A Return to the Law of the Jungle: Assassination of Top Iranian General

Ambassador Chas Freeman, Jan. 3, 2020

NOTE: See also VIPS’ March 2009 Memorandum for the Director of National Intelligence urging him to resist strong pressure from the Israel Lobby to cancel the appointment of Amb. Freeman as Director of the National Intelligence Council (which, though a key post, does not require Senate confirmation).  The DNI gave it the college try, but the Lobby got Obama to remove the newly minted NIC Director after just a few hours on the job. (See: https://consortiumnews.com/2009/031009a.html)

Below are Amb. Freeman’s thoughts on what Suleimani’s assassination betokens — and forebodes:

This was not a retaliation, as claimed, but the pre-planned exploitation of a pretext to assassinate a foreign official designated as an enemy as well as the commander of an Iraqi militia hostile to the United States.  It was an act of war that will inevitably evoke reprisal.  Iran has already promised that it will exact “savage” retribution for the murder of a senior official of its government by the United States.  Major General Qasim Suleimani was the equivalent of the U.S. national security adviser or the commanders of  CENTCOM, SOCOM, and SOCCENT.  All are now potential Iranian targets.

In Iraq itself, the followers of Commander Abu Mahdi (Al Muhandis) in Kataeb Hezbollah will seek their own revenge.  The fact that they are part of the Iraqi national security establishment and armed forces is not irrelevant.  The Iraqi government, already under pressure to expel U.S. forces from their country, may now find it politically impossible not to do so.  Kataeb Hezbollah is likely to be joined in its campaign against U.S. forces and officials in Iraq by other patriotic militias, including some historically hostile to both it and Iran.

The Iranian government seldom makes decisions in haste.  It is the heir to one of the world’s longest and greatest traditions of politico-military statecraft.  It will make considered judgments as it calculates the appropriate asymmetric responses.  If Tehran miscalculates, which is a very real possibility, the now open but low-intensity warfare between the United States and Iran will escalate.  Those who, like Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and former U.S. National security adviser John Bolton, have long sought a war with Iran will get one.  So will everyone else.  

It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the timing of the attack was dictated by the turmoil in American domestic politics.  It was preceded by three air strikes on elements of Kataeb Hezbollah for the death of a civilian contractor in Kirkuk.  None of these air strikes was anywhere near Kirkuk.  They bore the marks of a pre-planned operation looking for a pretext to launch.  Just so with the assassination of General Suleimani and Commander Abu Mahdi (whose sobriquet is “Al Muhandis / the Engineer”).

The charge that these two were planning attacks on American soldiers and officials could equally well be leveled at U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, White House officials, and U.S. military commanders at all echelons.  At what time have such officials on both the Iranian and American sides not been planning such attacks?  No concrete evidence has been put forward to justify preemptive defense against an imminent attack on the United States.

The assassinations seem intended to appease neoconservative critics of President Trump as vacillating and weak in his response to Iranian ripostes to his policy of maximum pressure on Iran.  They provide a welcome distraction from the pending impeachment proceedings and appeal to the bloodthirsty instincts of the president’s most ardent supporters.  They prepare the way for Mike Pompeo to offset his lack of diplomatic accomplishments with a demonstration of his ruthlessness to the “conservative” voters of Kansas, where he intends to run for the Senate.

In the new constitutional order in the United States, in which the separation of powers has been replaced by the separation of parties, the attack was politically expedient despite its blatant violation of the clear language of the U.S. Constitution.  The attack thus represents an extrajudicial execution that marks a further departure from constitutional government and the rule of law by the United States.

In foreign policy terms, this attack makes no sense at all.  It is not a deterrent to Iran so much as a provocation.  It pushes Iraq further into the arms of Iran and invites the humiliating expulsion of U.S. forces from Iraq.

It makes every American in Iraq a target for murder or hostage taking.  It demonstrates to the world the overt amorality of U.S. policy and the indifference of the United States to the constraints of international law and comity, especially when the object of American hostility is Muslim.  It is a strategy-free move, equivalent to beginning a game of chess with only an opening move in mind.  It is thus a reminder to the word of the witless hubris and violence with which the United States now conducts its international relations.

Americans, once the most prominent proponents of international law as the regulator of relations between nations, have now fully validated the law of the jungle.  We are now likely to experience it.

Biblical Justice: It’s not what you think

January 1, 2020
By Ray McGovern

Someone saw me described on twitter @raymcgovern as a “Justice person” and asked me “what’s that supposed to mean?”  New Year’s Day seems like a fitting time to attempt an explanation.  In short, it is a faith issue, born of life experience and “Justice-person” mentors specializing in what I would call “applied theology.”  One key mentor is Daniel C. Maguire, who taught Ethics at Marquette University for almost 50 years.  I have internalized what Dan wrote in his seminal work: “The Moral Core of Judaism and Christianity: Reclaiming the Revolution.”  ( Dan also has been an occasional contributor to Consortium News. See, for example: https://consortiumnews.com/2016/09/10/donald-trump-is-us/ .)

In my own teaching/speaking/writing/thinking, I have plagiarized Dan with reckless abandon, with his blessing, and I do not plan to stop anytime soon.  Below is a passage lifted from The Moral Core (pp. 131-132) that speaks to what a “Justice person” is or, at least what I try to be.  In sum, I have learned that there is one thing — first and foremost — that Yahweh, Jesus, and The Prophet care about.  It is that we do justice. (After the quote from Dan, I’ll add a short note about another mentor, Dean Brackley, SJ, a Jesuit with a finely tuned activist social conscience pursuing, first and foremost, justice.)

[from The Moral Core] The Biblical Perspective on Justice

Bias versus Bias

Most modern, Western conceptions of justice stress its essential impartiality.  For us, judges who are supposed to symbolize justice … could not be considered proper judges and at the same time be biased, prejudiced, and partial.  Bias is incompatible with our abstract concept of justice.

Biblical justice will have none of this.  It is forthrightly biased, prejudiced, and partial.  More accurately, it recognized that all systems of justice are biased, covertly or overtly, and it opts for overt discovery of the bias.  Biblical justice theory is biased and it admits it.

Its bias is two-edged: it is unequivocally partial to the poor and suspicious of the “rich.”  This meaning is etymologically grounded in the very word for justice, since the biblical root for sedaqah, the prime Hebrew word for justice, has from the first a bias towards the poor and needy.  The related Aramaic tsidqah meant “showing mercy to the poor.”  Our modern tendency is to think of justice in terms of criminality or litigation.  Our justice is concerned with trouble.  The biblical preoccupation is wholly other.  Justice is “good news,” especially “to the poor” (Luke 4:18).

So positive (versus punitive) is the terminology used for justice.  God says (literally), “I will not do justice … to the wicked.”  Justice applies to the innocent.

Justice is not reacting to evil, but responding to need.  Woe to those who “deprive the poor of justice” (Isaiah 10:2).  The prime focus of this justice is not on the guilty, but on victims and the dispossessed.

Deuteronomy says:  “You shall not deprive aliens and orphans of justice.”  What justice requires is spelled out in detail: never “take a widow’s cloak in pledge” or a poor man’s cloak if he needs to be warm — even if it is owed to you by a mathematically strict standard of justice.  “When you reap the harvest in your field and forget a swathe, do not go back and pick it up; it shall be left for the alien, the orphan, and the widow.” When you are harvesting your olives or your grapes, leave some behind: “What is left shall be for the alien, the orphan, the widow” (Deut. 24: 10-22).

This early and often repeated formulation of justice primarily involves not contracts or torts, but compassion, benevolence, and redistribution.  Augustine summed up the tradition simply when he said: “Justice consists in helping the needy and the poor.”  The poor, quite simply, are God’s children and they are marked out for special handling.  That special handling is the prime work of justice.

Because of its overarching concern for the poor, biblical justice is not quibbling legalism.  It is largehearted and magnanimous.  It must, in the course of life, descend to the picky details of legality, but its heart is not there.


Another mentor/friend, Dean Brackley, SJ, put it even more simply:

“It all depends on who you think God is, and how God feels when little people are pushed around.”

You may wish to give that some thought.  Too simple?  I don’t think so.

Dean Brackley applied his experience as a Bronx community organizer and his theology training (PhD, U. of Chicago Divinity School), to “doing justice” — including in El Salvador, where he quickly volunteered to take the place of one of the six Jesuit priests murdered there in late 1979.  Dean died in San Salvador in October 2011. 

Horowitz Was Warm-up Band; US Atty John Durham Now Has Baton

Ray interviewed by Whistleblower Newsroom for the kind of back and forth you may experience around the holiday dinner table.
Dec. 13, 2019 (from minute 3:20 to 58:20)
Ray learned later that Attorney General Barr had addressed several of the same issues in an interview with NBC the day after Horowitz’s Senate testimony.
If you only have time to tune in to one of the interviews, go with Barr.

OPCW Whistleblowers: Blaming Bashar al-Assad Blown as Bogus

Ray interviewed for context
Dec. 15, 2019 (8 minutes)

Thanks to additional WikiLeaks exposures, the UN’s Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons “final report” blaming Bashar al-Assad for the “chemical attack” at the Syrian city of Douma on April 7, 2018 has been shot full of holes by the OPCW inspectors who actually visited the scene.  Their conclusions have been suppressed — until now.  Establishment media remain reluctant to correct their earlier spin and tell the truth (surprise, surprise!).

Former UK Ambassador Craig Murray had the real story 7 months ago, and even wove in the dubious role of OPCW regarding the Skripal poisoning.  Craig’s blog piece of May 25 was well worth reading at the time — is even more so now, in retrospect. (See: https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2019/05/the-world-what-is-really-happening/ )