From Rick Francona at Middle East Perspectives: Fallout from the killing of Qods Force commander Qasem Soleimani
A. I have no doubt there will be reactions, both by Iraqi Shi’a groups/militias, and possibly even the Iranians directly. While in the past, we have seen the Iranians conducting their operations in the region via their Iraqi, Lebanese, even Afghan and Pakistani proxies, the U.S. killing of Qasem Soleimani may cause a direct Iranian response on an American target. I suspect it will be against an American target in the region, possibly the Persian Gulf.
A quick word on the killing of Soleimani. There has been speculation in some media that the intelligence used to support the decision to kill Soleimani and Kata’ib Hizballah leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis was not as definitive as portrayed by U.S. Administration officials.
My response is that there has been sufficient cause for years to eliminate Soleimani. It was Soleimani who was behind proxy Iraqi Shi’a militias which caused the death of over 600 American troops, and the wounding of hundreds more. That alone, to me, is enough reason to kill him. Killing al-Muhandis? A bonus.
Ross Douthat at the NY Times applies some Walter Russell Mead American foreign policy thinking:
‘The Iranian government is indeed our enemy, to an extent that the Hamiltonians in the Obama administration sometimes underestimated, and in that sense Trump’s hawkishness toward the mullahs fits with his Jacksonian approach. But the Tehran regime’s capacity and inclination to cause problems for America also reflect our regional presence, posture and alliances, which mostly exist to advance a kind of mixtape of Hamiltonian and Wilsonian grand strategies — access to Middle Eastern oil, the promotion of democracy and human rights, and regime change in Tehran itself.
Both from The Federalist:
My thoughts as a semi-informed citizen: I remember thinking that the Iranian regime (proxies, guns, terrorism) was the kind of regime with whom we couldn’t really do business (anti-American from the get-go), and that the deeper, populist ambitions of many Persians might support some kind of Iranian level-up to nuclear legitimacy, further destabilizing the region after a longer American strategic retreat.
Many signs pointed towards a conflict.
At the time, I didn’t much like the McCain campaign’s noises on Iran, potentially leading to a stand-off or even a much more difficult war than the Iraq campaign, without many of the Iraq war’s architects and supporting base having to examine their underlying assumptions. This, given the many failure of America’s political and intellectual classes to properly consider what I see as many current American internal social, political and cultural divisions.
This process of decay and/or re-formation of our political and intellectual elite still seems to be ongoing. All in all, I remain highly skeptical.
Add to this the ‘our-deal-or-war’ peace rhetoric of the Obama administration and what seemed the amateurish quality of their foreign policy goals?
Here we are, I suppose.
Relevant key-word search on this site ‘Iran’: How’s That Iran Deal Going, Exactly?…
Adam Garfinkle had a thoughtful piece on American political discourse and the Iran deal.