Aided by a compliant media, President Obama and top administration officials keep successfully peddling the lie that while other countries violate international law, the United States never does.
This fact was again on display during the recent "60 Minutes" interview with Obama.
In a question and answer session at the White House conducted by Steve Kroft, Obama talked about the U.S. campaign to roll back the the terror group ISIS and later about American relations with Russia and the U.S. economy.
In the last month, U.S. warplanes have been bombing targets in both Iraq and Syria, with the avowed aim of destroying ISIS, which Obama and other officials maintain is a "grave threat" both to Iraq and the greater Middle East. ISIS stands for Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
Kroft asked a number of questions --- including why the U.S. is seemingly getting involved in another war in the region after years of following a policy of withdrawal, and also how it was that the U.S. was caught off guard by the sudden rise of ISIS, which has taken over whole areas of both Iraq and Syria.
At no point, however, did Kroft ask the president whether the bombing of Syria, a sovereign country, was legal. He should have asked, because clearly the air strikes are not legal under international law. Syria has not attacked the U.S. and America has not secured either Syria's permission or the United Nations Security Council permission for the strikes.
An attack on a nation's homeland or Security Council authorization are the only legal bases for a nation taking military action against another state.
Clearly, under UN law and the Nuremberg Principles, the American attack qualifies as "aggression" against Syria. Checking Dictionary.com, we see the very first definition of the word aggression is this: "The action of a state in violating by force the rights of another state, particularly its territorial rights."
While the subject of aggression and the legality of one nation attacking another didn't come up during the discussion on Syria, it was a different story when the interview turned to Russia and the situation in Ukraine.
After some diplomatic comments about his relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Obama accused the Russians of "aggression" in Ukraine.
"Russian aggression violated the sovereignty and terroritorial integrity of a smaller weaker country and violates international norms," Obama said, in an apparent reference to Russia's incursion into and takeover of Crimea in the spring, following a coup in Ukraine led by anti-Russian forces.
There is some validity to the claim that Russia broke international law with respect to Crimea. While the people of Crimea voted overwhelmingly in a referendum to rejoin the Russian Federation following the change in government in Kiev, it is also a fact that Russian security forces, not in uniform, had entered Ukraine prior to the vote and basically taken over the area. This was not authorized by the UN, or in any way agreed to by Ukraine. So it was not legal.
But if the Crimean action by the Russians was illegal, then certainly our attack on Syrian terrority was illegal.
It should also be noted that the Russian grab of Crimea was done without bloodshed, which hasn't been the case with American attacks on Syria. Already, U.S. bombing has caused civilian deaths, according to a human rights group. This is true aggression.
The clear hypocrisy of Obama's claim about aggression, however, didn't prompt a question from Kroft. No, he just let Obama's claims slide, without challenging the president over the double standard.
The "60 Minutes" interviewer also failed to question the president on whether the Syria attacks are legal under domestic law.