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Trump Administration's Missile Strikes against Syria Break International Law

April 15, 2018 in Economics

By John Glaser

John Glaser

The Trump administration’s missile strikes against Syria
targeted three sites reportedly fundamental to the Assad
regime’s chemical weapons infrastructure. The idea,
we’re told, is to degrade the regime’s ability to use
chemical weapons and deter Assad from using them on his own people
in the future, and thereby enforce the international norm
prohibiting chemical weapons warfare.

But the only norm we’re really enforcing is the one that
says the United States is exempt from the laws and norms by which
our adversaries must abide.

One of the core tenets of the post-World War II “liberal
world order” that America supposedly leads is that the use of
force against another country is prohibited unless it is taken in
self-defense or it has the support of the United Nations Security
Council. By bombing the Assad regime in the absence of these
prerequisites, the Trump administration is acting unlawfully.

The United States is
apparently so addicted to war in the Middle East that the rule of
law and our own hypocrisy are feeble barriers to its
continuance.

Not only do we consistently act above the laws and norms we bomb
others for violating, we also apply these standards selectively. If
international humanitarian law and the laws of war really concerned
the White House, for example, it would immediately halt its support
for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, where they have killed more than
10,000 people and have been accused of committing war crimes by
bombing schools, hospitals and other civilian infrastructure. The
Saudis, with American complicity, have also imposed a severe
blockade on Yemen, effectively blocking humanitarian aid for
millions of Yemenis at risk of starvation and suffering from easily
curable diseases.

The case for bombing Syria for the sake of humanitarian goals is
weak for another reason: While chemical weapons occupy a special
place in our minds as a particularly cruel form of warfare, they
are actually far less lethal than the conventional military means
by which most Syrians have been killed or maimed in this vicious
civil war. The message we seem to be sending is that the Assad
regime can’t use chemical weapons again, though it can go on
killing people with bombs and bullets.

Americans should also be concerned about the rule of law in our
own country. The President is not vested with the power to bomb any
country in the world at his own whim. His war powers are
constrained by the Constitution, which grants Congress the power to
authorize military action abroad. As the Constitution’s lead
framer, James Madison, once wrote, “In no part of the
constitution is more wisdom to be found than in the …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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