War is a fearsome thing and nobody understands that better than men who have heard the whine of a bullet pass by their ear, but given man’s nature, it is all to often a reality. America does have valid concerns in the Middle East, with the primary one being the unimpeded flow of commerce through the Straits of Hormuz. All others are beginning to take a back seat, as the U.S. becomes increasingly energy independent and is making a gradually withdrawal from Middle Eastern conflicts firing, not firing to enter more wars.
Whatever anyone thinks about America’s past military actions, this one was well delivered and righteous, unless the one analyzing it is a quivering, spineless coward, who still longs for Mommy’s teat.
Making a fine and righteous decision, President Donald J. Trump gave the order for an airstrike, conducted near Baghdad International Airport on January 3rd 2020, in retaliation for the U.S. contractor killed at the K1 Iraqi base by Kata’ib Hezbollah, and the President’s quick response sent Iran’s Quds Force General Qassem Suleimani to the hell he had earned here on earth, as the leader of the world’s largest terrorist organization, tearing his body apart. The strike also took Iraq’s Abu al-Muhandis, deputy commander of Iran-backed militias in Iraq — the Popular Mobilization Forces — and twenty-five others, including the PMF protocol officer, Mohammed Reda. This was an end that was far from anything resembling justice, because it was much too swift and much too humane for a monster, and his fellow terrorists, who had caused so much destruction, misery and death around the globe, including the deaths of at least 603 U.S. soldiers; however, it did deliver a hard blow to international terrorism.
After the PMF had failed in an attempt to overrun the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, on New Year’s Eve, President Trump delivered a threat to Iran to cease its efforts to destabilize the area or prepare to “be held fully responsible for lives lost, or damage incurred, at any of our facilities,” and “pay a very Big Price. This is not a warning, it is a Threat. Happy New Year!”
“You can’t do anything,” responded Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader. The next day, President Trump showed him different.
Shortly after the airstrike, President Trump took to the airways to deliver the news to the American people. In part, his message read as follows: “We took the action last night to stop war. We did not take the action to start a war. I have deep respect for the Iranian people. They are a remarkable people with an incredible heritage and unlimited potential. We do not seek regime change. However, the Iranian regime’s aggression in the region, including the use of proxy fighters to destabilize its neighbors must end and it must end now. The future belongs to the people of Iran, those who seek peaceful coexistence and cooperation, not the terrorist warlords, who plunder their nation to finance bloodshed abroad.”
Many of the Leftist Democrats, such as Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer were deeply distressed that they weren’t notified that the President was preparing to take such action. However, as Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) noted on Fox News: The last group of people you want to talk to about this is Democrats in Congress, Republicans in Congress … To all those Democrats who are criticizing the President, I was aware of what his options were. They were about to unleash holy hell on our people in Iraq and throughout the region, and the President took decisive action.”
Quick as a hard rain, a number of the usual critics, leftist Trump haters and anti-interventionist Trump supporters, decried the action, as a move that will result in a significantly fearsome Iranian retaliation against America and its allies and a possible recklessly risked all-out war with Iran. They assume the U.S. will be drawn into a broader conflict similar to what unfolded in Afghanistan and Iraq; but, these people have obviously been stranded on a deserted island for the past four decades, because Iran has really been at war with the U.S. since 1979.
Since the Islamic Republic of Iran was created in 1979, the Quds Force has actively wreaked havoc across the globe, in countries like Bosnia, Kenya, Turkey, Bahrain, Germany, and it was even the bad actor behind the brazen failed plot in 2011 to assassinate the Saudi Arabian Ambassador on U.S. soil, just as its IED’s maimed and killed hundreds of U.S. soldiers and Marines in both Afghanistan and Iraq at the peak of the wars, as Iran worked against our efforts there, initially; it was also responsible for the bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, in 1996, that took the lives of nineteen Americans; and, the Quds Force has planned bombings in Kenya and Germany, just to name a few of the many acts of terrorism that have the Quds Force’s signature.
The Supreme Leader and General Qassem Suliemani, who was more powerful than Iran’s president in foreign policy matters and controlled billions of dollars in terror financing across the world, were responsible for the only true act of war in this latest Iranian misadventure. They put boots on the ground in Iraq for the purpose of planning and directing attacks against U.S. diplomats and U.S. forces, that are lawfully in country by the authority of Congress and with the Iraqi government’s permission, and those U.S. forces have a right and a duty to defend their positions, against all threats, especially those from enemy commanders directing Iranian backed militias to attack them in a combat zone; they could and they did lawfully remove the threat Suliemani represented, when they killed him, as a legal act against an enemy combatant under the rules of war, and President Trump’s action was Constitutionally legitimate and a stunning counter-move, not an assassination.
A cold-blooded killer, the hardliner of hardliners, a constant shadowy figure in the Middle East, and Iran’s indispensable man, Qassem Suleimani had enormous control over the entire global Islamic terror network, overseeing operations and executing Iran’s geopolitical vision, since he also ran proxies in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon, appearing where conflicts rage and disappearing just as quickly. Between 2011 and 2013 alone, he had planned thirty separate terror attacks, and prior to this, he had orchestrated terror attacks in Thailand, New Delhi, Lagos and Nairobi, honing his skills with ruthless cunning. And taken in its entirety, as the head of the Quds Force’s irregular warfare and intelligence arm, Suleiman’s death was bigger than that of Osama bin Laden and Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, and his killing marks a major escalation with Tehran, that has been long overdue, and it signifies a new era in U.S. relations with Iran.
On January 2nd 2020, telling reporters that Islamic violence by Iranian backed Shiite militias in Iraq will be met with U.S. force and countermeasures, Defense Secretary Mark Esper declared, “The game has changed.”
In an interview with Fox News on January 3rd 2020, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated: “We don’t seek war with Iran. But we, at the same time, are not going to stand by and watch the Iranians escalate and continue to put American lives at risk without responding in a way that disrupts, defends, deters and creates an opportunity to de-escalate the situation.”
The leadership hierarchy of Iran condemned the attack, as Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif called Suleiman’s killing “an act of international terrorism.” The Supreme Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said, “A severe retaliation awaits the murderers who have the blood of Suleiman and that of the other martyrs on their hands“, and according to Iran’s state-owned newspaper, Hamshari, for the first time ever, Khamenei took part in an emergency meeting of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, vowing to avenge Suleiman’s killing.
In reality, nobody knows for certain what happens from this point on, not even those in making the decisions, who are weighing out the costs and the benefits to some of their next steps. Make no mistake. The Iranian ayatollahs and mullahs are not completely suicidal, although that dynamic is at play; but in the course of waging their jihad against the West, they are mostly calculating and strategic, so the chances for an all-out direct war between Iran and the United States is low, at the present time.
Although President Trump’s hardened sanctions are now bringing some real economic pain to Iran and its leaders, Iran has paid a very small price for all the innocent blood it has shed over the past four decades, while it increased its global reach and influence and achieved greater military capabilities, as it developed a nuclear weapons program and acted aggressively, belligerently and violently against America and Her Allies. The strike that ended General Qassem Suleiman’s life has rocked the Iranian regime to its core.
Over the decades, past administrations have been overly patient with Iran and engaged them only through proxies in Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Israel, and although President Trump followed with substantial restraint and respect for the Iranian regime, always leaving the door open to negotiations towards better relations, that restraint was viewed by Tehran as proof of the Trump administration’s lack of will to respond. Their miscalculations and overreach in Iraq resulted in Suleiman’s death, as President Trump engaged them directly for the first time, since the Reagan administration, and he proved America will meet their attacks with overwhelming force, when deemed necessary, without fighting proxy wars.
Reported by Victor Garcia on January 4th [Fox News], President Trump made a statement that read: “Iran is talking very boldly about targeting certain USA assets as revenge for our ridding the world of their terrorist leader who had just killed and American [and] badly wounded many others, not to mention all of the people he had killed over his lifetime, including recently hundreds of Iranian protesters. [Suleiman] was already attacking our Embassy, and preparing for additional hits in other locations. Iran has been nothing but problems for many years. Let this serve as a WARNING that if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets, we have targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago) some at a very high level [and] important to Iran [and] the Iranian culture, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD. The USA wants no more threats!“
Iran does have sleeper agents in America (See image above. ~ Ed.) and it also holds the largest arsenal of all types of missiles capable of striking our forces anywhere in the region, but these facts should not make us throw up our hands in surrender and let Iran intimidate us into meekly accepting whatever Iran seeks to do there and elsewhere in the world, because the policies of appeasement are precisely what has led to the current reality. Those hysterical voices adamantly asserting President Trump’s airstrike has set us on a path of all-out war are the same voices in the Middle East who were directly responsible for aiding and enabling Iran to the point that Iran could now pose such a dire threat.
Normally averse to war, President Trump has obviously been prepared for this moment for much of his presidency, and the American people should not overact to the notion of an escalation, since Iran’s economy is shot and its military power, both in conventional and terrorist ranks, is eroding. While President Trump can effectively use America’s massive military power, he has only ever sought to prevent Iran from dramatically escalating hostilities to the point of a catastrophic response, such as Iran now understands it will face; and, regardless of how Suleimani’s death has changed Iran’s strategic calculations, President Trump’s actions demonstrate he is intent on bringing peace through strength and a resolute defense of U.S. interests and America against any who threaten Her.
Americans should note the incongruity and the hypocrisy, the double standard employed by Democrats, who castigated President Trump’s decision not to intervene in Turkey’s genocide against the Kurds and now harshly damn him for properly reacting in Iraq to protect Americans. President Trump faced a determined enemy and sent their blood-thirsty commander to hell, no virgins in paradise, by way of the fire and fury of an American MQ-9 Reaper drone.
~ The Author ~
Justin O. Smith has lived in Tennessee off and on most of his adult life, and graduated from Middle Tennessee State University in 1980, with a B.S. and a double major in International Relations and Cultural Geography – minors in Military Science and English, for what its worth. His real education started from that point on. Smith is a frequent contributor to the family of Kettle Moraine Publications.