Understand these facts first and foremost: Qassem Soleimani was a career state-sponsored terrorist whose financial, ideological and strategic sponsor was the Iranian theocratic dictatorship the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini founded in 1979.
Another fact: In 1984, the U.S. State Department placed Iran on its list of state sponsors of terrorism. If 1984 sounds like an Orwellian omen, 1983 was arguably more apt. The 1979 assault on and occupation of the U.S. embassy in Tehran by Khomeini's zealots constituted an attack on sovereign U.S. territory and ought to rate as terrorism. Holding 52 American diplomats hostage for 444 days while screaming, "Death to America," in my view crossed the criminal terrorist line. However, the Iran-sponsored 1983 bombing of Beirut's U.S. Marine barrack was definitely terror. Lebanese Shiite Iran proxies — Lebanese Hezbollah being their nom de guerre — were identified as the culprits.
Soleimani's status as a career terrorist and the ayatollah regime's career commitment to financing, training and using terrorists are absolutely essential contexts for understanding the latest clashes in the long war on America that Khomeini proclaimed in 1979.
The most sensational recent violence was Soleimani's Jan. 3 assassination by American missiles as he arrived in Iraq, likely fired by unmanned aerial vehicles circling above Baghdad International Airport but perhaps fired by an American attack helicopter.
Ignore the propagandists claiming otherwise. The U.S. had every right to kill the evil man. Soleimani was a terrorist, and the Quds Force of the Iranian Republican Guard Corps he commanded is a terrorist organization.
Soleimani's life and livelihood depended on cruel threat enforced by sensational murder, usually mass murder. His goal was intimidating any opponent of Iran's dictatorship (real or imagined, domestic or foreign, Muslim or of any other faith).
Soleimani was the chief architect of Iran's proxy terror and militia organizations throughout the world. There is evidence he had provided operational direction to proxies operating in Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq and perhaps Africa as well.
The Pentagon believes Soleimani was responsible for killing over 600 U.S. military personnel in Iraq. Given his crimes in Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and Iraq, I'll wager his overall homicide toll exceeds 100,000. In Syria, Soleimani employed Lebanese Hezbollah as a gang of thugs to keep Bashar Assad's dictatorship in power.
Soleimani was killed in Iraq. So? He was waging a war in Iraq and on Iraq using Iran's "Shia popular militia force" proxies. Getting killed in Iraq is a known risk if you wage war in Iraq.
Which is why Soleimani's decision to brazenly arrive at Baghdad International Airport and slide into an SUV strikes me as stupidity bred by fatal arrogance. It indicates a fool's contempt for his enemies. Soleimani ignored the old saw that every truly smart warrior knows to be bitter truth: Your enemy always gets a vote. If your enemy decides to shoot back (his vote), you have to respond. Attack, retreat, freeze — these are sample visceral responses. So think ahead.
Soleimani's action indicates he believed himself exempt from this bitter truth. America is an enemy that can vote by diplomatic and economic means. On the battlefield American votes range from Delta Force knives (and dogs) to drone-fired missiles to B-52 bomb raids to nuclear weapons and — within the next three or so years — battlefield lasers.
Perhaps the Iranian mastermind misread President Donald Trump. In June 2019, Trump ordered strikes on Iranian missile sites after the IRGC downed an American drone. When told U.S. reprisals might kill 150 people, Trump scrubbed the missions. He said 150 humans dead was not a proportionate response to a downed unmanned plane. His decision had biblical resonance. Blood for blood when Iran kills Americans. Otherwise, drone for drone.
In January 2020, the U.S. took blood for blood. Note the Iranian drone raid yesterday on Iraq avoided striking Americans.
Kim Jong Un, pay attention.
To find out more about Austin Bay and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
Photo credit: masoudzada at Pixabay