Democratic Realism: The Only Way the US Can Successfully and Justly Implement R2P There is no denying that today human beings are being violently oppressed by their own governments all around the globe. The responsibility to protect these citizens from their own governments has fallen into the arms of the the United Nations, the West, and ultimately, in many cases, the United States. In this post-Cold War era, the unipolar power of the US is often looked to as the protector of stability and safety throughout the world.
In the jungle of international relations, there must be a systematic way to deal with governments who are out of line, abuse their power and violently oppress their citizens. In an attempt to prevent genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing, in 2005 all UN member states adopted the doctrine of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P). R2P stems from the belief that “sovereignty entails a responsibility to protect its populations, and for the international community to accept its responsibility to protect when the state is unable or unwilling to protect its populations” (Frequent Asked Questions) When such crimes against humanity are committed, the countries of the UN have an option to address the situation and invoke R2P or not. Invoking R2P would lead to sanctions, no-fly zones, diplomatic actions, and, as a last resort, military intervention. With that being said, the US must make a decision whether or not to support R2P in each situation, and if it does support it, it must decide to which degree it is willing get involved.
How politicians and diplomats come to this conclusion varies according to which school of thought they subscribe. There are several lenses through which politicians and scholars look at the world. The three biggest are realism, liberalism, and neoconservatism. To put it simply, realists see states acting only in self interest and only for the gain of power. Liberals seek to act morally and multilaterally and strive to emphasize the importance of the approval of the international community. Neoconservatives are broken into two groups: Democratic Globalists and Democratic Realists. At their core, both groups see the spread of democracy as both