“An act of assassination carried out against a high-ranking official of another state is an act of war,” said Keith Preston, chief editor of AttacktheSystem.com, in an interview with the Balkans Post.
Here’s the full transcript of the interview:
Balkans Post: The United States assassinated Iran’s top commander, Qassem Soleimani, in Iraq’s Baghdad on January 3. How do you interpret the assassination and what are its implications for the region?
Keith Preston: The assassination of General Soleimani is a very serious matter that has had the effect of significantly escalating the tensions between the United States and Iran. An act of assassination carried out against a high-ranking official of another state is an act of war. The question that remains involves the matter of what the United States was trying to achieve from a strategic perspective by carrying out the assassination. It would appear that the United States is trying to escalate conflict within Iraq, and between Iraq and Iran. The United States does not want a unified Iraq that is friendly toward Iran. Nor does the United States want an Iraq where the Shi’a have significant amounts of influence. Instead, the United States prefers a Sunni-dominated Iraq as was the case during the era of Saddam Hussein. The popular mobilization units that were attacked by the United States were engaged in counterinsurgency operations against ISIS and other Takfiri groups. The United States would prefer that Iraq return to its former state of civil war rather than have a Shi’a-led Iraq that is friendly to Iran, and included within the resistance axis.
BP: The U.S. said the assassination was ordered by President Donald Trump. What does that tell us?
Keith Preston: The Pentagon presented Trump with multiple potential options that were recommended by Pentagon strategists. Trump chose the most extreme option, which was to assassinate General Soleimani. It is rare that U.S. presidents take the most extreme option. In fact, one reason Pentagon strategists include an extreme option is for the purpose of influencing the President to take a comparatively “moderate” option, although such options can often be fairly extreme as well when taken in context. It has been reported that Trump was influenced by some of his inner-circle, such as Vice-President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, both of whom are Christian Zionists and staunch supporters of Israel, and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, a former lobbyist for the U.S. armaments industry. It would appear that the pro-Israel forces and military-industrial complex in the U.S. are seeking to escalate hostilities with Iran, possibly with the hopes of carrying out another regime change war of the kind the U.S. has carried out in nations such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Libya during the past two decades.
BP: Considering that Soleimani was among the very top generals of the Islamic Republic of Iran, what could you say about the legality of the move?
Keith Preston: Assassinating a prominent official or military officer of another nation is clearly an act of war. The United States would certainly consider it to be an act of war if the U.S. were the recipient of such an attack. While the assassination of foreign leaders is not criminalized by U.S. law per se, it is banned by Executive Order 12333, which has been in place since the middle of the 1970s after being issued by President Ford, and has never been rescinded. Additionally, according to the United States Constitution, only the Congress is permitted to declare war. Regrettably, Congress has failed to exercise its constitutional responsibility in this area since the end of World War Two. Assassinating a foreign leader is also in violation of international law, which prohibits waging war unless it is done for the purpose of preventing an imminent threat.
BP: Soleimani was revered in the region for his role in the fight against ISIS terrorists in Iraq and Syria. How would his loss impact the fight against terrorism?
Keith Preston: On one hand, the loss of an effective military leader may weaken the ability of those fighting ISIS to obtain success in the short-term. However, in the long-term, General Soleimani’s status as a heroic martyr among many people in the region will likely strengthen the commitment of many others to defeating ISIS. A key concern will be the degree to which the United States is successful at creating divisions among the Iraqis, and between the Iraqis and the Iranians, in a way that distracts from the fight against ISIS, and strengthens groups like ISIS in the process.
BP: What’s your take on Iran’s “tough revenge” for Soleimani’s assassination?
Keith Preston: Iran’s reaction to the assassination of General Soleimani has been somewhat measured thus far in terms of trying to avoid an excess of civilian casualties. The danger is that the hostilities between the United States and Iran will continue to escalate with both nations feeling compelled to continuely retaliate in ever more aggressive ways that could potentially lead to a wider regional conflict. At this point, the prudent thing for Iran to do is recognize that revenge has been exercised and pull back. Likewise, the United States should certainly pull back as well, and avoid taking any further actions of these kinds.
Keith Preston was born in Lynchburg, Virginia, United States. He received degrees in Religious Studies, History, and Sociology from Virginia Commonwealth University. He is the founder and director of American Revolutionary Vanguard and the chief editor of AttacktheSystem.Com. He has also been a contributor to LewRockwell.Com, Antiwar.Com, Anti-State.Com, Taki’s Magazine, Radix Journal, and AlternativeRight.Com. He is the author of six books, and was awarded the 2008 Chris R. Tame Memorial Prize by the United Kingdom’s Libertarian Alliance. Keith has been a featured speaker at conferences of the National Policy Institute, H. L. Mencken Club, and Anarchapulco. He has been interviewed on numerous radio programs and internet broadcasts, and appeared as a guest analyst on Russia Today, Press TV and the BBC.