There have been few assassination plans more outrageous than the one recently prevented in Washington and revealed Tuesday. An Iranian-American man and an officer in the Iranian military’s elite Quds Force are charged with attempting to hire Mexican drug traffickers to kill the Saudi ambassador to the U.S., and perhaps dozens of bystanders, at a Washington restaurant. The plot was foiled because the man the Iranians contacted, believing he was a member of the Zetas drug cartel, was an informant for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.
Would the assassination of a Saudi diplomat in Washington have constituted an act of war?
Total Voters: 325
One doesn’t have to be a “truther” about the alleged plot to wonder why the Iranian government — or elements of it; it’s unclear exactly how high up the chain of command in Tehran this operation went — would try to kill a Saudi official on U.S. soil, and particularly in this manner. For now, we can only speculate about that answer. But we can ask: Would this assassination, if successful, have been an act of war against the United States?
On the one hand: This would have been members of a foreign military, from a nation which calls us “the Great Satan,” conspiring with members of a drug cartel against which we are unofficially at war (via the war on drugs) entering our nation’s capital to kill a fourth country’s diplomat and, in all likelihood, a great number of U.S. citizens. It would have been inseparable from the broader war on terror which, despite the Obama administration’s changes in terminology, we are still fighting in many countries.
On the other: It’s unclear whether the plot had the approval of Iran’s leaders (either President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Ayatollah Khamenei) and, barring any new information, American citizens and interests appear to have been only incidental targets.
That’s this week’s Poll Position: Would this have been an act of war? Answer in the nearby poll and in the comments thread below.
– By Kyle Wingfield