Nikki Haley, US ambassador to the United Nations, said that the US will remain in Syria until its goals there are accomplished. Radio Sputnik discussed US plans in Syria with Saikrishna Bangalore Prakash, professor of law, senior fellow at the University of Virginia.
Sputnik: From your point of view and from the point of view of international law, were the coalition strikes against Syria legal?
Mr Bangalore Prakash: Well, I think, as you know, international law limits the use of force across borders and I think the United States is arguably trying to alter international law to create a new exception to the uses of force listed in the UN charter to include punishing nations that use chemical weapons. I think we are at a stage where the US and other nations are trying to alter international law through practice.
Sputnik: Do you think the United Nations is bankrupt? It’s redundant; it’s of no use to the implementation of international law, as this has happened a number of times now. So what is the point of having a United Nations council to discuss this?
Mr Bangalore Prakash: That’s a great question and I think the way to think about it is the UN and the UN Security Council General Assembly serve many different purposes and its failure to prevent these strikes in Syria and its failure to preserve the limited number of instances in which nations can use force inside of other nations doesn’t make the UN or the Security Council or General Assembly irrelevant.
I think, as I said, there is the written international law and there is practice and it’s not entirely surprising that nations sometimes try to change international law through practice and I think that’s what is going on. But I wouldn’t despair. I don’t imagine that many nations will leave the UN because of these strikes.
Sputnik: There has been a lot of rumor and conversation about who is actually making the final decision when it comes to these bombings and strikes from the United States’ perspective. We have had news from the Washington Times saying that Donald Trump has been under immense pressure from his advisors and experts and his senior senators in terms of making a pro-strike decision. So who is actually responsible for the decision for these strikes, is it the US government, the Pentagon or the US president himself?
Mr Bangalore Prakash: In our system, the president ultimately makes the decision after receiving input from many others within the administration, and sometimes from Congress, and so I don’t doubt the stories that the president was urged to conduct strikes.
I don’t think that it implied that the president wasn’t the one to make the decision; there would have been others who were pressuring him to take very limited action or questioning the merits of the action entirely. Ultimately, he made the decision and I don’t, whatever one wants to say about President Trump, I don’t think people generally view him as a puppet who bends to the will of his advisors.