Afghanistan and Great Power Interventionism as Self-Defense,

Prof. Dr. Jochen von Bernstorff, professor of Constitutional, Public International and Human Rights Law at the University of Tübingen.

[…] A significant legal problem faced by the US-administration after the September 11th attacks, as well as by previous US administrations, was that policing risks and punishing wrongdoings unilaterally in the periphery had been outlawed by the UN Charter. The UN Charter had deliberately closed legal loopholes for unilateral great power interventions by setting out a broad prohibition of the use of force in Art. 2 (4) and by restricting exceptions to collective action authorized by the Security Council and to a narrowly worded right to self-defense.

Ironically, it was the US delegation which at the San Francisco Conference in 1945 insisted that Art. 51 UN Charter should be constructed as restrictively as possible. […]

In other words, the endless post-9/11 debates about whether or not Art. 51 UN Charter allows for measures of self-defense against terrorists obscured that the re-interpretation of Art. 51 UN Charter in this context was just another attempt to re-introduce legal justifications for outlawed forms of great power interventionism in the periphery, whenever vital interests of a great power were at stake. Accordingly, subsequent US interventions in the Middle East, including the 2018 missile strikes punishing the Syrian government for chemical attacks in Douma, and the more recent US killing of the high ranking Iranian general Soleimani in Iraq proved that the application of the new cored self-defense doctrine was by no means limited to threats created by non-state actors. Unfortunately, this claimed right to police und punish in the periphery on the basis of undisclosed intelligence information about potential threats as “self-defense” would bring back the old “measures short of war”, at a time when great powers like the Russian Federation and China have begun to assert regional prerogatives in a much more robust fashion. Without a concerted rejection of a right of unilateral military self-help, retaliation and punishment as “self-defense”, the 2001 US intervention in Afghanistan could eventually go down in history as the beginning of the end of the assertion of a broad UN-Charter based prohibition of the use of force. Läs artikel