When should the world intervene in a country's conflict?

Syrian pro-government protesters
Syrian pro-government protesters wave Syrian and Russian flags as a convoy carrying Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov heads towards the presidential palace in Damascus on February 7, 2012.
LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images

In the wake of violence in Somalia and Rwanda, the international community set out to define its moral obligations regarding when to intervene in a country's internal affairs. We're seeing those tensions and decisions more than ever prominently play out in the Middle East.

What goes into a country's decision or the United Nation's decision on when, how and why it should intervene? We wanted to know more after reading Joshua Foust's piece in The Atlantic.

"Some of the world's worst conflicts with the highest numbers of civilian dead go receive far less attention in the global media and Western capitals than does Syria," Foust wrote. "That's not an argument for ignoring Syria as well, of course, nor is it an argument for intervening in every conflict. But the discrepancy should lead us to ask why Syria gets so much more attention than, for example, Sri Lanka, and whether our metrics to evaluate who deserves an intervention are really fair or objective. Establishing standards matters, and when it comes to the relatively new idea of a 'responsibility to protect,' we're still figuring that out."

Eric Schwartz, dean of the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs, will join The Daily Circuit Thursday to discuss intervention.

"In terms of historical basis, the two places critical to understand about this issue is Rwanda and Bosnia," he said. "Those two massacres really sparked a discussion and debate which have really informed evolution of this issue over past two decades."

Charles Ries, director of the Center for Middle East Public Policy at RAND Corporation, will also join the discussion.

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