Whether you like it or not, we [United States] are a member of the United Nations. As a member, we agree to follow the rules…but are we doing so now?
Read the article below – and pay particular attention to the text in red below. We have neither authorization nor are we acting in self defense.
What do you think?
What Happened to the Rule of Law?
By JACK L. GOLDSMITH
SINCE the United Nations was created in 1945, its Charter has been more honored in the breach than the observance. So maybe it should not surprise us that President Obama seems poised to authorize American military action against Syria, in clear violation of international law.
The Charter permits nations to use force against other nations only for self-defense or when the Security Council authorizes such force “to maintain or restore international peace and security,” as it did for Libya in 2011.
Mr. Obama seems to recognize the problem. “If the U.S. goes in and attacks another country without a U.N. mandate and without clear evidence that can be presented, then there are questions in terms of whether international law supports it,” he told CNN last week.
Since he said these words, his administration has made its case that President Bashar al-Assad’s regime has used chemical weapons against Syrian citizens. But it has failed to secure United Nations support for airstrikes in Syria.
Many bad arguments are being floated in an attempt to get around this. One is that international law contains an exception for interventions designed to alleviate an “overwhelming humanitarian catastrophe,” as the British government maintained on Thursday (before Parliament narrowly rejected military action in Syria). But the British lawyers did not attempt the impossible task of squaring this conclusion with the language of the Charter.
Another bad argument is that intervention is lawful because Syria violated the Geneva Protocol of 1925, which outlawed the use of poisonous gases. But the protocol applied to countries “in war,” not domestic conflict, it did not contemplate enforcement by other nations, and it is subject to the (subsequently created) rules of the United Nations Charter, in any event.
As the expected strikes on Syria show once again, interventions are driven by military, ideological and humanitarian interests with relatively little regard for international law. Because the Charter system has long been so weak, a violation in the name of preventing gross abuses in Syria thus might not have a big impact, one way or the other, on international norms or future intervention behavior.
Of perhaps greater concern to Americans is the fact that an intervention in Syria would extend the president’s war powers under the Constitution beyond where they have gone before. An attack would