National Security & Defense

Was the Soleimani Killing a Policy Success?

An Iranian holds a picture of General Qasem Soleimani who was killed in an air strike at Baghdad airport in Tehran, Iran, January 4, 2020. (Nazanin Tabatabaee/West Asia News Agency via Reuters)
Trump’s action rid the world of an effective terror master, and Soleimani’s death is likely to be at least a short-term setback for Iran’s imperial ambitions.

There’s an old story — apocryphal, as the best stories always seem to be — that Richard Nixon asked Chinese premier Chou En-Lai what he thought about the French revolution, and Chou said, “It’s too soon to tell.” At first blush, the mini-crisis between Iran and the United States appears to have ended well for the U.S., but it may be too soon to tell.

On the positive side of the ledger, Trump’s action rid the world of an effective terror master. Qasem Soleimani, head of the Quds (“Jerusalem”) force, was instrumental in creating Hezbollah, which has been responsible for attacks around the globe and has specifically targeted the United States and Israel. Hezbollah was behind the 1983 bombings of the U.S. embassy and Marine barracks in Beirut, as well as the embassy annex the following year. They kidnapped CIA station chief William Higgins and tortured him to death. In 1985, Hezbollah hijacked a TWA airliner and killed a U.S. Navy diver, dropping his body onto the airport tarmac.

The Quds force also supports Sunni terrorists such as Hamas and al-Qaeda (though it fought ISIS) and has carried out multiple terror attacks against Israel. During the Iraq War, Soleimani was “credited” with developing the IEDs that took the lives of at least 600 Americans. United States general David Petraeus recounted a message he once received from the terror leader: “Gen. Petraeus, you should know that I, Qassem Soleimani, control the policy for Iran with respect to Iraq, Lebanon, Gaza and Afghanistan.” He didn’t mention Yemen, as that war came a bit later, but Iran was behind the Houthis as well. Most devastating, in terms of body count, has been Soleimani’s participation in the Syrian civil war on behalf of Bashar al-Assad. That bloodbath has taken the lives of more than 500,000 Syrians and displaced more than 11 million more (6 million internally and 5.6 million external refugees).

Soleimani’s death is likely to be at least a short-term setback for Iran’s imperial ambitions. Also on the positive side of the ledger is the fact that Iran was reduced to lying to the Iranian people about its retaliation. Rather than risk actually killing Americans and thereby inviting further conflict, Iran chose to fire (misfire?) missiles at a couple of Iraqi bases while claiming on state media that 80 Americans had died. That was about as clear a climb-down as you get in an international crisis.

On the negative side of the ledger, Iran has now withdrawn from abiding by the limitations of the nuclear agreement, and whatever the flaws of that pact (I strenuously opposed it), it was still better to have Iran in compliance than not. Nor would it be crazy for Iran to conclude, after this humiliation at America’s hands, that nuclear weapons are more desirable than ever.

Further, if our goal was to weaken internal support for the Iranian regime, we may not have succeeded. A month ago, Iran’s cities were rocked by mass protests over the government’s decision to raise gasoline prices by 300 percent. Up to 600 protesters were killed and as many as 7,000 arrested. Now, we have triggered a nationalistic reflex, and the streets are thronged by mourners for the “martyr” Soleimani.

It was not necessarily in our interests to have alienated Iraqis to the point where a resolution was passed in parliament demanding the withdrawal of all U.S. forces. While it’s true that the Kurds and Sunnis did not participate in that nonbinding vote, it is nevertheless some measure of the animosity we’ve engendered. Nor was the situation improved by presidential tweets threatening severe sanctions on Iraq. It would be Iran’s fondest wish for America to leave or, even better, to be chased out of Iraq.

If we know anything about the clerics in Tehran, it’s that they nurse long grudges, and they are happy to take revenge on innocent civilians as well as military targets. In 1988, the U.S. destroyed half of the Iranian navy in Operation Praying Mantis. Eight years later, Hezbollah detonated a bomb at Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, which housed American Marines. Twenty were killed and nearly 500 wounded.

After Israel assassinated an Iranian nuclear scientist, Iran’s retaliation took the form of targeting Israeli tourists in Bulgaria and Israeli diplomats in Georgia, India, and Thailand. Frequently, Iran disclaims responsibility, as it did regarding the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires.

For good or ill, it is unlikely that this chapter is closed.

COPYRIGHT 2019 CREATORS.COM

Most Popular

White House

The Democrats’ Burisma Bait and Switch

Imagine you get indicted in a swindle. The prosecutors represent that they can prove you and your alleged co-conspirators planned to fleece a major financial institution. You counter that you weren’t fleecing anyone. Sure, you were asking for millions in loans, but the collateral you were prepared to post was ... Read More
White House

The Democrats’ Burisma Bait and Switch

Imagine you get indicted in a swindle. The prosecutors represent that they can prove you and your alleged co-conspirators planned to fleece a major financial institution. You counter that you weren’t fleecing anyone. Sure, you were asking for millions in loans, but the collateral you were prepared to post was ... Read More
Politics & Policy

15 Flaws in Adam Schiff’s Case

Adam Schiff did most of the heavy lifting for the House managers, and if he performed ably, he also relied on arguments and tropes that don’t withstand scrutiny. The Democratic case for impeachment and removal is now heavily encrusted with clichés, widely accepted by the media, meant to give their ... Read More
Politics & Policy

15 Flaws in Adam Schiff’s Case

Adam Schiff did most of the heavy lifting for the House managers, and if he performed ably, he also relied on arguments and tropes that don’t withstand scrutiny. The Democratic case for impeachment and removal is now heavily encrusted with clichés, widely accepted by the media, meant to give their ... Read More

A Nation of Barbers

It seems almost inevitable that long hair is unwelcome at Barbers Hill High School. There’s a touch of aptronymic poetry in Texas public-school dress-code disputes. When I was in school in the 1980s, at the height of the Satanism panic, the local school-district superintendent circulated a list of ... Read More

A Nation of Barbers

It seems almost inevitable that long hair is unwelcome at Barbers Hill High School. There’s a touch of aptronymic poetry in Texas public-school dress-code disputes. When I was in school in the 1980s, at the height of the Satanism panic, the local school-district superintendent circulated a list of ... Read More