This worldview emanates from a distinctive variant of liberalism that the Norwegian political scientist George Sørensen calls the “liberalism of imposition” (as opposed to “the liberalism of restraint”). Its adherents reject the realist account of world politics, seeing it as—among other things—statist, preoccupied with competition and conflict, dismissive of the multiple manifestations of international cooperation, and uncommitted to human rights and justice because of its singular focus on state security interests. Revolutionary liberals, as I call them, are by contrast in the business of studying and fostering cooperation—among states, with international organizations and non-governmental entities playing a central role. Part of their agenda of collective action for the common good involves advancing human rights and justice. This can be done in many ways; humanitarian intervention is just one of them. Revolutionary liberals see the United States as having a special, even unique, role in enabling this and other forms of collective action because of the values America embodies and the still unrivalled power it wields.
And from Brown and Neumann:
R2P principles were certainly a driver of the intervention that toppled the Qaddafi dictatorship, and therefore also of its chaotic aftermath. But their role should not be exaggerated, nor should they be expected to resolve the recurring debates over the weight that humanitarian obligations should be given in U.S. foreign policy, as distinct from geostrategic interests or non-intervention norms. The choices facing the United States in Egypt, Syria and Mali, for example, continue to be more complex than can be deduced from any abstract doctrine, and these choices are themselves no less complex than the dialectic between state-sovereignty and “justice” imperatives that recur throughout history.Viewed in historical perspective, the R2P concept is a facet of the still-evolving state system. It is not its antithesis, as both some of its champions and detractors are wont to claim. Indeed, the concept is derived largely from traditional just war criteria for employing military force.
Read both pieces here.