In an op-ed in the New York Times, Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright makes the case that the international community’s inability to deal with the Burmese junta’s blockade of international aid for victims of Cyclone Nargis is a direct result of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Not for the obvious reason that we just didn’t have the manpower to go in there and force aid through, but because the Iraq invasion has made international intervention diplomatically impossible:
The global conscience is not asleep, but after the turbulence of recent years, it is profoundly confused. Some governments will oppose any exceptions to the principle of sovereignty because they fear criticism of their own policies. Others will defend the sanctity of sovereignty unless and until they again have confidence in the judgment of those proposing exceptions.
In other words, it may be years – or decades – before the international community can rebuild the mutual trust and sense of purpose necessary to override the prerogatives of national sovereignty when governments turn against their own people. How many innocent people will die at the hands of twenty-first century tyrants because the Bush Administration got an itchy trigger finger?