Israelis were surprised last Friday morning by the liquidation of arch-terrorist Qassem Soleimani, the right hand man and possible successor to the tyrannical Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei. Major-General Soleimani was head of the powerful Quds [Jerusalem] force, the elite paramilitary arm of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). He was architect of Iran’s deadly terroristic and hegemonic strategy throughout the Middle East, South America, Africa, and elsewhere.
But it wasn’t Israel that accomplished the eradication of the world’s most dangerous terrorist, far more dangerous than an Osama Bin Laden (Al Qaida) or Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (ISIS). It was the US government. Surprisingly for Israelis, the news wasn’t universally celebrated in the US. Not only were the President’s motives and the legality of his order immediately questioned, but the whole idea of violent elimination of a politically active global terrorist was raised by his political opponents.
While some countries are soft on Iran (e.g. Germany, France, Britain), or even support it, both the US and Israel rightly recognize the Islamic State of Iran’s malevolent leadership, which is not shy about proclaiming its intention to destroy both the US (Big Satan) and Israel (Little Satan). Iran isn’t averse to stating this even in the “hallowed” halls of the United Nations, despite the fact that the UN’s bylaws forbid such speech.
The US and Israel have each eliminated the heads of terrorist organizations in the past. But, there are some voices that are soft on Iran, worrying excessively about its “rights” while ignoring its government’s perfidious behavior. To fear to act proactively because of misguided principles gives all the advantages to the bad actors while handicapping the good guys (us).
Would it have been “better” not to eliminate Soleimani because he wasn’t caught with a gun or knife in his hand? Or “better” not to eliminate him because someone worse might succeed him, or because he’s a “revered” military leader, or some other insipid reason? A thousand times, “No!”
According to Middle East scholar Harold Rhode, Soleimani was the Iranian equivalent of General Dwight D. Eisenhower, who led the combined Allied European forces during WWII – and later succeeded President Truman.
Soleimani was a genius, superior to everyone else at envisioning, nurturing, and running terror operations on myriad battlefields. It’s doubtful that he can be replaced. His second-in-command in Iraq was killed in the same operation, a bonus. Soleimani’s subordinate, Esmail Ghaani, has stepped up to attempt to fill Soleimani’s giant shoes.
In the past, the leaders of both Israel and the US have missed opportunities to take out arch-terrorists at the opportune time. Soleimani himself could have been liquidated by both President Bush or President Obama, but neither did. As a result, Soleimani lived to commit many more atrocities, including the wounding of thousands of American soldiers and the murder of hundreds.
It’s too late to do anything about missed opportunities. But when a leader seizes the opportune – perhaps fleeting – moment to strike, it’s abominable to criticize him for taking the initiative.
Nearly all Sunni Muslims, who constitute the vast majority of the faith, are happy that a scourge has been eliminated. Many Iranians, who are minority Shia Muslims, mourn Soleimani on TV and in other media, but vast numbers of Iranians who are agitating for regime change are jubilant.
Israelis, while recognizing the threat of a spike in terrorism at home, still rejoice that Soleimani is dead. So too, Americans should be thankful that a dangerous, intelligent, and super-capable terrorist has been removed from the scene, setting Iran back on its heels, and hopefully initiating the decline and fall of its immoral, Islamist regime.