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A duty to stay?

STRINGER/AFP

One country invades another to unseat a dangerous government. After the government's fall, the intervening country struggles to impose order but faces a growing refugee problem, animosity from local forces, and persistent violence. It soon tires of the commitment and begins making noises about getting its troops out. The United States in Iraq? Nope, Ethiopia in Somalia. As noted in this morning's Brief, the African Union and the United States are telling Ethiopia in no uncertain terms that they can't withdraw yet.

The US and the African Union have warned Ethiopia not to withdraw its troops from Somalia before peacekeepers are deployed to replace them. AU commission chief Alpha Oumar Konare says it would be a "catastrophe" if Ethiopia pulled out too soon.

Several years ago, international lawyers and activists developed the concept of a "responsibility to protect" vulnerable populations, often from the depredations or incapacity of their own governments. It may be time to start exploring whether and when those who have intervened have the responsibility to remain.

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