The U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Samantha Power, allowed on NPR this morning that American action in Syria might not be legal:
The NPR host asked, "Let me ask a central question for you, because you're representing the U.S. at the United Nations, which has not authorized a strike. Would an American strike on Syria be legal?"
"If we take military action in this context, it will be a legitimate, necessary, and proportionate response to this large scale and indiscriminate use of chemical weapons by the regime," said Power. "Nobody has tried harder than this administration to work through the security council over two and a half years. As you're well aware of, of course, even modest humanitarian and political measures have been rejected by Russia in New York. We've had three vetoes put forward--three resolutions put forward, all of which have been vetoed by Russia. And on chemical weapons, specifically, and perhaps most heart breakingly, even on the day of August 21, when those ghastly images were broadcast all around the world, we couldn't even get a press release out of the security council condemning generically use of chemical weapons."
The NPR host pressed, "So let me make sure that I'm clear on this: You're saying that something needs to be done and it is time to go outside the legal system, outside the legal framework. You believe it is right to do something that is just simply not legal."
"In the cases of--we've seen in the past--there are times when there is a patron like Syria backed by Russia, we saw this in Kosovo as well, where it was just structurally impossible to get meaningful international action through the security council, and yet in this case you have the grave breach of such a critical international norm in terms of the ban on chemical weapons use, it is very important that the international community act so as to prevent further use," said Power.