“We will find you, [and] we will eliminate you.” So said President Trump to Islamic terrorists. As evidenced by the recent drone strike killing Qassim Soleimani, Mr. Trump is a man of his word. (Note: as a bonus, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iran’s PME militia, was also killed.)
Not surprisingly, reaction, for the most part, has fallen along party lines. Dems and Trump haters are labeling the action as an “assassination,” with the implication that it was unjustified, contrary to established US foreign policy, and, perhaps, illegal. In addition, many of them have characterized it as “senseless, shortsighted, and irresponsible.” They are figuratively wringing their hands over what Iran may do to retaliate. Their fear is that we have irritated the Iranian leadership unnecessarily, and they will retaliate.
Also, they worry that Iraq may kick out our troops in retaliation. I say, fine, let them. Our troops there have a huge target on their backs and no clear mission. It’s time to leave anyway.
On the other hand, Trump supporters have generally applauded the action. They view this action as a justified killing within the context of the ongoing war on terror in retaliation for the many acts of terrorism Soleimani has perpetrated over the last 20+ years. Furthermore, they are in accord with Mr. Trump’s assertion that he is not seeking a regime change in Iran, and the action was taken not to start a war with Iran, but to prevent one. They recognize that Iran and its allies hate America and Americans, always have, always will, regardless of what we do.
Anyone who has followed developments in the Middle East for the last 70 years knows that. Moreover, anyone who knows their history knows that appeasing a bully has never worked. (See Europe of the 1930s.)
At the very least, a very bad man and chief provocateur has been taken off the board. Also, let’s remember that Soleimani was not a head of state; he was an enemy combatant, a terrorist mastermind responsible for an untold number of deaths, both Americans and non-Americans. To me, enemy combatants and terrorist leaders are fair game.
Anyone who harbors any doubts that Soleimani’s killing was justified should research his exploits, as I did. He was the commander of Iran’s notorious Quds Force. As such, he was responsible for planning and orchestrating numerous terrorist attacks over the past 20+ years, which have resulted in the murdering of thousands of innocent people, including Americans. A recent sampling of these include rocket attacks on Saudi oil facilities, oil tankers in the Persian Gulf, and US consulates in Baghdad and Basra as well as terror attacks outside the region.
It can be argued that he was more powerful and dangerous than even bin Laden. Many observers believe he was the second most person in Iran and the most powerful Muslim general in the entire region. He had a strong network of proxies at his disposal in various other countries besides Iran, such as Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen. Moreover, he had the full support of a powerful state, Iran, at his disposal.
Apparently, Mr. Trump was relying on ample evidence supplied by US intelligence agencies that Soleimani was planning a major attack against American personnel overseas and, possibly, against America, itself. A State Department official spokesperson described the attacks as “imminent.” I find it ironic that the same critics who have been criticizing him for not listening to these intelligence agencies in the past are now criticizing him for doing so. They want it both ways.
According to published reports in “The Telegraph” the Administration was aware of “clear threats” against Americans. US national security advisor Robert O’Brien added that Soleimani had been travelling to Syria, Iraq and other Middle East locales organizing such terrorist attacks.
Some random quotes and opinions:
1. Senator and Dem presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, Rep Ilhan Omar, and Senator Chris Murphy were among those who characterized the killing derisively as an “assassination.”
2. Presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg countered that that description was “outrageous.” Soleimani, he said, “had an awful lot of American blood on his hands,” and “the US had a ‘right’ and an ‘obligation’ to pursue [him].
3. Noted Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz opined that it was a “lawful, proportional, preemptive military action.” He characterized Soleimani as a “combatant enemy who had killed and was planning to kill Americans.”
4. Senator Rand Paul viewed the action as an “assassination” and cautioned that “one of the unintended consequences [could] be war with Iran.”
5. Senator Tom Cotton, who had actually served in Iraq, said Soleimani “got what he richly deserved,” and the hundreds of Americans for whose death he was responsible, got “justice.”
6. Rep Seth Moulton, an Iraq War veteran and a harsh critic of Mr. Trump’s described Soleimani as “an enemy of the US with American blood on his hands.”
So, how will Iran respond? Will they bluster and threaten? Will they foment “protests,” in the streets, posturing against the “imperialist Great Satan” for the benefit of the tv cameras? Will they launch additional rocket attacks in the area? Will they attempt terror attacks in the US and elsewhere through their various proxies? Probably, any and all of the above.
But, it has already been doing those things, and, as noted in the “Washington Post,” maybe, just maybe, Iran’s leadership will now realize that they are better off negotiating than fighting. Its economy is in a shambles due to the economic sanction the US has levied. Additionally, according to “The Telegraph” there is a faction within the country that feared Soleimani as a “loose cannon,” and is not as upset at his demise as we think.
Iran’s leadership should realize that a direct, full-fledged war against the US is not in their best interests. Surely, their economy, their infrastructure, and their military would suffer major damage. The US has given them the “stick;” now, maybe, it’s time for the “carrot.”
In my opinion, like any other bully they only understand and respect force. We simply had to push back sooner or later. Now, they realize that unlike his predecessor, President Trump is a man of his word. No phony “red lines” here. Deep inside, they know that we can and will hit them anytime, anywhere. In fact, Mr. Trump has stated that he already has a slew of possible targets picked out. We have demonstrated that we can attack them without boots on the ground, without any loss of American lives. Let them cower in their huts, so to speak.