Is there a case for reviving old and deplorably ethnocentric
distinctions between "civilized" and "barbarian" countries? Not in this form.
The problem is not that certain countries per se are barbarian, but rather that
they have brutal leaders; or that they are involved in conflicts over state
formation, including ethnic conflicts, that by their nature challenge the laws
of war. What the old distinction between "civilized" and "barbarian" countries
may valuably highlight is the sense that some problems concerning universal
implementation of the laws of war are by their nature extremely hard to solve.
There are strong and legitimate concerns, particularly in some post-colonial
states, that the increased diplomatic attention to international humanitarian
standards could have the unintended effect of providing the basis for external
intervention, and even a new form of