War today., at least war with significant geo-political consequences. are today rarely fought with armies. To a large extent, and where it matters most (that is where the consequences of traditional warfare are topp great, the major (and great regional) powers now deploy armies of bureaucrats, lenders, cyber shockk troops, enterprises, social scientists, news and other well managed social media organs (yes, even or especially in the West), politicians . . . . and lawyers. Clever lawyers (e.g., Lawfare: Law as a Weapon of War). Despite an almost constant occurrence of traditional warfare at the edges and margins of those actors of central importance to the global core of leadership, where consequences count, non-traditional warfare has proven quite effective. And, as an added benefit, it preserves the spoils of war--the productive forces of defeated rivals. In a sense, modern post-global warfare (the multiple generations of warfare that are now the object of great study and strategic use by those states capable of their deployment) preserves the goods, services, infrastructure, and laboring elements even as they acquire the advantages once assumed only possible through conventional war (e.g., The Fuhrer Principle of International Law: Individual Responsibility and Collective Punishment).
The circumstances around the death of Jamal Khashoggi serves as the the battlefield on which the opponents of the government of Saudi Arabia now wage war. Initially the combatants deployed the traditional forces of diplomacy and strategically social agitation (especially useful as a management tool of assemblages of human collectives in liberal democracies, if one knows what one is doing), leveraged through the management of news and social media organs among networked news and media organs (especially the case where a media organ becomes both combatant and chronicler of events, e.g., here). In liberal democratic states that is undertaken through private markets for influence, and the consequences of control or contractual relationships embedded within autonomous private self referencing economic systems (e.g., here). That produced (from the perspectives of the opponents of the Saudi state) limited success (e.g., here, and here).
Now onto the battlefield come the lawyers. Initially the battle revolved around criminal sanctions that veiled the political war between Saudi Arabia and Turkey (e.g., here, and here). On 20 October 2020, the fiancé of Jamal Khashoggi along with DAWN, a US non profit corporation, filed suit against a large number of Saudi officials--Hatice Cengiz v. Mohammed bin Salman, Case 1:20-cv-03009 (US Dist Ct D.C.). The Complaint seeks compensatory and punitive damages along with attorneys fees on the basis of claims for extra judicial killings under the Alien Tort Statute (28 USC §1350) and the Torture Victim Protection Act (28 USC §1350 note), along with claims for tortuous interference with contract, wrongful death, intentional infliction of emotional distress, loss of consortium, and loss of society.
Brief reflections follow