Missile Strikes against Syria: German Government Issues Blank Check for Violations of International Law

In an article written April 28 for Neue Solidarität, Schiller Institute Chairwoman Helga Zepp-LaRouche castigated German Chancellor Merkel and her government for supporting the April 14 missile strikes against Syria, which, was in fact just the most recent in a string of flagrant violations of the United Nations Charter and international law.

“Mrs. Merkel characterized the air strikes by the USA, Great Britain and France – which were carried out even before the investigations could take place on whether chemical weapons had even been deployed and, if so, who was responsible for their use – as being ‘necessary and appropriate’. And Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen affirmed the readiness in principle for future such aggressions, saying that what ‘Great Britain contributed in this case from the air, we could also carry out. But we were not asked this time.’”

Mrs. von der Leyen said that despite the fact that she was aware of the expert opinion that the Scientific Research Service of the Bundestag had released on April 18, which states that the military strikes of the 14th were a clear violation of international law, and represent a relapse into the “law of reprisals” or retaliatory strikes from the pre-World War One era.

As Helga Zepp-LaRouche points out, the report states that with these strikes, “the principle of ‘legality under international law’ was abandoned, in favor of a subjective ‘political moral legitimacy’, which, in turn, constitutes a violation of the prohibition of force under Article 2, No. 4 of the UN Charter. Thus, the air strikes ‘ultimately represent a blatant return to a form – thought to have been vanquished under international law – of armed reprisals in ‘humanitarian garb’.”

Such reprisals, Helga Zepp-LaRouche continues,

“also known as gunboat diplomacy, were an accepted practice before the First World War, and also occasionally between the wars. After the horrific catastrophe of the Second World War, they were banned by law and replaced by international law as laid out in the UN Charter.”

The strikes were carried out in the absence of any issue of self-defense to justify them, and of any resolution from the UN Security Council, the report notes. The UK government did present its legal justification in a Policy Paper of April 14, which amounts to the usual arguments for “humanitarian intervention” and R2P (responsibility to protect), but the German experts reject those grounds. They note that the admissibility of a humanitarian intervention is highly contentious because of the high risk of abuse and cannot be considered as a valid exception in common law to the ban on force under international law.

However, for Zepp-LaRouche, there is a deeper reason why the German political class has supported the military attacks. And that is because they refuse to expose and break with the policy of support for various radical Islamist groups which the western powers have adopted since the 1970s, in order to use them as tools against those considered the enemy, such as the Soviet Union at the time, and to effect regime changes. She then goes on to review those operations in some detail, before concluding that when the German government sees no problem in wrecking international law as established after the Second World War, “we urgently need a new policy in Germany.”

Helga Zepp-LaRouche’s article can be read in full in English translation here.

The full version in the original German is available here on the Neue Solidarität website.