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Exaggerating the International Consensus on Syria (Again)

Ted Piccone and Emily Alinikoff believe [1] that rising democratic powers including Brazil, India, South Africa, and others are joining a consensus on international action against abusive regimes:

A wide gap exists, however, regarding the preferred methods of international action in this arena. The IBSATI [India, Brazil, South Africa, Turkey, Indonesia] states have a strong preference for softer tools of international intervention: what they call constructive engagement, mediation, quiet diplomacy and dialogue [bold mine-DL]. In contrast, the established democracies are quicker to pursue condemnation, sanctions and even military action in extreme cases such as Libya and Cote d’Ivoire. As members of the Security Council during the Libya intervention, Brazil, India and South Africa wavered between measured support for and skepticism toward military action. But they did not block Western efforts to intervene. They did, however, strongly object to NATO’s quick transition to a regime-change strategy, an approach that sowed the seeds for the current impasse over Syria. Even though they endorsed the recent resolution on Syria, India and South Africa had balked at earlier attempts to condemn the killings. They pushed successfully to dilute the text to avoid even implied authorization of force, instead stressing the importance of an inclusive, Syrian-led dialogue for political transition [bold mine-DL].

So it’s not really true that these rising democracies are “taking on” the veto-wielding authoritarians. They represent a more “moderate” group of states that isn’t willing to risk international outrage to oppose international condemnation of an abusive regime, but doesn’t want to be associated with Western-backed attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of other states, either. They don’t want to be perceived as aiding a repressive regime during its crackdown, but these governments are also dead-set against any proposal that Western governments might have for taking action. South Africa might be the best example of this attempt to straddle the fence, since its government voted for UNSCR 1973 rather than abstaining, and then Zuma spent the next several months complaining about everything that the U.S. and NATO did ostensibly under that resolution’s authority while actively trying to find a face-saving way for Gaddafi to remain in power. The alternatives that “IBSATI” governments propose are practically identical to the ones proposed by Moscow and Beijing: mediation, quiet diplomacy and dialogue. They’re still effectively on the side of Russia and China in the debate over what [2] should be done [3], but they still want to be able to vote for toothless resolutions of condemnation that they have helped to de-fang.

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1 Comment To "Exaggerating the International Consensus on Syria (Again)"

#1 Comment By IanH On February 17, 2012 @ 3:33 pm

Steve Sailer was right. Foreign policy really is just an elite plaything.