I had originally planned to write an article with the title “The Impending Crisis in the Middle East” but the actions taken by the US make that article superfluous. News came in that the general in command of the Iranian Quds forces, Qasem Soleimani, was killed via a US drone strike. This is confirmed by the Defense Secretary Mark Esper. General Soleimani was a highly respected and powerful man in Iran and the Quds forces that he commanded are the elite fighting men of the Islamic Republic of Iran. In short, we just assassinated the American equivalent of the Commander of the US Navy Seals, the Marine Corp, and the US Army Rangers, all at once. General Soleimani was on a short list of very powerful and influential people in Iran, widely considered the second most important figure within the Iranian regime. Though no one has said it yet, the Iranian government seems to be treating this as an act of war, as well they should. This was an unprovoked attack on a foreign military figure that did not pose an imminent threat to the United States. The only act that could have been more provocative than this would have been to have killed the Supreme Leader Khomeini himself.
The world stands at the brink. Iranian high command are right now deciding whether they want to carry out attacks on US targets in the region or if they just want to give their proxies free reign to do whatever they want. Either way, we are at war with Iran. By this time next year, it is my view that we will have boots on the ground within Iranian soil. The Iranians have no choice but to respond and respond hard to our attack. They have acted with incredible restraint in the past; all sides have in the Middle East. The Russians had their mercenaries shot at with sustained US fire for hours in Syria and did not militarily respond. The Iranians have been bombed by the Israelis in Syria repeatedly. The Turks shot down a Russian aircraft on Russian soil and the Russians did not respond. The Syrians have had their air space directly violated by the Israeli military and yet, until now, everything has somehow remained somewhat stable. Until now that is, when the biggest military power in the world decided to put a bomb straight through the face of one of the most powerful Iranian general. We have given the Iranians no choice but to respond; we have backed them into a corner. To not respond now would mean that they would basically be inviting attacks on their military because every regional power would then know that you can attack primary Iranian military figures and face no consequences. We’ve punched them in the nose and said “what are you going to do about it?” Unfortunately for us, Iran isn’t a collection of primitive tribal groups with rusty AK-47s. They have a disciplined army with highly advanced weaponry, and a population that is resolute in not bowing to any foreign occupation.
For about a decade now, the Russians have been supplying the Iranians with very advanced anti-aircraft and anti-missile technology. As we speak, there is virtually no difference between Iranian air defenses and Russian air defenses. Aside from their traditional military capabilities, Iran also has a wild card, its militias. Iran has spread out an entire network of militias all across the Middle East. Their purpose was to spread Iran’s influence in the region, yes, but also to act as trip wires for a moment just like this. Hezbollah is a highly trained rebel group out of Lebanon. They get almost all of their funding from Iran and are controlled, depending on who you speak to, either directly by Iran or to a great degree by Iran. If they were given, say, an extra billion dollars in funding and told that they have free reign, it would be a guerrilla war on a scale you’ve never seen before, with thousands of fighters streaming into Iraq to attack US forces stationed there. Any US invasion of Iran would meet with constant and sustained attacks from Hezbollah and the countless other Iranian funded militia groups before US troops even made it to the Iranian border. In short, Iran is booby trapped. They have spent a lot of time and effort building up these militias for just this moment, for the purposes of hitting American targets in the Middle East and making it very difficult to ever effectively invade Iran. Iran’s real nuclear weapons are its militias.
The discussions I have heard in the media surrounding this assassination have varied between disappointing and infuriating. The triumphalism and arrogance on the conservative right has been vomit inducing. Every time I start to thinking that they aren’t so bad, something like this happens and I remember why I hate them so much. From the Hannity show to the Mark Walsh show to the Ben Shaprio show, every single one of them have wheeled out every single obnoxious talking point from the Iraq war years. The title of Matt Walsh’s podcast the day after the attack was “Democrats Side With Iran.” That is the sort of thing I remember Fox News saying all the time about Democrats who happened to not be as excited about invading Iraq as Republicans were. If people even had questions about our march to war, the response was always “oh I bet Saddam is a big fan of yours.” Another infuriating talking point of the conservative right has been to call General Soleimani a “terrorist”. Matt Walsh maybe referred to Soleimani as a general one time and for the rest of the show he called him a “terrorist,” as if we had just taken out Bin Laden and not a leading general of a sovereign nation. The capabilities of an official state actor dwarf that of a terrorist group and when we begin to confuse and muddle the distinction between terrorists and army generals for sovereign countries, well, that’s how you get yourself into quite a few more wars. However much you may hate Iran and however much you may have hated General Soleimani, your hatred does not magically transform the nation of Iran into a terrorist group and General Soleimani into a terrorist. As John Adams once said, “facts are stubborn things,” and however much you may want to massage your sense of moral superiority and beat your chest on behalf of Israel, the fact is that we just attacked the nation of Iran not a terrorist group and as General Mattis once said “the enemy gets a vote.” The liberal response has been groveling and pathetic. Every single liberal begins by saying “Soleimani was a really bad guy and we hate him just as much as Republican did but…” everything you say after that doesn’t matter. You are already genuflecting and groveling to avoid being attacked. Just say that this strike was irresponsible and war mongering and leave it at that.
Whether or not I am right in my prediction that the United States will invade Iran, we are most certainly at war with them. How else can one define the relationship between two nations, one of which assassinates the military generals of the other? That is war. Whether this war will lead to regime change in Iran is yet to be seen but, at a minimum, it is my assumption that the United States will drastically increase it’s troop presence in Iraq over the coming months. Just today the Trump administration confirmed that it is sending an extra 3,500 troops to the Middle East. We have begun a war that we cannot win, in a region where we are mostly hated, in a time where morale and physical training standards in the military are at an all time low, at a time when most Americans have no sense of community and report high levels of depression. At a time, in short, when this country is extraordinarily weak and fragile. America’s heart will not be in this war. There will be no patriotic feeling surrounding it, it will be unpopular from the word “go.” This war may very well turn out to be America’s Falklands war, the last war of a dying empire. How much of the vital energy of this nation are we willing to allow to be sucked into the desert sands of the Middle East? How much American blood must water its barren land before Israel will be satisfied? How many more of these must we fight? For now, the answer appears to be, at least one more.