Reason Roundup

Does Trump's Strike Against Iran Mean We Are Going to War?

Plus: State Department tells Americans to leave Iraq, the return of freedom fries?, and more...


Ready or not, here we go again. I'm pretty sure we just celebrated the start of the year 2020. But it's a bit hard to tell, with so many American leaders and TV pundits talking like it's 2003.

Following Thursday's U.S. attack on Iranian authorities in Iraq—a strike that killed Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani—the same psychopathic warmongers who lied us into the Iraq War have been gleefully spewing their old nonsense, with some minor updates.

They will greet us as liberators? Yep!

An "imminent threat" negated normal channels of action? Yep!


Someone must be punished and damn the consequences: VENGEANCE IS OURS! Yep, yep, yep.

Cable news producers have even been dusting off Karl Rove and other Bush-era prevaricators to manufacture consent for a new generation of U.S. war in the middle east.

And we're about this close to bringing back Freedom Fries.

The hawks keep reminding everyone that Soleimani was "evil," and suggesting that this justifies just taking him out from on high as he arrived in Iraq for a diplomatic visit…and that anyone less than thrilled with last night's actions just loves the terrorists or hates Donald Trump too much to appreciate it.

It should go without saying, but it's possible to be against the actions of Soleimani and the forces he led and still believe that the Trump administration is handling this the wrong way. It's possible to think Soleimani deserves some nasty fate while still believing that the U.S. shouldn't just go around assassinating foreign leaders we don't like. And it's absolutely possible—albeit apparently not for a lot of empathy-deficient toads in the government and media—to believe that the lives of the American troops and others who are now in greater danger are worth more than the fleeting satisfaction of vengeance or of feeling like you've won a news cycle.

The Pentagon has said the point of the attack was to deter "future Iranian attack plans." Because if there's one thing that pacifies terrorist cells and prevents acts of aggression against Americans, it's killing their leaders…

But the repercussions of this reckless act—and post-kill preening—will probably be huge.

Taking out Soleimani in the way we did is not like drone striking terrorists at their secret hideout or killing the leader of some rogue militia. The Quds Force Soleimani commanded may have been engaged in unconventional warfare, but they're also an official part of the Iranian Armed Forces, not some stateless terrorist cell. And Soleimani wasn't just some Osama bin Laden–like death prophet; he was a high-ranking figure in Iran's government.

Killing Soleimani in this way is akin to another country taking out Vice President Mike Pence or a member of Trump's cabinet while he attended a public event or was traveling to some state function. And the public nature of the attack, magnified by the administration's foolish brags about it afterward, will leave Iran with little politically feasible choice but to hit back in a big, public way.

On Friday morning, the U.S. State Department warned Americans in Iraq to leave immediately.

Some suggest that because the strike on Soleimani took place in Iraq and the American military is allowed to be in Iraq, everything is legally sound. Even if you accept that, there's a big difference between allowed and should.

"Iran is a state with significant capacity to make mischief in its neighborhood," and "the death of Soleimani does not wish the Quds Force, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps or Islamic Republic of Iran out of existence," points out Daniel Drezner. "An awful lot of Iranians and other Shiites will want to retaliate. Standard international relations theory suggests that decapitating a key leader would not fundamentally affect that state's capacity to act."

Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has promised that a "harsh retaliation is waiting." Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called Soleimani's killing "an act of state terrorism and violation of Iraq's sovereignty."

A lot of Democrats are now distancing themselves from this mess, but they have to answer for the fact that they overwhelming voted against a measure to deny the Trump administration money for offensive attacks in Iran.


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