Esper: I’m Confident That Trump Won’t Ask The US Military To Commit War Crimes
After President Donald Trump ordered the strike that killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, he insisted that any retaliation by Iran would be met with attacks on targets important to the Iranian culture — an outright war crime under international agreements surrounding warfare.
But Secretary of Defense Mark Esper is not worried that Trump will actually follow through on the threat and ask the U.S. military to target such sites, according to Task and Purpose.
During a press conference at the Pentagon on Tuesday, CNN’s Barbara Starr asked Esper if he would resign should Trump give an order to strike cultural targets.
Esper responded: "I am fully confident that the president … will not give us an illegal order. As I said, the United States military will – as it always has – obey the laws of armed conflict."
Trump appeared to double down on his earlier remarks — which came via tweet last week and included a threat to target 52 Iranian sites, “some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture” — and then immediately turn around, telling reporters it is unfair that Iran can do things the U.S. cannot but ultimately he will abide the law.
"They're allowed to kill our people," he said. "They're allowed to maim our people. They're allowed to blow up everything that we have. There's nothing that stops them. And we are – according to various laws – supposed to be very careful with their cultural heritage."
"And you know what? It if that's what the law is – I like to obey the law," Trump continued. "But think of it: They kill our people. They blow up our people and then we have to be very gentle with their cultural institutions. But I'm OK with it. It's OK with me."