No one knows, really.
I’m not a Middle East expert. I’m not even all that much more informed than the average person who pays a decent amount of attention to world politics. I don’t profess to know how to solve anything in the region, and I’ve never felt comfortable throwing suggestions or conjectures out there because there are a lot of moving parts and I’ve never seriously studied how they fit together. I’m comfortable talking (ranting mostly–y’all know me) about the US economy or our justice system or lobbying etc. because I’ve studied those things and I feel confident that I have a handle on how they work.
I just wanted to put that out there first — if you want expert analysis, please look up expert analysis. I’ve been doing that all morning and it has both confirmed what I felt and talked me off a ledge of irrationality.
I have a negative reaction to anything Donald Trump does, especially at this point in his presidency. I see the assassination of Major General Qassem Soleimani as an impulsive, two-pronged effort to shore up support going into this year’s election: his Strongman Mentality proving how strong he is by taking out a powerful adversary when no one else had and a basic understanding that a sitting President rarely loses his re-election bid when the country is at war. Starting a war with Iran by taking out arguably the most influential if not most powerful man in the region achieves both, and Trump understood it as a political strategy all the way back in 2011.
Soleimani wasn’t walking around pulling puppet strings in the Middle East for three decades because US government officials didn’t know how to kill him or never had the opportunity to kill him. They just didn’t have a plan for what comes after. Trump would like to characterize this assassination as Trump being smarter than those before him (because he figured out how to kill Soleimani), being braver than those before him (because he’s not afraid of the repercussions), and being more patriotic than those before him (because Soleimani was almost certainly behind the attack on the US embassy in Iraq recently).
Theoretically, I have no problem with Soleimani being dead via the actions of the US government. If I objectively look at the situation without the negative impulse to hate Donald Trump and without examining the rationale behind why Trump ordered the strike, I still have no problem with Soleimani being dead via the actions of the US government. If I put this sequence of events in the context of another Presidency (dangerous leader in the Middle East terrorizes the area for decades, fights proxy wars with the US through other countries, makes a direct attack on the US embassy, so the President orders his murder), I still have no problem with Soleimani being dead via the actions of the US government. If you and I are on the same page and you’re looking for a way to “debate” the Republicans in your life who accuse you of loving Iran or hating Trump so much you can’t see a good thing, remind them that you agree Soleimani had it coming….at some point.
The unease I’m sitting with rests with the question of Who is the Adult in the Room? Donald Trump ordered this strike without Congressional approval. I feel uncomfortable with an unpredictable wannabe dictator who reads at a 4th grade level being in charge of anything, let alone anything that could lead to war. He has proven repeatedly that he does not surround himself with the best, the brightest, or even the competent. Short of seeing what the long range plan is, there’s nothing that would settle this disquiet in my gut. If this was Obama or Hillary, I would wonder what Iran’s retaliation would be, but I would trust they, with the help of the most talented, most informed people in Washington, would have a plan to deal with it. I don’t trust Donald Trump or anyone around him to have a plan, and if they did have a plan, I would assume the plan would make everything worse.
So now we wait. What will Iran do now that we have declared war by murdering their Number Two? How will the Trump administration handle that war? What does that war mean for the safety of the US in the short term and in the long range perspective of looking at the effect of that war on the election? The only thing we know for sure is that we are at war with Iran whether that was the plan or not.