There’s been a great deal of crying about the death of an Ambassador and others in an attack on the US embassy in Libya.
Now I’m a strong supporter of the inviolability of embassies but I wonder why other people should be?
Embassy inviolability is part of one of the oldest strata of international law, but it is a part of international law.
International law also says that aggressive war is a war crime. Iraq was an aggressive war, and hundreds of thousands of people died as a result (the # is vague, because the US deliberately chose not to count).
International law requires that prisoners of war have certain rights. If they are judged not be prisoners of war, then prisoners have civilian rights. Note that the captives in Guantanmo have been deliberately denied both sets of protection.
Drone attacks in countries which do not permit them are acts of war. The US engages in these all the time, in countries that they are not at war with. The US gets away with it because those countries know they can’t win a war against the US, so they have to put up with it. Nonetheless, drone attacks are clear violations of international law.
Torture is a violation of international criminal law. Granted, a lot of countries violate this, but you can’t really be a paragon of international law and torture as a matter of policy.
Meanwhile Egypt just had a revolution. It was against a dictator who was supported, strongly, by the US. That dictator engaged in routine torture.
Drone attacks hit funerals regularly, and weddings often enough. This isn’t against international law, but should people whose families have been killed in attacks on weddings and funerals be respectful of the sanctity of embassies? Would you? Really?
If international law doesn’t protect the weak, but only the strong, why would we expect the weak to respect it? Why should non-state actors care what the rules of states are, when states respect those rules only when it is to their advantage?
There will be more embassy attacks over time. Bank on it.