Syria is Entitled to Take Pre-Emptive Action

For many years, at least from the start of recorded history, nations have people have justified the use of force first on the grounds that they were taking pre-emptive action to protect themselves. If you know that a foe intends to attack you, international law states, you do not have to wait to be attacked and you can make a pre-emptive first strike to prevent or deter being attacked. Traditionally bellicose threats and statements are sufficient grounds to enable you to take pre-emptive action. States like Israel and the USA have relied on this doctrine, without which many of their military actions would be definitely illegal under international law.

We should consider then the present position of Syria. Syria is threatened with some kind of action, probably bombing or missile attacks, from the USA. Interesting the grounds upon which such action is proposed is an unproven allegation that Syria used chemical weapons in the course of its civil war. Syria denies the claim and sitting at my desk in London I have no idea whether that denial is false or true. What seems to be true is that Syria manufactured its chemical weapons from constituents sold to it by British and American companies. I suppose that was to be expected; The Western democracies do specialise in hypocrisy.

Now, being threatened with military action it seems to me that Syria is justified in International law in making pre-emptive strikes against those that threaten it. Syria is unlikely to do this, even though it may be legally justified under international law becasue to take pre-emptive action action the USA means breaking the first tenets of International Law: might is right and the mightier you are the righer you are.

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