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President defies UN Charter in Syria

By Harold Pease, Ph. D

Three weeks ago President Barack Obama made it clear to the United Nations General Assembly that he no longer intended to be guided, at least in foreign policy, by the U.S. Constitution, “We cannot rely on a rule-book written for a different century,” he told them, then he advocated global government through the UN. “If we lift our eyes beyond our borders – if we think globally and act cooperatively,” he said, “We can shape the course of this century as our predecessors shaped the post-World War II age” (Obama UN Address Sept.24, 2014).

So with this clear directive to follow UN law, as established by those who “shaped the post-World War II age,” he spoke of the bombing of Syria to get rid of ISIS. This without either the permission of Congress, as required by Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution or that of the United Nations though the UN Charter. Nor did he seek permission from the sovereign country of Syria to invade, with warplanes their soil.

Is an attack warranted under international law and, if not, could we be viewed by the world as an aggressor nation? Consider the following United Nations Charter violations we incurred when we crossed the Syrian border without Syrian permission to illuminate ISIS: Article 2, Sec. 4, “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state….” Even our threat of the use of force is a violation. The only exception to the use of force is self-defense as stipulated in Art. 51. “Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security.”

Obama has yet to make a case to the United Nations for attacking the sovereign country of Syria. He has not, and will not, because he would have to justify such action on the basis that Syria had first shown actual aggression toward us necessitating our responding in self-defense. This he cannot do. Yes, ISIS has a history of aggressive behavior, even beheading two U.S. citizens on Iraqi soil, but Assad had nothing to do with this and has not even been consulted in resolving the problem either approving or denying our war planes entering his country. Were U. S. citizens attacked by Syria we could respond in self-defense but we were not. According to the UN Charter such acts of aggression justifying self defense must immediately be provided to the UN Security Council who then decide “such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.”

Do not get me wrong, I oppose world government and think it incompatible with a country’s sovereignty and liberty and want us to operate totally independent of it, but Obama made a strong case for global government declining to follow the Constitution that he swore to “uphold, defend, and preserve” in favor of it, yet he refused to follow its charter also. He must follow one or the other or he risks being accused of following no legal path.

Other United Nation Charter rules also need satisfied. Article 39 stipulates that “the Security Council shall determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression and shall make recommendations, or decide what measures shall be taken in accordance with Articles 41 and 42, to maintain or restore international peace and security.” Even before this takes place Article 40 must be satisfied which reads: “In order to prevent an aggravation of the situation, the Security Council may, before making the recommendations or deciding upon the measures provided for in Article 39, call upon the parties concerned to comply with such provisional measures as it deems necessary or desirable. Such provisional measures shall be without prejudice to the rights, claims, or position of the parties concerned. The Security Council shall duly take account of failure to comply with such provisional measures.” Obama went to the UN, not to comply with any of these instructions, but to tell them what he is already doing.

Theoretically Russia, China and Syria could ask the United Nations to define the United States as the aggressor nation and Obama as a war criminal and call for economic sanctions on us as has been used on other nations. That would be unlikely as they too are showing their own aggressive natures, Russia invading the Ukraine and China coming down oppressively on Hong Kong. Ironically Obama refuses to be guided by constitutional law or established international law—the very authority that he patronizes in his speech. And since we are the most powerful military power on earth the UN is not likely to press the matter, even more so as other countries, without UN or Syrian permission, are also bombing in Syria. Still, our signature on the Charter document obligates our submission to international law now mocked by Obama’s not following it. Did we think when we signed the Charter, creating the “world government,” that the rules did not apply to us, that we could just bomb whomever, whenever, and wherever we wished? Obama must think so.