It’s impossible to mourn the death of a person like Qassem Soleimani, the Iranian major general killed in a U.S. drone strike in Baghdad on Friday.
As head of the force responsible for Iran’s proxy armies throughout the Middle East, there is no doubt that Soleimani was for years dedicated to violently opposing the United States and its efforts in Iraq and elsewhere. The Associated Press reported he is to blame for hundreds of U.S. deaths in roadside bombings an other attacks,
But there are a lot of questions surrounding the timing of Friday’s attack, ordered by President Donald Trump and carried out by the U.S. military. Trump said he ordered the attack in order “to stop a war.” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo later said Soleimani was plotting attacks against U.S. interests.
OK, so what is new about that? We know that Iran, its army, and its agents have been sworn enemies of the United States for more than 40 years. So why act now? Where is the element of clear and present danger? Even as the sabers are increasingly rattled, there seems to be too little justification for Soleimani’s
So far the situation is all too reminiscent of George W. Bush’s war in Iraq, which was waged after Bush claimed Saddam Hussein was amassing weapons of mass destruction to use against Americans and our interests. There’s still debate over whether Bush administration officials deliberately misled the public or whether there was a failure of U.S. intelligence, but no clear evidence of such weapons was ever discovered. What is clear is that the ensuing war resulted in the deaths and lasting wounds to many thousands of U.S. soldiers and contractors, and at least a hundred thousand overall deaths. It’s also clear that more than 15 years after the war commenced, Iraq remains a dangerous, destabilized country.
We’d like to think Trump won’t repeat the mistakes of the past. But alas, we are talking about an administration that appears to have stolen its foreign policy from The Marx Brothers’ 1933 classic, “Duck Soup.” Here’s how Wikipedia summarizes that film:
“The wealthy Mrs. Teasdale (Margaret Dumont) insists that Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho) be appointed leader of the small, bankrupt country of Freedonia before she will continue to provide much-needed financial aid. Meanwhile, neighboring Sylvania is attempting to annex the country. Sylvanian ambassador Trentino (Louis Calhern) tries to foment a revolution and to woo Mrs. Teasdale, and he tries to dig up dirt on Firefly by sending in spies Chicolini (Chico) and Pinky (Harpo).
“After failing to collect useful information against Firefly, Chicolini and Pinky are able to infiltrate the government when Chicolini is appointed secretary of war after Firefly sees him selling peanuts outside his window. Meanwhile, Firefly’s secretary, Bob Roland (Zeppo), suspects Trentino’s motives, and advises Firefly to get rid of Trentino by insulting him. Firefly agrees to the plan, but after a series of personal insults exchanged between Firefly and Trentino, the plan backfires when Firefly slaps Trentino instead of being slapped by him. As a result, the two countries come to the brink of war …”
President Trump and his supporters may have strong facts that led to the death of General Soleimani. In fact, we very much hope that these facts exist, and that a verifiable case will be made to the American people.
But given the lack of foreign diplomacy prowess demonstrated by Trump and his administration over the last few years, we are more concerned that the case is reminiscent of another Marx Brothers’ classic: “Horse Feathers.”