Follow Ian Hurd down the rabbit hole in this Al Jazeera op-ed, where he first argues that for the Assad regime to use chemical weapons (CW) against civilians would not be illegal because Syria is not party to any treaties prohibiting their use.
Then he illustrates the fallacy of his own argument by acknowledging the concept of customary international law (“peremptory norms”), that states needn’t be party to treaties for their crimes against humanity to be considered illegal.
Only, he then tries to argue that customary international law doesn’t apply to chemical weapons with the obvious non sequitur that since many countries still possess CW, therefore they must not regard this possession as contrary to customary international law, even if they have signed treaties prohibiting CW.
Needless to say, this argument is self-defeating nonsense. Moreover, while it may or may not be a violation of customary international law to possess CW, it is certainly against the “peremptory norms” to actually use CW against civilians.
Hurd uses this argument that for the Assad regime to have used CW would not actually have violated international law to arrive at the conclusion that we must therefore disregard what silly international law has to say about it and that, if we care about the people of Syria, we must be willing to support Western military intervention to overthrow the Assad regime, despite the fact that this would violate international law, the crime known as “aggression”, “the supreme international crime” as defined at Nuremberg.
Welcome to Wonderland.