The killing of Iran’s Quds Force commander Major General Qasem Soleimani by an American drone in Baghdad unleashed a firestorm of protests in the United States. Outfits ranging from Rolling Stone Magazine to The New York Times feared that this “assassination” would lead to war with Iran. Congressional Democrats and all the candidates in the Democratic race for president denounced the drone attack. Even Tucker Carlson, who usually supports the policies of President Trump, called him to task for this attack, saying, “There are an awful lot of bad people in this world. We can’t kill them all.”
Many Iranians mourned Soleimani’s death and threatened revenge for it. For them, he was a cult figure, a folk hero who some hoped might one day become president. In Iraq, too, those who want a closer alliance with Iran mourned his passing and protested the drone attack.
Others supported the decision by President Trump to take out Soleimani with the drone attack. In April 2019, the State Department declared the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to which the Quds Force belongs a terrorist organization. Iranians inside Iraq had helped plan and lead the violent protests at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. Soleimani and the Iranian military were clearly active in Iraqi affairs and have fomented unrest there and around the region. Unlike his admirers, many diplomats and politicians in the Middle East and the United States regarded Soleimani as a terrorist, a murderer of innocent people.
Then there’s this side of the story, which has received little play in the mainstream media.
At Gateway Pundit, Kristinn Taylor reports that Iranians online and in the streets of Iran are applauding the death of Soleimani, and are thanking President Trump for removing the killer who had not only fomented violence in the Middle East, but who had overseen the deaths of thousands of Iranians. Under the hashtag #TnxPOTUS4Soleimani, we find comments such as these:
Taylor also includes a video of Iranians celebrating the death of Soleimani. For weeks, protesters, many of them young, have gone head-to-head with forces of the Iranian government, demanding an end to corruption and to the current regime. Many of these opponents of the government have been killed, wounded, or arrested.
Most Americans – and I include myself – are ignorant about the politics and culture of the Middle East. I read the Koran in a college class on world religions, then read it again after 9/11. In the last 18 years, I have read several general books about the region. Yet like most my fellow citizens, I had no knowledge of Soleimani until this month. Countries like Iran, Iraq, and Syria remain mysteries for most of us, quagmires of baffling cultural, religious, and political ideologies.
Our so-called experts have made terrible miscalculations in our policy in the Middle East. Nearly 20 years ago, we entered the region with the intention of crushing terrorist organizations and bringing democracy and Western law into countries like Iraq and Afghanistan. As my friend John once said, “How’d that work out for ya?”
In his Farewell Address, George Washington said, “It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliance with any portion of the foreign world.” Thomas Jefferson reinforced this idea: “Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations—entangling alliances with none.”
America largely avoided “entangling alliances” until after World War II. Emerging from that war as a world leader and engaging in the Cold War, we soon entered alliances with nation after nation, some of which benefited all involved, while others brought only war, death, and vast outlays of money.
As the United States continues to achieve energy independence, we have become less dependent on oil from the Middle East. We therefore have a broader range of choices as to what commitments we wish to make to that region. Do we need to keep sending troops into some of these countries? Do we have any obligation to a people who call America “the Great Satan” or the mobs that chant “Death to America?” If Iraq is our friend, why are Iranians, who despise America, allowed to place military forces in that country?
Philosopher, essayist, and novelist George Santayana once wrote, “Only the dead have seen the end of war.”
But only fools fight unwinnable wars.
Is it time to listen to the Founding Fathers?
[Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons-Ali Khamenei website, CC BY 4.0]
Jeff Minick lives in Front Royal, Virginia, and may be found online at jeffminick.com. He is the author of two novels, Amanda Bell and Dust on Their Wings, and two works of non-fiction, Learning as I Go and Movies Make the Man.