What the title says.

The Hague treaty was signed by the USA in the name of William H. Taft by J. Choate, H. Porter, U. Rose, and a few others, so one may consider it binding.

Trump reportedly (NY Times and Trump on Twitter) cancelled a military attack against several targets in Iran dubbed as "retribution" merely a few minutes before the beginning of hostilies earlier today. Reportedly, the attack had been authorized by the president, and "weapons had been loaded".

To my knowledge, no declaration of war giving reasons or ultimatum with conditional declaration of war as per Article 1 of the Hague traty puts it was communicated. Which makes the beginning of hostilities a strict violation of said article.

Hostilities, this certainly includes espionage drones flying through souvereign airspace, and -- there's little doubt -- loading up guns and running (even though aborting early) an attack on people and material on foreign ground.

Given the wording "minutes", an attack was obviously not an option or consideration, but it was already happening (only just, no shots were fired). After all, you have to identify targets, make a decision, move troops and material, have to get them dressed up and ready etc, etc. Once you're "minutes" before, you have long done all that.

So, I'd say that very much qualifies as "hostilities"?

  • Please provide links to your references. – Rick Smith Jun 21 '19 at 17:35
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    Would this differ from all the other US wars since 1945 that didn't have a formal declaration of war by Congress? – Obie 2.0 Jun 21 '19 at 17:37
  • @Obie2.0: Well for Iraq and Afghanistan, they did provide what I believe is called "legal fiction" (i.e. calling it peacekeeping or such). Don't think so for Korea and Vietnam. Not like "legal fiction" would satisfy the treaty, anyway, methinks. – Damon Jun 21 '19 at 18:06
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    The second paragraph of this question is either incorrect or insufficient. Even if American administration officials "sign" a "treaty", that does not make the "treaty" "binding". "Treaties" only become "binding" on the United States upon "ratification" by a 2/3 vote of the United States Senate. There are other actions that can be taken by American administration officials that are binding. – Jasper Jun 21 '19 at 22:06

The Hague conventions have great historical importance but are now mostly superseded by other treaties and conventions. Most significantly the rules on warfare and hostilities are part of the United Nations rules.

It has been quite clear that, since 1945, military actions do not commence with a formal declaration of war. None of the many wars, conflicts, or other military excursions that the USA has been in some way involved in have begun with a formal declaration of war.

Flying a drone into another country's airspace is undoubtably a hostile act, but few would consider it a casus belli, after all both America and Russia flew multiple spy missions over each other's airspace during the Cold war. At the end of March, RAF fighters were twice scrambled to intercept Russian Aircraft over the North Sea. This happens all the time.

On the other hand, you are quite wrong that "preparing for an attack" is the same as "attacking". Again, both Russia and the USA spent most of the years 1945-1990 targeting each other's cities with nuclear weapons. They were ready to be fired with a few minute's notice. But while this was tense, it wasn't nuclear holocaust. If the attack was cancelled, then it wasn't an attack.

So finally to answer your question: Yes, but nobody cares because the Hague conventions have been superseded by the UN and the incursion of a drone is not the same as a full military strike.

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  • A drone is also very general. You can buy drones in a toy store and and hook it up to make a video, have it follow waypoints so it makes the video and gets back to you. On the other end of the spectrum, a large UAV carrying a nuclear payload is also a drone. As with all of those things, there are many variations. You'd probably be able to get away with flying the nuclear payload over some countries whereas others might even shoot down the smaller consumer grade drone. It all depends on the situation, and that goes for most if not all of those, now, common occurences. – JJ for Transparency and Monica Jun 21 '19 at 18:53
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    This is also assuming that the drone was even in Iran's airspace, which the US denies. Considering the events the past couple of weeks in the Straight of Hormuz it's very possible the Iranians engaged in hostilities first. – RWW Jun 21 '19 at 19:56
  • The Russian Aircraft over the North Sea always fly in international air space - there has been no violation so far. (Granted, the media and government usually report it in a way that suggest something was wrong, so I can understand the confusion) – Sjoerd Jun 21 '19 at 22:29

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