Peace Through Assassination: A Tragically Delusional Idea

This past Friday, President Trump announced that he ordered the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Suleimani. In his announcement he stated that “We took action last night to stop a war. We did not take action to start a war.” 

There are only two possible conclusions that Spirited Reasoners can draw from these statements. Either (1) our President is delusional, or (2) he is lying to us. (Anyone claiming that Iran will sit back and do nothing in retaliation is either delusional or lying.)

As this post is being written, citizens across the nation of Iran are mourning the death of a popular leader. A nation once divided by the impact of effective economic sanctions is rapidly unifying behind a political leader whose political support had been weakening. Demonstrators are now demanding revenge be taken against the United States. Large crowds are expressing solidarity. In short, Iran’s political leaders have no choice but to take some sort of military action to appease their constituents.

The delusion in all this is the notion that generals cause wars to happen. They don’t. Generals prosecute wars that are declared by political leaders. If one general is killed, a new general is promoted, and the war goes on. Killing a top general does not end a nation’s willingness to conduct war.

Prior to Friday’s action, no formal war had been declared between the United States and Iran. Trump’s action, rather than stopping a war, has almost certainly started one.

Trump’s supporters will no doubt argue that we were already at war with Iran, if only via proxies. Fine. But if that is the case, then (according to Trump’s statements) we should be seeing at least the beginning of an end to that war as a result of Suleimani’s assassination. Instead, unless we are all blind, what we are seeing is exactly the opposite—the start of yet another war in the Middle East.

One more thing.

Because the assassination took place on Iraqi territory, the United States has also upset Iraq, whose approval was apparently not sought prior to the killing.

If any sort of peace results from all this, Spirited Reasoners will be amazed.