There are liberals who aren’t just questioning the value of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani being dead; they’re actually saying that the United States may have broken American and international law by killing the commander of the Quds Force in an airstrike on Friday.
There’s no universe in which Soleimani could have been considered a reasonable state actor. He was at the head of an elite force that was a wing of a branch of the Iranian military that’s considered a terrorist organization by the United States. In that capacity, he was behind much of the insurgency we saw in Iraq during the war.
He was also behind the militias who carried out the U.S. embassy attack in Baghdad that preceded his death.
Perhaps most importantly, though, intelligence says that he was planning another attack on Americans.
The Department of Defense first claimed this in a statement issued after Soleimani’s death Friday.
“At the direction of the President, the U.S. military has taken decisive defensive action to protect U.S. personnel abroad by killing Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization,” the statement from Defense Secretary Mark Esper read.
“General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region. General Soleimani and his Quds Force were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American and coalition service members and the wounding of thousands more,” it continued.
“He had orchestrated attacks on coalition bases in Iraq over the last several months — including the attack on December 27th — culminating in the death and wounding of additional American and Iraqi personnel. General Soleimani also approved the attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad that took place this week.”
There doesn’t seem to be a lot of serious dispute on this point from any front — on whether or not Suleimani was planning to attack U.S. diplomats, service members and other American interests. Everyone kind of concedes this is what Soleimani did, even if the evidence doesn’t seem to definitively prove it yet.
And yet somehow, for Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe, a Trump critic well known for trafficking in conspiracy theories, this apparently wasn’t terribly relevant to the issue:
“Jon Bateman, who served as a senior intelligence analyst on Iran at the Defense Intelligence Agency,“ said “[k]illing [Soleimani] would be neither necessary nor sufficient to disrupt the operational progression of an imminent plot.” If true, it’s fatal. https://t.co/wy9IAYHvXF
— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) January 4, 2020
There were the people who believe that Suleimani, a terrorist by all designations, was part of the state apparatus and therefore shielded by not only international law but by American law prohibiting assassinations:
This is the thing that hasn’t fully penetrated for people – Soleimani was part of the state. https://t.co/9xHq9xIJFu
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) January 4, 2020
Mike Pompeo says the assassination of Qassem Suleimani is derived from “an intelligence-based assessment” that he was plotting against the US. Suleimani was an accredited diplomat in transit, arriving in Baghdad from Beirut. Pompeo just put all US diplomatic personnel at risk.
— Scott Ritter (@RealScottRitter) January 3, 2020
By what legal authority can US forces kill the head of Iran’s Quds Force?
Does @realDonaldTrump realize the import of this?
— Barbara Slavin (@barbaraslavin1) January 3, 2020
Then there was the “Trump doesn’t have a plan” crowd, which included Trump Republican primary “challenger” Joe Walsh.
The killing of Mjr Gen Suleimani is exactly what I’ve always most dreaded in Trump: that his impulsivity and inability to think deeply would ultimately lead to catastrophe on a mass scale. We don’t know what will happen next, but I can’t imagine a positive ending to this drama.
— Tony Schwartz (@tonyschwartz) January 4, 2020
Campaigning in Iowa today, but I can’t stop thinking that:
There’s no plan, no strategy for what we just did.
Donald Trump is the LAST person we want in the White House at a time like this.
We’ll never learn. We can’t FORCE the Middle East to change. We should just stay out.
— Joe Walsh (@WalshFreedom) January 4, 2020
And then there was Rose McGowan, who was in a category of her own:
Dear #Iran, The USA has disrespected your country, your flag, your people. 52% of us humbly apologize. We want peace with your nation. We are being held hostage by a terrorist regime. We do not know how to escape. Please do not kill us. #Soleimani pic.twitter.com/YE54CqGCdr
— rose mcgowan (@rosemcgowan) January 3, 2020
I didn’t remember the Iranian flag having emojis on it.
A close second in this strange category was Farnaz Fassihi posting this “personal” video of the sensitive poet in Soleimani shortly after he was killed:
— Farnaz Fassihi (@farnazfassihi) January 3, 2020
That’s just beautiful, and surely of so much solace to the families of the Americans killed by the IEDs his Shiite militias planted all over Iraq.
She would later double back on those vilifying her for sharing the video, saying that “it’s noteworthy as part of Iran’s efforts to turn Soleimani into a legend/cult figure at home and in the region. Showing him reciting poetry about becoming a martyr is aimed at elevating his standing-martyrdom is revered in Shia Islam.”
This would have been context best shared at the beginning of all of this, no?
Maj. Gen. Soleimani was a terrorist who had taken hundreds — if not thousands — of American lives and would have taken as many more as he could have without endangering his own existence.
On that last part, he apparently misjudged. Nobody should feel too bad about that fact.
The fact that liberals are angry is a sign they either don’t know who he is or they don’t care, so long as Trump’s administration killed him.
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