Audio: New U.S. ambassador to the UN won’t say Syria strike is legal

posted at 3:21 pm on September 9, 2013 by Allahpundit

An important catch via the Standard from foreign-policy genius Samantha Power, who wondered aloud on Friday why Iran isn’t burning with shame that their boy Assad gassed Syrians. (The White House’s “smart power” braintrust has convinced itself that because Saddam used gas against Iran in the 1980s, Iranian leaders might object for moral reasons to using it against their Sunni enemies today.) The key bit starts at the beginning of the clip and runs for about two minutes.

What makes this important isn’t that she’s endorsing an attack which she seems to think is illegal; we crossed that Rubicon long ago with O, who ordered an attack on Libya that his own lawyers thought was legally dubious. What makes it important, and what may end up becoming the enduring precedent from this goony fiasco, is that the lefty establishment has dropped any pretense that the endorsement of the UN Security Council is some essential prerequisite to war. Here’s Power:

“Nobody has tried harder than this administration to work through the security council over two and a half years. As you’re well aware of, of course, even modest humanitarian and political measures have been rejected by Russia in New York. We’ve had three vetoes put forward–three resolutions put forward, all of which have been vetoed by Russia. And on chemical weapons, specifically, and perhaps most heart breakingly, even on the day of August 21, when those ghastly images were broadcast all around the world, we couldn’t even get a press release out of the security council condemning generically use of chemical weapons.”

Turns out the UN isn’t a hivemind collectively determining what’s in the world’s best interest, as the left sometimes pretends when a Republican president needs thwarting (part of the “global test,” as a wise man once called it), it’s merely a lever for its constituents to protect their own selfish national interests. Presidents have ignored it before, of course, but as the NYT notes today, typically they claim national self-defense when doing so. What’s unique about O’s Syria adventure is that he and his staff not only aren’t claiming that, they’re claiming that a unilateral strike can qualify as legal under international law even if the UN hasn’t signed off:

On another level, the proposed strike is unlike anything that has come before — an attack inside the territory of a sovereign country, without its consent, without a self-defense rationale and without the authorization of the United Nations Security Council or even the participation of a multilateral treaty alliance like NATO, and for the purpose of punishing an alleged war crime that has already occurred rather than preventing an imminent disaster…

[Former OLC chief Jack] Goldsmith said that in the Kosovo campaign, the Clinton administration shied away from arguing that it was consistent with international law to carry out a military attack not authorized by the Security Council purely for humanitarian reasons. Its fear was that such a doctrine could be misused by other nations, loosening constraints on war…

[White House counsel Kathryn] Ruemmler said that while an attack on Syria “may not fit under a traditionally recognized legal basis under international law,” the administration believed that given the novel factors and circumstances, such an action would nevertheless be “justified and legitimate under international law” and so not prohibited.

It’s perfectly legal to ignore the UN and attack, even if it’s not in self-defense, if you have a good enough reason. Samantha Power’s obviously reluctant to make that argument, which makes sense: What sort of ambassador to the UN would want to emphasize that the UN’s sanction isn’t important anymore? But the rest of the White House evidently has no problem with it, and Power herself seems unconcerned about the finer legal points vis-a-vis the alleged moral cause of avenging gassed Syrians. You can imagine how this standard will play in the years ahead. The next time a president wants to ignore the Security Council, he’ll simply emphasize the humanitarian component of the mission (there’s always a humanitarian component) and some sort of international “norm” that needs enforcing. O’s logic towards Assad would have applied even more robustly to attacking Saddam over the Security Council’s objections, after all. No wonder Ban Ki-Moon sounds nervous.

Because more unilateralism in the future is now likely, if not inevitable, you’re going to see two forms of pushback from internationalists (which includes the American left once the GOP is back in the White House). One: Instead of insisting that Security Council approval is key, they’ll begin to insist that the approval of western members of the Security Council is the touchstone for action. Russia and China are hopeless but there needs to remain some sort of “global test” the next time a Republican cowboy leads the war charge. If Britain and France say no, then it’s a no. Two: They’ll push harder to expand the permanent membership of the Security Council, something that’s been talked about for ages but will gain new urgency now. Add India, Brazil, and a few other rising powers and you’ll restore some legitimacy to the Council at least insofar as being able to say that it’s more representative of global interests. But of course, that would only make it harder to get approval for military strikes; the more nations you add, the more likely it is that one of them will have a national interest with which western military action conflicts. The only way out of that is to rescind the right of permanent members to unilaterally veto international action and move to a simple majority Council vote instead, but I doubt any current member will go for that (including the U.S., which uses its veto to protect Israel from its enemies). All that’s left is more stalemate, which means the pressure to act unilaterally will become even greater. That’s where we’re headed, I think.


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The plot thickens…

OmahaConservative on September 9, 2013 at 3:24 PM

Well, you know what those contortionists are good for…

Aplombed on September 9, 2013 at 3:25 PM

They told me if I voted for Mitt Romney we’d have a war criminal president. And they were right!

rbj on September 9, 2013 at 3:25 PM

The Adults are in charge.

Del Dolemonte on September 9, 2013 at 3:25 PM

This just in… Obama’s secret new incredibly small drone for Syria (don’t show this to Allah)

faraway on September 9, 2013 at 3:26 PM

Stepping up support.

davidk on September 9, 2013 at 3:26 PM

In the old days…this was called treading water

workingclass artist on September 9, 2013 at 3:30 PM

Gingersmartpower.

patman77 on September 9, 2013 at 3:30 PM

It’s pretty obvious that it would be an illegal act of war. Anyone arguing otherwise is stupid.

slickwillie2001 on September 9, 2013 at 3:31 PM

Preezy Historical said he doesn’t have time for UN Hocus Pocus or something…

workingclass artist on September 9, 2013 at 3:31 PM

The horrifying pictures of dead children being used by the Obama administration to justify an attack on Syria, with the claim that the Assad regime carried out the chemical attacks that killed those children, while emotionally heartbreaking, do not tell the story of those children and do not tell you the main point the Obama administration is trying to coverup.

Those children were kidnapped over a week earlier, before they were slaughtered……. by the Obama backed Syrian rebels.

http://www.theminorityreportblog.com/2013/09/08/syrian-children-kidnapped-by-rebels-identified-as-gas-victims-by-obama-administration-video/

davidk on September 9, 2013 at 3:34 PM

Nobody has tried harder than this administration to work through the security council over two and a half years.

Give her a trophy or something. That’s so sweet. I’m tearing up here. sniff.

Oh wait, George Bush did what?

faraway on September 9, 2013 at 3:34 PM

“Smart Power

Please make this stop. I can’t laugh any harder.

Schadenfreude on September 9, 2013 at 3:36 PM

Going further, rbj:

They told me if I voted for Romney, Detroit would go bankrupt, the United States would involve itself in another ‘military kinetic action’ in the Middle East, and we’d have a war criminal as President.

46 reason why Democrats are ‘victims’ of their own ‘success.’

‘The president does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorise a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.’

- Senator Barack Obama, The Boston Globe, 20 December 2007

Resist We Much on September 9, 2013 at 3:36 PM

Boy, we sure dodged a bullet when we didn’t elect that idjit Palin woman! Can you imagine how she would have handled this?

/sarc (just in case…)

turfmann on September 9, 2013 at 3:37 PM

Samantha Power is a left wing progressive version of John McCain. She too wants to save the world even if that means waging unending wars to promote “Social Justice”.

She was the one who one advocated the U.S. put troops in Israel and Palestinian controlled areas to end the conflict and bring social justice and peace to all. She wanted to teach both sides a lesson! To me that is the very definition of insanity.

William Eaton on September 9, 2013 at 3:37 PM

This from the same Administration hack who thought attending a comedy film festival in Dublin a couple weeks ago was far far more important than being at her post in the UN Security Council doing the job she was appointed to do.

Also the very same hack who planned that whole Libya event that brought joy, and happiness, calm and representative democracy to all the Libyans at a minor cost…the lives of four good and decent Americans.

And, the author of removing Mubarak no matter the cost and then helping to install the Moslem Brotherhood in Cairo.

Harridan or Banshee…I do not know which witch.

coldwarrior on September 9, 2013 at 3:40 PM

Meanwhile Putin tells Assad to cooperate with chemicals, the UN and GB jump behind him, intantly…not one shot was fired, obama’s ego was further degraded, ahead of 6 interviews and his ‘big’ speech about nothing tomorrow…

One couldn’t make this up in the world’s best/worst fiction, never.

Schadenfreude on September 9, 2013 at 3:41 PM

Jeebus…what naive, sheltered FOOLS these people are, all of them. Have any of them ever left the academia bubble they live in, because wow, it’s like they’ve gathered in the faculty lounge to talk leftist, kumbaya theory.

Bishop on September 9, 2013 at 3:44 PM

Don’t forget for two seconds that obama/Hillary/Rice/Power, and now Kerry, are in the same cabal. They all have lots of blood all over their bodies, and it’s not over, by far.

Schadenfreude on September 9, 2013 at 3:47 PM

Russia keeps frustrating our efforts? It’s almost like they are our number 1 geopolitical foe.

SAZMD on September 9, 2013 at 3:48 PM

How the land and the world deserve them!

Schadenfreude on September 9, 2013 at 3:49 PM

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Peace/2013/09/09/Clinton–Syrian-chemical-arms-handover-would-be-important-step
Hillary Clinton emerged from a meeting with President Barack Obama Monday saying a Russian plan for Syria to hand over its chemical arms would be an “important step.”

dogsoldier on September 9, 2013 at 3:52 PM

OmahaConservative on September 9, 2013 at 3:40 PM

http://www.clickorlando.com/news/george-zimmerman-taken-into-custody-after-incident-with-gun-police-say/-/1637132/21851424/-/tlxm3oz/-/index.html

As of 3:45 p.m., no arrests have been made and George Zimmerman is “no longer in investigative detention,” according to police, but is still at the home. Police are investigating the incident as a domestic battery.

dogsoldier on September 9, 2013 at 3:53 PM

Shorter Power ; The President is taking his show on the road.

The rest of the world now gets to see how he treats Americans.

Jabberwock on September 9, 2013 at 3:54 PM

“Shorter Power”

No pun intended there.
But it does work.:)

Jabberwock on September 9, 2013 at 3:55 PM

Doesn’t matter what she says…U.N. already said it would be an International Crime.

easyt65 on September 9, 2013 at 3:55 PM

Samantha Power, who wondered aloud on Friday why Iran isn’t burning with shame that their boy Assad gassed Syrians.

Too bad Obama wasn’t President in 1943, where he could’ve told Hitler that gassing thousands of Jews a day was WRONG, and IMMORAL. That would’ve stopped him.

/war and foreign policy out of a coloring book

Paul-Cincy on September 9, 2013 at 3:56 PM

If you want a good laugh, go over to Huff Post and see how Obama’s minions are spinning Russia’s offer as a great victory for The One.

bobs1196 on September 9, 2013 at 3:56 PM

Doesn’t matter what she says…U.N. already said it would be an International Crime.

easyt65 on September 9, 2013 at 3:55 PM

If the UN does not go Obama’s way…does that mean Team Obama will be pushing to get us out of the UN?

:-)

coldwarrior on September 9, 2013 at 3:57 PM

Resist We Much on September 9, 2013 at 3:36 PM

He was partially correct. He left out territories or possessions. One might even stretch that to threats to citizens, tourist groups.

Maybe.

dogsoldier on September 9, 2013 at 3:58 PM

Jeebus…what naive, sheltered FOOLS these people are, all of them. Have any of them ever left the academia bubble they live in, because wow, it’s like they’ve gathered in the faculty lounge to talk leftist, kumbaya theory.

Bishop on September 9, 2013 at 3:44 PM

Surely you jest…

They join the ____________ fill in the blank corps. to build windmills for po’ folks around the globe during sabbaticals…post their deep insights and photos on Facebook & Instagram and engage in meaningful policy discussions on Twitter.

The Social Media Administration.

Assad nailed that description in his interview this morning…I’ll give him that.

Dangerous…and True.

workingclass artist on September 9, 2013 at 3:58 PM

dogsoldier on September 9, 2013 at 3:53 PM

Let the wife have the Dog George…It aint’ worth it.

workingclass artist on September 9, 2013 at 4:00 PM

If you want a good laugh, go over to Huff Post and see how Obama’s minions are spinning Russia’s offer as a great victory for The One.

bobs1196 on September 9, 2013 at 3:56 PM

Except it’s actually smoke and mirrors, but they wouldn’t know that.

dogsoldier on September 9, 2013 at 4:00 PM

workingclass artist on September 9, 2013 at 4:00 PM

She’s going to get everything anyway.

dogsoldier on September 9, 2013 at 4:01 PM

Samantha Power, who wondered aloud on Friday why Iran isn’t burning with shame that their boy Assad gassed Syrians.

Because a country run by a bunch of nutters that want a nuclear weapons to ‘wipe Israel, a country of 6 million people, off of the map’ for starters is going to abandon its strategic partner in the region because he may have killed 1,600 of his own people with sarin gas.

Because, that was gonna happen. C’mon. From what planet do you hail, Sam?

Resist We Much on September 9, 2013 at 4:01 PM

RTV weighs in on false flag provocations that have led to war.

Akzed on September 9, 2013 at 4:03 PM

A weapon was not involved and Zimmerman is no longer in custody.

He might still have acted stupidly, but so did all who wanted this narrative.

Schadenfreude on September 9, 2013 at 4:08 PM

Why does this Powers woman always appear to be having an uncomfortable bowel movement?

turfmann on September 9, 2013 at 4:18 PM

Hey! Since when is Barry concerned about ‘the law’. It didn’t stop him from sending weapons across the border into Mexico.

GarandFan on September 9, 2013 at 4:19 PM

I wonder, did the Germans determine if their invasion of Poland was legal or not?

OMG!!!? What if it turns out it was perfectly legal under international law? Would that mean our attempts to stop them were unjustified?

My head spins…….

BobMbx on September 9, 2013 at 4:25 PM

Power outage.

hillsoftx on September 9, 2013 at 4:25 PM

Obama hits new low on foreign policy in CNN polling

‘…a new national poll indicates the president’s approval rating on foreign policy has hit an all-time low. And only three in ten approve of how he is handling Syria.

Only four in ten approve of the job Obama is doing on foreign policy, with 57% of those questioned giving the president a thumbs down. The 40% approval rating on foreign policy is Obama’s lowest level ever on that issue in CNN polling.

“President Obama’s approval rating on foreign affairs has continued its steady decline – from 54% in January to 49% in April, 44% in June, and just 40% now,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “This may be a troubling sign for a president who in past polls had always scored his highest ratings for his handling of foreign affairs.”

Specifically on Syria, only 31% of the public approves of the president’s policies and actions, with 63% giving him a thumbs down.

Resist We Much on September 9, 2013 at 4:30 PM

mnjg/obama’s friends

Schadenfreude on September 9, 2013 at 4:32 PM

But, says Samantha Power, no worries since the ends justify the means.

MTF on September 9, 2013 at 4:54 PM

It’s so cool to have a ‘smart’ president now.

On Sept. 15, he calls Bush a simpleton who is “promising revenge in a crusade.”

“He will drop million-dollar bombs on 10 dollar houses in Kabul and bomb [them] back to the dirt age,” he says. “It’s agonizing having him as our leader, and I know the forces of darkness in his administration will turn this awful tragedy to their advantage.”

Schadenfreude on September 9, 2013 at 5:03 PM

The only way out of that is to rescind the right of permanent members to unilaterally veto international action and move to a simple majority Council vote instead

There’s a much better “way out”!

1) Resign from the corrupt, hapless UN.

2) Form a League of Free Nations.

3) Exclude all oppressive, evil nations from Russia to Eritrea to China to Venezuela.

itsnotaboutme on September 9, 2013 at 5:10 PM

…The only problem with that idea, of course, is that the US is heading towards becoming one of those “oppressive, evil nations.”

itsnotaboutme on September 9, 2013 at 5:11 PM

Bam really needs to close that mouth. Flies like empty cavities.

avagreen on September 9, 2013 at 9:16 PM

The UN is exactly the place to air stupid ideas like bombing Syria – that’s what it’s for.

The Administration jack-asses could have got at least 1 resolution, couldn’t they? Don’t they have any leverage at all?

The so-called UN Ambassador Power knows this is all illegal and it’s why they keep using the word “norm”: they get to define what the norm is, as they go along.

virgo on September 10, 2013 at 10:56 AM