The nation of Iran has issued an arrest warrant for Donald Trump. That’s a sentence you perhaps never thought you might hear about any nation in reference to any President of the United States, but then, these are strange times and Trump is a president like no other.
Three days into 2020, Trump ordered the killing of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, a target whom the US has been focused on for years, decades even, but who our leaders never targeted terminally because of the potential political fallout. Without solid intelligence that Soleimani was personally directing or coordinating a specific attack on the US or its interests, America could never be justified legally in the eyes of the international community for assassinating him.
Unfortunately, that’s exactly what Donald Trump did.
There wasn’t much argument from around the world — other than in Iran, of course — that it was, in fact, a relief to be globally rid of an Iranian military strategist still firmly anchored in the geopolitics of the 1980s and earlier, with the temperament of a perpetually-aggrieved teenager.
But for the exact reasons that US Presidents all the way back to Clinton refused to turn our targeting on Soleimani, the international community was proved right about the eventual strike that killed the former Quds Force commander: The Iranian government knew concretely and immediately that the act was undertaken purely out of Trump’s desire to look powerful and wield his war-making authority around the world on what seemed to him to be a soft target — without taking the cultural, military, and historical context of such an extrajudicial killing.
Soleimani was not like some general in an army in a banana republic in South America. He had been, essentially, the right-hand man to the Ayatollah for four decades. His killing was basically like if someone had waited until Mike Pence was alone on an airfield and taken him out — and then killed every Vice President all the way back to Al Gore.
Iran has attempted to enlist the help of Interpol in detaining Trump, which the international law enforcement agency is unlikely to extend.
But what does the legal case look like?
Trump and his cohorts in the neoconservative machine in Washington have repeatedly failed — and eventually given up trying — to provide any proof whatsoever that Soleimani was engaged at the time of his killing in any acts or plans against the United States in any way. Could Iran prove on the global stage that America had no required legal justification for the extrajudicial killing of a foreign military leader?
It’s not clear what, if anything, will come of this. But it’s not without historical precedent. In many countries, many former American leaders are considered war criminals and would or could technically be arrested if they showed up there for some reason, from Henry Kissinger to Dick Cheney and George W. Bush.
But our villains are never brought to justice, it seems — which is what lays the groundwork for future villains and future unjustified and possibly illegal acts being carried out by our very own country when it’s under the leadership of someone with a hammer, to whom everything looks like a nail.
Featured image via Flickr/Gage Skidmore
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