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There has been insufficient analysis, by both policy makers and the media, of the legality of the looming use of military force against Syria. But this not only ignores a key factor, but is rather paradoxical given that one of the primary justifications for the strikes is that they are to punish the Syrian government for its violations of international law.

Legality should be an important factor in the decision-making process, because if the use of force is itself not lawful, then it represents nothing more than vigilante justice, likely doing far more harm than good to the international legal order.

In issuing the report, the White House relented in joining a debate it has largely tried to ignore.

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The reality, however, is that these crimes do not justify a unilateral use of force, and the contemplated American military strikes would not be lawful. Charter), except for the purpose of individual or collective self-defense (Art. Neither condition is satisfied in the case of Syria. Security Council authorized any use of force against Syria. It is being argued that the principles of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) and humanitarian intervention provide a legal justification for intervention without U. The principle is founded upon the doctrine of R2P, which holds that where a state fails in its responsibility to protect its own people it loses some of its sovereign rights against external interference in its affairs, and the international community takes on some responsibility to protect the citizens of such a state from its own government.As a matter of international law, a declaration of war had much more to do with the technical legal regime governing hostilities — dissolving treaties between the belligerent powers and permitting the lawful seizure of public or private enemy property, for example — than with the right to use force in the first place. The British monarch was not only commander in chief but also could declare war.The Framers divided this authority, reserving the latter power to Congress as the national legislature.The Obama administration argued Wednesday that its nearly three-month-old military involvement in Libya does not require congressional approval because of the supporting role most U. forces are playing there, a position that puts it at odds with some Republican leaders and the antiwar wing of its own party.The White House reasoning, included in a 32-page report to Congress, is the administration’s first detailed response to complaints from lawmakers of both parties, who say President Obama has exceeded his authority as commander in chief by waging war in Libya without congressional authorization.