A few years back Samantha Power wrote an excellent book titled A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide. A quick summary of the book would go like this. After WW2 Rephael Lemkin managed to convince the brand new United Nations to define Genocide, and to commit to take action against it. Ironically, the result was not an international willingness to stop genocide, but rather the opposite: a firm international determination never to recognize an event as genocide, not matter how horrible, since such recognition would require intervention, and no-one wants to intervene when faraway folks are being massacred (unless of course there's an obvious and immediate set of interests that do recommend intervention, but in that case the intervention is because of the interests, not the slaughter). Having set up the framework, Power then preceded to show how whichever American administration happened to be in power at the time of a genocide did everything in its power, including bending over backwards, not to recognize it as a genocide, so as not to have to intervene.
And the Americans, as a general rule, were better than anyone else, because they sometimes sort of did eventually do something, as in the Balkans in 1999 after years of European inaction. No-one ever intervened in the Congo, of course, which has had the worst slaughter anywhere in the world since the 1940s. No one had enough interests to care.
David Rieff has a thoughtful (if rather sardonic) article about a new American attempt to think through the issue of genocide prevention. He focuses on the United States Institute for Peace’s task force on genocide, chaired by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former Secretary of Defense William Cohen - two people, incidentally, who have track records of failing to deal with genocide in real time, in the days when they were powerful. Although a bit long, the article is worth the time it takes to read. The central insight I came away with is that there's a lot of chatter about multinational efforts, international law, and other fine words, but that the dynamic Samantha Power described is still with us and not about to change anytime soon. (I expect Rieff and Power may not be in the same political camp in American politics, but they're saying similar things).
Jackson Diehl, over at the Washington Post, asks why the Obama administration isn't doing much and certainly isn't being effective as governing Libyans kill civilians in the hundreds. Whats happening in Libya (at least so far) is not genocide, but it is mass murder. Diehl seems to understand the cynical aspects of intervention, which is why he asks what are the American interests that are informing the administration's policy, if any.
Seen from the perspective of a Jew, born after the Holocaust, and an Israeli, this all need not be a moral issue. Foreign countries generally don't intervene when large-scale violence happens, and only rarely do they do anything effective. This isn't because of an innate hatred of Libyans, Bosnians, Congolese, Cambodians and so on. It's because all those folks and many others are, well, ultimately not worth the effort. That's the way of the world. Only those who can take care of themselves will be taken care of.
Which is one reason among many why the endless international chatter and preaching about how Israel (or anyone else) must do this that or the other because the chatterers say so, must be resolutely shut out, not listened to, and never ever taken seriously.