On Wednesday, The New York Times ran an op-ed that surely would have brought scorn and rage from the left had it been written during the Bush years. Its title: “Bomb Syria, Even if It Is Illegal.” Written by Professor Ian Hurd of Northwestern, the op-ed suggests, “Since Russia and China won’t help, Mr. Obama and allied leaders should declare that international law has evolved and that they don’t need Security Council approval to intervene in Syria.” Hurd’s point is that there is no legal way for the United States to intervene, but that the Obama administration should do so anyway.
Hurd proposes that international law simply is not prepared for the contingencies brought on by the Syrian regime’s apparent use of chemical weapons. “There is no doubt that Mr. Assad’s government has violated humanitarian principles throughout the two-year-old war, including the prohibition on the indiscriminate killing of civilians, even in non-international conflicts, set out in 1949 in the Geneva Conventions. But the conventions also don’t mean much unless the Security Council agrees to act. It is an indictment of the current state of international law that there is no universally recognized basis to intervene.”
At least Hurd is honest. Many on the left have suggested that the Obama administration can find some legal justification for military action in Syria. It can’t. Now it will be interesting to see if the international left, which despised the multilateral Bush approach to Iraq despite multiple UN resolutions regarding the actions of Saddam Hussein plus a coalition of dozens of countries, will be willing to protest the far more unilateral Obama administration.
Ben Shapiro is Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the New York Times bestseller “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America” (Threshold Editions, January 8, 2013).