Sunday, January 5, 2020

US Media Reaction to the Soleimani Killing

Our enemies in Iran are watching. We should all question the justifications for the drone strike on terrorist leaders in Baghdad. We deserve some answers. But all the hand wringing in the media about Trump starting World War 3 and us being on the brink of war is only giving aid and comfort to our enemies. They want us to be afraid, divided and fearing what they might do next.

Keep Calm and Carry On

And when the retaliation from Iran finally happens, the media will go all "Chicken Little" again. Yes, it may cost some American lives and that's unfortunate, but we run that risk every time we deploy troops. It's a dangerous world out there. We can hide under our beds or "Keep Calm and Carry On" while we wa
it for some answers.

wringing hands

Knowing Trump as we do, it's likely that this will turn out to be a monumental blunder that will be justified by a pack of lies. But it's done now and we have to live with the consequences. We need a healthy debate on the facts, but exaggerating the risks we face as a result of this action will only embolden our enemies.

As reported in the New York Times:
"Trump initially elected to strike against militia groups. On Sunday, the US military struck three locations in Iraq and two in Syria that were controlled by an Iranian-backed militia, The Times also reported. But, after protesters supporting an Iranian-backed militia stormed Iraq's US Embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday..."

Trump decided another "proportional response" would be just as ineffective, so he went for something shocking.

We know Trump is impulsive and too lazy to do his homework before making any decision. But this could restrain Iran, at least until Trump leaves office, or it can backfire spectacularly. We'll have to wait and see.

A short history lesson on US -- Iran relations

Iran and the US have been at war for some 40 years now, since the Shah was deposed in 1979. But the mutual hostility goes all the way back to 1953, when the US staged a coup to overthrow Iran's popular and democratically elected Prime Minister, Mohammad Mossadegh because he had nationalized Iran's oil industry, taking control of it away from Great Britain. 

Mossadegh was replaced by a monarch, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran. The Shah's despotic rule eventually led to a revolution in 1979, that placed a religious leader, an ayatollah, on the throne. Iranians were seething with anger over US meddling, and that lead to the taking of the US embassy in Tehran by "students" who also took American diplomats and Marines hostage and held them for 444 days.

Iranians seizing US embassy in 1979
Iranians seizing US embassy in 1979

The hostage crisis, and the fecklessness shown by president Jimmy Carter did great damage to America's influence in the region and it spelled the end of Carter's chances for re-election.   

The American hostages were released when Ronald Reagan was elected president in 1981, but the peace didn't last long. In 1983, Iran blew up a Marine barracks at the US Embassy in Beirut, killing dozens. Also in 1983, an Iraqi man called Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis car-bombed the US Embassy in Kuwait.

Over the years since, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis conducted many attacks on US soldiers and interests in the region. And, by the way, al-Muhandis was one of the people killed in the motorcade with Soleimani. He was Soleimani's most powerful militia leader in Iraq.

Ever since the 1980s, Iran has been supplying funding, weapons, training and supervision of militias who have been attacking and killing US soldiers and our allies in the region. Meanwhile, the US has also been using proxies to attack Iranian militias outside of Iran and Iranian interests inside Iran.

In 1988, the US Navy guided missile cruiser USS Vincennes shot down Iranian Airbus A300B2, which was on a scheduled commercial flight in Iranian airspace over the Strait of Hormuz. The attack killed 290 civilians and President George H W Bush responded by saying that he would "never apologize for the United States of America. Ever. I don't care what the facts are."  

In 2007, US forces raided the Iranian Consulate General located in Erbil, Iraq and arrested five staff members.  American forces released two Iranian diplomats after holding them for 305 days, as well as seven other Iranian citizens that were seized at various times in different parts of Iraq.

The US has been trying, via economic sanctions, to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons, but during the Shah's reign, the US helped Iran create its nuclear program. Starting in 1957, the US provided Iran with its first nuclear reactor and nuclear fuel, and after 1967 by supplying Iran with weapons grade enriched uranium.

In 2015, during the Obama administration a treaty was signed with Iran that halted their nuclear development in exchange for the release of billions of dollars that were seized in the US and a reduction in economic sanctions. Most Republicans were convinced the treaty was a mistake and vowed to cancel it as soon as they returned to power. In May 2018, Donald Trump cancelled the treaty, announcing he that would reimpose economic sanctions. 

The re-imposition of sanctions has crippled Iran's economy and caused domestic unrest in Iran, which has led Iran to increase their attacks on US interests throughout the Middle East via their proxy militias.

The US has been planning to leave Iraq for some time now and has been drawing down troops. Iran's proxies attacked the US embassy in Baghdad in December 2019, in order to embarrass and humiliate the US, while also strengthening their position in Iraq. The Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei of Iran, taunted the US, saying, "You can do nothing about it."

Trump wasn't about to let that go unanswered, and now here we are.

Iran proxies attack US embassy in Iraq
Iran proxies attack US embassy in Iraq
The US kills Soleimani
The US kills Soleimani
Iranians (and their proxies) are pissed!
Iranians (and their proxies) are pissed!
So there's a long and bloody history here. Regardless of whatever justifications are offered for the attack on Soleimani and al-Muhandis, we are stuck with the consequences now. 

On January 5, 2020, the Iraqi parliament voted in favor of expelling US forces. The vote was not binding on Iraqi leadership, and President Trump responded by threatening "crippling sanctions" on Iraq. On Jan 6, in a letter to the Iraqi military, the U.S. military in Baghdad said that it would be repositioning its troops in preparation for a possible withdrawal.The same day, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said that the U.S. has not made any decision to leave Iraq.

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