And while we’re at it, let’s stop asking whether President Trump did the right thing by taking out Iranian Revolutionary Guards Quds Force, Chief, Qassem Suleimani. It’s really not a Trump issue. Ask instead, whether America did the right thing by targeting him. Better yet, ask whether anyone should be able to plan and carry out deadly attacks on Americans, American interests or American allies with impunity. That’s the relevant question.
The Quds Force is that unit of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard Corps that focuses on foreign operations and is a US-designated terrorist organization. The Quds Force has one mission and really only one mission; to create instability through terror. It’s all about hegemony in the Middle East. It’s all about Shia influence versus Sunni influence. It has become a very deadly contest.
The United States has not hesitated to target the heads of non-state terrorist groups such as Osama bin Laden or Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, but, for some reason, the head of a state-sponsored terrorist group such as Quds Force commander Qassem Suleimani, who certainly had the blood of hundreds of Americans on his hands, has been off-limits.
The immediate decision to take out Suleimani reportedly resulted from a Suleimani-directed attack on an American base in Iraq in which up to thirty missiles reigned down killing one American and wounding several others, as well as reported military intelligence that more deadly attacks against Americans were (possibly still are) imminent.
The most recent attack followed years of attacks against American servicemen in Iraq in which Quds Force-supplied Improvised Explosive Devises were used to kill GI’s. And last week’s attacks against the American embassy in Bagdad was carried out by Suleimani-supported militias that proudly proclaimed their leader to be Qassem Suleimani. Suleimani has been the paymaster of Hezbollah and, along with Qatar, of Hamas as well.
The deadly attack against Quds Force Chief Suleimani puts a very succinct question before Iran’s Supreme Leader. What price is he willing to pay to kill Americans or American allies? There is no turning back from where we are today. Any Iranian revenge attack is certain to claim more lives than the attack two weeks ago that claimed one American fatality. From this point on the stakes are going to be enormous. President Trump has, for the first time, laid his cards on the table by announcing that the United States has identified 52 high-priority targets that are in the cross-hairs if Iran strikes back. Whether 52 is really the number of Iranian sites to be targeted should Iran strike back may be questionable, but that the United States has its targets selected is probably a safe bet.
Under Presidents Bush (43) and Obama, the United States took pains to avoid attacking the Quds Force Commander. Under Bush, his role as the mastermind of terrorist and battlefield attacks against Americans and American interests may not have been fully understood. Under Obama, there seems to have been a reluctance to do anything that might hamper progress on the so-called Iran nuclear deal. So, we tolerated the Quds Force and its leader; so much so that he strutted about with minimal security and, sometimes, with no real security at all.
So, after the last deadly Quds-Force missile attack, America said, “Enough!” No one, not even Quds Force Commander, Qassem Suleimani can attack Americans with impunity, nor presumably, will his replacement be allowed to. Iran has been testing America’s resolve for years, and, more recently, President Trump’s resolve. Iranian attacks against shipping through the Straits of Hormuz have gone unanswered, even though we maintain a strong naval presence there to guarantee navigation through that vital waterway. President Trump aborted, at the last minute, a retaliatory attack following the shooting down by Iran of an American surveillance drone. President Trump explained that he wasn’t willing to kill scores of Iranians in retaliation for an attack that took no American lives—and we did nothing when Iran sent a massive volley of cruise-type missiles to destroy a significant portion of Saudi Arabia’s petroleum producing capability.
Surely, Qassem Suleimani and Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei have pondered the restraint evidenced by President Trump in the face of these unanswered attacks against the United States and our allies. There really is no reason to doubt the assessment by our military intelligence professionals that more attacks were imminent. We have invited such attacks by tolerating them. Where are we to draw the line when state-sponsored terrorists target Americans? Is there really any difference between a non-state-sponsored terrorist such as Osama bin Laden who kills Americans and a state-sponsored terrorist who kills Americans? Certainly, the victims wouldn’t think so.
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Thank you Hal, well said our president carries a big stick, it’s called the armed forces of the United States and he has and will use it to protect everyone of us. Thank you Mr President I am very proud of what you have done
Superb analysis Hal. Wish it would be re-printed by every mainstream media outlet in America.
For me there has never been a question “if a conflict with Iran would occur.” The question has been “when will it occur, where will it take place, and what will be the fallout.”
Before Desert Storm the fear was that Iraq and Hussein would fight to the bitter end. But we had vastly overestimated his resources.
I believe that Iran is a desperate nation. The sanctions have wreaked havoc and they have had to use extreme measures to control their citizenry. Desperate people/countries do desperate things – until they can no longer do desperate things.
Perhaps they will get the message that their desperate actions will no longer be tolerated. If not, then let’s pray that this conflict will not evolve in to a full scale war.
Long overdue and abundantly necessary to attempt to reign
in an ever expanding Iranian aggression.
Trump should be lauded for his actions. Sooner or later the
haters in Iran………….not the Iranian people have to know that
America will not tolerate any more Marine Barracks being blown
up or roadside bombs planted.
Israel too much share some satisfaction of one of the planners
of the Argentine Center which was blown up years ago with
this General’s planning.
I appreciate your distillation, Hal.
America has had “Enough”.
I have forwarded your essay.
Along the line of Mr. Fisher’s comment, perhaps you could consider tweeting out a link.
Thanks, Hal for clearly expressing the current situation and dilemma in dealing with Iran. Please all, recall the close to $400 Billion that was sent to Iran as part of the Iran nuclear deal Obama concluded. Its thought that a vast amount of that money was given to Suleimani to further his goals through the Quds force. Suleimani was clearly an evil genius with the blood of hundreds of US military members who fought and died in Iraq on his hands. Yet there are many naysayers and vigorous critics of Trump’s action. I ask these people to think back to pre WW II and how the world would have been spared the horrors of the holocaust had Hitler been assassinated.
I am really surprised and concerned at the statements and conduct of those politicians and members of the media as the us-Iran situation unfolds. They apparently hate trump more than they have the best interests of America, it’s allies and the peace and freedom of the world in their sight. Could you imagine the democrat leadership in charge after their current behavior?
Just read this important interview with General Petraeus regarding the assassination of Suleimani which reemphasizes the significance of the event.
David Petraeus: It is impossible to overstate the importance of this particular action. It is more significant than the killing of Osama bin Laden or even the death of [Islamic State leader Abu Bakr] al-Baghdadi. Suleimani was the architect and operational commander of the Iranian effort to solidify control of the so-called Shia crescent, stretching from Iran to Iraq through Syria into southern Lebanon. He is responsible for providing explosives, projectiles, and arms and other munitions that killed well over 600 American soldiers and many more of our coalition and Iraqi partners just in Iraq, as well as in many other countries such as Syria. So his death is of enormous significance.
On the other hadn: https://www.juancole.com/2020/01/conducted-months-finally.html
More on the other hand: https://original.antiwar.com/danny_sjursen/2020/01/05/who-started-it-litigious-a-reverse-timeline-of-us-iran-retaliations/
But what bothers me most is that one man – one very impressionable man, listening to the Pentagon chiefs – has made this decision. The constitution is very clear that only Congress can take us to war. I believe that most of us wouldn’t even let Trump decide what we should have for breakfast, yet we let him unilaterally take us to war.