More debates around the legality of US strikes against Syrian airbase

World Today

There’s a legal debate about the U.S. strikes against a Syrian military airbase. The White House claims it protected national security.

But some governments condemned the attack as a violation of international law.

CGTN’s Daniel Ryntjes weighs the arguments surrounding military interventions.

More debates around the legality of US strikes against Syrian airbase

There’s a legal debate about the U.S. strikes against a Syrian military airbase. The White House claims it protected national security.

When Donald Trump announced that the United States had fired tomahawk missiles at a Syrian airbase, he claimed a moral and legal authority.

“It is in this vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons,” Trump said.

A chemical attack is a clear violation of international law. But so too is an attack on another country, unless it is for defensive purposes. The U.S. claims a defensive purpose in attacking ISIL in Syria and Iraq, but isn’t being threatened by the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad.

“While on the one hand you may be upholding or fighting for the prohibition on chemical weapons. But on the other hand, the prohibition in the UN Charter on the use of force serves really important humanitarian interests as well,” Rita Siemion, International Legal Counsel for Human Rights First said.

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis echoed the wording used by President Trump to justify the attacks.

Both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama claimed similar broad authority to take action that is more limited in scope than a war itself, that would require the U.S. Congress to authorize.

Given that President Trump is asserting moral authority to prevent the further use of chemical weapons, there is unlikely to be a legal challenge to an assertion of authority that continues to expand the powers of the Presidency.