The claim by a sitting US president that major General Qasem Soleimani, the former head and now deceased of the Quds forces of the elite Islamic revolutionary guards, was planning “imminent attacks on US personnel and diplomats in the region, hence his unilateral decision to terminate him”, has, thus far ,amounted to nothing but a plain and frank assertion. And begs even further the question, who is next? Numerous media houses with mixed agendas have packaged and sold this assertion to millions of viewers and readers globally, in the process popularising and in many cases justifying the actions of Trump.
There are still, and will continue to be, legal uncertainties as to whether Trump had a legitimate basis for ordering the hit, murder or assassination (interpretations abound) of General Soleimani on foreign soil. And by extension whether these legal uncertainties, if remain unsettled, will serve to further embolden Trump to act again in similar circumstances on the basis of an assertion.
The gathering and employment of credible intelligence and evidence in furtherance of military operations is the hallmark of most successfully executed operations. The US, however, to the detriment of many, has over the decades been able to concoct a myth around its intelligence apparatus, portraying it as the source of absolute, infallible, credible and competent information that can withstand legal scrutiny and be found credible in any functioning international court or any functioning judiciary for that matter; this is the epitome of arrogance.
This imperialistic tendency to discredit without consideration or due diligence has long catapulted the US intelligence services to a position tantamount to being on a pedestal. Just the mere mention of the claim “the United States has intelligence that X is planning an attack on Y” (Y being its interest) is sufficient grounds for X to be eliminated. Interestingly enough, there are usually no other methods available to contain or address the “threat” posed by X. X must be murdered or assassinated almost whimsically, under the powers granted to one individual (so much for self- advancement and self- gratification). This individual is at the centre of the universe which in turn revolves around him or her.
If a group of persons is empowered by a state, in this case the US, to operate under a veil of secrecy, whose mandate it is to police and report on the activities of its citizens and non-citizens whom they perceive to be acting or harboring intentions that are potentially harmful and destructive to the safety and well-being of others, then there ought to be evidence to substantiate such a perception or assertion. Until this is forthcoming, claims continue to be just what they are – claims.
And if this is the modus operandi of the US intelligence services, and the trend seems to suggest it is, then it is reasonable to assume that a simple claim or assertion unaccompanied by substantial evidence which should be independently verified is more than enough to arbitrarily select and terminate individuals anywhere on the planet.
Who polices the intelligence services and their operatives that supply information and intelligence for decision-making at the highest levels? These are individuals whose lives are lived almost entirely in the shadows and in some instances literally don't exist.
How can the observing public say, with any degree of certainty, in the absence of proof, that the claim made by Trump that General Solemani was planning “imminent attacks” has any semblance of truth? One can argue that with support for Trump waning domestically, largely as a result of been embroiled in US history’s third impeachment, where his very moral integrity and authority are also on trial in itself can erode his moral capital for making claims to truth elsewhere.
The office of the US president, and by extension its holder, is seen as the custodian of moral authority. Now with this character trait severely compromised on the home front, does he continue to enjoy the moral superiority essential for him to be trusted domestically and internationally?
There are quite a few interesting analyses, particularly from Stratfor, as to what and who may have been primarily responsible for the demise of General Solemani. Geopolitics aside, one has to look at what happened fundamentally, and it was clear that one individual decided to act solely on the basis of an assertion yet to be proven, to terminate the lives of others. It was a case bordering on jungle law where the judge, jury and executioner are in the likes of one person.