October 2, 2014

Why the war on ISIS is illegal

Peter Certo, Counterpunch - Under international law—at least as defined by the UN Charter, to which the United States is a founding signatory—one country can only legally launch attacks inside another under one of three conditions: if the intervention is authorized by the UN Security Council; if it’s a cut-and-dry case of self-defense; or if assistance is requested by the other country’s government.

It’s true that in Iraq at least, the government requested U.S. assistance in stemming the spread of IS—an intervention promoted in Washington as part of an effort to prevent the genocide of Iraqi religious minorities like the Yazidis (remember them?). Yet the United States has continued launching strikes on IS positions in Iraq long after the crisis on Mt. Sinjar was putatively resolved.

But in Syria, not a single one of these conditions applies.

In a letter to the United Nations explaining its strikes on Syria, the Obama administration claimed that it had the right to attack IS positions that the Syrian regime was “unable or unwilling” to eradicate itself. IS, the administration argues, has used its strategic depth in Syria—where no U.S. intervention has been formally invited by the still-sovereign Assad regime—to attack Iraq, which has requested U.S. assistance.

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