Syria strikes lack legal, moral justification
Sir, – What is the UK’s justification, legal or moral, for the air strikes on Syrian bases?
If it was to wipe out sites where chemical weapons were allegedly stored, what can the effect of bombing be but to damage poisonous gas containers which would leak and affect human life and health in the vicinity? Does such irresponsible action not make the UK, the US and France as culpable as the Syrian regime?
If, as we are told, sufficient time was given to allow the Syrian regime to move poisonous gas canisters or the means of making poisonous gas, what is the purpose of bombing empty army bases?
It is simply not enough to say that collateral damage to civilians was minimised by ‘pinpoint’ attacks.
As I understand it, there are three reasons recognised in international law for launching armed intervention against a foreign power:
When a state is under immediate threat of armed aggression by an enemy belligerent;
When the UN Security Council authorises such an attack;
And for humanitarian reasons when a population is being massacred by its government, which is internationally recognised as a murderous regime and such intervention is authorised by the United Nations.
Regarding the last two points, the position of the US, the UK and France, I understand, is that authority was sought from the UN Security Council by first seeking an international investigation into the alleged use of chemical weapons by Syria in Douma. This was blocked by the Russians who pointed out just such an investigation was under way by the internationally recognised body, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
The Russian position appears to have been seen as correct by Germany and the Netherlands.
Nevertheless, the UK apparently takes the view that Security Council permission is not necessary in an emergency. This view is without legal basis.
We have already intervened in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya (and by ‘we’ this includes Russia) and all we have achieved is to make life even more intolerable for the unfortunate people who live there. Alexandra MacRae. 8 Jubilee Park, Letham, Forfar.
A RAF Tornado comes in to land at RAF Akrotiri after the controlled air strike on Syrian installations on April 14. Correspondents question the UK’s justification for the strikes.