Clifford May
Clifford May
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The demise of 'responsibility to protect' at the U.N.

October 14, 2014  •  The Washington Times

Remember R2P? Not to be confused with R2-D2 (a robotic character in the "Star Wars" movies), "Responsibility to Protect" was an international "norm" proposed by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan following the genocide in Rwanda in 1994 and the mass murders in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica a year later. The idea was for the "international community" to assume an obligation to intervene, militarily if necessary, to prevent or halt mass atrocities.

Why has R2P not been invoked to stop the slaughters being carried out in Syria and Iraq? Why isn't it mentioned in regard to the Syrian-Kurdish city of Kobani, which, as I write this, may soon be overrun by barbarians fighting for what they call the Islamic State?

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The truth about diversity

October 8, 2014  •  The Washington Times

In theory, we Americans are great proponents of diversity. In practice, how many of us stop to seriously consider the meaning of the word? If peoples really are diverse — if we differ not just about clothes and cuisine, but over ideas, values, interests, morality and human rights — that implies there is no "international community," certainly not one that embraces "international norms." For years, we've told ourselves the world is a "global village." As it turns out, it may be more like the "several remote nations" to which Gulliver traveled.

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Iran taking advantage of the focus on ISIS

October 1, 2014  •  The Washington Times

In his address to the United Nations General Assembly last week, President Obama called the conflict in the Middle East "a fight no one is winning." I think the evidence suggests he's wrong. I think Iran is making significant gains.

That should distress us because the Islamic Republic, no less than the Islamic State (also known as ISIS and ISIL), is committed to waging jihad. Iran's 1979 revolution was led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini — a Persian, Shia, Islamist version of Lenin. His intention was to spark a global uprising against the West.

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Why Scotland decided to keep the United Kingdom united

September 24, 2014  •  The Washington Times

I imagine James Bond is relieved. After all, one can't very well be "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" if one is no longer Her Britannic Majesty's subject — which one would not be had a majority of Scots voted for independence, thereby severing the knot Scotland and England tied 307 years ago.

By a margin of 55 percent to 45 percent, Scottish voters last week decided to keep the United Kingdom united. Pro-union and pro-independence factions fought hard, but no bombs went off, and no heads were separated from torsos. In this fraught era, such civilized behavior is not to be taken for granted.

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Faith, fanaticism and fantasy in the Middle East

September 17, 2014  •  The Washington Times

"God created war," Mark Twain theorized, "so that Americans would learn geography." That's as true today as it was two centuries ago. How many of us would be able to find Yemen, Somalia and Mali on a map if not for the conflicts raging in those lands?

These days war also presents an opportunity to learn a little history and theology. To do that, though, you have to separate the factual from the fanciful.

In his prime-time address to the nation last week, President Obama acknowledged that in the current era, "the greatest threats come from the Middle East and North Africa." He added: "And one of those groups is ISIL — which calls itself the Islamic State."

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