Kudos to President Barack Obama for deciding to put to the test of democratic deliberation his support for using military force against Syria in the wake of the August 21, 2013, chemical weapons attack outside Damascus. (image credit)
The decision is welcome not just because of the Obama Administration’s failure so far to build, within or without the U.N. Security Council, a global coalition – a failure signified most starkly by Thursday’s “No” vote in the British Parliament. The decision to debate is also welcome because the proposed use of force raises serious questions of international and national law and policy. Deliberation offers opportunities for legitimation and education, not to mention further exploration of nonforcible measures like sanctions or a referral to the International Criminal Court, both of which were deployed in the 2011 Libya crisis. (My prior Syria posts here; IntLawGrrls posts here and here.)
Below, thanks to CNN.com, is the full text of the Administration’s draft Authorization to Use Military Force in Syria. The draft likely will form the basis for ensuing debates in the House of Representatives and Senate.
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Whereas, on August 21, 2013, the Syrian government carried out a chemical weapons attack in the suburbs of Damascus, Syria, killing more than 1,000 innocent Syrians;
Whereas these flagrant actions were in violation of international norms and the laws of war;
Whereas the United States and 188 other countries comprising 98 percent of the world’s population are parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention, which prohibits the development, production, acquisition, stockpiling or use of chemical weapons;
Whereas, in the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2003, Congress found that Syria’s acquisition of weapons of mass destruction threatens the security of the Middle East and the national security interests of the United States;
Whereas the United Nations Security Council, in Resolution 1540 (2004), affirmed that the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons constitutes a threat to international peace and security;
Whereas, the objective of the United States’ use of military force in connection with this authorization should be to deter, disrupt, prevent, and degrade the potential for, future uses of chemical weapons or other weapons of mass destruction;
Whereas, the conflict in Syria will only be resolved through a negotiated political settlement, and Congress calls on all parties to the conflict in Syria to participate urgently and constructively in the Geneva process; and
Whereas, unified action by the legislative and executive branches will send a clear signal of American resolve.
SEC. ___ AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES
(a) Authorization. — The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in connection with the use of chemical weapons or other weapons of mass destruction in the conflict in Syria in order to —
(1) prevent or deter the use or proliferation (including the transfer to terrorist groups or other state or non-state actors), within, to or from Syria, of any weapons of mass destruction, including chemical or biological weapons or components of or materials used in such weapons; or
(2) protect the United States and its allies and partners against the threat posed by such weapons.
(b) War Powers Resolution Requirements. —
(1) Specific Statutory Authorization. — Consistent with section 8(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution, the Congress declares that this section is intended to constitute specific statutory authorization within the meaning of section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution.
(2) Applicability of other requirements. — Nothing in this joint resolution supersedes any requirement of the War Powers Resolution.
(Cross-posted from Diane Marie Amann)