Thanks to what China and Russia perceive (accurately, if that matters) as NATO overreaching in Libya, there will be no UN-blessed intervention in Syria. There will be no no-fly zone, no targeted financial sanctions, no arms embargo, not even a resolution to “consider” unspecified “measures” against Syrian President Assad. As the WSJ reports:
Mr. [Vitaly] Churkin [Russia’s UN ambassador] said Russia couldn’t consider the resolution without taking into account the council’s actions in Libya.Opponents of the resolution have pointed to what they call the abuse of a Security Council resolution they supported to set up a no-fly zone over Libya in February that was ostensibly to protect civilians against the repression of Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s regime.
This is payback for NATO. Armed with a UN resolution written to protect Libyans from regime retaliations, NATO stretched the intended meaning to the breaking point, bombed Qaddafi’s forces and shifted to the offense to help the rebels defeat the regime.No tears for the Great Loon here, but one Security Council resolution a Wilsonian world order doth not make. Russia and China will not fall for that trick again, especially in Syria, where the Russians in particular have strong ties.The UN-supported intervention door is closed and we are if anything farther from enshrining the duty to protect in international law than we were six months ago.As I wrote at the time, if you play your cards cleverly and all the stars align, from time to time you can have a Wilsonian war. What you can’t get is Wilsonian peace: a Kantian world order based on liberal values and the rule of law.If we are going to bomb Syria, it will have to be the way we bombed Serbia, or worst case the way we invaded Iraq: with cheaper, lower grade holy water sprinkled by the less sacrosanct NATO priests on the bombs as in Serbia, or with just some Potomac water hastily and unconvincingly sprinkled by Pentagon chaplains on the bombs as in Iraq.But for the foreseeable future, as long as he is reasonably discreet and possibly even if he isn’t, President Assad can murder as many of his subjects as he wants with no fear that the UN will do anything about it. We stopped a relatively small scale massacre in a country that posed little threat to our interests (and from which we were getting some excellent intelligence cooperation I am told) at the cost of enabling what looks ultimately like a much larger bloodbath in a country where our vital interests are much more engaged, and whose government actively supports some of our most dangerous enemies in the region.I am so glad we are all protected by the mighty force of international law in the beautiful liberal internationalist order our Wilsonian policy masterminds have brought us. Can you all feel the love?