President Donald Trump never ceases an opportunity to give provocative public statements that are against all the norms and values of the West. In his latest statement on Tuesday he again created an outrage and once again damaged the reputation of United States when he said he wanted to order an assassination against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in 2017, but former Secretary of Defense James Mattis “was against it,” which is in complete contradiction of not only to his previous statements but also Executive Order 12333 which prohibits target killings of foreign leadership. It is important to establish generalization by analyzing key facts about what Donald Trump exactly said on Tuesday in an interview with FOX News.
He said: “I would have rather taken him out,” Trump said of Assad. “I had him all set. Mattis did not want to do it. Mattis was a highly overrated general.” When asked whether he regretted not assassinating the Syrian President, Trump replied: “No, I don’t regret that… I had a shot to take him out if I wanted, and Mattis was against it. Mattis was against most of that stuff”. Here he not only admitted that he was willing to kill a President of a foreign state but also his statement implied there had been a division between the State Department and Department of Defense over engineered Syrian crisis by Washington D.C. for the sake of Israel Lobby sitting in United States.
Most importantly, Trump statement on assassinating Bashar Al-Assad is against the provisions of the Executive Order 12333 which is still active today. It was signed by President Reagan on 4th December, 1981 at the height of Afghanistan War and Intifada (to get rid of). No standing US Federal law criminalizes the assassination of a foreign official outside the boundaries of the United States. In the absence of such legislation, only Executive Order 12333 prohibits the act of state-sponsored assassination. This Order was originally drafted in the mid-1970s in the wake of revelations of US government officials involvement in plots to kill several foreign leaders, has been maintained by every administration since President Gerald Ford. However, in past two decades, there have been many attempts by US Congress to revoke or to some extent override Executive Order 12333. The most recent of these attempts is H.R. 19, the “Terrorist Elimination Act of 2001.”
It is written in black and white in Section 2.11 and 2.12 of the Executive Order 12333, On Prohibition of Assassination: “No person employed by or acting on behalf of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, assassination. On indirect participation, no agency of the Intelligence Community shall participate in or request any person to undertake activities forbidden by this Order.” What it implies is that Trump being the head of the United States government and his wish to assassinate a foreign head of the state is in complete defiance of the coded principle established by Executive Order 12333. Yet the United States went for extrajudicial killings in foreign lands which are against the morals and principles of the her Federal and International Law.
Specifically, in the context of an armed conflict and under certain circumstances such as War on Terrorism, extrajudicial executions can be considered as a war crime and International Criminal Court is responsible for accountability of any person at the non-state and state-level, however International Law still remains non-binding due to the Municipal Laws of the respective nations. Even if this fact is established in the realpolitik order, yet Trump’s statement contradicts the provisions of US Federal law – the only in the world that is known for its Code. Additionally, these acts are likely also amount to genocide or crime against mankind in specific contexts and if they are part of a “collective practice”. The right to life is protected by a number of international treaties, in particular:
I- The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)
II- The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966)
III- The Geneva Conventions (1949)
IV- The European Convention on Human Rights (1950)
V- The American Convention on Human Rights (1969)
VI- The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (1981)
Collective practice can be understood by the recent case of Muammar Gaddafi of Libya during Cold War. On April 15, 1986, U.S. Air Force F-111 fighter-bombers struck three targets in Libya in retaliation for a so-called Libyan-plotted terrorist attack at a Berlin nightclub that had killed U.S. servicemen and wounded over two hundred others. The evidence that Libya was involved in the attacks still remains vague. But the truth that is not shown by US in the public is that this covert state sponsored terrorism is used as pretext to attack the desired regions for control. During these raids, one of these targets, the El Azziziya Barracks, was reportedly known by US intelligence to be the headquarters of Muammar Qaddafi. Although he was not present at the time of the attack, but his wife and two sons were severely injured, and his young adopted daughter was killed. Press scrutiny of the raid revealed considerable evidence suggesting that the attack was intended to kill Qaddafi (Brandenburg, supra note 100, at pp: 690–92).
However, Cold War was not yet finished, the Libyan air raid became the model action by US military and legal precedent upon which many post-cold war attacks would be based. No one knew at that time that in future, Muammar Gaddafi would be eliminated in a more sophisticated manner when he decided to launch interest free Gold Dinar as a future currency for African Union. An US engineered uprising in 2011 would create such a platform from where political Islam will be used once again as an instrument for US Wars in North Africa. The United States’ Secretary of State at the time, Hillary Clinton, laughingly stated “We came. We saw. He died.” Reactions from the governments of countries including Cuba, Russia, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Muslim World were negative, yet the cruel policies of the United States continued to favor the Israel Lobby.
When it comes to US led War on Terrorism since 2001, the whole debate is based on the fundamental and legal question whether this war is a just war – jus ad bellum or not. The official narrative still remains vague and no solid proof has been provided by US whether Al-Qaeda was involved or not. When it comes to the allegations against Osama Bin Laden, and his killing in Abbottabad Operation, there is a clear war between official narratives. Former President of Pakistan, General Pervez Musharaf and former ISI Chief Lt. General Mahmud Ahmed had both categorically denied in front of the US counterparts that Al-Qaeda in alliance with Taliban cannot do such sophisticated attacks on Twin Towers. Same goes for the Syrian narrative in against the US narrative about Ghouta chemical attacks on Syrians in August, 2013. It too still remains ambiguous to this day that it was either Syrian or foreign planes that did the chemical attacks on civilians. Anyone with sane mind would question that why Assad dynasty ruling Syria since decades would implode her own monarchy by this heinous crime? It is irrational to believe that the government of Syria is herself involved in killing of her own family members that is a recipe to not only destroy their own monarchy but also a blueprint for Shia-Sunni civil war. Whatever the case may be, but it is now an established fact that 59 million people have been displaced; around a million people have been killed in the name of democracy and collateral damage by United States…