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Lies, the Bethlehem Doctrine, and the Illegal Murder of Soleimani

An attack may be deemed “imminent”, according to the Bethlehem Doctrine, even if you know no details of it or when it might occur.

Via Craig Murray…

In one of the series of blatant lies the USA has told to justify the assassination of Soleimani, Mike Pompeo said that Soleimani was killed because he was planning “Imminent attacks” on US citizens. It is a careful choice of word. Pompeo is specifically referring to the Bethlehem Doctrine of Pre-Emptive Self Defence.

Developed by Daniel Bethlehem when Legal Adviser to first Netanyahu’s government and then Blair’s, the Bethlehem Doctrine is that states have a right of “pre-emptive self-defence” against “imminent” attack. That is something most people, and most international law experts and judges, would accept. Including me.

What very few people, and almost no international lawyers, accept is the key to the Bethlehem Doctrine – that here “Imminent” – the word used so carefully by Pompeo – does not need to have its normal meanings of either “soon” or “about to happen”. An attack may be deemed “imminent”, according to the Bethlehem Doctrine, even if you know no details of it or when it might occur. So you may be assassinated by a drone or bomb strike – and the doctrine was specifically developed to justify such strikes – because of “intelligence” you are engaged in a plot, when that intelligence neither says what the plot is nor when it might occur. Or even more tenuous, because there is intelligence you have engaged in a plot before, so it is reasonable to kill you in case you do so again.

I am not inventing the Bethlehem Doctrine. It has been the formal legal justification for drone strikes and targeted assassinations by the Israeli, US and UK governments for a decade. Here it is in academic paper form, published by Bethlehem after he left government service (the form in which it is adopted by the US, UK and Israeli Governments is classified information).

So when Pompeo says attacks by Soleimani were “imminent” he is not using the word in the normal sense in the English language. It is no use asking him what, where or when these “imminent” attacks were planned to be. He is referencing the Bethlehem Doctrine under which you can kill people on the basis of a feeling that they may have been about to do something.

The idea that killing an individual who you have received information is going to attack you, but you do not know when, where or how, can be justified as self-defence, has not gained widespread acceptance – or indeed virtually any acceptance – in legal circles outside the ranks of the most extreme devoted neo-conservatives and zionists. Daniel Bethlehem became the FCO’s Chief Legal Adviser, brought in by Jack Straw, precisely because every single one of the FCO’s existing Legal Advisers believed the Iraq War to be illegal. In 2004, when the House of Commons was considering the legality of the war on Iraq, Bethlehem produced a remarkable paper for consideration which said that it was legal because the courts and existing law were wrong, a defence which has seldom succeeded in court.

(b)
following this line, I am also of the view that the wider principles of the law on self-defence also require closer scrutiny. I am not persuaded that the approach of doctrinal purity reflected in the Judgments of the International Court of Justice in this area provide a helpful edifice on which a coherent legal regime, able to address the exigencies of contemporary international life and discourage resort to unilateral action, is easily crafted;

The key was that the concept of “imminent” was to change:

The concept of what constitutes an “imminent” armed attack will develop to meet new circumstances and new threats

In the absence of a respectable international lawyer willing to argue this kind of tosh, Blair brought in Bethlehem as Chief Legal Adviser, the man who advised Netanyahu on Israel’s security wall and who was willing to say that attacking Iraq was legal on the basis of Saddam’s “imminent threat” to the UK, which proved to be non-existent. It says everything about Bethlehem’s eagerness for killing that the formulation of the Bethlehem Doctrine on extrajudicial execution by drone came after the Iraq War, and he still gave not one second’s thought to the fact that the intelligence on the “imminent threat” can be wrong. Assassinating people on the basis of faulty intelligence is not addressed by Bethlehem in setting out his doctrine. The bloodlust is strong in this one.

There are literally scores of academic articles, in every respected journal of international law, taking down the Bethlehem Doctrine for its obvious absurdities and revolting special pleading. My favourite is this one by Bethlehem’s predecessor as the FCO Chief Legal Adviser, Sir Michael Wood and his ex-Deputy Elizabeth Wilmshurst.

I addressed the Bethlehem Doctrine as part of my contribution to a book reflecting on Chomsky‘s essay “On the Responsibility of Intellectuals”

In the UK recently, the Attorney
General gave a speech in defence of the UK’s drone policy, the assassination
of people – including British nationals – abroad. This execution
without a hearing is based on several criteria, he reassured us. His
speech was repeated slavishly in the British media. In fact, the Guardian
newspaper simply republished the government press release absolutely
verbatim, and stuck a reporter’s byline at the top.
The media have no interest in a critical appraisal of the process
by which the British government regularly executes without trial. Yet
in fact it is extremely interesting. The genesis of the policy lay in the
appointment of Daniel Bethlehem as the Foreign and Commonwealth
Office’s Chief Legal Adviser. Jack Straw made the appointment, and for
the first time ever it was external, and not from the Foreign Office’s own
large team of world-renowned international lawyers. The reason for that
is not in dispute. Every single one of the FCO’s legal advisers had advised
that the invasion of Iraq was illegal, and Straw wished to find a new head
of the department more in tune with the neo-conservative world view.
Straw went to extremes. He appointed Daniel Bethlehem, the legal
‘expert’ who provided the legal advice to Benjamin Netanyahu on the
‘legality’ of building the great wall hemming in the Palestinians away
from their land and water resources. Bethlehem was an enthusiastic
proponent of the invasion of Iraq. He was also the most enthusiastic
proponent in the world of drone strikes.
Bethlehem provided an opinion on the legality of drone strikes
which is, to say the least, controversial. To give one example, Bethlehem
accepts that established principles of international law dictate that
lethal force may be used only to prevent an attack which is ‘imminent’.
Bethlehem argues that for an attack to be ‘imminent’ does not require it
to be ‘soon’. Indeed you can kill to avert an ‘imminent attack’ even if you
have no information on when and where it will be. You can instead rely
on your target’s ‘pattern of behaviour’; that is, if he has attacked before,
it is reasonable to assume he will attack again and that such an attack is
‘imminent’.
There is a much deeper problem: that the evidence against the
target is often extremely dubious. Yet even allowing the evidence to
be perfect, it is beyond me that the state can kill in such circumstances
without it being considered a death penalty imposed without trial for
past crimes, rather than to frustrate another ‘imminent’ one.
You would think that background would make an interesting
story. Yet the entire ‘serious’ British media published the government
line, without a single journalist, not one, writing about the fact that
Bethlehem’s proposed definition of ‘imminent’ has been widely rejected
by the international law community. The public knows none of this. They
just ‘know’ that drone strikes are keeping us safe from deadly attack by
terrorists, because the government says so, and nobody has attempted to
give them other information

Remember, this is not just academic argument, the Bethlehem Doctrine is the formal policy position on assassination of Israel, the US and UK governments. So that is lie one. When Pompeo says Soleimani was planning “imminent” attacks, he is using the Bethlehem definition under which “imminent” is a “concept” which means neither “soon” nor “definitely going to happen”. To twist a word that far from its normal English usage is to lie. To do so to justify killing people is obscene. That is why, if I finish up in the bottom-most pit of hell, the worst thing about the experience will be the company of Daniel Bethlehem.

Let us now move on to the next lie, which is being widely repeated, this time originated by Donald Trump, that Soleimani was responsible for the “deaths of hundreds, if not thousands, of Americans”. This lie has been parroted by everybody, Republicans and Democrats alike.

Really? Who were they? When and where? While the Bethlehem Doctrine allows you to kill somebody because they might be going to attack someone, sometime, but you don’t know who or when, there is a reasonable expectation that if you are claiming people have already been killed you should be able to say who and when.

The truth of the matter is that if you take every American killed including and since 9/11, in the resultant Middle East related wars, conflicts and terrorist acts, well over 90% of them have been killed by Sunni Muslims financed and supported out of Saudi Arabia and its gulf satellites, and less than 10% of those Americans have been killed by Shia Muslims tied to Iran.

This is a horribly inconvenient fact for US administrations which, regardless of party, are beholden to Saudi Arabia and its money. It is, the USA affirms, the Sunnis who are the allies and the Shias who are the enemy. Yet every journalist or aid worker hostage who has been horribly beheaded or otherwise executed has been murdered by a Sunni, every jihadist terrorist attack in the USA itself, including 9/11, has been exclusively Sunni, the Benghazi attack was by Sunnis, Isil are Sunni, Al Nusra are Sunni, the Taliban are Sunni and the vast majority of US troops killed in the region are killed by Sunnis.

Precisely which are these hundreds of deaths for which the Shia forces of Soleimani were responsible? Is there a list? It is of course a simple lie. Its tenuous connection with truth relates to the Pentagon’s estimate – suspiciously upped repeatedly since Iran became the designated enemy – that back during the invasion of Iraq itself, 83% of US troop deaths were at the hands of Sunni resistance and 17% of of US troop deaths were at the hands of Shia resistance, that is 603 troops. All the latter are now lain at the door of Soleimani, remarkably.

Those were US troops killed in combat during an invasion. The Iraqi Shia militias – whether Iran backed or not – had every legal right to fight the US invasion. The idea that the killing of invading American troops was somehow illegal or illegitimate is risible. Plainly the US propaganda that Soleimani was “responsible for hundreds of American deaths” is intended, as part of the justification for his murder, to give the impression he was involved in terrorism, not legitimate combat against invading forces. The idea that the US has the right to execute those who fight it when it invades is an absolutely stinking abnegation of the laws of war.

As I understand it, there is very little evidence that Soleimani had active operational command of Shia militias during the invasion, and in any case to credit him personally with every American soldier killed is plainly a nonsense. But even if Soleimani had personally supervised every combat success, these were legitimate acts of war. You cannot simply assassinate opposing generals who fought you, years after you invade.

The final, and perhaps silliest lie, is Vice President Mike Pence’s attempt to link Soleimani to 9/11. There is absolutely no link between Soleimani and 9/11, and the most strenuous efforts by the Bush regime to find evidence that would link either Iran or Iraq to 9/11 (and thus take the heat off their pals the al-Saud who were actually responsible) failed. Yes, it is true that some of the hijackers at one point transited Iran to Afghanistan. But there is zero evidence, as the 9/11 report specifically stated, that the Iranians knew what they were planning, or that Soleimani personally was involved. This is total bullshit. 9/11 was Sunni and Saudi led, nothing to do with Iran.

Soleimani actually was involved in intelligence and logistical cooperation with the United States in Afghanistan post 9/11 (the Taliban were his enemies too, the shia Tajiks being a key part of the US aligned Northern Alliance). He was in Iraq to fight ISIL.

The final aggravating factor in the Soleimani murder is that he was an accredited combatant general of a foreign state which the world – including the USA – recognises. The Bethlehem Doctrine specifically applies to “non-state actors”. Unlike all of the foregoing, this next is speculation, but I suspect that the legal argument in the Pentagon ran that Soleimani is a non-state actor when in Iraq, where the Shia militias have a semi-official status.

But that does not wash. Soleimani is a high official in Iran who was present in Iraq as a guest of the Iraqi government, to which the US government is allied. This greatly exacerbates the illegality of his assassination still further.

The political world in the UK is so cowed by the power of the neo-conservative Establishment and media, that the assassination of Soleimani is not being called out for the act of blatant illegality that it is. It was an act of state terrorism by the USA, pure and simple.

——————————————

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Olivia Kroth
January 5, 2020

Iraq: Soleimani’s coffin paraded in Karbala farewell procession

Olivia Kroth
January 5, 2020

Syria: Mourners attend vigil to honour Gen. Soleimani at Aleppo’s mosque

Democracy Dies in Deception
Democracy Dies in Deception
January 5, 2020

John Doe, the unnamed co-conspirator, blew the whistle on Soleimani’s plans. The Invisible Man came forward to corroborate his account.

Simply amazing
Simply amazing
Reply to  Democracy Dies in Deception
January 6, 2020

What troll-farms are these down-voting trolls coming from, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, Estonia or the US itself? ConAgra doesn’t operate more farms than these guys. I must be hitting a nerve. Good.

The owl of Minerva
The owl of Minerva
January 5, 2020

Thanks for this lucid and well though-out article. This is eons ahead of the corporate media in terms intelligence, truthfulness and reason. I do not agree with the Bethlehem doctrine at all. The lack of requirement about specifics opens it up to abuse. Consider the source.

Forward
Forward
January 5, 2020

Today the Iraqi PM stated that Soleimani was to meet with him the following day to discuss a peace plan brought forward by the Saudi’s or the US. This is of HUGE significance and if we take this as truth, which I see no reason to deny as it comes straight from the horse’s mouth (PM of Iraq himself), then this could be the reason why Israel targeted Soleimani’s convoy at the airport. Think about it, they either gave the US the coordinates and a US drone/helicopter took the shot OR the Israeil drones did the deed themselves. Why? Well… Read more »

Brokenspine66
Brokenspine66
Reply to  Forward
January 5, 2020

It’s reported by some sources that the intel + coordinates, for the assassination, are provided by Israel – Trump was kind of ambushed/off-guard by NeoCunt/ZioNAZI/Deep-State Traitors+Crooks around him, he was manipulated/baited and talked into this shit because he’s too intellectual lazy, stupid + arrogant he fall for this trap, as usually with Trump cesspool big mouth with every word he’s digging himself deeper in this shit – The World probably has pay the price for the latest US+Israel crimes.

Hopium
Hopium
Reply to  Brokenspine66
January 6, 2020

His language does not reflect that at all! His language is very specific and very belligerent. Not sure why people continue to think Trump is some how Mr. Goodguy. It’s very disturbing. Not only did Trump murder this man he labeled the IRGC a terrorist organisation so he can now call the good Soleimani a terrorist. Howz that for swindle speak!? I don’t usually wish that bad things would happen to others however the more these murderers kill and plunder I can’t wait for the day that karma hits them like a nuclear bomb.

Steve Brown
Steve Brown
Reply to  Forward
January 5, 2020

Listening to PressTV on the ‘net (the feed of which is either badly buffered or somehow subject to cyber interference, an entirely different subject!) PressTV is saying the US assassination of their leader benefits Iran as an unintended consequence. That is, such benefit does not in any way excuse of mitigate the crime or Iran’s loss. The benefit being that the assassination highlights the failed and former United States as the vile, ruthless, and despicable killer that it is… acting as a mercenary force on behalf of Third Temple handlers. As posted here before, besides occasional harassment in Iraq and… Read more »

oldandjaded
Reply to  Steve Brown
January 6, 2020

But I think we can probably agree, at this point, whether retaliation occurs is irrelevant, the trajectory is clear, the US will now continue to escalate UNTIL they get the “retaliation” (real, or false flag, doesn’t matter) that they “need”, to “justify” an attack on Iran. A month ago, I didn’t view this way, and I don’t really view the assassination of Soleimani in and of itself as that critical an event, but it marks a distinct ramping up of US aggression which is highly reminiscent of the pattern we saw in the run-up to the first Iraq war. Most… Read more »

TravelAbout
TravelAbout
Reply to  oldandjaded
January 6, 2020

Israel has positioned themselves perfectly to carry out another false flag to prod (or better yet pimp) the US to do its dirty work. I sure hope Russia & China are in back channels impressing upon the US psychopaths that any attack on Iran will get them involved militarily.

Who would have ever thought that those two countries would be humanity’s last hope of stopping this NWO blight on the world?

oldandjaded
Reply to  Forward
January 6, 2020

This, if accurate, has some truly profound implications. Israel taking the decision to do this, and then dump it on the US’s doorstep dovetails with my home-brewed thoughts on the tone of Trumps first two tweets, and explains the sudden change in tone of those that followed. Holy sh*t. The only thing is, if you look at events like the Twin Towers, Lockerby, and the Murrah Building bombing, the first reports tend to be the most accurate, and then the psy-ops machine takes over the narrative. The reasons behind Trumps position on Israel are completely misunderstood in most circles, I… Read more »

Steve Brown
Steve Brown
January 5, 2020

Informative and useful article. The Bethlehem screed says: “First, military action should be used only as a last resort. It must be necessary to use force to deal with the particular threat that is faced. Secondly, the force used must be proportionate to the threat faced and must be limited to what is necessary to deal with the threat. In addition, Article 51 of the charter requires that if a state resorts to military action in self-defence, the measures it has taken must be immediately reported to the Security Council. The right to use force in self-defence continues until the… Read more »

Brokenspine66
Brokenspine66
Reply to  Steve Brown
January 5, 2020

The USA couldn’t arrested Suleimani on any legal grounds what so ever. Suleimani was an Iranian official with diplomatic status and was a invited honorary guest of the Iraqi goverment to attend a funeral, Iraq is a sovereign country, at least the USA always claim this because they brought them so-called Democracy but worthless US-Style I guess. The assassination conspiracy by the USA+Israel was an cowardly act of War + Terrorism against Iraq + Iran and a hostile vile insult to all shia people in the region, a quick reminder the majority in Iraq (2/3) is shia and they are… Read more »

Steve Brown
Steve Brown
Reply to  Brokenspine66
January 5, 2020

Agreed, I was using arrest only as an example of proportionality, not that it would be legally justified. There is far more legal justification to arrest Joseph Dunford.

Olivia Kroth
January 5, 2020

Iraqi lawmakers approve bill to expel US forces from country

Steve Brown
Steve Brown
Reply to  Olivia Kroth
January 5, 2020

Unfortunately it is symbolic and non-binding. After the US-inspired protests, Iraq has a caretaker government and can pass no new laws. I am sure US and Israeli OSint took this into account before initiating the assassination drone strike On Suleimani/Muhandis.

Hawaiiguy
Hawaiiguy
January 5, 2020

Well then, it’s open season on the US, UK, and Israeli governments then right? Just claim some garbled bs doctrine. For instance, Pompeo just did exactly what the doctrine was put forth to stop, so he is the poster boy for his enemies to legally target yes?

Brokenspine66
Brokenspine66
Reply to  Hawaiiguy
January 5, 2020

Fortunately like all those US-Carrier he’s a big target.

Exiled in Ard Mhaca
Exiled in Ard Mhaca
January 5, 2020

US is just like a 15 stone playground bully thumping the bespectacled skinny kid and shouting at the top of his voice” I had to do it or he would have hit me.”

Harold
Harold
January 5, 2020

Does this mean that Clinton(husbanad and wife), Obomber, Bush and now Trump, Netanyazu, responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent arab lives are now fair game?

Rick Oliver
Rick Oliver
Reply to  Harold
January 6, 2020

Yes Harold , the above people you named are fair game ! Now all that is needed is a proxy soldier with drone intact , to go and take out the threat to the Middle East !! What`s good for the goose ………

Steve Brown
Steve Brown
January 6, 2020

Note how Israel is taking the public credit for Suleiman’s murder on wikipedia! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_War_Between_the_Wars Israel hopes to stay in the background in such matters while playing with memes like this.. so please share this.. It’s interesting too that this is how Israel semi-publicly admits its national policy of war criminality, perversion, and subversion… toying with the goyische! (and everyone else 🙂

Brokenspine66
Brokenspine66
Reply to  Steve Brown
January 6, 2020

Are you surprised? Wikimedia is totaly infiltrated + corrupted by US/UK + Israel Deep-States desinformation/propaganda/smear Information-War shills minions lackeys in nearly all languages and the manipulations + falsifications are deliberately – Complete useless + discredited in most fields. There are some [real]Journalists who working for some years to unravel the rotten core of Wikipedia Dirk Pohlmann + Markus Fiedler, Germany [https://wikihausen.de] and Helen Buyniski, USA.

T W Huning
T W Huning
January 6, 2020

There is a law prohibiting assassination of foreign leaders. Is this murder an impeachable offense?

Steve Brown
Steve Brown
Reply to  T W Huning
January 6, 2020

Probably not…. but being setup by the Deep State is! 😉

jmg
jmg
January 6, 2020

Confirmed: According to the Prime Minister of Iraq, Soleimani was on a peace mission in Iraq. NPR’s Jane Arraf: > This is stunning – #Iraq prime minister tells parliament US troops should leave. Says @realDonaldTrump called him to ask him to mediate with #Iran and then ordered drone strike on Soleimani. Says Soleimani carrying response to Saudi initiative to defuse tension when he was hit. (Jane Arraf — @janearraf — Twitter — Jan 5, 2020) The Wall Street Journal: > In his address to parliament on Sunday, [Iraq’s Prime Minister] Mr. Abdul-Mahdi said he had been due to meet Gen.… Read more »

oldandjaded
Reply to  jmg
January 6, 2020

Looks to me like “Forward” has flat out NAILED it.

slavonac
slavonac
Reply to  jmg
January 11, 2020

This wreaks of mossad who has been trying to assassinate Soleimani for years, myself not so convinced general was innocent at all. As many have elaborated he was actually working for CIA in Afghanistan, so once you’ve sold your soul to the devil don’t cry foul when devil comes to reconcile the account

Jack_Garbo
Jack_Garbo
January 6, 2020

Lots of words. So if it’s proved that Soleimani’s assassination was illegal, does that fact resurrect him? Does it bring to trial those responsible? No & No. Let’s not waste energy splitting legal hairs. The US regime of thugs doesn’t bother with legal niceties and cannot be brought to justice.
“Dogs bark at the Moon, but it still shines.” The dogs soon get tired and go back to their kennels.

Platon
Platon
January 6, 2020

Daniel Bethlehem – I assume he is a blaspheming Jew under a fake name, like most jews and criminals.
He is also a hire of the greatest state sponsor of terrorism historically, bar none, the USraeli Empire.

Boba Lazarević
Boba Lazarević
January 14, 2020

So what? When Osama bin Laden was killed, he posed no perceivable imminent threat, either. Yet nobody was overly concerned about the legitimacy of the act, only about the lack of actual proof that the Seals got the right person.

Soleimani was an enemy in a war that exists and is ongoing but the public is not yet fully informed about it. If the war were announced and declared nobody would ask about the legality. This situation may seem confusing, but it’s only confusing to a casual eye.

MarkinTX
MarkinTX
Reply to  Boba Lazarević
January 15, 2020

I asked myself if I’m losing any sleep over the death of Soleimani and frankly I’m sleeping like a baby. Soleimani in Iraq on a “peace” mission? Laughable. Iran would not send the Persian “Grim Reaper” on a peace mission. He was there to take advantage of the chaos in Iraq and weakened U.S. position in order to kill more Americans, probably an attack on the already weakened U.S. embassy. Soleimani was not a statesman and to suggest that he suddenly turned into a peacenik is comedy. He sensed blood in the water in Iraq and he was moving in… Read more »

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