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'Bomb Syria, Even if it is Illegal'

In The New York Times, Ian Hurd says there is urgent need for intervention in Syria

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August 28, 2013 | by Hilary Hurd Anyaso

EVANSTON, Ill. --- There is no clear justification in existing law for the Obama administration to intervene militarily in Syria, but there are moral reasons for disregarding the law, argues Ian Hurd, associate professor of political science at Northwestern University, in an op-ed in The New York Times published Aug. 28.

“There is widespread confusion over the legal basis for the use of force in these terrible circumstances. As a legal matter, the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons does not automatically justify armed intervention by the United States,” Hurd writes. “There are moral reasons for disregarding the law, and I believe the Obama administration should intervene in Syria.”

Hurd says ethics, not only laws, should guide policy decisions. He cites the Rwandan genocide and the Balkan mass killings of the 1990s as sparking an emerging movement to add humanitarian invention as a third category of lawful intervention, under the concept of “responsibility to protect.”

The existing two categories under accepted international laws are when intervention is authorized by the United Nations Security Council or in the case of self-defense.

Read the complete New York Times op-ed.

Hurd is author of the book “After Anarchy: Legitimacy and Power in the United Nations Security Council.”

In recent days, he has published several other op-eds on the topic of international law and humanitarian intervention in Syria after the regime in Damascus was widely accused of using chemical weapons against its own civilian population.