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International Politics Nations, Their Interests, and Their Competitors.

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Old 01-06-2012   #21
jmm99
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Default First off, Mike, it's not a legal question ...

as I tried to point out in the titles of each of my three posts. What we have is a question of Politik (politics and policy in the CvC sense). Once, Politik makes up its mind, the law and the military will follow (as instruments of policy). No doubt that one could come up with factual situations where legal or military constraints limit Politik. However, in R2P, the legal and military constraints are not usually determinative - cuz, in both institutions, there are such a wide range of choices that are within the doctrinal frameworks material to "Peace Enforcement".

Now, to the real Politik issue you raise -

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Can R2P become the thread that draws us into future conflict much like the treaties between various states brought on WWI with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria?
Of course, it can - cuz UN Chapter VII Peace Enforcement involves real armed conflict. The first UN Chapter VII PE action of any consequence was the Korean War. At several points, that armed conflict could have developed into a much wider conventional conflict (e.g., involving Taiwan, Japan and China), or even into a nuclear WWIII. The participants made policy choices that foreclosed those escalations, but they certainly were "legal" options.

Now, it may well happen that a UN member elects not to go along with Chapter VII PE based on R2P. E.g., Germany in the recent Libyan venture - and, of course, Russia and China, as further removed spectators. The UN Charter (and all the associated treaties, compacts and resolutions) are indeterminate enough to allow disassociation with what the rest of the pack decides to do. It does require a certain amount of national will to do that.

In fact, the various pre-WWI treaties allowed wiggle room for states to decline participation in the resulting bloodbath. So does Article 5 of NATO contain the same wiggle room if you read it close ("... such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force ..."):

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If the conditions are met for the application of Article 5, NATO Allies will decide how to assist the United States. (Many Allies have clearly offered emergency assistance). Each Ally is obliged to assist the United States by taking forward, individually and in concert with other Allies, such action as it deems necessary. This is an individual obligation on each Ally and each Ally is responsible for determining what it deems necessary in these particular circumstances.
Given that kind of indeterminacy, I don't see law as especially "material" (that is, as carrying much real weight) in the R2P arena - although it seems "relevant" (that is, it must be of some probative worth because some lawyers are always asked to write a justification for whatever decision is made by their policy-making masters ).

Hey Mike, good to be talking to you again.

Regards

Mike

Last edited by jmm99; 01-06-2012 at 09:41 PM.
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Old 01-07-2012   #22
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Trying to set a "responsibility to protect" for ourselves, in the sense that this term is generally used--that is, basic world police stuff--is dumb in the extreme, less in terms of the actual actions that fall under this umbrella than in the overall context. Responsibility To Protect? How about, first, a Responsibility To Not Hork Things Up Completely Because We See An Immediate Benefit And Don't Give Much Though To The Long Term. How about acting on our principles more often, so that we're not faced with a choice between supporting a genuine democratic movement and supporting the dictatorship which we set up that they're revolting against!

I recognize it's not always that simple ("never" is, after all, a set of "not always"). But we can try a lot harder to do no harm before we set about trying to actively right perceived wrongs.
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Old 01-07-2012   #23
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Default Do I understand you correctly?

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The R2P arena is marked by Politik (politics and policy); and cannot be validly claimed (in my opinion, obviously) as an area governed by a determinative international law. That came home to me in connection with our (USAian) Libyan venture based on the UN Resolution and Presidential "Non-War Powers". While a number of voices shouted non-compliance with the War Powers Resolution and outright unconstitutionality, the salient fact was that Congress took no action opposing the President's actions. Thus, the President did not act illegally (since Congress did not act at all).
Unlike many others, but apparently in agreement with you, I also did not focus upon the "Constitutional question." However, I did see an international law issue. The Charter gives the UNSC the authority to act in cases of breach of international peace. Thus, action to eject Iraq from Kuwait had the sanction of international law. Although the UNSC did indeed act with respect to Libya, there use of this same clause was without legal justification. International law requires that a breach of peace cross international borders. Since that did not occur with respect to Libya, the UNSC had no authority to act. The question here is whether R2P has now expanded that authority.

Part 2: in looking at the Canadian input on R2P I see something broader than that set forth in the UN material. The UN material specifically sets forth genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity as a precursor to action. However, the Canadian material is worded a little broader. It seems to indicate authority for preemptive or preventive action, which doesn't seem to be the case with the UN wording. I believe the Canadian stuff came first, so one could look at the UN material as curtailing the Canadian position. Even so, the two positions demonstrate the inherent problems with R2P. Again, the Libyan action would indicate a much more liberal interpretation of R2P.

Of course, I may still have fog on the brain as I just completed the US-Kuwait-Bagram transient process from R&R. However, I am seriously trying to understand this R2P issue and its potential effects. You have a better grasp of these issues than I so I look forward to your thoughts.
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Last edited by LawVol; 01-07-2012 at 06:46 AM. Reason: added material
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Old 01-07-2012   #24
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Mike- Great talking to you too.

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Of course, I may still have fog on the brain as I just completed the US-Kuwait-Bagram transient process from R&R. However, I am seriously trying to understand this R2P issue and its potential effects. You have a better grasp of these issues than I so I look forward to your thoughts.
LawVol, run this thing out through your head and think about how a non-benevolent actor could manipulate the system of R2P particularly in a time of economic or regional crisis. The more I thought about it, the more this policy scared the crap out of me.
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Old 01-07-2012   #25
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Default absolutely!

MikeF: you are absolutely correct. Although I didn't discuss it in detail in my initial post, this is what I was referring to when I spoke of R2P being a tool for the developed world. Particularly with regard to a broadened interpretation of R2P, as with the Canadian documents, I can easily foresee R2P as an excuse for action. Maybe a Russian-Georgian conflict part two based on perceived "crimes" against ethnic Russians in Georgia? I'm sure you can imagine other examples. While the moral underpinnings of the doctrine may seem worthwhile, the doctrine itself leave too much open to interpretation and misuse. Of course misuse is in the eye of the beholder, so criticism can be made of nearly any intervention I guess.
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"You must, therefore know that there are two means of fighting: one according to the laws, the other with force; the first way is proper to man, the second to beasts; but because the first, in many cases, is not sufficient, it becomes necessary to have recourse to the second." -- Niccolo Machiavelli (from The Prince)
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Old 01-07-2012   #26
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MikeF: you are absolutely correct. Although I didn't discuss it in detail in my initial post, this is what I was referring to when I spoke of R2P being a tool for the developed world. Particularly with regard to a broadened interpretation of R2P, as with the Canadian documents, I can easily foresee R2P as an excuse for action. Maybe a Russian-Georgian conflict part two based on perceived "crimes" against ethnic Russians in Georgia? I'm sure you can imagine other examples. While the moral underpinnings of the doctrine may seem worthwhile, the doctrine itself leave too much open to interpretation and misuse. Of course misuse is in the eye of the beholder, so criticism can be made of nearly any intervention I guess.
Well, the SWJ team here (JMM, Ken White, Steve Blair, and many others) have been helping me for the past four years really sorting through things, and I wanted to find reoccurring patterns throughout history that reflect today. Initially, I narrowed it down to 1866-1910, but I am now convinced that we are literally in a period that reflects the beginning of the twentieth century-small protracted wars of limited ends, contested global hegemony, economic shifts with the rise of the middle class and the Industrial Revolution, and the Rise of the West with an nascent American Empire blossoming. Theodore Roosevelt rose to the challenges of the day by building the Panama Canal and sailing the Great White Fleet.

As we (US, UK, and everyone else) move past Iraq and start to figure out how we're going to talk to each other, interact, trade, etc, in the future, we must understand what happened last time, but we cannot be bound by feelings of guilt either. We must move forward wisely.

This will take leadership.

When design theory was first introduced in the late 1960's, it came from systems thinking, and one rule that has since gone away, but has always stuck in my mind is

The planner has no right to be wrong.
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Old 01-07-2012   #27
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Default Hypothesis One

From a mentor

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Mike, the future is less likely to be what "we" want and more of what others demand. Neither of these solutions, which appear to be two ends of a continuum of US intervention policies, appear to be workable from my perspective. Policy is likely to be grounded in context and the worldwide context is very different. The US will most likely be pulling out of certain regions, developing coalitions in others, and pursuing some unilateral interventions (broadly defined to include MOOTW) in others. We also are in Age where grassroots movements worldwide are toppling oligarchy. What will replace them is uncertain, but it will be a very different world and very difficult to make unilateral policy. The US not longer has the ability to "control" what is going on although our we will continue to try to shape things. The defense establishment (and I am including politician-hawks) needs to understand the limits of military power; my guess is that they haven't learned the lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan. If they drag us into more combat into Muslim countries or with China, we are done for
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Old 01-07-2012   #28
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Default Reflections One

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1. I think Ms. Slaughter makes a good point of the rise in importance of SOF operations and more flexible options, however, I believe that she is throwing out the baby with the bathwater and is in fact making a key philosophical error in assuming that the nature of war has fundamentally changed. While the techniques and tactics certainly change and the frequency of large scale conflict may be far less than “small wars”, the idea that the world has moved beyond large scale conflict is both incorrect and has dangerous implications as we refashion the defense apparatus.

2. We (the royal, collective “we”) are often perpetrators of “Chronological Snobbery”, to use C.S. Lewis’ term, and somehow assume that the problems of today are unique and those before us were not as clever as we are nor did they have as good understanding of the topic (whatever it is) as we do now. While I am not arguing about technological issues (tanks are better than chariots), I would offer that the fundamental nature of war is a very human endeavor, has not changed much, and that the problems faced throughout histor, are essentially the same, albeit with different restrictions, enablers (constraints, restraints, etc.). e.g. How do we raise and pay for a military, defeat our adversaries, subdue a population, turn the win into a beneficial and sustainable endstate, etc. Until we change human nature, I do not think that this will change much.

3. Historically speaking, we are also off the mark as we look back at all the big wars that were never supposed to happen. But did.

4. So, while I believe that the military was far too force on force focused prior to 9/11, I also hesitate to advocate that we dispose of all of our tank and attack helicopters in light of a pure SOF force. In the end, I hope to see balance come the Force and that the nation ensures that it develops/maintains an array of options that can be used to achieve our ends in a flexible manner.
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Old 01-07-2012   #29
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Default Reflections Two

From another friend

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South African Albie Sachs wrote a prize-winning book called The Soft Vengeance of a Freedom Fighter. In 1988, an assassin found him in Mozambique, where he was exiled from South Africa, and blew up his car. Sachs missed death but lost a leg and an eye. Upon return to South Africa, he met the man who ordered the bomb. The man offered to shake his hand. Sachs said no. “I will shake your hand after you go through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.” Sachs went on to become responsible for constitutional protection for equality of marriage in South Africa. Why did he refuse the hand of his would-be assassin? Because, in his words, "seeing a future, that has a process by which to arrive at it, is much more beautiful than ordinary punishment. It is to bet on a huge transformation of our country that will validate everything we went through."
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Old 01-07-2012   #30
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Default True. However the paradox is

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The planner has no right to be wrong.
He or she often will be...
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Old 01-07-2012   #31
jmm99
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Default Who is the Final Decider ?

LawVol:

With respect to the US, three branches are potentially involved in deciding constitutional and international law issues. With respect to decisions to go to war (jus ad bellum), the Supreme Court has made it clear that it won't get involved in second guessing those political questions, leaving them to Congress and the Executive. If the Executive acts and Congress does not act, the Executive's actions will stand (in practical effect, will be "legal"), regardless of what you, I and the woman down the street think of them. UNLESS, and this may or may not be a big "unless", UNLESS the people then take action to cause the Executive to change course.

In the case of the UN, the SC is the Final Decider as to "peace", "international security" - and to Chapter VII actions. Given the concurrence of the permanent members and the acquiescence (or silence) of the General Assembly, the SC actions will be the "law", regardless of what you, I and the woman down the street think of them.

While the velvet glove has been used by the UN versus the iron fist in Chapter VII matters, the latter is available under Arts. 48 & 49 to a greater extent than, say, under Art. 5 of NATO:

Quote:
Article 48

1. The action required to carry out the decisions of the Security Council for the maintenance of international peace and security shall be taken by all the Members of the United Nations or by some of them, as the Security Council may determine.

2. Such decisions shall be carried out by the Members of the United Nations directly and through their action in the appropriate international agencies of which they are members.

Article 49

The Members of the United Nations shall join in affording mutual assistance in carrying out the measures decided upon by the Security Council.
Of course, if you are a permanent member (or a functional equivalent, such as Germany), you have less to fear from Mr Hiss' well-drafted arrangement.

Like Zhivago, you might say to the UNSC: "That only gives you the Power, it doesn't give you the Right." But, I find that of little comfort.

Regards

Mike
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Old 01-07-2012   #32
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He or she often will be...
Of course Ken, but good leaders bypass the minefield once they realize they've gone the wrong direction; they don't charge ahead to prove they were right.
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Old 01-07-2012   #33
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All along throughout the Cold War it was but a dream and an illusion that we were protecting anyone other than ourselves.
I don't accept that at all. The reason for protecting others may, or may not, have been selfish ones, but the others got protected nevertheless.

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Of course Ken, but good leaders bypass the minefield once they realize they've gone the wrong direction; they don't charge ahead to prove they were right.
That is a critical point. Our leadership classes characteristically will charge ahead and lie. They will never acknowledge a mistake.
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Old 01-07-2012   #34
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Default That, sadly is also my impression of too many today.

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...Our leadership classes characteristically will charge ahead and lie. They will never acknowledge a mistake.
I hope I'm wrong. I am occasionally...

It has been my observation over the last 30 plus years that Planners -- who typically do not have to make quick, leader decisions are even more reluctant to admit mistakes -- or change their plan. In my experience the system that works best is to not have a Plans cell, but rather two Ops cells who rotate in planning and executing and will have the responsibility for executing the plan they designed -- tends to focus them admirably.
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Old 01-07-2012   #35
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Default Sadly, reality intrudes.

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Of course Ken, but good leaders bypass the minefield once they realize they've gone the wrong direction; they don't charge ahead to prove they were right.
Heh. Of Course indeed. Been there done that with the anointed and the 'how on earth did HE get there...' types. Shame they aren't all good. Problem is the top 50% of Leaders are good, the bottom 50% by definition are less so but all can be in a position to decide to charge or not.

Yes, the selection process is supposed to preclude that. It does a fair job but is far, quite far, from infallible. The sad and sorry Personnel system can put one of the lower half in charge of a BCT which may or may not have two or three upper half LTCs. Even if the BCT is lucky enough to have those good ones at Bn / Sqn level, who wins on what happens...
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Old 01-07-2012   #36
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Default Austerity Measures

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Heh. Of Course indeed. Been there done that with the anointed and the 'how on earth did HE get there...' types. Shame they aren't all good. Problem is the top 50% of Leaders are good, the bottom 50% by definition are less so but all can be in a position to decide to charge or not.

Yes, the selection process is supposed to preclude that. It does a fair job but is far, quite far, from infallible. The sad and sorry Personnel system can put one of the lower half in charge of a BCT which may or may not have two or three upper half LTCs. Even if the BCT is lucky enough to have those good ones at Bn / Sqn level, who wins on what happens...
Ken, how much of the upper-level management would you cut?
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Old 01-07-2012   #37
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In my experience the system that works best is to not have a Plans cell, but rather two Ops cells who rotate in planning and executing and will have the responsibility for executing the plan they designed -- tends to focus them admirably.
I like that. Simple, clever and cognizant of human nature.
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Old 01-07-2012   #38
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Ken, how much of the upper-level management would you cut?
Probably about 50% ala Jack Singlaub but upper level managers (managers are civilian, right? Right?? ) are a small problem. Upper level uniformed leaders who are more concerned with protecting the institution are a far greater problem -- and the Congress is almost as significant a problem for several reasons we all know. Military excellence is not high on their priority list...

However, such focus on people in positions is not the real issue, the systemic malaise and dysfunction engendered by too many laws, too much well intentioned but pervasively stupid regulations and a focus on from over function; appearance over competence; and the enhancement of the institutions (plural) are the problems. The senior people are products of the system, they are doing to the best of their ability what the system says they should do (as is true of far too many less senior people but that's another story...). Cuts will be simply another Band Aid ® on a system that is very much in need of total redesign. You want better performance and results, you will have to change the system. Pretty radically, too...

That would entail Congress emphasizing competence instead of pseudo-fairness (and it is very pseudo...) and 'objectivity,' . It would entail dumping the 1917 Personnel system (as amended in 1940, 1963, 1980, etc.); dumping the terribly flawed Task, Condition and Standard based BTMS system; removing grade creep (there are too many Officers, especially FlagOs, too many senior NCOs -- I'm fully aware of Mob requirements but there better ways to get there and improve quality in the process); testing people for promotion; rigorously testing units for performance and removing incompetent leaders from the service (acknowledging that Congress and HRC truly hate that idea for very different reasons...) and a few other things. You want it fixed, all that is necessary but any one item remediated would bring some improvement, two would help a lot. Good luck with any of it.

Lacking major surgery, the tumor will just continue to grow, a few slices here and there won't stop it. Make no mistake, the protectionism, CYA-ism / risk avoidance, political correctness and stifling bureaucracy are malignancies that have corrupted the system...
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Old 01-08-2012   #39
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Default At the risk of moving this thread too far down the off topic road…

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That would entail Congress emphasizing competence instead of pseudo-fairness (and it is very pseudo...) and 'objectivity,' . It would entail dumping the 1917 Personnel system (as amended in 1940, 1963, 1980, etc.); dumping the terribly flawed Task, Condition and Standard based BTMS system; removing grade creep (there are too many Officers, especially FlagOs, too many senior NCOs -- I'm fully aware of Mob requirements but there better ways to get there and improve quality in the process); testing people for promotion; rigorously testing units for performance and removing incompetent leaders from the service (acknowledging that Congress and HRC truly hate that idea for very different reasons...) and a few other things. You want it fixed, all that is necessary but any one item remediated would bring some improvement, two would help a lot. Good luck with any of it.
Is there anywhere that a model other than up–or–out is used? If so, is it/are they any more effective than the U.S.’s?
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Old 01-08-2012   #40
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Is there anywhere that a model other than up–or–out is used? If so, is it/are they any more effective than the U.S.’s?
However, 15 plus years ago, we were the only nation using an announced and enforced up or out program. Thirty years ago we didn't have one and the personnel system worked a little better then than it did 15 years ago -- or today according to my sources...

All organizations with any sort of heirarchy have, written or unwritten, a policy that is some variant of up or out. Most use failures in performance to determine who goes out. the US is exceptional in that reliefs for cause and summary dismissal for non performance are virtually frowned upon while consistent failure to conform is as or more important. The US process amounts to failure to get selected for promotion . Not all bad except for the fact that too many Promotion Boards tend to select based on a quota system and on the basis of the Official Photograph in the service record. Those factors are not ameliorated by the fact that much emphasis is placed on who rated the selection candidate.

All things considered, there is some good in an up or out program IMO -- the problems arise when the system goes into a zero tolerance mode for logical exceptions and / or uses specious criteria for identifying departees. That lack of flexibility is based mostly on the rationale that such exceptions create work for the personnel management squirrels.

A 'one size fits all' model is easy to administer but it does not really work for a large organization -- or nation...

That returns us to the thread. The R2P mantra is fallacious BS. It also is an attempt to dictate a standard response -- and that's impossible. We for example have that R2P for the Chines in those towns and cities. What are we doing to fulfill that 'responsibility?' What about Iran? Syria? Hungary today? Belarus? Venezuela? The Congo? Even Pakistan?

This ones for you, Bob -- or would be female drivers in Saudi Arabia?

There can be no R2P unless one wants to plunge the entire world into constant conflict...

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