on these wars waged under the banner of R2P could be better spent on projects at home. The solution to this flawed policy is to address the elephant in the room, which is the Israeli lobby, to end the wars in the Middle East and put that money into healthcare, education or infrastructure back home, and to deny the persons in the State Department who serve under one administration from serving under the next so that they cannot force their continuity of government onto the incoming administration.
Much has been made of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine that has become the de facto, go-to reason for intervening in other parts of the world, from Iraq to Libya and now Venezuela. It has served as the framework for so much of American foreign policy that the public and some Congressmen (like Senator Rand Paul) have objected to the egregious use of the doctrine as a screen for imperialistic ambitions. While there are many public policy issues that impact Americans directly—from the opioid epidemic to the swelling prisons to the problems in education and the achievement gap to the economic problems that seem to have been hanging over the nation since 2008, the policy of R2P is one that most Americans do not think much about—and yet it has a tremendous impact on their lives and on the resources of this country. For one thing, many Americans would like to see universal health care in the U.S.—yet when it comes to the problem of who is to pay for it, they cannot say. No one wants to see taxes raised. Yet what if a program that free health care could be paid for without raising taxes? Everyone would want to know where the money would come from. The answer to that question is easy when one looks at the amount of money that is spent on foreign wars and so-called “humanitarian intervention” that is often done to hide an ulterior motive. In the news today, Americans are hearing all about how evil Maduro is in Venezuela, just like they used to hear all about how bad Assad was in Syria, and Gaddafi in Libya and Hussein in Iraq. Were it not for social media today and alternative news sites poking holes in the disinfo spread by Pompeo, Rubio, Bolton and their mainstream news mouthpieces, America might already have invaded Venezuela with soldiers and effected regime change there. Regime change under R2P comes with great risks, however, and this paper will describe those risks and discuss three proposed policies to address this issue.
The Problem of R2P: Using Humanitarian Intervention and Democracy as an Excuse to Destabilize Countries and Engage in Regime Change
Though Evans (2008) identifies a continued need or justification for the responsibility to protect (R2P) by citing the existence of mass atrocities around the world even to this day, there is a contrary perspective that indicates the political and imperial manner in which the R2P doctrine can be used as a cover for hegemonic aims (Gleijeses, 1995). Humanitarian intervention has been used as the excuse of the West, for instance, in various invasions around the world since 9/11 (but well before that as well) on up to the current crisis in Venezuela, over which the U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo and Sen. Rubio along with Ambassador Bolton have been using social media to promote R2P and justify regime change in the South American country in order to drum up support (both domestically and internationally) for American military action in the southern hemisphere.
Stakeholders and Affected Constituencies
Stakeholders in this issue are all ordinary Americans, as they are the ones ultimately who foot the bill for R2P. They are the constituents who are underserved so that a select group of hawks in the State Department can engage in perpetual war abroad for the benefit of their Israeli supporters. However, there are also stakeholders abroad: nations, such as Russia and China, who find themselves having to intervene after U.S. intervention causes a spectacular mess, leading to millions of displaced immigrants flooding into Europe and the spread of terrorism under ISIS (which Russia, fortunately, has been able to thoroughly eradicate since entering in to help Syria at Assad’s request; the U.S.’s presence in Syria was never requested and is to this day an illegal occupation). This public policy one is faced by both the federal government and state governments because many states could benefit were those dollars that are spent on war instead spent on beefing up infrastructure at home, providing free health care to all, and increasing equity in education.
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The U.S. has spent nearly $6 trillion on war in the Middle East since 2001 (Macias, 2018). And this is just the cost in dollars on the war itself. There are untold costs in lives and human suffering (Kang et al., 2015). There is also a moral cost of using R2P as an excuse to invade other countries. Ethical considerations include the very real risk that even when R2P appears justified, “humanitarian intervention has negative consequences which overrule its noble intentions” (Welsch, 2003, p. 8)—case in point being the situation of Libya today now serving as a failed state following the Western campaign to end the reign of Gaddafi. Would it be possible to reduce these costs by addressing this issue? Of course. Would there be a cost involved in addressing the issue? Almost certainly. There would be tremendous pushback from the Israeli lobby and those who work for the lobby within the State Department. They are the pragmatists and purists of whom Evans (2015) refers.
Evans (2015) argues, however, that R2P “was designed for pragmatists rather than purists, with full knowledge of the messy reality of real-world state motivations and behavior” (p. 1). By acknowledging that negative consequences can occur, Evans attempts to justify humanitarian intervention and the deaths of multitudes, the destruction of infrastructure, and the displaced masses (as seen in the Syrian conflict, with hundreds of thousands of immigrants streaming into Europe and creating a socio-political crisis there as well) by defining this as collateral damage and to be expected. The decidedly idealized concept of protecting people abroad that underscores R2P vanishes in an instant in Evans’ “pragmatic” view of intervention (typically accompanied by aerial bombardment that has little to do with protecting innocent people on the ground). Evans notes that the UN was quick to adopt the R2P doctrine and that countries’ leaders since then have been hesitant to put the doctrine into action. Evans laments this dragging of the feet by certain world leaders, but his point is invalidated by the Syrian conflict example, which further shows the major difference between the Western promoted concept of R2P (created by Evans himself) and the Asian respect for not entering another sovereign country to offer protection until asked. Russian’s Putin did not enter into Syria until Assad explicitly requested Russia’s services. The U.S. on the other hand invaded the region without being requested and its presence in Syria has been condemned by Assad ever since. Western leaders decidedly chose sides against Assad and began supporting the Syrian rebels (also known as terrorists or ISIS) while at the same time conveying the idea to the Western public that it was engaged in battling ISIS. ISIS was not defeated, however, until Russian forces working in conjunction with Hezbollah and Iran routed them, destroyed their supply chain networks, and beefed up Syria’s borders by installing a missile shield. Suddenly, the West could no longer fuel the conflict under the guise of humanitarian intervention and so it had no choice but to declare ISIS defeated, as Trump has done—though the hawks in his government lament his plan to pull out of Syria as misguided and short-sighted: they want to stay, whether the doctrine of R2P can be used as a cover or not.
Evans (2015) uses Rwanda and other atrocities as justification for intervention, which he calls “protection” to side-step the fact that the U.S. is intervening in parts of the world without a clear mandate from sovereign countries for assistance. Atrocities are commonly viewed as the reason for humanitarian intervention, and the West primarily attempts to assert its own virtue (virtue signaling at the state level) by purporting to assist the victims of aggression in other countries. The R2P doctrine is, in fact, older in spirit than WWII—but the rampant Holocaust memorialization that has transpired since the defeat of Germany has helped to provide the necessary visceral content for promoting the doctrine. The actual effects of the doctrine are rarely if ever discussed by Evans or the propents of R2P: the focus is always primarily on….....
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