The full extent of the damage to international peace and security caused by the US-led Syrian strikes will take some time to become clear. But its impact on the very concept of legality in international affairs is already evident.
Simply put, the most powerful county in the world and its chief satellites, the UK and France, have thrown the rule of law into the trash can. The only “law” now is the law of the jungle. There is no going back.
Ironically, the attack itself was claimed by its perpetrators as enforcement of legality, not of its obliteration. For example, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called the alleged use of chemical weapons by Syrian forces “a clear breach of international norms and agreements” that “calls for a collective and effective response by the international community.”
Leaving aside for a moment the question of what really happened in the Syrian city of Douma, Stoltenberg knows very well what the mechanism is for a collective response by the international community. It is agreement by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to “determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression,” and to take military or non-military joint action to “restore international peace and security” under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter. Such action is subject to veto by the permanent members: the United States, Russia, China, the United Kingdom, and France.
This means that if it were determined to the satisfaction of all five permanent members, and presumably to a majority of all the countries represented on the UNSC at a given time, that aggression or another threat to peace had taken place, joint action, including military action, could be authorized. Under the United Nations system, which is the current governing law of the international order, authorization by the UNSC is the only justification for armed action by a state or group of states against another, other than a country’s “inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs” under Article 51 of the charter. Stoltenberg knows this too, since NATO, the organization he heads, is ostensibly based on its members’ “exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defense recognized by Article 51” under the North Atlantic Treaty’s oft-cited Article 5. That’s why operations by Russia and Iran at the invitation of the Syrian government are legal, but those of the US, Turkey, and any other countries not given permission by Damascus are illegal.
In short, in the absence of consensus in the UNSC, no country had or has the legal authority to attack Syria. This is even assuming the claims of chemical-weapons use were true. The Chemical Weapons Convention, to which Syria acceded in 2013, is not self-activating. Nothing gives any other country the legal right to unleash a military action against another country under its own claim that the convention has been violated.
Military action against another state that is neither in self-defense nor authorized by the Security Council has a name. It is called aggression. Based on the bitter experience of World War II, which gave rise to the United Nations in the first place, the UN Charter cites “suppression of acts of aggression” among its fundamental purposes in its Article 1, as judged by the Nuremberg war crimes court:
To initiate a war of aggression… is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.
For the informed observer, it is shocking how seldom the question of international legality comes up in Western political and media discussion on Syria. One would never know that the UN Charter is a binding treaty. Thus, under American law, it is the law of the land on a par with federal statutes. Its requirements are not optional.
But in the US, no one cares. We are a law unto ourselves. Even the application of US domestic law is hardly mentioned, except to note in passing that the constitutional requirement for congressional authorization is a dead letter and presidents do as they please.
It cannot be stressed enough: the prohibition on any country’s committing aggression against another would apply even if the targeted county were engaged in appalling crimes. Such crimes would include Saudi Arabia’s horrific war against civilians in Yemen, abetted by the very governments self-righteously preening themselves over their moral credentials with respect to Syria.
Still, anyone with a set of eyes and ears and an ability to think on his own can have little doubt that the Syrians did not use chemical weapons at Douma. This is evident in the haste of the countries attacking Syria, just as a team from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) had arrived in Syria and would soon be in a position to shed important light on what actually had occurred. What did Washington, London, and Paris fear would come to light?
In the coming days, we will see what the OPCW and other independent investigators will turn up in Douma, as well as at other targets struck as supposed chemical weapons sites. Hopefully those investigations will be free of the politicized skew of the “Joint Investigative Mechanism” (JIM), which Russia has slammed for its reliance on “cherry-picked facts and accounts by partisan sources.”
Western governments’ arrogation of the right to attack other countries in the absence of legal authority based solely on their own subjective assertion of fact serves as an incentive to fabricate the necessary circumstances to “justify” their actions. It is also an open invitation for false claims by interested governments and for false-flag attacks by combatants. We can be sure that Douma will not be the last allegation of chemical weapons use as outside powers continue their efforts to prolong the Syrian war and thwart the legitimate government’s recovery of its territory from foreign-backed jihadists – whose own possession and use of chemical weapons is established.
Unfortunately, those allegations will not be made within an orderly legal framework that is able to investigate them objectively and decide authoritatively on an appropriate response. That framework, already coming apart under the illegal assaults of Western governments in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, and elsewhere, has been totally shattered in Syria. There is little prospect that it can be reconstructed.
Originally published on 2018-04-16
Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!
Donate to Support Us
We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations.
Presidents, Prime Ministers, Congressmen, Generals, Soldiers and Police ADMIT to False Flag Terror
In the following instances, officials in the government which carried out the attack (or seriously proposed an attack) admit to it, either orally, in writing, or through photographs or videos:
(1) Japanese troops set off a small explosion on a train track in 1931, and falsely blamed it on China in order to justify an invasion of Manchuria.
This is known as the “Mukden Incident” or the “Manchurian Incident”. The Tokyo International Military Tribunal found: “Several of the participators in the plan, including Hashimoto [a high-ranking Japanese army officer], have on various occasionsadmitted their part in the ...
On December 19, 2005, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced the appointment of Ambassador Frank G. Wisner as the Special Representative of the US Secretary of State to the Kosovo Status Talks.
Who is Frank G. Wisner, Jr.?
If his name sounds familiar that is because he is the son of Frank Gardiner Wisner, Sr., the CIA agent most responsible for the recruitment of Nazis by the US government after World War II. A former member of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the World War II precursor to the CIA, Frank G. Wisner, Sr., was one of the most infamous ...
A NATO warmonger President of Lithuania, Dalia Grybauskaite (her surname means a mushroom in the English) is observing Russia's "aggressors" and "cannibals"
On March 23rd, Gallup headlined “South Sudan, Haiti and Ukraine Lead World in Suffering”, and the Ukrainian part of that can unquestionably be laid at the feet of U.S. President Barack Obama, who in February 2014 imposed upon Ukraine a very bloody coup (see it here), which he and his press misrepresented (and still misrepresent) as being (and still represent as having been) a ‘democratic revolution’, but was nothing of the sort, and actually was instead the start of the Ukrainian dictatorship and the hell that has since destroyed that country, and brought the people there into such misery, it’s now by far ...
Why Does America Keep “Losing” Its Wars?
Below, we demonstrate that the U.S. keeps “losing” war after war.
There are 3 potential reasons this might be happening:
Is this chaos an intentional way to implement regime change and grab resources?
Or is this a sign of the decline of the American empire … and we just can’t win a war anymore?
Or do those in charge just not really give a damn about winning … and are they just focusing on one short-term goal after another?
We’ll let you decide why you think this keeps happening. But if you don’t believe that the ...
The facts do not support the mythology. The United States government did not need to make Japan a junior partner in imperialism, did not need to fuel an arms race, did not need to support Nazism and fascism (as some of the biggest U.S. corporations did right through the war), did not need to provoke Japan, did not need to join the war in Asia or Europe, and was not surprised by the attack on Pearl Harbor. For support of each of these statements, keep reading.
This week I’m testifying at an Iraq Tribunal about the Downing Street Minutes. In U.S. thinking the ...
Was Serbia attacked in 1999? To answer that question, Milica-Hänsel Radojkovic draws on period documents (including Willy Wimmer’s letter to Chancellor Gerhard Schröder). He highlights the unacceptability of the Rambouillet proposals, designed to justify a war that had already started.
Fourteen years ago, after the negotiation conferences in Rambouillet and Paris between 6th and 23rd February 1999, the global media informed the general public that “the Serbian delegation did not accept the offered agreement and rather qualified it as null and void”, while indicating that allegedly the so-called Contact Group for Yugoslavia stood behind the agreement. This body consisted of ...
As the U.S. and NATO casualties rise from the war in Afghanistan, with 2010 being the deadliest year of the nine-year war for the U.S., the question needs to be asked of how we got involved in that interminable and unwinnable conflict? The Afghan war has been dubbed Barack Obama’s War but its origins go back much earlier. Is the U.S. military disaster in Afghanistan an instance of blowback?
What is the standard definition of “blowback”? The U.S. intervenes illegally in a volatile and unstable scenario and over time the consequences of that criminality come back to reek havoc on U.S. ...
UN Third Committee Resolution L.23 IN, Legitimizes Stranglehold Economic Sanctions., Used as a Means to "Obliterate" North Korea
On November 15, 2016 the United Nations Third Committee adopted the resolution: “Situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea".
Among the co-sponsors of the Resolution were United States, United Kingdom, Ukraine, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, etc.
Disassociating themselves from the resolution, which they denounced as invalid, were China, Russia, Cuba, Venezuela, Syria, and three other countries opposed to the biased character and double standards that typify “country-specific” resolutions. The so-sponsors of this resolution are themselves guilty of criminal human rights violations.
The very ...
Few people know that, in fact, in those years, overseas aircraft inflicted an unpunished blow on the Soviet territory. It happened in the Far East in October 1950.
On October 8, 1950, at 4.17 p.m. local time, two Lockheed F-80C Lockheed "Schutting Star (Meteor)" violated the state border of the USSR and, having deepening into the territory for almost a hundred kilometers, attacked the Soviet military airfield Suhaya Rechka 165 kilometers from Vladivostok, in the Hasan district. As a result of firing by the US Air Force seven Soviet squadron aircraft were damaged, one completely burnt in the parking lot.
That autumn ...
Tyrants and despots have never required justification for their actions. In the 17th century, as political philosophers began to reject the classic Catholic doctrines of politics and ethics, The Prince was viewed as more relevant: truths are more important than ideals.
It is probably not an accident that The Prince has been misinterpreted for 300 years. Taken literally, there is no better justification for tyranny, whether political or economic, than the universal misinterpretation of The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli. This small pamphlet, written in 1513–1514, addressed to the new Medici prince, if taken literally, outlines the best practices to attain and ...
The missile attack on a US ship off the coast of Yemen was a major news event, but the subsequent follow up story, that it may never have happened, was either ignored by mainstream media or intentionally covered up. The whole thing has the same odor as the Gulf of Tonkin incident that never occurred.
Does history repeat itself? Sure does seem like it. That is if you compare America’s entry into the Vietnam civil war, with America’s latest entry into the war in Yemen.
Don’t be mistaken, we have been at war with Yemen for a year now. America sided with ...
America is a country in which dollars count far more than voters do, and that’s what all of the data shows. And that’s a dictatorship by the richest.
This kind of country, this kind of country, and this kind of country, get this kind of President. And the rulers blame it on the public, instead of on the billionaires, the actual rulers themselves (the behind-the-scenes rulers). These rulers selected the politicians and offered those to the public to select from in ‘elections’ — and they then blame the public for the choices that the public make, from amongst these bad final ...
The speech delivered Tuesday by Donald Trump to the opening session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York was without precedent either for the UN or the American presidency.
Speaking before a world body ostensibly created to spare humanity the “scourge of war” and founded on the principles elaborated at the Nuremberg trials of Nazi leaders, the American president openly embraced a policy of genocide, declaring that he was “ready, willing and able” to “totally destroy” North Korea and its 25 million people.
The fact that nobody in the assembly moved for Trump’s arrest as a war criminal, or even ...
No matter how hard White House officials try, they cannot construct a coherent ‘Trump doctrine’ that would make sense amid the chaos that has afflicted US foreign policy in recent months.
However, this chaos is not entirely the making of President Donald Trump alone.
Since 1945, the United States has vied for total global leadership. The 1991 dissolution of the Soviet Union, and the subsequent disintegration of the Eastern Bloc, gave it complete global hegemony.
The US became the force that stabilized and destabilized any region in the world, as it saw fit – which always served the interests of the US and ...
Hardly any knowledgeable person doubts that Zionist ideology is the purest form of racism. Zionism is Jewish disguised racism as a raison d’etat. Israel comes right after the U. S., as far as racism is concerned. That is why the U. S. donates to this racist regime $ 3.8 bn per year in order to keep this occupation regime going. Should anybody doubt the racism of the Israeli leadership, read the following article.
Racism among the Israeli leadership is legendary. It started out with the founder of Zionism, Theodor Herzl, saying: “Spirit the penniless population across the frontier by denying it ...
To Benjamin H. Freedman, who committed himself to finding and telling the facts about Zionism and Communism. and encouraged others to do the same. The son of one of the founders of the American Jewish Committee, which for many years was anti-Zionist, Ben Freedman founded the League for Peace with Justice in Palestine in 1946. He gave me copies of materials on the Balfour Declaration which I might never have found on my own and encouraged my own research. (He died in April 1984.)
The Institute for Historical Review is providing means for the better understanding of the events of our ...
“malè ou swete bèlmè, se manman ou li frape” – the evil you wish upon your mother-in-law strikes your mother, Haitian wisdom
The other day, I saw a video excerpt of an October 2012 speech in which Bill Clinton was telling an audience in New-York how his wife, Hillary, possesses the extraordinary psychic ability to speak regularly with the dead, in particular, with the spirit of former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.*
Today, some U.S. citizens who are still stunned by the election of Donald Trump may be seeking extra insights to help answer many troubling questions. However, I doubt the dead are in any way equipped to help them understand what is happening in the so-called “land of the free and home ...
The grandees of the Republican Party are on the ropes. Donald Trump has them by the balls, but, even without Trump, they would be in what Bush the Father would call deep “do-do.”
Any Republican candidate for President whom two-thirds of the electorate could abide would be anathema to the one-third that Republicans have recruited into their rank and file. Mitt Romney was the final straw.
The establishment’s situation is so pitiful that even Chris Christie is starting to look good to them. If his candidacy survives into the Spring, late night TV comedians will rejoice; others, not so much.
Ted Cruz remains ...
False Flag Terror: A Historical Overview
Who was US Special Representative to Kosovo Frank G. Wisner?
Russia’s Message to the Mushroom
What America’s Coup in Ukraine Did
Since 9/11, the U.S. has been Involved in More than 5 Wars
The Most Dangerous Weapon
75 Years of Pearl Harbor Lies
The Nato-Aggression Against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1999
Blowback: Afghanistan and Bosnia
Human Rights Violations: North Korea vs the U.S.
How the United States Bombed the USSR on October 8, 1950
Neoconservatives, Machiavelli and The Prince
Vietnam War and Yemen False Flags
Why America is a Dictatorship
Trump’s “Mein Kampf” Tirade at the United Nations (September 2017)
‘Trumpism’ is Symptom of Decades-Long Imperial Arrogance
Behind the Balfour Declaration
If this Haitian was Superstitious Like the Clintons
Democratizing the US Constitution: An Idea Worth Considering