The Role of the Defense Department in Advancing the Responsibility to Protect in the Middle East

By Josh Khoury

Abstract: The Responsibility to Protect (R2P) is an emerging component of U.S. foreign policy and international norms. R2P recognizes that it is incumbent upon states to protect the human rights of their domestic populations in order to maintain their international sovereignty. When states willfully fail to live up to this obligation, the international community has an obligation to take action in order to protect the suffering population. The U.S. Department of Defense can ensure that U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East adheres to the tenants of R2P by effectively managing its security and intelligence cooperation activities to prevent and avoid atrocities, or failing that, to help rebuild in the wake of massive human rights violations.

About the Author: Josh Khoury is a recent graduate of the Elliott School’s Master of International Policy and Practice program at the George Washington University. He is currently serving as a US Army Middle East and North Africa Foreign Area Officer and has extensive experience living and working in the region. The ideas expressed in this article reflect the author’s personal views, and are not official policy of the United States Department of Defense, the United States Army, or any component parts. He can be reached at and via Twitter @JoshKhoury.

USS Dwight D. Eisenhower transits the Suez Canal by U.S. Navy is licensed under CC BY 2.0. Image cropped.

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