That doctrine was President Obama’s rationale for the US intervention in Libya, an action that prevented the slaughter of many anti-Qaddafi people in Benghazi. He has also sent troops to Africa to help the hunt for Joseph Kony’s Lord's Resistance Army. But whatever the extent of the president’s humanitarian impulse, it remains overridden by other considerations.
Last spring, Obama clearly stated that “preventing mass atrocities and genocide is a core national security interest and a core moral responsibility of the United States of America.” But he qualified that “core” responsibility by adding: “That does not mean that we intervene militarily every time there’s an injustice in the world. We cannot and should not.”
For those who seek arms for Syrian rebels, the US is the obvious choice. Its weapons, communications, and surveillance could turn the tide of the war. And now we learn that top officials from the Pentagon to former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton were in favor of such aid.