Newsflash:
Rep. Barbara Lee Featured News If America wants Assad to respect international law, it must respect it, too
Tuesday, 03 September 2013 15:27

If America wants Assad to respect international law, it must respect it, too

Written by  Rep. Raul Grijalva and Michael Shank | Fox News

This weekend, the White House came courting to Congress, showing evidence and secret intelligence to make the case for military action. What was remarkably lacking, however, throughout all the pomp and circumstance, was any other tool in their intervention toolkit.



Now that President Obama has made up his mind about taking America to war with yet another Muslim country, he wants Congress to get on board. 

To his credit, he’s seeking congressional authorization, as required by the War Powers Act of 1973, but he has given every indication that he’ll invade Syria irrespective of approval by majorities in the House and the Senate. 

Presidents have done it before, without congressional authorization, from Harry Truman to Ronald Reagan to Bill Clinton.

This would be a shame. Not only would it mean that the U.S. would be flouting, somewhat ostentatiously, international law, but it would also mean that this would be the eighth Muslim-majority country with which America has been at war during Obama’s term as president. Count them: Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Mali, Libya, Somalia, and now Syria.

This weekend, the White House came courting to Congress, showing evidence and secret intelligence to make the case for military action. What was remarkably lacking, however, throughout all the pomp and circumstance, was any other tool in their intervention toolkit.

No talk about exhaustive diplomacy with all stakeholders involved. 

No talk about violence prevention. 

No talk about the International Criminal Court. 

No talk about working with the U.N. Security Council. In fact, quite the opposite: as evidenced by Secretary Kerry’s speech on Friday and Obama’s speech on Saturday, an implicit dismissal of all of these options. In fact, Kerry directly dismissed the U.N.’s role and its Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, as did the president.

This is unprecedented, especially for a Democratic White House. This also puts the president’s main argument – that the violation of international law, vis-à-vis chemical weapons usage, is the main pretext for invasion – in a precarious position.

Why, because the president, unless he gets clearance from the U.N. Security Council before/after he gets clearance (or not) from members of Congress, will also be in direct violation of international law.

That means that our president is going to war with another country’s president for violating international law while our president is fully prepared to violate international law. How’s that for international norm setting and standard bearing?

America must remember that, at present, there is no international legal justification for an attack on Syria. 

America would need a United Nations Security Council resolution, backing the invasion, which it has yet to secure. 

This is a clear double-standard and one that erodes the ethical fabric forged in 1945, within the United Nations Charter, and before, in the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928.

America should care about international law and justice, and we should use all necessary measures and mechanisms in place for such legal enforcement, to hold Assad – and possibly some of the rebel groups --accountable for crimes against humanity and war crimes.

We agree that there is no excuse for President Assad’s actions. If the Assad government is responsible for the hundreds dead from last week’s chemical weapons use, Assad will have violated international laws like the 1925 Geneva protocol prohibiting the use of biological and chemical weapons.

That still doesn’t allow America, or the UK, or France, to invade the country.

Syria’s lack of involvement, as a state party, in the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention and the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention, also does not justify military intervention by the West.

No matter how egregious the violation, America must still work within the legal frameworks at the United Nations Security Council, lest we undermine them further by flouting their very existence. Failure to do so would not be a good legal precedent for an American president to set.

Secretary Kerry once agreed with this thinking, reaffirming, during his confirmation hearings in January 2013, “a U.N. resolution is a necessary ingredient to provide the legal basis for military action in an emergency”. 

And while this crisis in Syria is undoubtedly an emergency, in light of the concern that the Assad government used chemical weapons on his people, we have had plenty of time – and tens of thousands of deaths – to make the legal case to the U.N. Security Council and to the US Congress, something the Obama administration has failed to do.

If the administration wants to avoid undermining almost a century of international law, and four decades of Congressional legislation, President Obama, Secretary Kerry, and Ambassador Samantha Power are going to have to make the case to Congress and to the Security Council.

America, that is the hard work that is necessary. There is no excuse for a half-baked case and there is no excuse for claims of urgency when tens of thousands of Syrians have already died with little fanfare in Washington.

If America wants the Assad government – or any other government for that matter – to obey by the strictures of international law, the West must set the standard for responsible adherence.

Invading Syria now not only fails on that front but also further undermines the West’s ability to forge agreement around this entire premise. And what a crime that would constitute.

Link to original article from Fox News


Democrat Raul Grijalva represents Arizona's 3rd congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives. He is the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Michael Shank is director of foreign policy at the Friends Committee on National Legislation.

Read 3224 times

ERA Legislation in your State

Unratified states Gold - Ratified States Purple

Latest News from the Lee Campaign

Latest News from the Grayson Campaign

Latest News from the Schapira Campaign

  • Standard-Bearer in Pivotal Arizona Congressional Race
    Standard-Bearer in Pivotal Arizona Congressional Race

    With early ballots in the mail, and only three weeks from the August 28th primary, State Senator David Schapira has emerged as the Democratic standard-bearer in a closely watched and increasingly nasty three-way congressional race in Arizona that many observers see as a litmus test for national Democratic chances to pick up critical seats in Congress.

    Written on Thursday, 09 August 2012 01:45 Read more...
  • Harry Mitchell Endorses David Schapira for Congress
    Harry Mitchell Endorses David Schapira for Congress

    “The primary in Congressional District 9 has pitted three of the brightest members of the Democratic Party in Arizona against each other. All three candidates are leaders in our state and I am honored to call them friends.

    Written on Thursday, 26 July 2012 12:14 Read more...
  • A Guest Post From Arizona Progressive State Senator David Schapira
    A Guest Post From Arizona Progressive State Senator David Schapira

    Endorsements are a funny thing. Most of them aren't worth anything at all. I have two friends running in the Democratic primary in Arizona's brand new 9th CD, Kyrsten Sinema and Andrei Cherny. Kyrsten is a progressive and Andrei is somewhere in his own world ideologically. But the third guy... well, he's the one who's been endorsed by Raúl-- and by PDA. Whomever wins the August 28th primary is, likelier than not, headed to Congress. That third guy is David Schapira, the Senate Democratic Leader.

    Written on Saturday, 30 June 2012 13:38 Read more...
  • David Schapira Receives PDA Endorsement
    David Schapira Receives PDA Endorsement

    On the May Inside the Party call, David Schapira (AZ-9) received the PDA National endorsement. Currently David Schapira is the Arizona State Senate Democratic Leader.

    Written on Thursday, 24 May 2012 00:00 Read more...
  • Arizona Communications Workers of America State Council Endorses David Schapira for Congress
    Arizona Communications Workers of America State Council Endorses David Schapira for Congress

    The Arizona Communications Workers of America (CWA) State Council announced today their endorsement of Senate Democratic Leader David Schapira, D-Tempe, in the race for Arizona’s Ninth Congressional District. The state council is comprised of the Arizona Correctional Peace Officers Association (AZCPOA), the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA and multiple CWA local affiliates.

    Written on Thursday, 17 May 2012 19:55 Read more...
  • Congressman Raúl Grijalva Endorses David Schapira
    Congressman Raúl Grijalva Endorses David Schapira

    Congressman Raúl Grijalva, AZ-07, today announced his endorsement of Arizona Senate Democratic Leader David Schapira, D-Tempe, in his campaign for Arizona’s Ninth Congressional District. “Voters are looking for candidates who stand up for what they believe in and can win, not by hiding their values, but by sharing them with voters. David is that candidate,” said Rep. Grijalva.

    Written on Monday, 30 April 2012 00:00 Read more...
  • Arizona Union Rights Stripped

    Arizona Governor Jan Brewer pushes the country's most anti-union agenda yet. David Shapira, Democratic leader of the Arizona state senate, slams his Republican colleagues. Welcome back to "The Ed Show." Jan Brewer and the Arizona Republicans are on a tear. they are on the offensive. they are on a mission to completely destroy public employee unions. have you heard the story before?

    Written on Thursday, 02 February 2012 00:00 Read more...
  • State Senator David Schapira Jumps Into District 9 Congressional Race
    State Senator David Schapira Jumps Into District 9 Congressional Race

    As predicted, former state Senator Kyrsten Sinema's not the only Democrat with her eye on Arizona's new Congressional seat -- this morning, state Senate Minority Leader David Schapira announced that he, too, will run in Arizona's newly formed 9th Congressional district.

    Written on Tuesday, 17 January 2012 00:00 Read more...

Sign the Petition - Sen. Sanders Run as a Democrat in 2016

Button-SandersPetition

Like Rep. Barbara Lee

Lori Wallach on the TPP from PDA Progressive Roundtable

Progressive Roundtable with Reps. Ellison and Pocan and Lori Wallach on TPP

TPP: The Biggest Threat to the Internet You've Probably Never Heard Of