Iran and Letters of Marque and Reprisal

I’ve been supporting our military and intelligence efforts in Iraq since 2011, working for the same agency [no, not that Agency, but very much related], with multiple deployments to Iraq…..and nothing makes me happier in the offensive sense, than to see Qasem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis [as well as others] killed with extreme prejudice. I know intimately the imminent threat that prompted the timing of this strike, and had it not been authorized, a loss of American life in a short window would have occurred that was rivaled only by 9/11. Full credit to POTUS for giving the green light, and full credit to the dedication of the teams of analysts and operators who made this happen.

Muhandis, with Soleimani’s blessing, ordered a consistent series of rocket attacks against US and Coalition locations within Iraq since April of this year….ignored by the American media; not to mention the IRGC-QF technical and operational assistance to Shi’s militia’s during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Countless American and Coalition lives were lost as a direct result of the IRGC-QF.

A 2012 Army War College paper that I’ve had in my digital library for many years, highlights a Constitutional, yet unfashionable approach to dealing with State, proxy-force and terrorist actors in the current age – Letters of Marque and Reprisal.

By the time the Constitution was ratified in 1789, the practice of privateering had been a legitimate part of Western warfare for over 500 years. Letters of marque and reprisal had been important tools for the Continental Congress under the Articles of Confederation during the American Revolution, and this power granted by the Constitution would maintain its significance in the years following its ratification. The Framers placed great import on the federal government’s role in protecting maritime commerce and enforcing the common law of nations. While changes in warfare and developments in international law during the last century have largely vanquished the role of privateering, the Congressional authority to issue Letters of Marque and Reprisal remains, having never been repealed.

As the U.S. and the international community contemplate a host of difficult security concerns modern extraterritorial threats such as piracy, terrorism, and cyber exploitation, U.S. policymakers and legal scholars should contemplate the conceptual merit of letters of marque and reprisal as a means of combating these threats short of “war.” This is not to say that the Constitutional power to grant letters of marque and reprisal should be taken lightly. As Thomas Jefferson explained, “The making of a reprisal on a nation is a very serious thing. Remonstrance and refusal of satisfaction ought to precede; and when reprisal follows, it is considered an act of war, and never yet failed to produce it in the case of a nation able to make war.”

Read the rest here: Resurrecting Letters of Marque and Reprisal to Address Modern Threats

It’s a concept that’s time has come to consider, again.

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