The US Navy is a paper tiger

Spielball, paper tiger, instrument of powers

Will the US lead military strikes against the regime of President Assad because of the devastating use of poison gas in the Syrian civil war on August 21? Even without a mandate from the UN Security Council? US President Barack Obama seems determined to:

"After careful consideration, I decided that the United States should take military action against targets of the Syrian regime."

The president declared over the weekend. Obama does not even want to seek a mandate from the UN Security Council. According to previous statements by the governments, Russia and China would not want to agree to a UN mandate.

Barack Obama: "I have no hesitation in acting without the mandate of a UN Security Council, which has so far been completely paralyzed and unwilling to hold Assad accountable."

It is true that the President still wants to get the backing of Congress for the planned military strikes, whose members will return to Washington on September 9 from their summer recess. The members of parliament and senators should be convinced by the evidence of the US secret services, which, according to Obama, is conclusive, but has not yet been published.

They would prove that the use of poison gas on August 21 was carried out by the Syrian government forces and ordered by the Assad regime. Obama does not want to wait for the results of the investigation by the UN chemical weapons inspectors. It will probably only be available in two weeks at the earliest. Barack Obama:

"I trust the evidence our government has gathered without waiting for the UN inspectors."

Obama's announcement of going it alone military without a UN mandate is in clear contrast to the reasoning with which the Nobel Committee in Oslo awarded him the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009. It said:

As President Obama created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has moved back into focus. One focus is the role that the United Nations can play.

The German government tried to bring the United Nations into play in the Syria crisis. And Chancellor Merkel still does not see all political means exhausted. The G-20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia on Thursday and Friday is a good opportunity to find a common stance, said Angela Merkel in the German Bundestag:

"We want to do everything we can in the remaining days to find a common response from the international community. That is - I have to put it this way here in this House - not very likely, but even the smallest chance must be seized become."

The principle of the international responsibility to protect

Both French President Hollande and the British government of Prime Minister David Cameron consider military strikes against Syria to be necessary and legitimate, even without a mandate from the UN Security Council. British Foreign Secretary William Hague:

"The UN Security Council has so far been divided on the Syria conflict and has not taken its responsibility. Otherwise the chances of ending this conflict would have been greater. Is it therefore possible to act without complete agreement in the Security Council? I say yes."

However, the British armed forces will probably not take an active part in this after the negative vote by Parliament in London. The American-British stance met with clear criticism from the international lawyer Thilo Mahrein, professor at the University of Giessen. A military strike against Syria without a mandate from the United Nations Security Council is not permissible under international law:

"The Charter of the United Nations contains a mandatory prohibition of violence, from which there are only two exceptions: the right to self-defense or authorization by the Security Council. Everything else is illegal."

London's Foreign Minister Hague, however, considers military action against Syria to be covered under international law by the new principle of the international responsibility to protect, the responsability to protect, and would therefore be compatible with international law.

The principle of the international responsibility to protect was passed almost unanimously by the UN General Assembly in autumn 2005. According to this principle, international responsibility occurs when the government of a country is unwilling or unable to protect its own citizens from serious human rights violations, or when the government itself is responsible for these violations. But international law professor Mahrein contradicts the British foreign minister:

"The Americans and the British cannot claim the principle of responsibility to protect themselves because this is addressed to the United Nations. They can refer to it. But not individual states."

Indeed, the General Assembly's resolution of autumn 2005 on the international responsibility to protect expressly makes a mandate from the Security Council a prerequisite for intervening in an internal conflict such as the civil war in Syria. According to the UN Charter, one of the tasks of the Security Council is to maintain peace and international security and, if necessary, to restore it by means of economic or even military coercive measures, as well as to react to serious violations of international law such as the use of poisonous gas.

Military strikes by individual member states without a mandate from the Council would marginalize the UN in the Syrian conflict even further than is already the case:

Failed diplomatic efforts

All diplomatic efforts by the UN to end the cruel civil war and to find a political solution have so far failed. Most of the humanitarian and human rights efforts of the UN to protect the Syrian civilian population since the violent escalation of the conflict in autumn 2011 have also been largely in vain. This also applies to those efforts that Russia and China expressly agreed to in the Security Council or the Geneva Human Rights Council to have.

For example the six-point peace plan that the former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan presented in spring 2012 in his capacity as the first joint Syria mediator of the UN and the Arab League with the support of the Security Council. It was initially accepted by the Assad regime, but the regime did not adhere to it. A first Syria conference in Geneva at the end of June 2012 agreed on a plan for a transitional government in Damascus. The conference ended, however, in a dispute over the question of whether President Assad should still play a role in this transitional government. Resigned, UN mediator Annan resigned from his post in August 2012:

"Without serious, targeted and joint pressure - also from the regional powers in the Middle East - it is impossible for me and also for any other person to induce the Syrian government in particular, but also the opposition, to take the necessary steps towards a political one Process to begin. "

Annan's successor as UN special mediator, Lakdar Brahimi, has not made any progress so far. For months he has been trying in vain to bring the parties to the conflict, all of Syria's neighboring states relevant to the conflict, and the five veto powers of the Security Council - the USA, China, Russia, Great Britain and France - back to one table in Geneva.

A good year ago, the mission of 300 unarmed UN blue hats also failed. They were given the task of documenting human rights violations in Syria and, through their presence, to have a desescalating effect on all parties to the conflict. But the blue hats were so severely hindered in their freedom of movement by the armed forces of the Assad regime that they could not fulfill their mandate Access to Syria.

Even the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR, can only meet its responsibility for the now more than four million Syrian refugees and internally displaced persons to a very inadequate extent. On the one hand because of the great security risk for UNHCR employees in Syria. On the other hand, because the UNHCR and the other UN humanitarian agencies active in the Syrian conflict do not have the money. Of the total of 1.5 billion US dollars that were promised at a Syria donor conference with 80 countries in the spring, only 300 million have actually been transferred to the UN so far.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navy Pillay, draws a resigned conclusion: "The situation in Syria means a colossal failure in the protection of civilians."

Failed mediation in internal and international conflicts as well as the hindrance of the work of humanitarian UN aid organizations, the world organization has been dealing with this since it was founded in 1945. But the political and international law controversies about the role of the UN and the Security Council in maintaining or restoring peace and international security, as is currently the case in the Syrian conflict, have only existed since the end of the Cold War.

For a long time, there was also no danger that the UN would be marginalized by the unauthorized action of individual member states. Before the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the UN Security Council dispatched blue helmet troops to conflict regions 18 times. This was done with the consent of its five permanent veto powers and with the prior consent of the respective conflicting parties.

The task of the blue helmet troops was and is mostly to secure armistices - for example on the island of Cyprus after the Turkish-Greek war of 1974 or along the Indian-Pakistani border in the disputed Kashmir region. Only once, in 1950 during the Korean War, did the UN use the option of military coercive measures, as provided for in the Charter.

At that time, the General Assembly decided - after the Security Council was blocked for months and incapable of acting, similar to the current Syrian conflict - to send combat troops to support South Korea.

Instrumentalized or used as a scapegoat

Military intervention by the UN to prevent or end genocide or other serious human rights violations was completely out of the question until the end of the Cold War. The veto powers of the UN Security Council were able to wage wars contrary to international law and commit serious human rights violations undisturbed in their respective backyards or in regions of strategic interest. For example the USA in Latin America or Vietnam, the Soviet Union in Afghanistan or France in its former colony Algeria.

The framework conditions changed fundamentally with the first international military conflicts after the end of the Cold War. When Iraq's dictator Saddam Hussein and his armed forces attacked and occupied neighboring Kuwait in the summer of 1990, the UN Security Council reacted immediately by imposing extensive economic sanctions. Since Iraq did not withdraw its troops from Kuwait, the UN Security Council issued a mandate for the use of military force for the first time in UN history.

In the Second Gulf War from mid-January 1991, a US-led military alliance drove Iraqi troops out of Kuwait. On the eve of this war, then US President George Bush Sr. conjured up the beginning of a new world order with a UN capable of acting because it was liberated from the blockade of the Cold War:

"This is a historic moment. We made great progress in the last year with the end of a long conflict and the Cold War. We have the opportunity to shape a new world order now for ourselves and for future generations. A world in which The strength of the law and not the law of the jungle will determine the behavior of nations. If we are successful - and we will be - this new world order offers us the great opportunity that a credible UN can use its peacekeeping role to deliver on the promises and To fulfill the visions of their founders. "

In fact, however, the UN was weakened in the international conflicts after the Second Gulf War and marginalized by the USA and other important member states, instrumentalized for its own interests or used as a scapegoat for its own failure. In 1992 the Security Council first sent blue helmet soldiers to Somalia in order to end the civil war waged by the three conflicting parties and to create the conditions for the election of a new government, while maintaining strict neutrality. But parallel to this UN mission, the US administration of President Bill Clinton sent American combat troops to Somalia, which acted unilaterally against one of the three civil war parties. After US soldiers were killed and their bodies dragged through the streets of the capital, Mogadishu, President Clinton blamed the UN for this disaster and declared that the US would never again assign soldiers to a UN mission.

The UN's image was damaged by the genocide in Rwanda

In early 1994, the then UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali presented the Security Council with clear evidence of an impending genocide in Rwanda and urged the Council to send a robust blue helmet troop to the East African country to keep the warring ethnic groups of Hutus and Tutsis apart. But all 15 member states of the Security Council showed disinterest and allowed the genocide in Rwanda to happen with around one million victims. Later, however, many governments blamed the UN and its New York General Secretariat for this genocide.

The image of the UN was also significantly damaged during the Bosnian War, when the blue helmet soldiers, who had been given a completely inadequate mandate by the Security Council, had to sit by and watch the long siege of Sarajevo and other cities and were also unable to prevent the genocide of around 8,000 Muslim youth and men in Srebrenica .

In 1999, in violation of the UN Charter, the NATO countries waged a week-long air war against Serbia. Because there was allegedly no other way to end the Serbian human rights violations against the Albanians in Kosovo.

The most blatant violation of the UN Charter to date was the US-British war against Iraq in spring 2003. This war was justified by the false assertion of alleged Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, for the existence of which the then US Secretary of State Colin Powell supposedly convinced the Security Council in early February 2003 Evidence presented by US intelligence:

"Everything I present here today is backed by sources, reliable sources. These are not just allegations. We are presenting them with facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence."

Powell later apologized to the UN Security Council for his false claims that US intelligence had failed to inform him properly. Since then, Washington has had a credibility problem.

According to Russian UN diplomats, however, it is not the experience of the 2003 Iraq war, but rather the implementation of the Security Council's Libya resolution of March 2011 that is the main reason for Russia's and China's blockade in the current Syrian conflict, which the West has criticized. At that time, Moscow and Beijing abstained and allowed France, Great Britain and the USA to pass the resolution for a no-fly zone over Libya. On the basis of this resolution, however, the three NATO countries then waged a week-long war against the Gaddafi regime until it was overthrown. Moscow's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin:

Vitaly Tschurkin: "The situation in Syria cannot be discussed in the Security Council in isolation from the experiences with the Libya conflict. The international community is alarmed by declarations that NATO's implementation of the Libya resolution is a model for future NATO implementation measures the international responsibility to protect. "

Despite the ongoing blockade in the UN Security Council between Washington and Moscow, Syria mediator Lakdar Brahimi does not want to give up hope that there will be no military strikes and that the USA and Russia will still come together in a joint effort to find a political solution to the Syrian conflict .

Lakdar Brahimi: "There is no military solution to the conflict. Please work harder and more intensively together. We need a strong political effort from these two countries and from everyone else as well."