Latest in Omphalos

Foreign Policy Essay

The Fruits of Iran’s Victory in Syria

Editor’s Note: Syria's civil war has many losers, but Iran is not one of them. Tehran backed its ally in Damascus to the hilt from the start of the civil war, and its ally survived in large part because of Iran's aid. Ariane Tabatabai of Georgetown explains the reasons for Iran's involvement and the strategic and economic benefits Tehran has gained.



Iran and Pakistan: An Interview with Alex Vatanka

So much of U.S. policy in South and West Asia has been determined by Washington’s relationship with two countries: Iran and Pakistan. But the relationship between these two regional powers has been in many ways as influential as their swings from allies to frenemies to adversaries with the United States. The ties between Iran and Pakistan run deep, and they have shifted over time from a deep affinity to regional rivalry and proxy conflict. Underneath it all has been the two countries’ pragmatic self-interest.

War Powers

Toward Transparency of Legal Position and Process and a White House Obligation to Disclose

A White House’s responsibility to explain the legal basis for military actions such as the Syria missile strikes is dangerously undefined. This is not a problem unique to the Trump Administration. Nor do the differences between administrations in the choice, the structure, or timing of transparency fall out exclusively among party lines. What has emerged is a transparency regime shaped largely by broad discretion and perceived political necessity.


Responding to Syria’s Chemical Weapons Attack: Legal Responsibility or Moral Obligations?

Assume for a moment that the Trump Administration determined, like its predecessor, that there was no clear Congressional authorization or international legal justification to support using military force against the Syrian Government or its military forces—even after the purported use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime.


China’s Surprising Refusal to Criticize the Legality of the U.S. Attack on Syria

In its public statements and actions, the Chinese government consistently has supported a restrictivist reading of the U.N. Charter that limits the use of military force against another state to situations of self-defense or with authorization of the U.N. Security Council. In research I have been doing for a larger project on China’s use of international law, I have found no instances of the Chinese government’s departure from this legal principle.


The Constitutionality of the Syria Strike Through the Eyes of OLC (and the Obama Administration)

“The opinions of judges, no less than executives and publicists, often suffer the infirmity of confusing the issue of a power's validity with the cause it is invoked to promote, of confounding the permanent executive office with its temporary occupant,” wrote the esteemed Robert Jackson in the first paragraph of the most celebrated opinion in the most famous presidential power decision in Supreme Court history.

Subscribe to Lawfare