Making sense of the Middle East is pretty much an exercise in futility, but I feel I cannot give up because it is such an important part of the world. The assassination of General Qasem Soleimani caught me off guard. Why was he in Baghdad in the first place?
These two passages from articles in the London Review of Books help explain why this was one more foolish move by an administration that doesn’t really know what they are doing when it comes to foreign policy.
“The left often describes Trump’s rule as neo-fascist, but the more accurate description would be neo-infantilist, the tyranny of a child who imagines himself to be omnipotent. During the clashes in Iraq that led up to Soleimani’s assassination, few American commentators bothered to note that it was Bush and Cheney’s invasion of Iraq that got us here in the first place. Had it not been for the 2003 invasion, Iran would not have been able to turn Iraq into a client state, or to organise pro-Iranian militias to maintain its influence there. There would have been no Islamic State (IS have hailed Soleimani’s killing as an act of ‘divine intervention’).” “To Important to Kill” [Adam Shatz on the death of Qasem Soleimani] London Review of Books. January 23, 2020
“Soleimani’s assassination on 3 January has rescued the Iranian leadership from this mounting political crisis. Trump ignored military wisdom – ‘Never interrupt your enemy when he is in the middle of making a mistake’ – at a time when Soleimani, and those who thought like him in Iran, Iraq and Lebanon, had made a grave misjudgment in responding to political unrest with extreme force. As the largest crowds since the funeral of Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989 filled the streets of Tehran and other cities to mourn Soleimani, senior members of the Iranian government seemed astonished by a renewed sense of national solidarity Tehran and Washington were closer than they have ever been after Islamic State captured Mosul in 2014; both were determined to stop IS fighters advancing on Baghdad. As the Iraqi’s put it: ‘They shake their fists at each other over the table, but shake hands under it.’” “Blundering into War” [Patrick Cockburn on what Trump doesn’t know about Iran] London Review of Books. January 23, 2020.
Newark Valley, N.Y.