When you celebrate the death of an enemy, why would some people use dirty words like “assassination”? A puzzled CNBC editor-at-large turned to Twitter for insight into the term’s definition – and probably regretted it.
When you deliberately kill an important figure for political reasons, it’s fair to say that you have assassinated them. But the word has this nasty aftertaste smacking of some criminality or even brainwashed youths with crooked knives.
So one John Harwood, the editor-at-large at CNBC, took to Twitter to argue that the killing of Iran’s Quds Force commander should be described in some nicer terms. And if the term is right, “did [the] US ‘assassinate’ Osama Bin Laden?” he asked.
Dem Sen Murphy says US “assassinated” Suleimaniis that the right term?if so, did US “assassinate” Osama bin Laden?
— John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) January 3, 2020
It didn’t take long for him to get feedback, and the collective answer seemed to be a resounding “yes” to both questions.
Some commenters went further and challenged the implied equivalency between the two killings. After all, Qassem Soleimani was a high-ranking officer of a UN member country’s military, not a stateless fugitive living in obscurity.
Osama bin Laden was a leader of a *non-state* Salafi-jihadist terrorist group (and he had US gov. backing in the 1980s in Afghanistan)Soleimani was a top official of a sovereign state recognized by the UN. Assassinating him was an act of war against Iranhttps://t.co/SmBcccGzLT
— Ben Norton (@BenjaminNorton) January 4, 2020
There was also the legal issue of authorization by the US Congress. Bin Laden’s killing was agreed to by US legislators after the 9/11 terrorist attack while Soleimani was targeted in what many have called an abuse of presidential power that may land the US in a new war.
Perhaps — but there’s a distinction.Taking out Osama Bin Laden was authorized under the post-9/11 2001 AUMF.Congress authorized that war.Congress has not authorized acts of war against Iran.
— Cyrus Toulabi (@CyrusToulabi) January 3, 2020
Doubts about the strike are widespread even among the centrist part of the Democratic Party, which tacitly endorses the claim that Soleimani was a legitimate target for a targeted attack. Donald Trump himself has called Soleimani a “number one” terrorist – which sounds puzzling as the general was instrumental in the defeat of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS), which the US president likes taking full credit for.
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