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R2P: Asserting Theory is not = Law

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

[by Mark Safranski, a.k.a. “zen“]

At The Bridge, Victor Allen pontificates on R2P (“Responsibility to Protect“) as if it were an established, cardinal point of international  law and not a pet theory of a few years vintage pushed by a small but politically connected clique of Western elite activists.

Strong State, Weak State:The New Sovereignty and Responsibility to Protect 

The Responsibility to Protect doctrine represents a leap forward in accountability for states and does not infringe upon their sovereignty, as states are no longer held to be completely self-contained entities with absolute power over their populations. 

As far as premises go, the first point is highly debatable; the second is formally disputed by *many* states, including Russia and China, great powers which are permanent members of the UN Security Council; and the third bears no relation to whether a military intervention is a violation of sovereignty or not. I am not a self-contained entity either, that does not mean you get to forcibly enter my house.

That R2P does not violate sovereignty stems from the evolution of sovereignty from its Westphalian form in the mid 17th century to the “sovereignty as responsibility” concept advanced by Deng, et al. Modern sovereignty can no longer be held to give states carte blanche in their internal affairs regardless of the level of suffering going on within their borders.

Academic theorists do not have the authority to override sovereign powers (!) constituted as legitimized, recognized, states and write their theories into international law – as if an international covenant like the Geneva Convention had just been contracted. Even persuading red haired activist cronies of the American president and State Department bureaucrats to recite your arguments at White House press conferences does not make them “international law” either – it makes them “policy” – and that only of a particular administration.

Nor did the legal principle of non-interference in another sovereign state’s internal affairs ever mean carte blanche in diplomatic practice. States always could and did take military action in self-defense when disorders in neighboring states threatened their security or spilled over their border outright. They could also choose to recognize insurgents in a neighboring state as lawful belligerents or even grant them diplomatic recognition as the legitimate government.

The rest of the piece continues on in this fashion.

This kind of breezy overselling of R2P, given the exceptionally slender diplomatic reeds on which it is based, is a cornerstone of R2P advocacy, usually for ill-considered or astrategic interventions motivated by “do something!”

A touch of fellow-feeling, perhaps?

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron — Master Zenpundit echoing Master Rainer Maria Rilke ]
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Zen (upper panel) this morning on FaceBook:

And Rilke (lower panel) speaking into the “maddening wind” (the Föhn) on the cliffs by Schloss Duino:

Or maybe Shakespeare can give us a no less powerful comparison?

Sound and fury, signifying nothing?

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On the one hand, it’s the human condition, at least in these modern times: too much noise drowns out the signal… On the other, the occasional word belted into the wind does get through, eh? Or so we hope…

That’s why we blog.

A Shakespearean concept? Merry Merry!

Wednesday, December 25th, 2013

[ by Charles Cameron — to all our readers, with seasons greetings from all of us at Zenpundit ]
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The great French director Jean Renoir decided to cast himself as Octave in his film The Rules of the Game, widely considered to be among the greatest works in that medium. The effect was liberating — Renoir himself, playing Octave, has a greater knowledge of the director’s wishes than any other actor in that remarkable film, and this gives him a joyous freedom and spontaneity that delights us, his audience.

Jean Renoir, left, as Octave, in his film Rules of the Game

And all the world’s a stage, eh? with every film a play within the greater Play?

Nativity scene, from Jean Renoir's film, Grand Illusion

Is it too much to suppose that a director of Worlds, having seen Rules of the Game, might decide to try the same trick — setting aside the director’s chair to play the role of a small child, born homeless in some obscure corner of a minor galaxy?

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Wishing all at Zenpundit bright Zen, decent punditry, and a merry Christmas…

Sunday surprise 7: HRH Prince Charles

Sunday, October 6th, 2013

[ by Charles Cameron — two more short videos in my series of Sunday Suprises, aiming for unexpected delight & continuing Brit-USian amity ]
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Here in a nutshell is a glimpse of why I admire and like HRH:

And I’ve chosen this example of Leonard Cohen, not for the line “where the light gets in” which has been quoted too often for its own good, but for “the holy dove, she will be caught again”.

There’s so much more in this song to learn, to take in, to “read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest” as the prayer book says.

Hoping you’ll take some pleasure in one or both of these clips this Sunday!

Sunday surprise: zen for Zen

Sunday, August 25th, 2013

[ by Charles Cameron — two short video clips for your refreshment ]
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Even the magisterial Zen needs a break from time to time, so here’s my Sunday Surprise for this week — enjoy!

Under Snow (2011) from ma.ja.de. on Vimeo.


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