Sunday, September 1, 2013

Obama's Own Words Could Be Used to Justify an Attack on the US

In his long-awaited address to the nation, the president made another call for the US to uphold international norms. The problem with this line of reasoning is that if the US were to strike Syria for the sake of upholding the law, then another country could just as reasonably attack us on the same grounds. There are, after all, laws prohibiting military aggression in the same way that there are laws prohibiting the use of chemical weapons.

If another country did decide to attack us, they would probably find Obama's words perfectly fitting for their own purposes. Just read the president's speech again with the references to chemical weapons replaced by references to military aggression:
What message will we send if a president can attack a foreign nation in plain sight and pay no price? What’s the purpose of the international system that we’ve built if a prohibition on military aggression that has been agreed to by the governments of 98% of the world’s not enforced?

Make no mistake -- this has implications beyond illegal warfare. If we won’t enforce accountability in the face of this heinous act, what does it say about our resolve to stand up to others who flout fundamental international rules? To governments who would choose to build nuclear arms? To terrorists who would spread biological weapons? To armies who carry out genocide?

We cannot raise our children in a world where we will not follow through on the things we say, the accords we sign, the values that define us.

...we will insist that an aggressive attack on another country...must be confronted.
Would anyone object if Russia issued that statement in response to our actions? What if they backed it up by sinking our ships? No, they wouldn't have the law on their side, but neither would we. Their intent to uphold the law would appear just as noble as ours, which is to say, not very noble at all. In fact, it would seem downright hypocritical. How can anyone claim that the act of breaking the law actually upholds it?

More on Syria >>