It is common knowledge that tensions between the U.S. and Iran are at an all time high. News outlets have been saturated with stories regarding the assassination of General Qasem Soleimani, considered to be the second most powerful man in the nation only after the Ayatollah, and its volatile aftermath, namely a retaliation effort executed by Iran where multiple ballistic missiles were fired at U.S. military bases in Iraq. Yet the question still remains as to what could possibly have motivated President Trump to authorize this attack, and by examining the finer details it becomes apparent that all this is really a large scale campaign stunt to help Trump win his re-election campaign.
Historically speaking, the United States and Iran have always had a rocky relationship. All conflicts between the countries can be traced back to the 1979 Revolution which saw the ousting of the pro-American Shah for the anti-American Khomeini. Immediately after the revolution, 52 American diplomats were taken hostage for 444 days after a group of anti-American students seized the American Embassy in Tehran in response to the U.S offering amnesty for the recently deposed Shah. Since this initial discord between the two nations, there has never been a moment of cordiality amongst them. The Iran-Iraq War, the Hezbollah bombings, the 1988 Communist Purge, Iran-Contra Affair etc. have all been a result of the initial tensions. It really shouldn’t be a surprise that a new event has occurred that has escalated tensions amongst the nations once again.
Yet what makes this particular incident so unique is the domestic circumstances in the U.S. surrounding the order to eliminate Soleimani. Recently, President Trump had been impeached on two charges, abuse of power and obstruction of congress. The impeachment itself had almost killed Trump’s hopes of running for re-election and winning, but the Iran conflict is actually a rather ingenious save from the potentially devastating consequences of the impeachment. Trump, due to the assassination of Soleimani, is able to portray himself as a man of the people and all those who oppose him as being anti-American. In essence, it can be confidently stated that the purpose of the assassination was purely for the benefit of Trump.
Trump’s official explanation for the drone strike on Soleimani’s convoy, as explained in his debrief on twitter, is that the General had been a terror within the region and also posed as a threat to American nationals living near the region and as such, by his executive prerogative, he ordered a targeted hit on Soleimani. His characterization of Soleimani is accurate. He was essentially a terrorist who sponsored multiple Shia terrorist organizations in the Middle East. Yet, by conventional rules of war, this attack should be considered a war crime. Iran and the U.S. had not declared an official war on one another thus making any direct attack on any political or military figure an act of war. Trump was fully aware of this.
There was a reason Bush or Obama had not targeted Soleimani during their presidencies. By attacking him they knew that the situation in the Middle East would only grow more tumultuous due to the multiple wars being waged in the area. Trump, opposite of our prior two Presidents, was able to find a chance to deal with Soleimani. As a result of the assassination, Trump was able to construe the attack as being motivated by pure pro-American motives because he was dealing with a threat to Americans. Furthermore, he was able to make those who disagree with the attack, meaning those who recognized that attacking such a high ranking military official would result in severe retaliation, appear as non patriotic. Which in layman’s term means all democrats would be considered non patriotic because the majority of the party disagrees with the strike. By being able to paint his entire opposition as effectively anti-American, Trump has gained a large advantage early on against any democratic opposition. This in turn means that, as of right now, Trump’s re-election seems likely barring any new proceedings from the charges levied against the President. As of January 21st, Trump is currently being tried in the Senate where an intense debate regarding how his hearings should be directed is being held.
This means Trump has not won yet. He may have won the short-term game but there are still 10 months left before the Presidential elections. Meaning that there still exists many opportunities for the tide to change. Yet, more crucially, Trump has given Iran a reason to conduct coordinated attacks on the country.
Iran knows very well that any military action against the U.S. would prove futile because the U.S. simply has a better military than them with far more allies. This was demonstrated by the ballistic missiles fired at American bases in Iraq resulting in zero casualties. Iran, with full intention, avoided killing any American soldiers because they were aware of the military might of America. The missiles were merely a show of strength, showing that they won’t back down so easily. Trump seems satisfied by this stalemate because no war with soldiers will take place. Yet what he has failed to take into account are cyberattacks and proxy wars that Iran may conduct. Iran will resort to taking the fight to America via cyberterrorism resulting in privacy breaches and massive government infrastructure breaches. Iran will also, most likely, wage proxy wars utilizing local terror organizations who hold strong anti-American sentiments to their advantage. These tactics could hurt the lives of many innocent Americans who have done nothing wrong.
So, to sum it up, yes, Trump is technically the winner of this conflict. A victory that will only last for a short time before it is overshadowed by another event but a victory regardless. However, his short sightedness will inevitably endanger the livelihood of the common people, people who had nothing to do with this travesty.
Congratulations, Mr. President.
Anuraj Nair is a columnist for Oswego East High School’s online news magazine the Howl