The International Lawbreakers 31/01/2020
Government advisors are warning against the growing number of US international law violations. Berlin should take a stand.

BERLIN/WASHINGTON (Own report) – In reference to the US drone-murder of Iran’s General Qassem Suleimani, German government advisors are warning against a growing number of violations of international law by the United States. For years, “the foreign policy of the Trump administration has demonstrated that it has been a particular strain on international law,” observes an analysis published by Berlin’s German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP).
Suleimani’s murder suggests that Washington is now beginning to extend its “war on terror” tactics, that had already become common-place under President Barack Obama – such as drone-murders – to leading representatives of foreign nations, it considers to be “a threat.” In the future, “state representatives should fear for their lives, when they travel outside their country,” because “the consequences for international diplomacy are hardly predictable.” The SWP advises the German government to take a clear stand. Of course, in its attempts to implement its globalist policies over the past few decades, Berlin, too, has repeatedly violated international law, often as an accomplice of the USA.
From Exception to Normalcy
For years, government advisors in Berlin have been warning against the growing number of United States’ violations of international legal norms. Particularly within the framework of its “war on terror,” illegal measures have been taken – “extrajudicial arrests, targeted assassinations, arbitrary surveillance” – which continue to this day, and continue to be “tolerated” in Europe, according to an extensive study published by the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), back in August 2018.[1] In the meantime, in the United States, a “systematic erosion of human and civil rights” can be observed as well as a dangerous “concentration of decision-making power in the hands of the executive” and “an expansion of the national security state.” European governments are also emulating this development “in many ways.” “A situation of martial law policy” has long since been taken for granted, and “become the normal governing situation,” notes SWP. This applies particularly to the so-called targeted assassinations. Since suspects are extra-judicially liquidated, these are in reality, targeted murders committed by military personnel and intelligence officers, usually using drones in absolute impunity – in violation of international law and outside of any control.
Murder of Government Officials
Whereas using drones to murder suspects had massively already been expanded during Barack Obama’s administration and subsequently under his successor, Donald Trump’s, until the end of 2019, Washington had reserved this method solely as a means for combating terrorist organizations operating in clandestinity. As SWP now writes in a current study, the US justification given for the commander of the Iranian Al Quds Brigades Qassem Suleimani’s murder, signals that in future, “representatives of other countries” also could be classified as “terrorists” and killed, if the United States “considers them a threat.”[2] “However, the assassination of a commander of an official military unit is of a totally different category,” notes SWP. Teheran could now argue, for example, that “US military personnel – high-ranking commanders included – are legitimate targets for military attacks.” “Generally speaking, now, negotiations between adversaries are hardly possible,” suggests the SWP, “if state representatives must fear for their lives on foreign soil. If this becomes a precedent, the consequences for international diplomacy are hardly predictable.”
“Ready for Action”
In fact, the USA “had already arrived … at this conclusion,” writes SWP: “In the aftermath of the publication of numerous CIA assassination plans for leaders of foreign governments, President Gerald Ford decreed a ban on these kinds of attacks, in 1976.”[3] Nevertheless, the Suleimani murder is clearly a reversion to that notorious practice of US murders abroad, except, this time, it was carried out with a drone and ostentatiously. Recently, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo explicitly confirmed that the US administration is not limiting itself to Iran. “Your adversary must understand” he explained in early January during a speech, “not only that you have the capacity to impose cost but that you’re in fact willing to do so.”[4] This is meant explicitly as “deterrence” also to China and Russia.
International Law? Irrelevant!
The SWP sees the current threat of the expansion of drone murders of top foreign government representatives as part of Washington’s general renunciation of international law. Already at the end of last year, in other words, before Suleimani was murdered, the think tank had noted that “the foreign policy of the Trump Administration is particularly straining international law.”[5] For example, “one gets the impression that for President Trump, in many of his important foreign policy decisions, considerations of international law are absolutely irrelevant.” The SWP illustrates this with various examples: Take the April 2017 and April 2018 US bombings of Syria: In diplomatic terms, “it is difficult to discern a viable justification for these operations.” Regarding the US president’s announcement that he wants to let US companies exploit Syria’s oil fields, SWP concludes that international law clearly opposes “the exploitation of Syrian oil deposits by the USA” for “the American’s own economic needs.” In reference to US sanctions on Iran, the SWP also observes that “the borderline for legitimacy of economic sanctions” have definitely been “overstepped, if access to important humanitarian goods, particularly foodstuffs and medicine by the civilian population of the country under sanctions can no longer be fulfilled.” This is the case for medicine in Iran, and in general, also for important supplies in Venezuela and Cuba.[6]
Tactical Criticism
Last but not least, SWP noted that “with Trump’s illegal recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights” the USA had “left its previous course, of absolutely refusing to recognize territorial changes imposed by force of arms.” The think tank has also tactical reasons for its criticism. The United States has “made it more difficult in the future to reprimand” recalcitrant countries for – actually or allegedly – “violating international law.”[7] A primary justification for aggression around the world has now been disqualified.
He, who sits in a glasshouse…
The SWP advises the German government to take a stand in favor of maintaining international norms and, in the future, to always “speak out immediately against violations of international law, even if this sours the political relationship with the governments responsible.”[8] However, SWP also turns a blind eye to the fact that Germany, itself, is among those powers that, in the course of pursuing its global ambitions, has also violated international law. This is not only in reference to the often suppressed German participation in major crimes during the “war on terror.” ( reported.[9]) The first major war in the aftermath of the upheavals of 1990 was the German-provoked aggression against Yugoslavia, in 1999 – without a UN mandate, and in flagrant violation of international law, which could have served as a blueprint for the 2003 US aggression on Iraq. The secession of Kosovo – in violation of international law – had also been Berlin’s promotion and implementation. In addition, it is not conform with international law to promote rebellions in foreign countries, as Germany had done in various countries ranging from Ukraine to Syria.[10] Germany has consistently contributed to the normalization of violations of international law. Washington’s government is now radicalizing this process.
[1] Johannes Thimm: Vom Ausnahmezustand zum Normalzustand. Die USA im Kampf gegen den Terrorismus. SWP-Studie 16. August 2018. See also 17 Jahre “Anti-Terror-Krieg”.
[2], [3] Christian Schaller, Johannes Thimm: Für eine Kultur völkerrechtlicher Rechtfertigung. SWP-Aktuell Nr. 3. Berlin, Januar 2020.
[4] Pompeo: Iran abschrecken. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 15.01.2020. See also Auf abschüssiger Bahn.
[5] Christian Schaller: “America First” – Wie Präsident Trump das Völkerrecht strapaziert. SWP-Studie 27. Berlin, Dezember 2019.
[7] Christian Schaller: “America First” – Wie Präsident Trump das Völkerrecht strapaziert. SWP-Studie 27. Berlin, Dezember 2019.
[8] Christian Schaller, Johannes Thimm: Für eine Kultur völkerrechtlicher Rechtfertigung. SWP-Aktuell Nr. 3. Berlin, Januar 2020.