Don’t mourn Soleimani

Trump’s decision to kill Soleimani is in keeping with his principles of putting pressure on Iran.

Major General Qasem Soleimani (April 2016) (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Major General Qasem Soleimani (April 2016)
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
The decision by US President Donald Trump to kill Qasem Soleimani, leader of Iran’s Quds Force, should not be considered a controversial move but rather a welcome one that rid the world of an arch terrorist, responsible for the deaths of thousands of people across the globe.
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Quds Force is embedding itself in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and elsewhere, realizing the dream of the Islamic Republic to set up a crescent of power throughout the region, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea. Wherever Iran has power, it uses it for terrorism. The targets range from the horrific attack on the AMIA Jewish community building in Buenos Aires, which left 85 people dead in 1994, to the ongoing rocket attacks from Yemen on Saudi Arabia and the attacks on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf; the occasional firing of Katyushas onto the Israeli side of the Golan Heights; and the storming of the US Embassy in Baghdad and attacks on US military bases in Iraq.
The Jerusalem Post’s Herb Keinon correctly described the move to eliminate Soleimani as hitting an octopus, with far-reaching terrorist tentacles, on the head.
It was a bold decision by the US president – and it was the right one. Soleimani had crossed American redlines, openly and boastfully. Had Trump ignored this – as president Barack Obama turned the other way when Syria’s Bashar Assad crossed redlines – not only would American deterrence have been completely lost, but in all likelihood the attacks would have continued and worsened.
The targeted killing sent out a clear message to Iran and the terrorist organizations and murderous regimes it supports: No more.
It’s true that Iran is expected to respond and it is not known when, where and at what price. But what’s also clear is that had Soleimani continued fostering terrorism unrestrained, this too would have resulted in the death of innocent victims.
Trump’s decision to kill Soleimani is in keeping with his principles of putting pressure on Iran and follows his withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which granted Iran a flush of money to prop up the regime and fund terrorism in return for a temporary delay in reaching its goals of achieving military nuclear capability.
It is, however, no secret that the American president has an unpredictable style of diplomacy. In this case, it could be useful. The regime of the ayatollahs in Iran should now be extra cautious about how they respond to Soleimani’s death. They cannot know how Trump will respond to anything they do. On the other hand, this might also mean that the attack was a one-off and that Trump will not have the stamina to keep the pressure on Iran after it responds with force. Time will tell.
Unfortunately, because of the polarization that has become more extreme under Trump, his political rivals found it impossible to praise him. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and fellow progressives went so far as to introduce legislation to block funding for any military action connected with Iran without congressional authorization.
Similar sentiments were expressed by other representatives of the Left, emphasizing the possible risk of war as a result of the targeted assassination.
What they ignore is the very high and escalating risk of war that existed under Soleimani, which the arch terrorist himself fostered. As British commentator Maajid Nawaz put it in part of a longer tweet, those opposed to the targeted killing will “proactively and without invitation condemn ‘America in the region’ without saying anything at all about ‘Iran in the region.’”
Care should be taken not to turn this into a partisan issue, despite the obvious temptation to do so in a presidential election year.
Similarly, this should not be seen as the US carrying out Israel’s dirty work for it. It’s true that Israel, across the broad political spectrum including some of the Arab parties, welcomed the removal of Soleimani. So, too, did Saudi Arabia. As did many people struggling against Iran’s pernicious and spreading control in the region.
Iran might want to turn Soleimani into a martyr, but he was no saint. He should not be mourned or missed by anybody with a sense of moral decency.