Was the Iran Assassination Trump’s Triumph or His First Misstep?
I would have topped off my gas tank earlier if I had known that President Trump was going to turn an Iranian general into a steaming pile of hamburger. Oil prices jumped 4% on the news that Trump had killed Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike at the airport in Baghdad.
Soleimani was the leader of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Quds force – the guys in charge of all Iranian military operations outside of Iran.
Soleimani was a thug and was widely considered to be the second-most powerful person in Iran. As a high-ranking Iranian government agent, Soleimani’s itinerary was kept highly secret. Everyone from Israel’s Mossad to Iranian shopkeepers wanted the guy dead, because he has been such a terrorizing and powerful force in the Middle East.
As soon as he stepped off an airplane in Baghdad, possibly back from stirring up trouble in Syria or Lebanon, American drones pinpointed Soleimani and shredded him and some of his bodyguards in a precision strike.
Lots of people are bloviating about the targeted assassination of Soleimani. This wasn’t some ISIS fighter in a tent out in the middle of some desert. Soleimani was a general with the full backing of the Iranian government behind him. He was also the guy who just tried to lure the Trump administration into a war, by having his Quds forces storm the US embassy in Baghdad.
That backfired, because Trump is no Hillary Clinton. The embassy attack was short-lived, thanks to quick military response. Trump wasn’t going to have another Benghazi on his watch.
In retaliation, Trump didn’t go after the Iranian Quds terrorists. He took out their leader.
Without hyperventilating about it, let’s consider what this really means.
Does Soleimani’s killing in a foreign country mean that American politicians, military leaders and civilians are suddenly fair game for Iran?
Possibly. We may be headed into a period that resembles the Carter years, when Iran was taking American hostages and rattling sabers at the rest of the world. It suddenly makes it look like it was not such a great idea to allow 2 million Iranians to immigrate to the United States in recent years.
One difference between now and the Carter years is that President Trump is clearly not going to play by the old rules with nations that have been in cold wars with us for years. You attack our embassy – the guy who ordered the attack gets killed. The mullahs in Tehran must be wetting themselves over Soleimani’s demise.
Will this plunge America into a new war in the Middle East, which Trump promised to keep us out of?
Probably not, based on watching all of Trump’s actions as president so far. When Iran shot down an American drone over the Indian Ocean, all of the war hawks advised him to launch a retaliatory strike and kill dozens, possibly hundreds, of Iranian soldiers.
Trump called the attack off at the last minute, deciding that the response would have been overkill. It wasn’t worth killing dozens of Iran’s soldiers over a broken robot, to paraphrase Fox News’ Tucker Carlson. The restraint that Trump showed was truly presidential. The incident was one of his finest moments as Commander in Chief.
And that’s the reason why I don’t think the targeted killing of General Soleimani will lead to war. Trump seems to be playing a different game with Iran.
The Iranian people have been in revolt against the Shiite dictatorship in Tehran since 2009. The Obama administration helped the mullahs put down that year’s revolution. There was too much money to be made by the Clinton Foundation and Barack Obama’s brother, Roy Obama, by keeping the mullahs in power. But the people still want the mullahs out of power. More than 1,000 civilians were killed by the regime in Iran in 2019.
Iranian families that have had members tortured and killed under Soleimani’s reign are now cheering “Uncle Trump” for taking Soleimani out. Check out the Twitter feeds of dissident Iranians if you doubt this. They’re praising President Trump for the drone strike.
And that may be Trump’s strategy. If he can embolden the Iranian people, the days of the mullahs in Iran are numbered. Once the mullahs are swinging from lampposts, how many of the seemingly endless problems in the Middle East will suddenly come to an end? The answer is: Most of them.