Sunday, September 08, 2013

Barack Obama wants to fire cruise missiles at Syria. As president of the nation whose military possesses the most lethal firepower of any society in history, he obviously has the ability to start this war — his sixth major front, after Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Libya and Pakistan — if he wants to. But does he have the legal right?

The answer is no. 

Not if the basic architecture of the Constitution, the separation of powers, remains in force. Not if the Founding Fathers’ originalist intent, and their understanding of English at the time, means anything. Not if America’s treaty obligations, which after ratification carry the full force of U.S. law, are more than pieces of paper...

Attacking Syria without legal basis would have broad implications, and not just for the Syrians who will lose their lives, limbs and sanity.
Back here in what neofascist politicians and media mouthpieces call the Homeland, we Americans are watching our top officials and boldface notables brush off the basic legal underpinnings of the political culture with impunity...

Obama and the other warmongers are counting on ignorance and confusion to make their case, but the rules of war are clear.
Attacking Syria would be illegal...

Obama has no “inherent right” to attack Syria or any other country.
Under the Constitution, Congress could do it. But the U.S. is also subject to treaty obligations that clearly block it from attacking Syria under present circumstances.

The Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928, which the U.S. Senate ratified by an 85-1 vote, bans all acts of military aggression. Many of the Nazi leaders executed and imprisoned at Nuremberg were convicted for violating this Pact. It remains in force as international law.

The U.N. Charter mandates that all U.N. member states “refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.” 

The U.N. Charter does not make exceptions for the three principal arguments Obama makes in favor of attacking Syria: punishment (for using chemical weapons), preemption (it’ll send a message to other possible future chemical weapons users, such as Iran and North Korea) and deterrence (it will deter Assad from attacking Jordan or Israel). 

To the contrary, the Fourth Geneva Convention outlaws “collective punishment” in which civilians are targeted to suffer for the offenses of their government....

Now Obama can argue — and others will — that Geneva, Kellogg-Briand, the U.N. Charter, and even the U.S. Constitution are quaint, outdated relics, written by naive men whose 20th century attempts to outlaw war are irrelevant today. If that’s what they think, then they should convince us to amend or annul them.

As long as these laws remain in force, and as long as Obama and other members of America’s ruling class continue to ignore them, an ugly day of reckoning draws closer.

P.S. to Mr. Obama: Please, Sire, may we miserable subjects of your Benevolent Self kindly see proof that the Syrian government (and not the rebels) carried out that poison gas attack the other day? 
How about some evidence?

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