Doug Mataconis compares the doctrine of "right to protect" to neoconservatism:

...the R2pers use their own sense of moral superiority and self-righteousness to hide a bitter reality; that their doctrine is far from being the grand paean to universal human rights that they like to pretend that it is. For one thing, it’s fairly clear that not every act of genocide will be addressed by the international community... Libya was picked mostly because it was an easy target, and because Muammar Gaddafi has no real friends left in the world, a fact brought home by the fact that neither Russia nor China did anything to stop UNSCR 1973.  Everyone dislikes Gaddafi, which, combined with the geography of Libya itself, makes him an easy target. The “Responsibility To Protect” Doctrine, therefore, seems more like an excuse for Europeans and Americans on the left to support intervention not because it protects the vital interests of the nations they live in, but because it makes them feel good.

There’s another similarity between the R2P crowd and the neo-cons, of course. In both cases, there is an absolute sense of certainty that causes people to ignore the facts on the ground. For the neo-cons, the certainty that we’d be greeted as liberators by the people of Iraq and Afghanistan caused them to discount the necessity for any kind of post-war planning, and to believe that merely introducing “democratic” institutions into nations that had never known democracy would lead to an immediate transformation that took decades, if not centuries, in the West. For the R2P’ers, it’s absolutely certainty that merely being guided by the desire to “help” people is sufficient to accomplish their goals, meaning that there’s no need to worry about the fact that the rebels you’re protecting are allied with a terrorist group, or that the conflict your’re intervening in may be more tribal than political. Finally, for both the neo-con and the R2Per there is the overwhelming certainty that they are better judges of the future of a nation than the people who actually live there.

(Photo: Samantha Power, an Obama adviser apparently central to his decision to launch a third US-led war in a Muslim country, about which we know close to nothing. By Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for HBO.)

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