In his televised speech announcing US military action in Libya in 2011, Obama embraced the concept of “responsibility to protect,” the doctrine that evolved post-Rwanda and post-Bosnia that the US and other nations had a responsibility to intervene to prevent humanitarian crises:
For generations, the United States of America has played a unique role as an anchor of global security and as an advocate for human freedom. Mindful of the risks and costs of military action, we are naturally reluctant to use force to solve the world’s many challenges. But when our interests and values are at stake, we have a responsibility to act.
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Last night, NATO decided to take on the additional responsibility of protecting Libyan civilians.
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To brush aside America’s responsibility as a leader and -– more profoundly -– our responsibilities to our fellow human beings under such circumstances would have been a betrayal of who we are. Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different.
Would that Obama’s “responsibility to protect” had extended to besieged Americans in that same country 18 months later.