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Obama Right to Authorize Air Strikes in Iraq, Former Major General Says

Obama Right to Authorize Air Strikes in Iraq, Former Major General Says

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Editor's Note: Duke provides an on-campus satellite uplink facility for live or pre-recorded television interviews, as well as a digital studio for interviews by Skype or Google Hangout. We are also equipped with ISDN connectivity for radio interviews. These services are usually available during normal business hours. Broadcast reporters should contact Scott Wells at (919) 660-1741 to arrange an interview.

U.S. warplanes struck Sunni militant positions in northern Iraq on Friday, the Pentagon said.

“I think the president is right in authorizing airstrikes, particularly if doing so is necessary to counter imminent threats to Americans in the area, or to unarmed U.S. aircraft dropping life-saving supplies to noncombatant civilians, not to mention the innocent civilians themselves. This is a potential humanitarian catastrophe, and if we can prevent or mitigate it within a manageable level of risk -- which I think we can -- then we ought to do it," says Duke University law professor Charles Dunlap Jr., a former deputy judge advocate general of the U.S. Air Force.

“True, airstrikes for these limited purposes may not alter the strategic situation in Iraq, but there is much to be said for  saving what lives we can today as we  continue to work the larger issues. We don’t want to be witnesses to genocide.”

"ISIS may be good at beheading bound captives and threatening helpless civilians, but they have not yet undergone the kind of physical and psychological trauma that American airpower can impose upon them.”

“I also believe that such action would be within the president’s constitutional authority as commander-in-chief, especially to the extent it is intended to protect American lives and American aircraft. Moreover, nothing in international law prohibits the use of force to defend Americans or innocent civilians against imminent threats, especially when the legitimate government of the area authorizes the operations."
Charles Dunlap Jr. is a professor of the practice at Duke Law School and executive director of Duke's Center on Law, Ethics and National Security. He specializes in warfare policy and strategy, cyber-warfare, military commissions, counterinsurgency, nuclear issues and air power; former deputy judge advocate general of the U.S. Air Force; retired from military in June 2010 as a major general.
For additional comment, contact Dunlap at:
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More Information

Contact: Forrest Norman
Phone: (919) 613-8565