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Thursday, September 25, 2014 4:30 PM

Legal Basis for War in Syria? Amazing Three-Point Logic!

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The hypocrisy of the US is on full display. We have imposed preposterous sanctions on Russia following its takeover of Crimea.

Given that Crimea actually had a vote, and the vote was overwhelming, one can legitimately argue the Crimea takeover was democracy in action. Rigged or not, it's 100% certain the vote would have gone in favor of Russia.

Votes? Constitutions? Who Gives a Damn?

Who gives a damn about votes?

Some claim the vote was illegal by Ukraine's constitution. But what good are constitutions anyway?

The US doesn't give a damn about the US constitution let alone the constitution of any other nations (unless of course it serves our purpose).

Legal Basis for Troops in Iraq?

On September 5th, the Guardian commented on the legality of US troops in Iraq: Legal basis for Iraq troop deployment called into question as days wear on.

The legal basis for the recent introduction of more than 1,000 US ground troops in Iraq was called into question on Friday, after the White House confirmed that it does not consider itself bound by time limits that usually constrain such deployments.

Under the terms of the 1973 War Powers Resolution, troop deployments into war zones may not last longer than 60 days, unless Congress explicitly authorises military force.

As no congressional authorisation yet exists – Congress returns from its August recess next week – lawyers have wondered about the solidity of the legal grounding for the latest US war in Iraq.
Obama's ISIS Plan Legal?

On September 12, Salon asked: Is Obama’s ISIS plan legal?.

President Obama's legal basis for "destroying ISIS" is a stretch. But who's going to stop him? Congress? Ha!

"Moderate" Collateral Damage

It's tough distinguishing friends from enemies, especially when allies don't agree who the enemies are, and our enemies have the same primary goal as us!

For example, the Financial Times note Syria Rebels Dismayed by US Air Attacks on Non-Isis Groups.

In the course of Syria’s nearly four-year civil war, Ahmed Hamadi an anti-regime rebel, often hoped western intervention would help his cause. But when it finally came, it killed his neighbours and their children.

Door Number One or Door Number Two?

  1. When you go about killing moderates and their kids, do you think the remaining moderates and kids will love us for our freedom-fighting ways?
  2. Or do you think we created more extremists?

Hitting Oil Targets

Today the Financial Times reports US took out Syria's Oil Refineries.
US-led coalition strikes targeted at least six oil refineries held by militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) in eastern Syria overnight, hitting at one of the group’s main sources of financing.
Did Blasting Oil Refineries Help?
“This was a really important strike because of oil’s significance to Isis,” said an activist who uses the nom de guerre Thaer al-Khalidiya. “But unfortunately its impact is diminished by how unpopular the strikes are becoming, and by how little it seems to be affecting the group’s military operations in Syria.”
Strikes Becoming Unpopular
Civilian casualties were also reported in strikes on southeastern Hassaka countryside, which could increase the negative popular sentiment. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, around seven non-Isis fighters and civilians were killed, including one child and several women. It said 15 Isis militants were killed. It is impossible to independently verify the figures.
Gee - Who coulda thunk that killing innocent kids might become unpopular? Besides, why aren't these ingrates happy with our fantastic hit ratio? We killed 15 ISIS members and only 7 innocent victims.

The cost of hundreds of tomahawk missiles and bombs per ISIS member killed is clearly irrelevant. The US Has plenty of money. If we run out, we can always print more.

What about ISIS weapons?

Inquiring minds may be asking "What about ISIS weapons?" That's a good question given nearly all of them are US made, confiscated by ISIS in Iraq.

Here's the answer:
Redur Xelil, a spokesman for Syria’s main Kurdish force, known as the People’s Protection Units (YPG), said some coalition strikes had hit the area but targeted Isis bases far from the front lines, many of which had already evacuated. He pleaded for more strikes near the front to help the YPG win the battle.

“The bases of ISIL and all their heavy weapons, vehicles and equipment are in the open air and visible to everyone,” he said, using an alternative acronym for Isis. “But they have not yet been targeted by the air strikes.”
There you have it. We don't target weapons, instead we cripple Syria's infrastructure.

Mistakes Bound to Happen

Unfortunately, such mistakes happen when you Drop a Month of Bombs in Two Days on Syria. Strikes.

Rationale for Fighting ISIS

One rationale for the bombings is that an ISIS cell threatened the US.

Exactly how credible was that? The Guardian reports US officials unclear on threat posed by obscure al-Qaida cell in Syria.
Three days after the United States unexpectedly launched air strikes against an al-Qaida cell in Syria, officials are offering varied and conflicting explanations on the precise nature of the threat posed by the group.

Hours after Tomahawk missiles slammed into buildings near Aleppo believed to be used by Khorasan, an obscure group said to be focused on exporting terrorism from Syria, the US military described it as involved in “imminent attack plotting” against western targets.

Yet it is unclear what Khorasan was planning, how far that planning advanced, and whether the US itself was a target. Nor is the US confident as yet that it has either killed Khorasan’s leaders or significantly degraded any threat Khorasan may pose.
Bomb First, Ask Questions Later
A senior US official briefing reporters the day after the strike said that Khorasan was “nearing the execution phase” for an attack “in Europe or the homeland”. Hours before the strike, however, a different senior official had told the Guardian there was no indication of an imminent domestic threat from the group.

Yet on Thursday, the Pentagon’s chief spokesman dismissed questions about how mature any attack planning was, saying it was “near the end stages of planning an attack a western target”.

“I don’t know that we can pin that down to a day or a week or a month or six months. Doesn’t matter. Far better to be the left of a boom than the right of it,” said Rear Adm John Kirby, using military jargon about periods before and after an attack.
Aspirations vs. Reality
Leaks to the New York Times and the Washington Post cast doubt on the maturity of an attack emerging from Khorasan.

Anonymous officials were cited as saying it was unclear if Khorasan had picked out targets, deployed operatives to execute them or otherwise set a specific plan in motion, with one describing Khorasan’s planning as “aspirational”.
Perpetual War

Is the US war on Syria constitutional according to Syria's constitution? Better yet, is the US war on Syria constitutional even according to ours?

On September 13, the Guardian reported Obama's legally dubious Isis campaign is just a way to continue perpetual war.

Authot Trevor Tim wrote "The question isn’t whether this is war. It is. The question is how long until we’re clamouring for ground troops in Iraq again."

I am in complete agreement.

Following a Pentagon statement that this was the "beginning of a sustained campaign" that could last years, I penned Battle for Perpetual War is Won.

Undeclared War

"We did not request the regime’s permission. We did not co-ordinate our actions with the Syrian government. We did not provide advance notification to the Syrians at a military level, or give any indication of our timing on specific targets,” said Jen Psaki, the state department spokeswoman."

Interestingly, Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister called the US a "Natural Ally" stating We're 'Fighting the Same Enemy.

“When it comes to terrorism, we should forget our differences… and forget all about the past,” said deputy foreign minister Faisal Mekdad. “It takes two to tango...We are ready to talk."

Talk? Who wants that? Why talk when the battle for perpetual war has been won?

Legal Knots

Let's return to the question of legalities, this time specifically in regards to Syria. The Guardian reports US ties itself in legal knots to cover shifting rationale for Syria strikes.
US government lawyers have invoked Iraq’s right to self-defence and the weakness of the Assad regime as twin justifications for US bombing in Syria, in a feat of legal acrobatics that may reopen questions over its right to intervene in the bitter civil war.

In a letter to the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, released near 24 hours after attacks began, US ambassador Samantha Power argued that the threat to Iraq from Islamic State, known as Isis or Isil, gave the US and its allies in the region an automatic right to attack on its behalf.

The brief letter did not mention the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, which rested on erroneous claims of weapons of mass destruction and arguably contributed to its current instability, but stresses instead the country’s right to self-defence in the face of this new threat.

The US also argued that there was legal right to pursue Isis inside Syria due to the weakness of that country’s government – a regime the US has been actively urging be undermined by rebel groups for much of the past two years.
Amazing Three-Point Logic!

  1. States must be able to defend themselves and Syria cannot. 
  2. One reason Syria cannot defend itself is the US actively supports those who attempt to topple Syrian president Assad. 
  3. Because Assad is struggling to defend himself (from us), we allegedly have a legal basis to defend Syria.

For purpose of crippling another country, oil refineries are "prime targets".  By taking out Syrian refineries, Syria is even less likely to defend itself from those who wish to topple the Syrian government.

Meanwhile, the US is in yet another undeclared war with Congress sitting on its ass, unwilling to do anything with elections coming up.

Bright Side

Please look on the bright side!

  1. US GDP goes up every time we drop a bomb and the bomb is replaced with more bombs.  
  2. The more innocent kids we kill, the more enemies we make. 
  3. The more enemies we make, the more bombs we drop. 
  4. The more bombs we drop the more US GDP goes up and the more money the CEOs of defense companies make.

As an alternative, I offer my own sure-fire solution: The Moderate's Prayer.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

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