Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Roland Paris is Smart (not news)

Roland Paris, soon to be a neighbor (I am moving his way), is a sharp guy, and has posted in various places some interesting stuff, including this look back at the NATO effort over Libya.  I don't always agree with him, but that is because I tend to be a stubborn and agreement is boring.

Anyhow, a couple things to add to his analysis:

First, regarding his third asterisk: Russia learned from its mistake, just as the USSR learned not to boycott UN Security Council meetings when North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950.  Russia is not going to let any resolution that authorizes force against any country for R2P kinds of stuff anymore.  NATO/UK/France/US got their one shot.  Lesson learned.  Oh, and China learned the same lesson.

Second, Roland over-estimates the intra-NATO struggling towards the end of the campaign.  Yes, countries wobbled, but once the conflict becomes defined as "we need to do this not so much for country x, but for the credibility/survival/future of NATO," there is enough rallying of support to continue and even escalate (US starts making ground campaign noises in June 1999).  So, NATO permits much alliance discord but sallys onward anyway.

The funny thing on this second point is that Liberal IR types (especially institutionalists) tend to argue that institutions become not just the means but the ends of policy.  NATO is a perfect example of this.  So, does that make me a better Liberal than Roland?  Certainly not, just a snarkier one.


Rex Brynen said...

I am also not sure that Roland is right in implying that NATO only expanded its interpretation of UNSCR 1973 when the war appeared stalemated. Even a few days into the mission most knew that it was a regime change operation. It was hoped, however, that the initial shock of NATO bombing would either crack the regime or embolden the rebels so as to achieve a rapid military outcome. It didn't, hence the shift in target packages. However, that wasn't a "reinterpretation" at all--rather an adaptation of the means used.

Steve Saideman said...

I agree. I argued very early that regime change was inherent in applying R2P and that NATO was in accord with me (or me with NATO) on that.

Brent Sasley said...

Isn't the very fact that the NATO military mission (the end of the regime, which was the common assumption from the beginning) was achieved and that NATO didn't put boots on the ground an indication that the NATO mission was a success? Whatever happens afterward isn't part of that mission at all. And am I wrong that most analysts did not presume that the success in Libya would translate into easy or automatic R2P missions elsewhere at any time?