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Tag Archive: Chemical Weapons

When Moral Compulsion is Characterized as a Crime of Aggression


As a number of my colleagues have been debating the lawfulness of the United States striking a Syrian airbase with 59 Tomahawk missiles in response to a purported chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime, I have asked similar questions but also focused on whether the Trump Administration may have been less concerned with international law than what the Administration views as America’s moral obligations. …   continue »

Tracking the White House’s Reasons for Bombing Syria


The Trump administration has offered a handful of reasons why it decided to bomb a Syrian government airfield last week. The Department of Defense says the strike damaged or destroyed “fuel and ammunition sites, air defense capabilities, and 20 percent of Syria’s operational aircraft,” but the Trump administration acknowledges that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad maintains the capacity to commit further chemical weapons attacks, and that damaging this one airfield, from which it says Syria launched last week’s sarin gas attack, did not eliminate the threat altogether.  continue »

Apples and Oranges–Obama’s and Trump’s Plans to Strike Syria for Chem Weapons Use


One of the most important policy and legal questions moving forward is whether the Trump administration needs to seek congressional approval for military strikes in response to Syria’s use of chemical weapons. That question applies not only in retrospect to Thursday’s strike, but perhaps even more so to the prospect of future military operations.…   continue »

The Use of Force in Response to Syrian Chemical Attacks: Emergence of a New Norm?

The April 6 cruise missile strikes against Syria in response to its chemical weapon attacks on Khan Sheikhoun have generated considerable commentary on Just Security and elsewhere.  In this article, we offer our thoughts on the jus ad bellum framework (the international legal rules that regulate the resort to force) in assessing the U.S.…   continue »

Humanitarian Military Options for Syrian Chemical Weapons Attack: “Illegal but Not Unprecedented”


Without Security Council authorization, any U.S. military force to respond to Assad’s chemical weapons attack would be a violation of international law, but …

Policymakers would be well advised to know the relatively long list of cases in which states have engaged in humanitarian intervention without Security Council approval, and not paid the same political costs that would come with predatory uses of force.…   continue »

Questions Raised by Syria’s Chemical Weapons Attack


Details are still emerging about Tuesday’s chemical weapons attack in Khan Sheikhoun in northern Syria, but the US, France and Britain have already condemned the Syrian government for gassing its own people. On Wednesday, Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the UN, threatened the US may take unilateral action if the Security Council fails to respond.  continue »