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An explosive new report on torture in Syria politicizes atrocities committed during Syria's civil war. It will not lead to what Syrians want and need: an independent criminal inquiry that results in international prosecutions and promotes domestic accountability.
By any reasonable analysis, a U.S. intervention in Syria would not be legal under international law. If the Obama administration decides to intervene anyway, it should be ready to face the legal consequences.
Senate Republicans, who mistakenly view multilateral treaties as a grave threat to American sovereignty, have made it increasingly difficult for U.S. presidents to strike international agreements. But the White House hasn’t given up: instead, the executive branch has developed and expanded a patchwork of political and legal strategies to assert American interests abroad without the Senate’s involvement.
The Obama administration has bolstered the International Criminal Court in an effort to prevent atrocities worldwide. Still, Congressional opposition and developments in conflicts abroad might make it hard for Washington to continue to cooperate with the court.
The International Criminal Court took a risk in issuing arrest warrants for Muammar al-Qaddafi and other Libyan officials: it remains unclear whether the warrants will ever be enforced and, beyond that, what effect they will have on the conflict in Libya.