The killing of General Soleimani was a crime

The killing of General Qasem Soleimani was more than a blunder.  It was a crime.

He was invited to Baghdad by the Iraqi government, a U.S. ally, with the knowledge of the U.S. government, to use his good offices to help negotiate peace between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

He came without protection because he thought he was on a mission of peace.  His killing was an act of treachery as well as murder.

Qasem Soleimani

We Americans find it hard to accept the criminal nature of this act because we have been incrementally brought to believe that assassination, along with waging undeclared wars, is normal behavior.

Most of President Trump’s critics say that although Soleimani was an evildoer who deserved to die, his killing was inadvisable under the circumstances, or that Trump should have consulted with Congress before he acted.

What was his crime?  Soleimani’s Quds force organized and led resistance in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen against foreign invaders – Israelis, Americans, Saudis and Islamic State (ISIS) and Al Qaeda terrorists.

He acted on behalf of Iranian interests and against U.S. (perceived) interests and was therefore an enemy.  But there was a time when honorable soldiers could respect a brave and capable enemy.

Northern generals in the U.S. Civil War respected Robert E. Lee.  Allied generals in World War Two respected Erwin Rommel.   They wouldn’t have encouraged Lee or Rommel to come to neutral ground and then killed them from ambush.

President Trump has led the United States to the brink of war with Iran.  But even if war is avoided, it is still an established principle that a President can order invasions and killings on his own personal judgment, and so more murders of foreign leaders are nearly inevitable.

What has happened, will continue to happen, unless we the people put a stop to it.  We have not seen the worst.


Iraqi PM reveals Soleimani was on a peace mission when assassinated, exploding Trump’s lie of “imminent attacks,” by Max Blumenthal for The Gray Zone.

Soleimani’s assassination and the muddled moralism behind it by Robert Wright for Nonzero.

How to Avoid Swallowing War Propaganda by Nathan J. Robinson for Current Affairs.

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9 Responses to “The killing of General Soleimani was a crime”

  1. whungerford Says:

    A declaration of war is obsolete; we have had many wars but no Congressional declaration in 77 years. Perhaps this is a good thing as war also ought to be obsolete. Targeted killing has a long history going back at least 76 years to the assassination of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto. Laws become moot when ignored.


    • Fred (Au Natural) Says:

      In time of war, killing the enemy commander isn’t considered a bad thing. Yamamoto was under no flag of truce nor on his way to negotiate. So Yamamoto’s death was not out of line at all. We’ve been targeting enemy commanders since the Revolution.

      This is a little different.

      Killing Soleimani is more significant than anything Trump did relative to Ukraine. I could see the Democrats putting a hold on the impeachment trial to add new charges or even starting completely new hearings.


  2. Fred (Au Natural) Says:

    I am not going to weep for Soleimani. Probably nobody in the entire world outside of his family and close friends are going to grieve his death. We weren’t the only folks gunning for him.

    I am not even completely sure it was illegal. There is no relevant US law, only an executive order. Trump will say that the current executive gets to disregard the orders of previous executives. Since an executive order is never approved by the legislature, it is just an order than can be countermanded by the next guy in line. By the same token, Trump could not place executive orders to limit his successor – for which we should be thankful.

    He will also say that Quds force is a designated terrorist organization and it is accepted as proper to target the leaders of a terrorist organization. He will point to bin Laden as a precedent and that will keep his supporters happy. He will say that wearing a uniform offers neither terrorists nor criminals protection. Then he’ll point to Manuel Noriega – who is very lucky that Donald Trump wasn’t the president who took him out.

    The International Law of War indicates you can’t trick an enemy commander into a negotiation and then take the opportunity to kill them.

    Trump will respond that we did not trick him into anything. The Iraqis invited him to negotiate, not us, so *WE* didn’t trick him into anything. We merely found out and took advantage.

    Then he’ll also respond that we didn’t sign that treaty anyhow. Nor do we recognize the International Court’s authority.

    So while killing Soleimani may be a theoretical or moral crime, in practical terms maybe not.

    The whole point of the exercise was to poke Iran and get them stirred up enough to do something stupid. (And distract from impeachment.) How easily provoked is the Ayatolla?


  3. davidgmarkham Says:

    This can be parsed any number of ways and yet in the end it is a war crime and does not bode well for Trump and the U.S.


  4. philebersole Says:

    Admiral Yamamoto was ambushed and killed in a war zone at a time when the United States and Japan were at war with each other.

    General Soleimani was ambushed and killed while traveling on a diplomatic passport on a diplomatic mission. There is no shooting war between the United States and Iran.

    Most cultures at most periods of history regard the killing of envoys, including military commanders meeting under a flag of truce, as an act of treachery.

    The reluctance of American politicians and foreign allies to condemn this act of treachery on moral grounds is an example of the corruption of our culture.

    All cultures regard the killing of envoys as prelude to all-out war.

    I think there is a faction in the U.S. government that either wants war with Iran or thinks threatening all-out war with Iran is a good move.


    • whungerford Says:

      John McCain’s airplane was shot down over N. Vietnam. Whether there was a formal declaration of war or not is irrelevant–the defenders were certainly justified in downing an attacker. But had they selected that one aircraft specifically for destruction, knowing that Adm. McCain’s son was the pilot, that would have been a crime, an assassination, rather than a legitimate act of war..


    • philebersole Says:

      Admiral Isokuro Yamamoto was an interesting character. He advised against going to war with the United States. He did not think Japan had the resources to win against the world’s leading industrial nation.

      But once the decision was made, he tried to make a war plan in which Japan did have some chance of victory.

      He was known to have planned the attack on Pearl Harbor, which he hoped cripple the U.S. Pacific fleet at one blow. Japanese diplomats in Washington were ordered to notify the U.S. government that their country was at war shortly before the attack took place, and thus remain technically within international law, but the timing misfired and the attack was without warning.

      Having broken the Japanese code, the American forces discovered that he would flying an a transport plane in April 18, 1943, on an inspection tour of the Solomon Islands.

      There was some internal debate as to whether ambushing him was a lawful or honorable thing to do. But he was regarded as such a brilliant strategist and leader that killing him would be a serious blow to the Japanese war effort and Japanese morale. Also, there was a desire to take revenge for Pearl Harbor. And so the order was given to shoot him down.

      The American pilots who flew into Japanese-controlled air space did so at considerable personal risk – unlike the drone operators who killed General Soleimani.

      World War Two was a war without mercy – on all sides. It was regarded as a war for survival – on all sides. The things that were done during those terrible years should not be regarded as precedents for the present.


  5. The killing of General Soleimani was a crime — Phil Ebersole’s Blog – From Our Eyes To Yours Says:

    […] The killing of General Soleimani was a crime — Phil Ebersole’s Blog […]


  6. The killing of General Soleimani was a crime — Phil Ebersole’s Blog – battleoftheatlantic19391945 Says:

    […] The killing of General Soleimani was a crime — Phil Ebersole’s Blog […]


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