Donald Trump personally ordered the assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, with an Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis as collateral damage. Trump then followed the assassination by tweeting the American flag.
The killing took place at Baghdad Airport, in the sovereign nation of Iraq, a killing that was not sanctioned by the government of Iraq or authorized by the U.S. Congress. Trump justified the assassination by falsely claiming that General Soleimani was a terrorist and was “directly and indirectly responsible for the death of millions of people.”
General Qassem Soleimani has killed or badly wounded thousands of Americans over an extended period of time, and was plotting to kill many more…but got caught! He was directly and indirectly responsible for the death of millions of people, including the recent large number….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 3, 2020
The Pentagon released yet another justification statement, saying that “General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region… General Soleimani also approved the attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad that took place this week.”
After the assassination, Trump went on to taunt Iran: “Iran never won a war, but never lost a negotiation!” and piled onto General Soleimani’s legacy “While Iran will never be able to properly admit it, Soleimani was both hated and feared within the country. They are not nearly as saddened as the leaders will let the outside world believe. He should have been taken out many years ago!” Trump’s ordered assassination and rhetoric full of lies resolves nothing and makes the world more insecure and lawless, endangering all humanity.
Trump and History
Before examining Iran’s and America’s record on recent foreign interventions, terrorism, and extraterritorial deaths, Trump’s ignorance about history should be pointed out. Iran has been around far longer than has the United States. It may surprise Trump that Iran had one of the most extensive empires known to man, and yes, along the way, it has won a war or two.
In Trump’s world, the CIA and the myriad of U.S. intelligence agencies act as boy scouts while Iran’s intelligence services are terrorists. Trump applauds America’s covert operations, including war criminals such as Chief Petty Officer Eddie Gallagher, and accuses Iranians of unlawful killings.
He should study America’s history of covert operations before he opens his mouth, including the 1953 overthrow of the Prime Minister of Iran. The United States has bases around the world, interfered in dozens of countries that are thousands of miles away, and yet tells Iran not to worry about its security in its neighborhood. Such nonsensical pleadings fall on deaf ears. If Trump can label anyone that he wishes as a terrorist and fair game, so can anyone else around the world coin Trump a terrorist.
Blood on America’s Hands
Trump accuses Iran of the direct and indirect responsibility for millions of deaths and yet does not see America in the mirror as he speaks – the Vietnam War, the invasion of Iraq, the invasion of Afghanistan, and support for Saudi intervention in the genocide in Yemen to name but a few, most directly inflicting death and pain on Iran through America’s tacit support for Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Iran and the transfer of outlawed chemical weapons to Iraq. Yes, the deaths in this war well exceeded a million with blood on America’s hands as opposed to Soleimani’s imaginary “millions.”
PM @AdilAbdAlMahdi: Carrying out operations to assassinate Iraqi figures and figures from another country on Iraqi soil is a flagrant violation of Iraqi sovereignty and a dangerous escalation.
— Government of Iraq – الحكومة العراقية (@IraqiGovt) January 3, 2020
Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal with Iran, a UN agreement. And to add insult to injury, he tightened economic sanctions on the country. These sanctions do not affect the well-being of the regime in Tehran but impaired the lives of ordinary Iranians, denying them even desperately needed medicines.
After all this, Trump goes on to say that General Soleimani was both hated and feared in Iran. But Soleimani was an extraordinarily popular Iranian public figure, some even say the most popular person in Iran, with 8 in 10 Iranians having a favorable view of him, according to a public opinion study published by the Center for International and Security Studies at the University of Maryland in October 2019. He was an icon in Iran and among Shia Muslims the world over.
Act of Utmost Stupidity
What has Trump ushered in with his terrorist attack on an Iranian general?
General Soleimani was an important organizer of the Iraqi militias in their war against ISIS. The U.S. and Iran and the Kurds were allies in this fight. The U.S. abandoned the Kurds, and now this assassination slams the door on future cooperation with Iran. America’s words or alliances will now hold little sway across the entire Middle East. This assassination was not a show of resolve but an act of utmost stupidity.
Iran will quietly oppose U.S. initiatives everywhere it can, especially in the Middle East and North Africa.
Hezbollah will step up its interventions against Israeli and U.S. interests.
Iran will initiate an accelerated program to develop nuclear weapons.
While Trump wants Iran to bend, this will not happen. The assassination of Soleimani, along with ongoing U.S. sanctions, will rally Iranians, even many opposed to the regime, to support Iran’s defiance and independence and to distrust the U.S. as never before.
The lives of American personnel from Afghanistan to Morocco will be in increased danger, especially where Americans serve alongside local servicemen. A vengeful soldier with a weapon or access to explosives can cause untold damage to Americans serving alongside. American embassies will be in danger for years to come. Vengeance will be selective, unpredictable, and long term.
Iraq will restrict U.S. activities in the country and may, in time, ask all U.S. forces to leave. Turkey will cast aside Trump’s threats and send troops to Libya in defense of the internationally recognized government in Tripoli. Turkey-U.S. relations will rapidly deteriorate with Turkey exiting NATO within the year if Trump is re-elected. Negotiations with North Korea, which were practically doomed from the start, especially after the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal, will be abandoned, and North Korea will fully develop its intercontinental ballistic missile capabilities.
The same and unproven justification for the assassination, namely that General Soleimani was preparing to attack American diplomats, will be used by terrorist organizations to legitimize their own acts of terror against American interests and those of others.
What Trump ordered is an act of war with no goal or purpose. He may think that it will help his re-election, ironically the same as what he tweeted about Barack Obama, that he would begin a war with Iran to get re-elected. If nothing else, it shows the dangers of an administration with little insight into foreign policy and the history of the Middle East and its people.
Trump has opened a new chapter of turbulence and pain for America abroad. It is high time for patriotic lawmakers in the United States to put party aside, see the looming dangers, and take appropriate steps to limit the fallout.Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of The Globe Post.