Is Gen. Soleimani’s Assassination Donald Trump’s 1914 Moment?

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Gen. Soleimani. Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons 
 
On Friday, January 3, General Qassem Soleimani, the military commander most beloved by Iranians and leader of its elite Quds force, was assassinated in a targeted U.S. drone air strike outside Baghdad International Airport by the United States on orders by President Trump. Soleimani had relentlessly defended Iran and its interests in the Middle East for more than two decades.
 
U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said that General Soleimani was killed in order to disrupt an "imminent attack" against American interests in the region. "I can't talk too much about the nature of the threats. But the American people should know that the President's decision to remove Soleimani from the battlefield saved American lives", claims Pompeo.
 
It is important to recognize that neither the president nor Pompeo have offered any evidence to support this irresponsible and reckless action. It was lies from George W. Bush’s administration that took America into the illegal invasion of Iraq. It appears that lies and false narratives are being used to rationalize this latest heinous act that may also result in another senseless war and cause large-scale deaths.
 
Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. We know that President Trump is not well read, ignorant, and not learned. Will the assassination of Gen. Soleimani become his 1914 moment? On June 28, 1914 Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated by a Bosnian Serb nationalist during an official visit to the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo sparking a chain of events that led to the start of the World War I. What were prevailing socio-economic and prevailing conditions around the world at the time? In several countries, there was a growing sense of nationalism, resistance to colonial rule and imperialism along with the constant quest for markets, territory and resources that laid the groundwork for Ferdinand’s assassination to trigger WWI. One can only wonder if Trump’s latest blunder will result in a similar chain of events and outcome.
 
More frightening than the Trump administration’s blunder is the ahistorical context in which it is explained by many in U.S. mainstream commercial media.  One wonders if the media is engaging in a “wag-the-dog” scenario in order to defend failed ideas such as “American exceptionalism.” Senator Elizabeth Warren, former Vice President Joe Biden and several TV analysts have said that Gen. Soleimani’s assassination is morally justified since he was “a murderer” and had “American blood on his hands”. However, they also argue that from a tactical perspective, it was the wrong move at the wrong time.  This position is ahistorical, intellectually dishonest and hypocritical. There’s not a general in the world who has been on the battlefield that does not have the blood of his enemy on his or her hands. Generals Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr., Colin Powell and David Petraeus all have Iraqi blood on their hands. That’s what generals do.
 
Gen. Soleimani was labeled a “terrorist”. The Trump administration took the unprecedented action of labeling Iran's Revolutionary Guard of which the Quds force is a part, a “terrorist organization”, thereby giving the general the designation. This was the first time the U.S. labelled another nation's military as a terrorist organization. Ironically it was not Gen. Soleimani, but former President George W. Bush and his top administration officials who were once labeled as war criminals. In 2014, Richard Clarke, who was national coordinator for security and counterterrorism during President George W. Bush's first year in office told Amy Goodman, the host of "Democracy Now" that Bush and his top officials and advisors were guilty of war crimes for launching the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
 
Clarke said: “I think things that they authorized probably fall within the area of war crimes. Whether that would be productive or not, I think, is a discussion we could all have. But we have established procedures now with the International Criminal Court in The Hague, where people who take actions as serving presidents or prime ministers of countries have been indicted and have been tried. So the precedent is there to do that sort of thing. And I think we need to ask ourselves whether or not it would be useful to do that in the case of members of the Bush administration. It’s clear that things that the Bush administration did — in my mind, at least, it’s clear that some of the things they did were war crimes.”
 
Also, in a symbolic but important trial in 2012 at the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission, in Malaysia, which was the initiative of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed who opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq,  Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and their legal advisers Alberto Gonzales, David Addington, William Haynes, Jay Bybee and John Yoo were tried in absentia and convicted of war crimes.
 
Even more directly related to Iran, it was General’s Schwarzkopf’s father, Gen. Herbert Norman Schwarzkopf, Sr. who along with CIA agent Kermit Roosevelt, Jr., the grand son of former President Theodore Roosevelt, orchestrated the 1953 coup d’état in Iran, known as Operation Ajax. This resulted in the overthrow of Iran’s democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh and in his place Shah Mohammed Reza’s dictatorial monarchy was installed. General Schwarzkopf, Sr. also helped to train what would later become known as the SAVAK; the Shah’s secret police that tortured and executed Iranians on behalf of the Shah’s government, the CIA and the Israeli Mossad.
 
Iran, like any other sovereign nation, is justified in using lethal force in order to protect it’s clearly defined geographic territory and borders against internal and external threats. In the context of defending U.S. “interests”, Secretary Pompeo has said: “Where we see American interests at stake or fundamental norms around the world that need to be enforced, we’ll use all the powers that we have…”  The term American interests is a very vague and ill-defined expansion of the lexicon that in the minds of Americans gives the U.S. carte blanche to impose its will any place it sees fit. General Soleimani was defending his country and his country’s interests against the generations of threats and aggression of western imperialists. Again, to claim otherwise is ahistorical and incredibly hypocritical. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
 
Analysts and commentators often opine that America’s relationship with Iran turned sour in 1979 with the taking of U.S. hostages. They totally ignore the devastating 1953 coup and the U.S.’s propping up the Shah’s dictatorship. They fail to explain that it was due to lies told to former President Carter, by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and David Rockefeller that the Shah was dying from cancer and the only place in the world that he could receive treatment was in New York that convinced Carter to let him into the country. This resulted in a decision that Bloomberg reports led to "the seizure of American hostages in Tehran from 1979 to 1981."
 
The irresponsible decision to assassinate General Soleimani cannot be placed solely at the feet of Trump. One must ask Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the 188 Democrats that joined the GOP in handing Trump a $738 billion military budget devoid of the bipartisan amendment to stop the war in Iran. Since Soleimani’s assassination is an act of war, is it a coincidence that it occurred just weeks after the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was passed by the House?
 
This decision was dangerous, reckless, foolish and irresponsible.  
 
Let us pray that the leadership in Iran does not take the bait and recklessly respond.  The world can ill afford for this to become Trump’s 1914 moment.
 
Dr. Wilmer Leon is the Producer/Host of the nationally broadcast call-in talk radio program “Inside the Issues with Leon,” on SiriusXM Satellite radio channel 126. Go to www.wilmerleon.com or email: wjl3us@yahoo.com. www.twitter.com/drwleon and Dr. Leon’s Prescription at Facebook.com
 
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