In January 2020, the United States carried out a drone strike killing Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps leader Qassem Soleimani as well as militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, deputy commander of Iraq’s quasi-official Popular Mobilization Forces. By declaring this targeted killing an act of self-defence, the Trump administration brought a number of legal questions over the use of force into sharp focus. This podcast sets aside questions of strategy and policy and brings together legal experts Scott R. Anderson, Bobby Chesney, Jack Goldsmith, Ashley Deeks and Samuel Moyn to discuss the legality of this attack.
The legitimisation of remote warfare through reference to legal norms of jus ad bellum is an ongoing question. The killing of Qassem Soleimani is one of the most high-profile drone attacks in recent years and one that has brought the question of legality to the fore.