Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Iran and the Law of Force

Amid the rattling of sabers between the United States and Iran -- the latest a BBC claim that the former has chosen targets against the latter -- we would do well to read our colleague Mary Ellen O'Connell's exposition in Jurist of The Legal Case Against War with Iran. "International law provides only two bases for the lawful use of force: self-defense and Security Council authorization," O'Connell writes. The Council is unlikely to give its OK, and alleged Iranian actions do not constitute an "armed attack ... on a significant scale," as defined by the International Court of Justice; therefore, there's no basis for self-defense. O'Connell contends that in any event the right at issue doesn't belong to the United States:
... the U.S. is in Iraq at the invitation of the Iraqi leadership, namely Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Attacks in Iraq, even on Americans, are still attacks against Iraq. ... Iraq is the state with the legal authority to respond to such wrongs. ... If the U.S. does not like how Maliki is responding to American deaths, its option is to pull Americans out of Iraq and sue Iraq for failing to make efforts within its capacity to protect Americans.

No comments: