President Donald Trump had the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, killed. He was killed along with four other men by a missile fired from an American drone near Baghdad airport shortly after his arrival from Syria Jan. 3. Three days after the killing of Soleimani, Karel Schwarzenberg (of the TOP 09 Party) reacted very sharply. The former Czech foreign minister denounced the assassination on Facebook and showed what it means to be a conservative.
Schwarzenberg wrote that much is said about the consequences of the killing, but little about the deed itself; “That one state killed an official of a second state on the territory of a third state.” He said that Soleimani supported various armed Shiite terrorist groups from Iraq to Syria and Lebanon, and all the way to Yemen, but “he did so as a general and official representative of the Iranian state. His role in the fight against the Islamic State was also important.”
Schwarzenberg made his most meaningful point in the following reflection: “I grew up in an era when wars were declared. But nowadays shooting, bombing and launching missiles begins without taking any formal steps. This development horrifies me. We are overstepping the bounds of international law. Certain politicians are obviously of the opinion that they are above the law and have been granted a license to kill anywhere in the world just like the legendary James Bond…”
Note that the honorary chair of TOP 09 uses the plural (“We are overstepping the bounds of international law”), including himself, not separating himself from the Western world even when he disagrees with it; he doesn’t go chasing rabbits, doesn’t skip off in another direction. He also reminds us that other “powers commit similar acts,” and he mentions the Russian attempt at murdering double agent Sergei Skripal in England (which Vladimir Putin has constantly denied). “Now, the person who ordered this attack has even proudly announced it to his own nation and the entire world. If we get used to the idea that we can kill anywhere and at any time, then that is a dangerous development.”
Schwarzenberg continues, “… all my life I’ve favored the Americans – theirs is a great, democratic country, which can be a model for us in many things. But these deeds of President Trump are, in my frank opinion, criminal. No one has the right to violate international law, not even the president of the United States.”
The Prince Doesn’t Harken Back to the Patriarchy
That’s harsh: Trump as a criminal who even publicly boasts of being above the law, who recklessly violates international law, and in doing so, somehow enables other powerholders to behave the same way. The man who boasts about titles such as Prince of Schwarzenberg, Duke of Krumlov, Count of Sulz and Landgrave in Klettgau, and knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece, says bluntly and with undisguised horror, what a ditch the West, in the form of President Trump, has lurched into.
There’s no point in analyzing here all the acts that Soleimani committed. The essential thing is that he was an official representative of a country, by no means the boss of some underworld terrorist organization, no Osama bin Laden. There is a point in considering the fact that, thanks to people like Trump, we have plunged into a world without rules, and that this situation is extremely dangerous for small countries like ours, and for all countries, such as neighboring Ukraine, and for the citizens who live there. This situation is also risky for Americans, of course.
Schwarzenberg must have been anguished when the American missile killed the Iranian general. He is, to wit, a genuine conservative; he acknowledges and professes certain principles, he knows that breaking these valuable rules can have catastrophic consequences. He doesn’t play at being a conservative like so many others in our country these days, he doesn’t write some pronouncement that we should go back in time to a patriarchy, support combustion engines or that we’re taking political correctness too far, that we need to run cyclists off the highways and streets, or that same-sex couples aren’t families. His conservatism is deeper, defending the condition into which the civilized Western world has matured, defending the progress which the observance of international law undoubtedly is.
At the same time, he is running up against a wall, his own wall. To many champions of the Western world, America is the very symbol of everything Western, and anything the U.S. does is always okay. It’s a black-and-white world – Russia (and sometimes China) vs. the U.S. What will be, will be. But Schwarzenberg refuses to be silent when the essence of Western civilization is at stake, and that essence is, among other things, the rule of law.
I have yet to hear any other voice of such an important politician who would so unequivocally and vehemently oppose Trump’s actions, that is, the actions of the United States. The rest of the supposed conservatives have diligently kept their mouths shut. Only Schwarzenberg has had the courage to opine that Trump is a criminal, even if it will likely cost him supporters.