(SU News | Aug. 11, 2017) Syracuse University faculty members William Banks, a professor in both the College of Law and Maxwell School, and Robert Murrett, who also is a professor at both the Maxwell School and the College of Law, offer their thoughts on the possible threat of North Korea to U.S. interests at home and abroad. Both are also members of the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism (INSCT).
“The US is forbidden from using military force against North Korea absent a Security Council Resolution or action by North Korea against us that would trigger self-defense.”
When it comes to declaring war on North Korea, according to Banks, the founding director of INSCT, “Under United States law, the president cannot lawfully strike militarily at North Korea without authorization from Congress. Under international law, the U.S. is forbidden from using military force against North Korea absent a Security Council Resolution or action by North Korea against us that would trigger self-defense.”
When asked if the armistice still in place from 1953 between the U.S. and DPRK gives the U.S. president international law options he might not have when dealing militarily with another country, Banks says “the fact that the Korean War ended in the stalemate of an armistice has little or no bearing on the current military situation and the legality of a strike against North Korea.”
As for Murrett, the former director of naval intelligence, “When it comes to the intelligence assessments of North Korea, we look at three tiers: their nuclear capability, the weaponization of their nuclear capability and the types of delivery vehicle they have, be they missiles, submarines or aircraft. When it comes to degrees of certainty in regard to North Korea’s current nuclear capability, I have very high confidence in the assessment of the U.S. intelligence community, and these intelligence assessments will influence U.S. policy and planning.
“The U.S. military is a planning machine and U.S. Forces Korea, part of the U.S. Pacific Command, has detailed contingency plans for the Korean Peninsula—drawn up in collaboration with South Korea and Japan—which offer a range of different options. Although I am concerned about the North Korean threat to Guam—that territory is an essential part of the U.S. presence in the Pacific—we can’t forget our Pacific allies, not just South Korea and Japan but Australia, New Zealand and others. We must keep them informed of the planning we perform and the diplomacy we execute.”