On the 'Duty to Protect'

Finkel, David
Date Written:  2018-05-01
Publisher:  Against the Current
Year Published:  2018
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX23332

On April 14, 2018, U.S.-British-French forces launched a missile strike on alleged Syrian chemical weapons facilities, citing as justification the 'duty to protect'. Finkel make it clear that this attack was illegal under international law.



1) The action was blatantly illegal under international law, since Syria had not attacked or threatened a any of these three states.

2) It was illegal under U.S. law, since there was no Congressional authorization -- as much as many Democrats would have eagerly given it.

3) It changed nothing on the ground to affect the ongoing horrific war, and probably wasn't even intended to.

Whatever the purpose of the bombing may have been, if anything beyond gratifying Donald Trump's ego, the official reason offered by Trump and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley was to protect civilians from the horrors of chemical attacks (which have killed a miniscule fraction of the victims of the Assad regime's campaign of slaughter, torture and mass population removal).

If the "duty to protect" innocent life is a fairly feeble pretext in this particular instance, it’s worth considering as a principle. Socialists are anti-imperialists, not isolationists, so presumably we believe in some form of the "duty to protect" stripped of the imperial hypocrisy surrounding it.

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