BRICs Fall Flat on UNSC Libya Vote

BRICs Fall Flat on UNSC Libya Vote

The U.S.-led intervention in Libya is now in full swing, thanks to a 10-0 vote by the U.N. Security Council in favor of authorizing military force. But the seeming unanimity of the vote belies key abstentions from a wary Germany as well as Brazil, Russia, India and China -- the four emerging economic powers known as the BRICs. The BRICs' abstentions raise difficult questions about the future of a rules-based international order at a time of relative U.S. decline.

The BRICs' move seemed to be grounded in their longtime allergy to Western-led military operations. Couched in language of humanitarian concern, their national leaders' reactions to the vote were quick to acknowledge the problematic situation on the ground in Libya, but pointed to a military response as a dangerous escalation.

Of course, these same countries are prone to jettisoning their squeamishness over military action when it suits their immediate needs. Writing in the Daily Beast, Shirin Tahir-Kheli, a former U.S. delegate to the U.N., noted India's spotty record on intervention:

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