My purpose in exploring the Erratic Retaliator strategy was not to recommend its adoption but simply to make it clear that intertribal warfare was not the same as our international wars. The decision to “go to war” is always contested (as our entry into WW II was contested), and there is no simple rule that can be applied to settle the matter.
Intervention to prevent a massacre (as in the case of the Hutus and the Tutsis) is different from “going to war,” even though it involves the military. My only observation (and it’s certainly not uniquely mine) is that it’s highly dangerous for any one nation to set itself up as the arbiter of the rest of the world’s affairs and to appoint itself the world’s policeman.
The role of the United Nations is to achieve, as far as possible, a global consensus about when such interventions are appropriate. I don’t know of any way to improve on that.
updated: 07 Sep 2005