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.
“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:
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: