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U.S. strikes on Syria would not be legal.



Experts on international law say that there are three situations that would make U.S. strikes on a sovereign country legal:

  1. If the government of that country invited it to undertake action

  2. If there were a U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing action

  3. If the U.S. were acting in self-defence


None of these exist right now, for all that Donald Trump grandly says he’s contemplating airstrikes. The U.S. does not have legal authority to do this.


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That said, late on Thursday (April 12), U.S. Defense Secretary James answered questions about the legal basis for potential U.S. action as follows: He suggested it could be framed as a self-defense strike given the proximity of a force of about 2,000 U.S. troops currently in Syria.

That’s as may be.

Read this: SOAS criminal law professor Kevin Jon Heller’s reasoning. He knows what he’s talking about. Professor Heller’s books include The Nuremberg Military Tribunals and the Origins of International Criminal Law and The Hidden Histories of War Crimes Trials.🔷




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(This piece was first published on Medium.)


(Cover: Flickr/Official U.S. Navy Page/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Corwin Colbert - Assault ship USS America (LHA 6), 23 January 2018.)


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Journalist by trade & inclination. World affairs columnist.
London, UK & Tunis, Tunisia. Website

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