05 September 2013 – Copyright © Mark H. Goodrich
As this is written, the American President has announced his belief that the United States should act – unilaterally if necessary – to “enforce” an international consensus against the use of chemical weapons by conducting a series of military air strikes against the Syrian Government, in order to punish it for the use of chemical weapons in the civil war now underway in Syria.
Further, the President has asked the national legislature – which has the responsibility and authority to declare war under the United States Constitution – to approve such military action.
The problems with the intended actions are myriad.
Most fundamentally, what the President proposes is illegal under both international and U.S. laws. Unless there is a clear and present danger to the United States, it has no legal authority to take military action against another sovereign nation.
Enforcement of international laws is a matter for the United Nations and the International Criminal Court, and despite what has been said by the American Administration, its failure to convince other nations that military action should be taken does not somehow imbue the United States with the legal authority to act alone as an international policeman. The action it proposes would render it nothing more or less than an international vigilante.
That the United States has failed to convince other nations of comparable values as to the righteousness of the instant cause, sufficient to generate official action by and through the United Nations, should cause its Executive and Legislative officials to re-examine the premises upon which they now threaten to act.
Its Secretary of State has said that the credibility of the United States is at issue, and will be lessened in the eyes of the world if action is not taken. That premise is exactly upside-down. Taking unilateral and illegal military action is what would compromise the credibility of America in the international community.
Finally, its professed stand against the use of chemical weapons and assertion that only Adolph Hitler and Saddam Hussein have used such weapons since the World War of 1914-1918 rings with the hollow tones of hypocrisy in light of the active role its Reagan Administration took in providing chemical weapons to Iraq some 30 years ago with the intention that those chemical agents be used against Iran, and approving silently when they were so used.
American should limit its actions regarding the instant crisis in Syria to working through the United Nations or the International Criminal Court, the only legal avenues open to it under international law.