As Iran impotently lobbed surface-to-surface missiles at U.S. military installations in Iraq yesterday, news headlines everywhere screamed, "Iran retaliates," or "Iran strikes back." I think it's important to clear up yet another no doubt intentional media misdiagnosis. The U.S. action to kill Soleimani was the "retaliation." The "U.S. struck back" in killing the Iranian madman. What Iran is doing now is escalating their already existent war on the United States and her interests.
If you want to question the wisdom of President Trump's Twitter Tough Guy routine, go ahead. I'm not a fan of world diplomacy being conducted through social media taunts, myself. If you want to suggest that by killing Soleimani the United States may inadvertently open a Pandora's Box of tumult as various actors compete to fill the void, I'm all ears.
But pretending America was the provocateur in this unfolding drama? Downplaying the evil that Soleimani embodied and diminishing the horrors that he perpetrated with impunity for decades? Just stop.
The indisputable reality is that the world is 100% better off without Qassem Soleimani in it.
The commander of Iran's elite Quds Force – a unit that could best be described as a combination of an Iranian CIA and Army Rangers special forces all wrapped into one – boasted a terror rap sheet lengthier than Osama bin Laden's. Those in the world of counter-terrorism know that Soleimani's death will prove far more consequential than those of the al Qaeda chief or ISIS commander Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
In short, if you think America was both wise and justified in dispatching those two terrorist animals from the earth, you can't logically conclude anything else regarding Soleimani. Look no further than the staged outpouring of mourners in Iran to gain a glimpse of the degree to which people throughout the Middle East felt threatened by his mystique. For those living in regions he stalked, his was an aura of intimidation built on the reputation of horrors like this:
Some of those "things" to which Andros refers included burning, maiming, murdering, as well as torture techniques that would frequently make the cruelty of Saddam Hussein pale by comparison. Since October alone, thousands of Iraqi and Iranian protestors have been killed in brutal crackdowns carried out by Soleimani's terror network – a network handsomely funded by a black-money laundering scheme that netted him nearly $1 billion a month.
And lest anyone be confused why the United States would appropriately identify him as a legitimate military target, consider that the largest percentage of that money went for weapons and operations specifically targeting American citizens, soldiers, and interests in his region:
E.F.P.s, which fire a molten copper slug able to penetrate armor, began to wreak havoc on American troops, accounting for nearly twenty per cent of combat deaths. E.F.P.s could be made only by skilled technicians, and they were often triggered by sophisticated motion sensors. "There was zero question where they were coming from," General Stanley McChrystal, who at the time was the head of the Joint Special Operations Command, told me. "We knew where all the factories were in Iran. The E.F.P.s killed hundreds of Americans."
That would be an estimated 600 U.S. soldiers in just the two years between 2005-2007. And many they didn't kill ended up like Staff Sergeant Robert Bartlett who said the force of Soleimani's explosion device:
"…cut me in half from the left corner of my temple down to my jaw, and took my gunner's legs off. Because of this Iranian bomb, I died three times in five days. Only my faith kept me alive."
That Soleimani-orchestrated attack took place in 2005, and the United States of America never retaliated for it. With a drone strike the first week of 2020, we finally did. It's hard to think of anything more justified.
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