04 January 2020

The Aftermath

Would you use a flamethrower to kill a fly trapped in your house? How about using a stick of dynamite? Or a hand grenade?

The answer is obvious: of course not.

You've probably heard that a United States drone killed Qassim Suleimani early yesterday. He headed Iran's powerful Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.

Suleimani was killed along with several Iraqi militia leaders backed by Tehran (details here). The strike was ordered by Donald Trump.

Make no mistake about it, Suleimani was a very evil man who had cause the deaths of many innocent people. But with that said, the manner by which Trump brought about his demise will almost certainly cause more problems than were solved.

And by problems I mean more deaths of innocent people, more regional violence, and greater political instability in the Middle East. In short, this strike may do down as the act which starts a regional war.

Condemnation of Trump's actions was swift and strong. You can find a lot of it easily online. I'll focus attention here on two pieces.

One is an excellent op-ed written by a Middle East expert in London (link here) with the title "The Soleimani assassination was short-sighted for US strategy and destabilizing for Iraq and the region."

An excerpt: "The United States’ assassination of General Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, was short-sighted, counter-strategic and will only further destabilize Iraq. Washington claims that the strike was carried out to thwart an 'imminent attack,' with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asserting that the U.S. remains committed to de-escalation with Iran. But the strike will do only the opposite, fueling tensions and likely ensuring retaliation. This will jeopardize U.S. policy and presence, further endanger civilians in Iraq (including those leading an ongoing pro-democracy movement) and bring further instability to the region."

The other is an analytical piece from Jonathan Chait (link here) titled "Trump Thinks Attacking Iran Will Get Him Reelected. He’s Wrong."

An excerpt: "Trump’s allies have framed the issue as being about Qasem Soleimani’s moral culpability, or Iran’s responsibility for escalating the conflict. And it is certainly true that Iran is a nasty, aggressive, murderous regime. But none of this refutes the fact that Trump’s Iran policy is failing on its own terms. Having violated a diplomatic agreement on the premise that doing so would not lead to war, they are now blaming Iran for the war they insisted would never happen."

While Trump's action was reckless and ill advised, he would not be alone in a group of Presidents who have carelessly used military action. (Yes, George W. Bush, we're looking at you.) But if he did this because he thought it would help him get re-elected, he will have proven himself to be even more craven and corrupt than anyone thought possible.

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