What follows is the introduction to When We Let People Die: The Failure of the Responsibility to Protect, published by The Mantle in 2018. This collection of essays, by The Mantle's managing editor Corrie Hulse, examines the shortcomings in the implementation of the doctrine of the Responsibility to Protect, and what might be done to remedy international complacence in the face of mass atrocities.
Reading the various reports coming out of South Sudan this week, it is still difficult to be sure what exactly happened and what this outbreak of violence means for the future of the country. It remains to be seen whether this was a plotted coup attempt, or a retaliatory response that has escalated.
In 1992, the United States became involved in UNOSOM, a Chapter VII humanitarian mission in Somalia. The original goal of our participation in this mission was to ensure the safe delivery of humanitarian aid to a suffering Somali population.
Perhaps it is the effect of four years spent as a DJ on my university's radio station, but events in the news often make me think of songs, and the coverage of France's Mali mission is bringing to mind the song “Franco-Unamerican” by the seminal California punk bandNOFX. The song was written in 2003 and drips with sarcasm over the neo-conservative/interventionist foreign policy of then President George W. Bush.
"America's reputation suffers, and our ability to bring about change is constrained when we are perceived as idle in the face of mass atrocities and genocide." - Presidential Study Directive 10, April 4, 2011
It seems like the stage has been set yet again for another standoff between that international grouping commonly known as “the West” - as led by the United States - and Russia; this time over what to do in Syria. After the Kofi Annan-proposed peace plan between the Syrian government led by President Bashar Assad and the loose confederation of opposition groups was left in tatters and stark video evidence emerged apparently showing massacres of civilians (including many children) in places like Houla and others, international calls to do something