Justification, effectiveness queried in the U.S.-led strikes
Though the dust raised by the joint Western airstrikes on Syria is settling, its shockwaves continue to ripple through Europe.
Pinning the blame on the Syrian government for the alleged chemical attack on the rebel-held town of Douma on April 7, leaders from the United States, Britain and France have gushed over the decision to launch the airstrikes on Saturday and flaunted the "success" of the "one-off" mission afterward.
Nonetheless, a large swathe of opposing voices on the continent took the strikes with a pinch of salt.
With the lessons of bumpy Western intervention in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya lingering fresh in mind, they queried the flawed justification and effectiveness of the strikes, and also took swipes at the hypocrisy of the action.
Antonis Stylianou, a law professor at University of Nicosia in Cyprus, said the use of military force in international relations is justified in only two cases: When the force has been authorized by the United Nations Security Council or when the force is used in self-defense.
"Neither was the case in using military force against Syria," he said.
Refuting British Prime Minister Theresa May's allegation that the legal basis for the use of force was protecting the Syrian population from chemical attacks, he said: "This justification will open the bag of Aeolus (god of the winds) in international relations."
The professor was referring to a Greek Homeric phrase which indicates stirring up a storm.
The glaring lack of an international mandate for the airstrikes has registered with not only academics but also a string of political figures in Europe.
Czech President Milos Zeman condemned the strikes on Saturday, announcing that "a military solution to the situation should be the last thing to do".
Former Croatian president Ivo Josipovic also cast doubt over the legitimacy of the airstrikes.
"I think it was supposed that an independent international investigative body would have to check the allegations of using chemical weapons," he said.
"Collective measures should have been taken only when it was confirmed that chemical weapons were used."
It's noticeable that the U.S.-led coalition rushed to launch the strikes on the day when investigators from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons arrived in Syria, without waiting for their fact-finding report.
The OPCW team came under fire while doing reconnaissance for inspectors to visit sites of a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria on Wednesday, and officials said it was no longer clear when the inspectors would be able to go in.
Effectiveness in doubt
Aside from the far-fetched justification, the airstrikes also met with torrents of criticism on their effectiveness.
The U.S. military announced that they fired 105 missiles targeting three facilities and set back Syria's chemical weapons program by years.
But the Russian Defense Ministry revealed on Monday that Syrian forces, equipped with Soviet-era air defense systems, intercepted 71 out of the total missiles launched by the U.S.-led coalition.
The ministry said the real targets of the missile strikes on Saturday were Syrian military facilities, including airfields, in addition to the three targets announced by the U.S. and its allies.
As well as skepticism from senior European political figures, some in the media have also queried the action.
Patrick Cockburn, a veteran journalist and award-winning writer for British newspaper The Independent, who has covered the Middle East since the 1980s, said ending the Syrian war is the only way to reduce civilian casualties, and everything else is hypocrisy and pretense.
The airstrikes were "more of a gesture of disapproval than an attempt to damage" Syrian military forces, he said, adding that "it does nothing to bring nearer the end of the war".