An Unusual Lawsuit Against Iran

The Washington Post recently published an article about a lawsuit that American citizens have brought against Iran. The plaintiffs are Iraq veterans and families of veterans who suffered horrendous injuries or deaths while serving in the U.S. armed forces in Iraq. In their lawsuit, the plaintiffs are claiming that Iran sent roadside bombs into Iraq that wreaked massive injuries or death on U.S. troops.

For example, Chris Levi’s Humvee was torn apart by a roadside bomb that cost him both his legs. Kelli Hake and her 13-year-old son are living their lives without their husband and father, who was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq. There were thousands more like them.

It stands to reason that the plaintiffs would feel deep anger toward Iran, especially given their belief that Iran did, in fact, furnish the bombs that ended up inflicting death and injuries on U.S. soldiers serving in Iraq.

What is unusual, however, is that there appears to be absolutely no animus directed toward another regime. That regime is the U.S. government. I find the lack of ill will toward the U.S. government to be totally bizarre.

After all, let’s not forget something important: When a nation-state invades, attacks, and occupies a country and in the process intentionally wreaks death, suffering, and destruction, there is a very high probability that people are going to get extremely angry and are going to exact vengeance by doing the same thing to the invading and occupying troops.

We should keep in mind that the U.S. war on Iraq was illegal under our form of government. That’s because the U.S. Constitution, which is the higher law that we the people have imposed on the federal government, prohibits the president from waging war without a declaration of war from Congress. It is undisputed that Congress never declared war on Iraq.

The U.S. war on Iraq was also illegal under the principles set forth by the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal. It held that nation-states do not have the authority to invade and attack other nations.

Nonetheless, knowing that an invasion and occupation would be illegal under both the Constitution and the principles set forth at Nuremberg, the Pentagon ordered U.S. forces to invade and occupy the country, knowing full well that many of them would be killed, maimed, or injured in the process.

Did an illegal U.S. war of aggression against Iraq justify intervention by Iran to help Iraqis throw U.S. occupying forces out of the country? Of course not. Nonetheless, everyone knows — or should know — that when one nation illegally attacks and occupies another nation, there is a high likelihood that other nation-states are going to come to the assistance of the invaded and occupied country. That’s just the way the world works.

Consider, for example, when it was the Soviet Union, rather than the United States, that was the invader and occupier in Afghanistan. Guess who came to the assistance of the Afghans who were fighting to evict the Soviets from their country. That’s right — the U.S. government. It provided weaponry, including missiles, that was used to kill, maim, and injure Soviet soldiers. U.S. intervention wasn’t right, but that’s the way the world works.

What if those Soviet soldiers had sued the U.S. government for damages for the deaths and injuries caused by U.S.-supplied weaponry? There is not one court in the United States that would permit such a lawsuit to proceed. Unlike the lawsuit against Iran, a lawsuit by Soviet citizens against the U.S. government would be summarily dismissed.

If U.S. officials hadn’t ordered U.S. troops to invade and occupy Iraq, there never would have been any U.S. soldiers killed, maimed, or injured by anyone. Why shouldn’t the U.S. government be joined as a defendant in that lawsuit against Iran? If the Iranian government isn’t immune from liability, why should the U.S. government be immune from liability? Why are the plaintiffs giving their own government a pass, both legally and morally?

This first article appeared on the Future of Freedom blog.