Of course they could, so they did. The United States high-tech attack that killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, head of the Al Quds brigade may be a powerful demonstration, and reminder, of what the Americans can do to you if they want.
The Americans live by war, and they want to govern the world by war. If you take an atlas and place a red pin everywhere the Americans are involved in one form or other of military action, soon your world map will be completely covered with red pinheads giving you a crimson sea covering the globe. They rule the world, and they want the world to know that and accept it.
The general was no favourite soldier of mine. I thought he has something of a romantic about him, a little like Che Guevara.
He was surely a military adventurer whose support, and lots of cash, came from the Mullahcracy that rules over Iran, and sometimes such adventurers can overreach themselves if they get a chance.
And may be Soleimani should not have gone to Iraq when he did, and maybe he should have taken greater precaution while there. These are particularly tense times, especially with Donald Trump in the Oval Office and his determination to do the macho thing as he faces up to a creeping impeachment process that is infuriating him.
Soleimani represented all that Trump hates, and the latter’s decision to take him out is probably the most ideological action taken by the US president in the last four years of his rule. He was one of the eight commanders of the Revolutionary Guard and was an important pillar of the defence forces of Iran and his influence in the region was extremely important.
His replacement has been promptly made, and that should send a sharp message to both Jerusalem and Washington that the struggle continues and that no assassination will ever quench the thirst for freedom of the Palestinian people.
Now, one should never forget that Iran is the only major power in the Middle East that has declared unfaltering support to Palestinians in their resistance against the Zionist occupation, and the very name of Quds, which is the Palestinian name for Jerusalem, strikes terror at the heart of all supporters of the regime now in Jerusalem.
Jerusalem has been accepted by the international community as the capital city of the two states, which should emerge as comprise is reached between the Palestinians and the Israelis, but the recalcitrance of the ultra hard-core Zionists and their backers such as Trump, want to preclude that, claiming God promised Jerusalem to the Jews, thus effectively making God the real estate agent of the Jews, as someone suggested!
This attitude of this diehard clique is what has emboldened Benjamin Netanyahu in his relentless pursuit of the policy of occupation and the grab of as much Palestinian land as he can, literally condemning the Palestinians to a permanent status of refugees in the land of their ancestors.
Apart from the regional geopolitical instability that the assassination of Soleimani will continue to engender, we may expect more randomised terror attacks from the area, amid the inevitably escalating tensions between Washington and Tehran.
In this cut-throat world of ours, is there hope that norms of civilised behaviour will ever gain be respected, norms according to which it may not be all right to carry out diplomacy be assassinating your rivals? There does not seem to be such a hope for the time being.
Many years ago, John Simpson of the BBC wrote a gripping book, A Mad World, My Masters in which he related his personal escapades in which he rubbed shoulders or had close shaves with all sorts of characters, all of whom were doing their thing to try and influence events and developments in their respective corners of the world, and maybe the whole world entire.
The personages Simpson writes about in the book are long gone, and those who are still around have mellowed from the passage of time and change of fortune.
Still, we have enough madmen to go around.
It maybe time that organisations such as the United Nations devised some diplomatic straitjacket to restrain them before the blow us all up.
Jenerali Ulimwengu is chairman of the board of the Raia Mwema newspaper and an advocate of the High Court in Dar es Salaam. E-mail: email@example.com