How to launch a Tomahawk missile

23 April 2018

How to launch a Tomahawk missile

You are

You are the .

Your nation is the world’s military power by military expenditure.

It is o’clock.

You are in .

You are meeting with your .

This includes

Today, you are discussing Syria.

The reason why is obvious.

On 7 April 2018, a chemical attack occurred on the town of Douma in the Eastern Ghouta region of Syria, some 10 kilometers from the capital city of Damascus.

The facts of that day have been well established over the past weeks.

A Syrian Arab Air Force helicopter is spotted by eyewitnesses over the town of Douma in the Eastern Ghouta region of Syria.

A barrel bomb detonates on the Saada bakery on Omar Ibn Al-Khattab street in north-western Douma.

Another bomb detonates near Martyrs’ Square, to the east of Omar Ibn Al-Khattab street.

500 people – mostly women and children – have poured into local medical centres with burning eyes and smelling of chlorine.

40 people are dead.

It is now .

As of today, anywhere up to 85 people are dead.

At least one thousand are injured.

Bashar Hafez al-Assad
President of the Syrian Arab Republic

Technical analyisis of information obtained from public and covert intelligence sources, including from the , suggest that the Syrian Government responsible for the attack.

The attack involved a Syrian Government helicopter, and fits the pattern of previous chemical weapons use by the Syrian Government – during wider urban offensives on major military objectives to punish and demoralise civilian populations Douma was a military objective – 4,500 fighters from the rebel group Jaish al-Islam were defending the town amidst a mass evacuation of other rebel forces who had negotiated terms with the Syrian Government
The Syrian Government has deployed chemical weapons at least 11 times since 7 April 2017 – the date of the chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun The chemical agent used is suspected to be chlorine-based, potentially masking the use of sarin gas – previously deployed by the Syrian Government.

Chemical weapons are banned by international law.

Their use is a war crime under Article 8, 2 (b) (xvii) and (xvii) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court of 1998

They have been prohibited under conventions as far back as the Hague Declaration concerning Asphyxiating Gases of 1899, and as recently as the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention – including the 1925 Geneva Protocol which Syria is a party to.

All evidence suggests that the Syrian Goverment has committed a war crime against its own citizens.

It is the position of your government that these kind of crimes must be deterred by any means necessary.

Your addresses the room to elaborate on what those means are.

The proposal on the table before you is a military response to the attack.

Its aim to strike several Syrian infrastructure targets known to support the Syrian Government’s chemical weapons program.

These include .

They have been specifically selected to avoid civilian casualties.

From start to finish, the operation will take around six hours. The strikes will start at 4:00am Syrian time.

The operation would involve

The Armed Forces are prepared to carry out the strike.

You must decide if you should deploy them.

This is a decision of the gravest import. You must be sure that you are doing what is right.

You seek counsel from your .

The discussion around the table falls to the legality of the strike, internationally and domestically.

Article 2 (4) of the United Nations Charter prevents nations from the “use of force” against the territorial integrity or political independence of state. The Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation Among States in Accordance with the Charter of the United Nations of 1970 clarifies that this includes violating borders, acts of reprisal including force, and upholding a duty not to intervene in domestic matters of another State.

There are only two exceptions.

Article 51 of the Charter provides the exception of self-defence. When nations are attacked, they may retaliate; and if they are under threat of imminent attack, they may retaliate proportionally (“the Caroline rule”).

This does not apply here – our nation has not been directly attacked, and nor is under any threat of one.

The Security Council of the United Nations may authorise attacks on sovereign states pursuant to its powers under Article 24 and 25 of the Charter.

This would be is almost impossible – Russia, a staunch ally of Syria and one of the five permanent member nations on the Security Council with the power of the veto, has already vetoed an independent investigation into the chemical attack. Hell will freeze over before they approve collective military action against Syria.

Previous unilateral interventions without authorisation have not always drawn condemnation – such as the Operation Provide Comfort in the Gulf War of 1991, or the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999

But the fact remains:

A military strike would technically break international law.

And all at once, the room is quiet once more.

Your stares at you expectantly.

You must now make your decision about whether to launch the strike on Syria.

Disclaimer: Some of exact figures and details in this article, especially concerning costs and assets involved in the military strike in Syria, cannot be verified independently with any accuracy. Readers should take these figures and details as indicative only.