Home » Syria » International Law vs. Western nations and ISIS

International Law vs. Western nations and ISIS

by John Brian Shannon | December 5, 2015

International laws inform us that it’s illegal and considered an act of war when military aircraft enter another nation’s airspace to kill people there even if those people are members of a heinous terror organization.

It’s a matter of international law. There’s no ambiguity and it’s not under debate by constitutional lawyers anywhere.

Two exceptions are allowed under international law:

If a country has a mandate from the United Nations (via UN Security Council or UN General Assembly resolution) it allows them to enter that airspace and engage hostile combatants under very specific terms.

The other exception is when the host country has formally requested foreign intervention inside their borders.

International law applies equally to every nation. They aren’t like an à la carte dinner menu where you can simply choose which laws you wish to follow

No matter how evil some terror groups are, countries that break international law are just as guilty of breaking laws as those terror groups.

If Western nations send their military aircraft into Syria; a) with no UN mandate to do so, or;  b) uninvited by the host government — they are just as guilty of breaching international law as ISIS — perhaps moreso, as nation states know full well the responsibilities of international law and they know that they are bound by those laws.

ISIS isn’t a country. Having pretensions at being a country, isn’t the same as being a country

ISIS is a terror group, and although bound by the criminal and civil laws of every country they operate in they’re not a country and are therefore not bound by the same laws that nation states must uphold.

My point is, if we in the West are saying that we’re a great moral force in the world, then we better start acting like it. In no way should Western nations be invading the sovereign airspace of any country with our fighter aircraft, no matter the pretext. So…

Who are we as a people? And do Western nations respect international laws, or not?

When we abide by international laws, we are setting a good example and we should expect to always be treated accordingly by other nations. And if occasion arises when our good example is not reciprocated, then we can claim full legal recourse with support from (all) other law-abiding nations.

When we don’t abide by international law — but instead rely on the law of the jungle — then we must realize that we will be treated accordingly by the UN, by other institutions, and by other nation states. And by groups like ISIS, not incidentally.

One way or another, we’ll reap what we sow

We should stay on the right side of international law and stop flying into Syrian airspace to bomb civilians — remembering that only some of those civilians are ISIS members.

Until then, the West continues to break international law by flying into Syrian airspace and bombing civilians

Let’s not forget that ISIS members are merely civilians who have joined a terror organization — they’re not members of the Syrian Army and we aren’t at war with Syria — therefore, we have no legal right to be there regardless of how evil the ISIS entity is. The anger we feel at their horrific terror attacks doesn’t entitle us to become lawbreakers.

Our best way forward for dealing with ISIS is to operate within Iraq, a country which has formally (and repeatedly) asked for our assistance

The West can contribute to operations on the ground and in the air in the fight against ISIS within Iraq. We’ve been asked to be there, therefore, we should show up and contribute our best effort.

If we claim that we’re part of a great moral fight in the world, then let’s start by being moral. Any questions?

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President Ike Eisenhower

“The clearest way to show what the rule of law means to us in everyday life is to recall what has happened when there is no rule of law.” — President Ike Eisenhower



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