The morality and practicality of R2P
The International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty was the midwife to "the responsibility to protect" precisely because we recognized "humanitarian intervention" to be an oxymoron. It is not obvious that Posner read our slim report before proceeding to criticize its main conclusions.End of story.
In using Iraq to attack the new norm, Posner sets up a straw target. Most ICISS Commissioners argued that Iraq did not meet our threshold criteria; some of us said so publicly in 2003.
What's most compelling in Thakur's article is his admission that R2P is far from perfect, but explains that what it does provide is a clear moral accountability for 'intervention'.
The goal of protective intervention is never to wage war on a state to destroy it and eliminate its statehood, but always to protect victims of atrocities inside the state, embed the protection in reconstituted institutions after the intervention, and then withdraw all foreign troops.
Military intervention, even for humanitarian purposes, is a polite euphemism for the use of deadly force on a massive scale. Even when there is agreement that intervention may be necessary to protect innocent people from life-threatening danger by interposing an outside force between actual or apprehended victims and perpetrators, key questions remain about agency, lawfulness and legitimacy.
Based on the pragmatism of consequences as much as legal doctrine, ICISS concluded that there is no substitute for the U.N. as the authorizing agent.