Guest Post by Bookworm
When he was a candidate in 2008, Barack Obama made it clear that, as he told the German people, he was a “citizen of the world.” During his first four years in the White House, as the Obama team boasted, this meant his management style consisted of “leading from behind.” A significant part of “leading from behind,” of course, was making American foreign policy subordinate to the United Nations.
Now, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon wants to hold Obama to that promise. He issued a general warning that any strikes against Syria to punish it for chemical weapons would be illegal without UN Security Council approval:
As I have repeatedly said, the Security Council has primary responsibility for international peace and security,” Ban said at a news conference. “The use of force is lawful only when in exercise of self-defense in accordance with article 51 of the United Nations Charter and or when the Security Council approves such action.
He also warned that a military strike against Syria could unleash more turmoil and bloodshed in a crisis that has already killed more than 100,000 people.
“I take note of the argument for action to prevent a future use of chemical weapons. At the same time, we must consider the impact of any punitive measure on efforts to prevent further bloodshed and facilitate the political resolution of the conflict,” Ban said.
It seems almost petty to point out that both Russia and China, both of whom stalwartly support Bashar al-Assad’s Baathist party government, are permanent members of the Security Council. So is Britain, whose parliament just voted down Prime Minister David Cameron’s request for war authorization – the first such setback for a British Prime Minister in over two hundred years.