Reason Interviews

Christopher Preble Says Killing Soleimani Didn't Make America Safer

"Does this advance American safety and security? Does it make Americans freer and more prosperous? The answer is no."

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In early January, the United States took out Iran's top military leader, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, as he passed through Iraq. President Donald Trump's decision to order the killing of a foreign government official was controversial both at home and abroad.

Is Trump charting a bold new course in the Middle East or following the failed footsteps of Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush? A day before Iran responded to the killing with a bombing campaign against two U.S. military bases in the region, Reason's Nick Gillespie spoke with Christopher A. Preble, vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at the libertarian Cato Institute.

In 1990–93, Preble served as an officer in the U.S. Navy on the USS Ticonderoga. He's the co-author of Fuel to the Fire: How Trump Made America's Broken Foreign Policy Even Worse (and How We Can Recover) and the author of Peace, War, and Liberty: Understanding U.S. Foreign Policy.

Q: How big a deal is the U.S. killing Iranian Gen. Soleimani?

A: It's a really big deal. The best equivalent I've heard is that it would be as if someone killed both the head of U.S. Central Command and the head of the Central Intelligence Agency. One of the key differences between Soleimani and Osama bin Laden, for example, is that bin Laden was a terrorist leader, not a representative of a sovereign state.

Q: Is the difference between a terrorist and a state actor mostly legalistic, in that this could be perceived as an act of war? Or is it more moral, in that we treat generals of states we're not at open war with differently than we do mere terrorists?

A: There's a legal aspect of this in terms of U.S. domestic law, which prohibits the assassination of foreign government officials. But I frankly approach this more from a practical perspective. Does this advance American safety and security? Does it make Americans freer and more prosperous? The answer is no.

Q: What are the ways that this makes us less safe? 

A: The Iranians don't have a comparable level of capability to the U.S., but they do have a willingness and the ability to carry out cyberattacks against networks. That's a more pressing concern, perhaps, than conventional reprisals here in the U.S.

Q: Is it possible that this was the type of action that makes Iran change its behavior in the Middle East?  

A: That's certainly what Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and what President Trump himself seem to believe. They expect Iran not to retaliate and to be deterred from retaliation by threats. This is consistent with what the Trump administration calls the "maximum pressure campaign," which also involves sanctions.

The maximum pressure campaign has put real pain on the Iranian people. We have credible evidence of Iranians dying premature deaths from lack of access to medicine, for example. But it has not brought the Iranian government back to the negotiating table to comply with the long list of demands that the Trump administration has made.

Q: It seems like, in terms of Iraq, things are going in the wrong direction. The Iraqi government now wants the American military to get the hell out.

A: As recently as December there was rising Iraqi anger and animosity at foreign influence from both the United States and Iran. What we've seen in the last couple of weeks is a lot of that anger and resentment redirected to the United States.

Now, there was a lot of resentment and anger toward us already, because we're a foreign presence in Iraqi territory. But I think that for the time being, the balance of power inside Iraq now tips toward Iran because of that strike.

This interview has been condensed and edited for style and clarity. For a podcast version, subscribe to The Reason Interview With Nick Gillespie.

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  1. I have zero issue helping that asshole Soleimani transition from red goo into fertilizer. The stupid son of a bitch got cocky. Now he is dead. Fuck him, and the camel he rode in on.

    1. Clinger foreign policy. Always as fascinating as a Kardashian tweetstorm and as important as a Libertarian Party nominating convention.

      1. Kirkland…why don’t you join the stupid son of a bitch Soleimani and transform yourself into fertilizer. You personally have all the appeal of a raging hemorrhoid.

        1. Watching guys like you sputter inconsequentially and whimper has not been the most important part of beating clingers in the culture war, but it has been entertaining.

          Open wider. Or not. You’ll still be complying with the preferences of your betters either way.

          1. Open wider, hicklib, you’re about to get coronavirus coughed down your throat.

            1. And another 4 years of Trump.

              1. And an economy that becomes stronger than before March 2020.

                1. Let me know when Trump can show growth (starting with a longstanding headwind) greater than that which Obama developed (from the Bush standstill), or has a stock market performance at half the Obama standard.

                  1. You stupid pile of shit, starting from a hole in the ground would give any competent POTUS the chance to brag about rocket-propelled growth. Instead:

                    “The Obama economy in 10 charts ”
                    […]
                    “One of the biggest criticisms of Obama’s economy is that growth has been sluggish. Historically, the U.S. economy has expanded 3% or more a year, on average.
                    The Great Recession was a meat-cleaver on the economy. Since then, the U.S. has struggled to grow at much more than 2% a year under President Obama.”

                    Now, asshole bigot, guess the source.

                    1. You should accept responsibility for your violence.

                    2. Should take your meds as prescribed Hihn.

                    3. “You should accept responsibility for your violence.”

                      Your fave Stalin, ~60,000,000 murdered
                      Lenin, ~25,000,000 murdered
                      Mao, ~100,000,000 murdered
                      Don’t lecture me on who loves violence, scumbag lefty.

                    4. Still waiting, asshole bigot.
                      Let’s just figure you’re a cherry-picking piece of shit who posts lies and obviously has no support for them.
                      Can we figure you’re a sock for that scumbag turd, turd?

                    5. Waiting for what, madam?

                    6. Waiting for your guess on the source, asshole bigot. C’mon, tell us who criticized that lying piece of shit.

                    7. Hey, asshole bigot? Still scratching your head, or just to dishonest to answer?
                      Which is it, shitstain? Your betters want to know.

          2. Rev never fails to amuse me. That boy can strut sittin’ down.

            1. Meh it’s the same thing I do but with less style and humor.

              1. I agree….you definitely have the Reverend beat on style and humor. 🙂

                (kind of a low bar, tho)

            2. I just bought a brand new BMW after having made $6375 this past one month and just over 12k last 4 week. This is the best and most financially rewarding job I’ve ever had. I actually started this few Weeks ago and almost immediately started to bring home minimum 74BUCKS p/h… Read More

          3. So much projection.

            We win. You lose.

            Don’t be a stranger when Trumpslide2020 cometh.

        2. Arty, why don’t you come visit me and try to make that happen? I want to hear your tough talk face to face.

          1. It has been happening throughout your inconsequential, whining, marginalized lifetime — people far better than you mocking your backwater ways and imposing progress on you against your wishes and efforts.

            Your compliance as and after progress is shoved down your bigoted throat is, as always, greatly appreciated.

            1. “It has been happening throughout your inconsequential, whining, marginalized lifetime — people far better than you mocking your backwater ways and imposing progress on you against your wishes and efforts.”

              And asshole bigot below points out insults to his betters are worthless.

            2. Oh, so the tough talk evaporates when you’re called out.

              Thought so, you weak little pussy.

      2. At least Kim Kardashian has managed to get some people’s prison sentences commuted. You’re still compensating for a being a slack-jawed, slope-foreheaded, inbred hicklib.

        1. He’s really compensating for spending his childhood being beaten on a regular basis by the bigger, stronger boys.

          The sick fuck probably beats his dog when he has a bad day.

          1. Insults from society’s disregarded, stomped-down fringe players are supposed to work?

            1. Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland
              March.29.2020 at 12:25 pm

              “Insults from society’s disregarded, stomped-down fringe players are supposed to work?”

              Good question.
              That’s all you ever post, asshole bigot. Do you think your betters are impressed?

            2. No, your insults don’t work.

              It’s clear to everyone here that you’re pathetic and try to compensate here.

              Personally, I’m doing great, both financially and culturally.

              1. All it takes to shut him up is to remind him you’ll treat him like everyone else does by putting a dick in his throat.

              2. You are getting stomped into irrelevance by the liberal-libertarian mainstream, although you might be too stupid to have noticed the past 60 or 70 years of anti-conservative American progress.

                And it is only going to get worse for right-wing malcontents as our electorate becomes less white, less rural, less religious, less bigoted, and less backward. At some point the conservative and white supremacist Christian movements will capsize entirely and better Americans will take away things you like just to show you your place.

                1. “You are getting stomped into irrelevance by the liberal-libertarian mainstream, although you might be too stupid to have noticed the past 60 or 70 years of anti-conservative American progress.”

                  Asshole bigotm keep insulting your betters; it’s amusing.

                2. Is that the liberal mainstream that has lower trust numbers than Trump?

                3. Right. Are you paying attention to what is happening right now? Or the coming Great Awakening that will inevitably result?

                4. I’m not getting stomped by shit.

                  You’re impotence, along with your homo-erotic rape fantasies, are noted by your moral betters. (We’re your moral betters because we don’t harbor homo-erotic rape fantasies)

      3. Agreed other Rev! Anybody that conciders Iranians terrorists are clingers! We need to Change the definition of terrorist from people who target civilians to clingers on the right! Then we can finally charge all of the racist asshole with terrorism!

        1. You’re much better than your mini-me. 🙂

      4. Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland
        March.29.2020 at 7:33 am

        Clinger foreign policy. Always as fascinating as a Kardashian tweetstorm and as important as a Libertarian Party nominating convention.

        You know, you *say that*, apparently forgetting that Obama is the one who solidified the ‘murder them from the air’ tactic during his 8 years of, you know, murdering people from the air.

        So, Rev, how does it feel to know that you’re supporting the party of Patriarchy, of racism, and of murder?

      5. Naturally, Kirkland weeps when enemies of the US are killed.

    2. Great. You got some fodder for your war boner. But what’s the next move? More fodder for you internet warriors to preen over? Or can we fucking end this shit and remove our troops from that shit hole?

      1. It was great, Eric. A very evil man was sent on the one way train to paradise.

        1. The left shed many tears after that piece of shit got murdered. Progressives love mass murderers and hate babies.

          1. Progressives also tell inconsequential right-wing cranks like you what to do and how to do it. Do you regret picking the wrong side in the culture war, clinger?

            1. Most everybody here tells asshole bigots like you that you and that hag lost.
              Do you regret not growing up? Are you still hoping daddy with leave you enough money to move out of the double-wide?

            2. Hey, shitstain, still waiting for an answer. And if you claim you don’t know the question, your dishonesty is quite obvious.

            3. Gee. I guess asking asshole bigot to support his lies regarding Obo’s pathetic economy is just too much for asshole bigot.
              Hey, asshole bigot, if we didn’t have your number before, we got it now; the source calling your economic lies regarding Obo is that noted RWC center so loved by that hag and asshole bigots like you:
              https://money.cnn.com/gallery/news/economy/2017/01/06/obama-economy-10-charts-final/3.html

              Next time you post lies like that, expect to get called on your bullshit by those who don’t bullshit, asshole bigot.

            4. Haven’t found one instance of you telling anyone here what to do (and them actually listening). So there’s that.

      2. “fodder for your war boner”

        Remind me again how that WW3 you were all guaranteeing was going to happen, went.

        1. I don’t remember guaranteeing anything. Are you saying that there were and are no possible negative consequences to this action?

          1. Right right you were wrong then and too much of a coward to admit it now.

          2. “Are you saying that there were and are no possible negative consequences to this action?”

            No, that’s clearly not what he said.
            He was reminding you of all the pants-wetting you went on about certain that “your” son was going to be drafted

            1. “IT COULD STILL HAPPEN!!!” – sockpuppet eric downthread

            2. I took a concerned approach to escalating things with Iran. I didn’t guarantee anything and mentioned that I have a son approaching draftable age. I have no interest in him dying or being maimed because some dumbass politician rolled the dice with other people’s lives.
              That also said, I had an uncle and 2nd cousin who were both drafted into the Army and both died in the A Shau Valley during Vietnam. Their lives were spent and their loved ones lives were fucked royally for nothing. That was just a generation ago, so it’s not like it couldn’t happen again.

          3. There are negative consequences of getting up in the morning. It’s risk vs. reward for all things. So far, looks like the risk of triggering a war over killing Soleimani was minimal vs. the reward of having one less active, upper level, full-scale experienced military terrorist in the world. P.S. Who is Christopher Preble, again? Someone who, along with Reason staff, apparently doesn’t feel the sting of the irony of hindsight.

    3. And please note that he was (a) in IRAQ and (b) engaged in acts of war.
      I view this as similar to shooting down Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto’s plane in WWII — an effective way to save American lives.

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  3. Given the weak Iranian response, this guy is full of shit. WW3 didn’t happen, and there’s no evidence of serious cyber attacks. We should pull our troops out and let them stew in their own juices.

    1. +1000

    2. It’s too early to determine if your first two sentences are correct. But you make up for it with your third sentence.

      1. Ahahahah YOU STILL FUCKING THINK THIS WILL CAUSE WW3

        AAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAAHAHAH

        AHAHAHAHAHHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH

        YOU FUCKING RETARD

        HAAHAHHAHAHAAHAHAHHAHAHAAH

    3. This interview beclowns Nick. Both he and the guy he interviews are a joke.

      1. This interview beclowns Nick.

        Nick is a clown, the interview and interviewee are just symptoms and/or side effects.

    4. Some people are natural appeasers. “Don’t hit back, or you’ll make them mad.”

      Those are the people who *invite* violence.

      It’s simply absurd for an overwhelmingly stronger power to cower before the assaults of a weaker power.

      Trump hit back 10 times as hard, and at *leadership*. That’s deterrence.

      Boehm has the same kind of appeasement attitude with tariffs.

      1. Indeed. Those mullahs and their generals are probably starting to think twice now that they might be killed if they overstep. This is in addition to his efforts to confiscate the overseas assets of these people.

    5. I can see both sides. Yes, it was a serious risk. However, there are several mitigating factors. First, he was in a country he had no right to be in. Second, he was actively running a campaign. Solemani was a legitimate military target by any definition, except for the fact that it was an undeclared war using civilians to commit attacks on non-military targets. He had no protection as a civilian by being in war, and being in violation of the Geneva convention, he had no protection as a combatant. Criminals don’t get immunity because they hold high office.

      Secondly, we have the fact that the Iranian leadership acted as if they were invincible and untouchable. By making that strike, we showed that they were not. It upset many people, but don’t forget that many of the protests in Iran were directed AT the Iranian government for entangling the country in a foreign war that risked aggravating the biggest military in the world. In the long term, we showed that we were willing to attack the head.

      I, personally, would not have made the same choice. However, I can understand why Trump did it.

  4. …Christopher A. Preble, vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at the libertarian Cato Institute.
    […]
    In 1990–93, Preble served as an officer in the U.S. Navy on the USS Ticonderoga.

    HAHA. These are the qualifications for this guy to be some expert? HAHAHA. He didnt even serve 4 years in the US Navy? What a weird “qualification”.

    This Iranian general was shown to have planned and ordered the killing of thousands of US military members. He entered Iraq with some other American murdering targets and got droned.

    This absolutely made America safer. To what degree who knows but killing a person so good at killing American service members absolutely makes it harder for Iran to kill Americans.

    Look at it like Nazi Germany killing our General Patton. It would have been a huge setback since he was our best mechanized corps general in WWII. Soleimani was Iran best military guy for the job and now he’s dead.

    In fact, look at Iran desperate responses because they are largely impotent without that general. Lob missiles and hope they hit something.

    1. Soleimani was involved in planning and carrying out the Siege of Baba Amr during the Siege of Homs since 2011.

      In the later half of 2012, Soleimani assumed personal control of the Iranian intervention in the Syrian Civil War, when the Iranians became deeply concerned about the Assad government’s inability to fight the opposition, and the negative consequences to the Islamic Republic if the Syrian government fell.

      The retaking of Qusayr in May 2013 from rebel forces and Al-Nusra Front was, according to John Maguire, a former CIA officer in Iraq, “orchestrated” by Soleimani.

      Soleimani helped establish the National Defence Forces (NDF) in 2013 which would formalise the coalition of pro-Assad groups.

      Soleimani was much credited in Syria for the strategy that assisted President Bashar al-Assad in finally repulsing rebel forces and recapturing key cities and towns. He was involved in the training of government-allied militias and the coordination of decisive military offensives.The sighting of Iranian UAVs in Syria strongly suggested that his command, the Quds Force, was involved in the civil war.

      Soleimani’s visit to Moscow was the first step in planning for a Russian military intervention that has reshaped the Syrian war and forged a new Iran–Russia alliance in support of the Syrian (and Iraqi) governments. (Notice the media never talks about this)

      In early February 2016, backed by Russian and Syrian air force airstrikes, the 4th Mechanized Division – in close coordination with Hezbollah, the National Defense Forces (NDF), Kata’eb Hezbollah, and Harakat Al-Nujaba – launched an offensive in Aleppo Governorate’s northern countryside, which eventually broke the three-year siege of Nubl and Al-Zahraa and cut off the rebels’ main supply route from Turkey.
      -Wikipedia Qasem Soleimani

      1. Droning Soleimani severely weakened Persia and that’s what this is all about.

        Soleimani planned and executed the killing of Americans, so he got a taste of his own medicine.

        1. Whether or not it weakened Persia, it gave the Iranian *leadership* something to think about the next time they considered killing Americans.

          Deterrence. Apparently they aren’t as keen on being martyred are they were making out.

    2. No no no. The killing didnt stop all war forever, therefore it was bad. Idealistic libertarianism is as dumb as idealistic communism. Wish some of the people Reason interviewed were realist libertarians.

      Reason completely denies game theory as a function of interactions. Tit for tat is a fine strategy to try to stop bad behavior. Letting bad actors never meet resistance only encourages more bad actors.

      1. Well, we could have asked Soleimani to stop being mean. And if that did not work, we could have frozen his US bank accounts.

        1. We did ask, and then even gave his leaders 1 billion to pay him off. Shockingly it just upped Soleimanis behavior.

          1. In fact, Soleimani is quoted as saying that he “had nothing to say to those people” (Americans).

      2. I’m thinking that western liberals, considering themselves elites, are horrified by the idea that we killed a general. See, peasants and bitter clingers dying is just fine, but you absolutely do not touch the rich and/or powerful, so generals are off limits.
        As far as I can tell conservatives have already forgotten who this suli guy was and moved on to other things.

        1. They’ve a problem with going after ex-Left-wing or anti-Western leaders.

          Right-wing leaders (Pinochet), or leaders who’ve been cooperating with the West (Khadafy)? Not much problem with chasing those guys to their grave, or shrugging their shoulders when the mob catches up to them. Same reason Trump better have his head on a swivel when he leaves office.

      3. I dont listen to unreason podcasts. Did Preble say he was a Libertarian? unreason staff certainly are not Libertarian.

        1. And you are?

          1. Why would anyone care about your opinion on it since you aren’t either?

          2. Eric, you’re a progtard. So your judgement about other people’s libertarian bonanza codes means nothing. You are the problem, not us.

            1. Save your pillow talk for later Shitty 😉

            2. If “bonanza codes” is autocorrect for bona fides then it is one of the best autocorrects of all time.

              1. On this, we agree

      4. The Team America “dicks, pussies, and assholes” formula sums it up best.
        But too many libertarians have become pussies, and the Left has gone full asshole

      5. Tit for tat with a little forbearance is usually one of the best strategies between equal adversaries.

        I suspect that between very unequal adversaries, the best strategy is more like 10 tit for each tat.

    3. of thousands of US military members.

      You’re way overstating things there.

      https://tinyurl.com/y6tdxcc9

      Pentagon says maybe 600ish killed by Iranian-back militias. Out of around 3,600 killed in Iraq.

    4. This Iranian general was shown to . . .

      Shown to who? You? Certainly no one ever briefed me. All we have is ‘the government said so’. Again – you’re overstating things.

    5. To what degree who knows but killing a person so good at killing American service members absolutely makes it harder for Iran to kill Americans.

      ? You were in the military, right? The Navy? You know that senior officers have staffs? That there’s a whole chain of people that work to make ‘kill him’ become ‘he’s dead’.

      Pick a General in the US military. Any branch. Pick three of them. Kill them right now and no one would notice. Because their staff would pick right up and continue on until a new flag could be moved in.

  5. Orange Hitler literally started World War 3 when he killed that guy. I voted for Hillary Clinton partly because of her consistent record of foreign policy wisdom. As Commander in Chief she’d never make such a disastrous blunder.

    #StillWithHer

    1. Crooked Hillary is completely irrelevant. By all means, be with her, OBL. 🙂

      1. I dont know about irrelevant. The media loved her sick burn yesterday.

        1. She stole it from jfree

          1. Or is JFree hillary? Would explain the irrationality.

  6. Repressive governments like Iran and North Korea depend on an external threat to maintain a war footing. Without an immediate threat from outside that justifies wartime privations and loss of freedoms, how does the government explain that permanent condition? The US fulfills that role for those dictators.
    The Orange Man has stated that he wants to pull out of the Middle East. The Iranian government was making political points at home by attacking US bases and the Embassy, probably assuming that this was a safe time to do so. To stop this, the Evil One showed them there could be a personal cost to those making the decisions.

  7. Who?

    1. Some guy who already agreed with Reasons viewpoints.

      1. +1000

      2. Libertarian authorities on a subject, like they have over at Cato, have to contend with the same kind of apparent contradiction that libertarian politicians seeking political power have to negotiate. If libertarianism isn’t about giving politicians the political power to solve our problems, then what the heck is a libertarian politician doing campaigning for political power in an election?

        Likewise, libertarians are the people who are least susceptible to the appeal to authority fallacy, which isn’t to say that libertarians can’t be legitimately authoritative in their fields, like they are at Cato, but it does mean that the choir you’re preaching to may be more likely to throw the proverbial rotten tomatoes at you than your opponents.

        If we were opera aficionados at La Scala during the height of Pavarotti’s career, we almost certainly would have booed him.

          1. Right but you’re a known liar and censorious coward.

        1. Your assumption is that everyone hired by cato is an authority. That is a terrible assumption.

          1. I don’t know everybody at Cato, so I can’t say anything about everybody over there–but they have some legitimate heavyweights.

            1. Who, and I what way?

              1. In what way

  8. Q: Is it possible that this was the type of action that makes Iran change its behavior in the Middle East?

    A: That’s certainly what Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and what President Trump himself seem to believe. They expect Iran not to retaliate and to be deterred from retaliation by threats. This is consistent with what the Trump administration calls the “maximum pressure campaign,” which also involves sanctions.

    The maximum pressure campaign has put real pain on the Iranian people. We have credible evidence of Iranians dying premature deaths from lack of access to medicine, for example. But it has not brought the Iranian government back to the negotiating table to comply with the long list of demands that the Trump administration has made.

    The primary demand is that Iran come back into compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which Iran can choose to do anytime it pleases. The fact that they would rather suffer economic devastation than come back into compliance with the NPT is a testament to the nefarious intentions of their nuclear program.

    It should also be noted that Trump’s actions, here, are not a prelude to war between the U.S. and Iran–they’re the alternative to war. It should also be noted that the recent market share war between Saudi Arabia and Russia over oil is also putting more pressure on its economy. The coronavirus is putting even more pressure on their political institutions. If Iran won’t come back into compliance with the NPT under all this pressure, then there aren’t any pragmatists in line to become president once President Trump leaves office. It’s neocons in the wings all the way down the batting order on both sides of the Democratic/Republican divide.

    If President Trump’s policy of maximum pressure on the Iranians doesn’t bring them back to the negotiating table, that doesn’t mean Iran’s nuclear program stops being a legitimate threat to the United States or that the multistage rockets they’ve already used to successfully launch satellites can’t be converted to use as ICBMs. If President Trump’s attempts at relatively peaceful pressure on the Iranians doesn’t bring Iran back into compliance with the NPT, that makes it more likely that future neoconservative Commanders-in-chief will go to war with Iran, not less so.

    1. They expect Iran not to retaliate and to be deterred from retaliation by threats

      As far as it goes – we remember what happened in the immediate aftermath, right?

      Where Iran did an ineffectual ‘retaliation’ with a lot of hot air blowing. Embarrassingly so – to us at least. Given that their response meant they were either *unable* to do more or were too scared to do more.

  9. Soleimani’s existence had a negligible effect on the safety and security of Americans, and his absence will make no difference to us. He certainly seemed like a fella who needed killing, but there are a lot of those.

    1. If killing an Iranian military commander because he ordered the targeting of Americans doesn’t have a deterrent effect on the willingness of other Iranian military commanders to order attacks on American targets, how would we know?

      We’d expect to see further attacks orchestrated by Iranian military command against Americans, right?

      Have there been any further such attacks on Americans?

      Just because we don’t think the benefits of doing something outweighed the risks doesn’t mean we have to pretend there weren’t any benefits. To whatever extent President Trump’s decision deterred further attacks against American targets, that is a benefit–even if that benefit wasn’t enough to outweigh the risk of Iran launching an all-out suicide bomber campaign against American military and civilians.

      1. We’d expect to see further attacks orchestrated by Iranian military command against Americans, right?

        Have there been any further such attacks on Americans?

        When was the last such attack, pre-assassination?

        What was the rate of attacks pre-assassination compared to post?

        I’m not seeing any evidence of a reduction.

        1. The escalations started against our allies moving oil through the Persian Gulf, escalated further when they attacked our ally’s production facilities in Saudi Arabia, and the attack on Americans was the last point in that escalation.

          Had they continued to target Americans, we might conclude that the strikes had no deterrent effect whatsoever. The evidence that President Trump’s attacks were a deterrent to further attacks is by no means conclusive, but there is evidence for that–and there could have been no evidence for that whatsoever.

          Hezbollah is more than happy to target the U.S. directly. The only reason they don’t do so is because Iran doesn’t want them to do so for fear that the U.S. will either retaliate by targeting Iran directly or that we’ll let Israel off it’s leash. Changing that delicate balance would be disastrous for the Iranians, but it would also be disastrous for the USA.

          The reason southern Lebanon isn’t part of Israel right now is because even Israel thinks a ground war with Hezbollah is more of a pain in the ass than it’s worth–and they’re still suffering Hezbollah’s terrorist attacks. If Israel doesn’t think it’s worth it (more often than not), why should we?

    2. His absence makes a lot of difference to a lot of Americans.

      It pleases us when people who kill Americans are killed in their turn.

  10. I opposed the assassination of Gen. Soleimani on numerous grounds, among them, I though that kind of escalation was likely to bring us into direct conflict with the Iranians and their terrorist affiliate, Hezbollah–a conflict that might make our war with Al Qaeda look like a walk in the park. That being said, someone should point out that killing of Soleimani was in retaliation for Soleimani having ordered an attack that killed two American contractors.

    Iran was probing us with various kinds of attacks in an attempt to drive a wedge between the United States and Europe over the sanctions. The Iranians seized and attacked oil tankers moving through the Strait of Hormuz, and we did little or nothing. The Iranians, through their affiliates among the Houthi rebels, attacked Saudi oil production facilities. Again, Iran was trying to provoke the U.S. to attack in the hope that they could use the appearance of an imminent war with the U.S. to break the Europeans resolve to commit to President Trump’s sanction regime–so we did nothing. When Gen. Soleimani escalated it further and tried to provoke a response by killing American contractors, we reacted.

    I still think it was a bad idea. We had no idea whether Iran would send Hezbollah after American targets in retaliation until they decided not to do so. They’re fighting for their survival, and it’s reasonable to assume that if there is ever a choice between launching a terrorist Jihad against the U.S. citizens and their own survival, they won’t choose peace out of the goodness of their hearts. The risk of provoking that kind of response wasn’t worth the benefit–like risking your life savings on a single roll of the dice is a stupid thing to do, and winning doesn’t make it any smarter after the fact.

    That being said, someone should pipe up about what Trump was really thinking and why. Just because I don’t agree with the president’s decision doesn’t mean there wasn’t any logic behind it or that it happened in a vacuum. President Trump’s red line is that if you attack Americans, we are likely to retaliate, and we know that because he didn’t retaliate against Iran when they were attacking others but did as soon as Americans became the target. Those in the Iranian military apparatus who would order or orchestrate the targeting of Americans have been put on notice.

    1. “We had no idea whether Iran would send Hezbollah after American targets in retaliation until they decided not to do so.”

      Yes, “we” did.
      You didn’t.
      Don’t confuse your perspective with one that holds universally

      1. What do you have, a crystal ball?

        You know how the mullahs will react to before they do?

        1. If you want 100% certainty of how another will react before you ever take action, you might as well stayed holed up in perpetual quarantine the rest of your life and never again interact with humans.
          The rest of us will go on moving about the world, taking actions based on informed expectations that nonetheless fall short of 100% certainty.
          It’s become clear why you prefer blackjack to poker, and cannot comprehend the fundamental difference between them.

          1. “If you want 100% certainty of how another will react before you ever take action . . . “

            Yeah, that’s exactly what I said.

            Either that, or I said that the benefits weren’t worth the risk.

            And if you imagine that taking risks that aren’t worth it makes sense in blackjack or poker, you’re nuts.

            1. People in that part of the world understand strength and ruthlessness. They also prey on weakness. Killing Soleimani was the right call.

              How much more were we going to take?

              1. “How much more were we going to take?”

                If it’s in the best interests of the United States to retaliate, we should do so, but there is no limit beyond which it becomes smart to be stupid.

                1. Which is why we killed him when he was somewhere he had no legitimate business to be. As opposed to bombing them. This is also why their response was very limited.

            2. Risks and benefits aren’t isolated, absolute things.
              You ride a motorcycle. The risk of you doing so his horrible, painful death.
              Worth it?

            3. “What do you have, a crystal ball?
              You know how the mullahs will react to before they do?”

              This is where “100% certainty” comes from. Were you trying to say something else?

              And I don’t know about the mullahs, though I think my predictions of their reaction were pretty accurate from 20,000 feet, but when I play poker I do often know what my opponents are going to do. I’d never win otherwise

            4. “I said that the benefits weren’t worth the risk.”

              The only way to make that claim is to make your own assertions on the probability of different outcomes.

              Where is *your* crystal ball?

        2. You were also assigning probabilities to their actions.

          Your estimates proved worse than the estimates of those expecting no escalation.

      2. Bingo.

        The facts of reality are on the side of those who didn’t expect Iranian escalation.

    2. How could you oppose his killing when it was already a fait accompli?

      1. Betting your life’s savings on a single roll of the dice that they will come up snake eyes is a stupid thing to do.

        If you subsequently win that bet, it doesn’t change the fact that betting your life’s savings on a single roll of the dice was a stupid thing to do.

        “The historian’s fallacy is an informal fallacy that occurs when one assumes that decision makers of the past viewed events from the same perspective and having the same information as those subsequently analyzing the decision.”

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historian%27s_fallacy

        1. “Betting your life’s savings on a single roll of the dice that they will come up snake eyes is a stupid thing to do”

          That’s cool but what does that stupid inapt fucking analogy have to do with anything.

      2. BTW, I wrote that before reading further…
        And the next comment I read?
        “Betting your life’s savings on a single roll of the dice that they will come up snake eyes is a stupid thing to do. If you subsequently win that bet, it doesn’t change the fact that betting your life’s savings on a single roll of the dice was a stupid thing to do.” -Ken Schultz

        God damn it, Ken.
        If you want to keep using this misapplied analogy, you’re going to have to explain how your betting opponent’s mindset and actions influence how the dice rolls.
        Because you’re completely ignoring the dynamic of competition between active parties, and how opponents’ actions and postures influence each other. You’re saying that outcomes are purely the result of randomness – exactly like the roll of a dice.
        So why do they televise sports other than dice rolling?
        If opponents can’t influence each other, why do we watch football?

        1. “The historian’s fallacy is an informal fallacy that occurs when one assumes that decision makers of the past viewed events from the same perspective and having the same information as those subsequently analyzing the decision.”

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historian%27s_fallacy

          Nothing about that analogy was misapplied.

          Instead of coming after my supposed lack of understanding of the historian’s fallacy (and why a stupid bet was stupid even if you win), you should work on the argument that risking a direct conflict with Hezbollah and Iran (as well as Europe’s support for sanctions) was worth it–because Gen. Soleimani presented a bigger risk to American security than Hezbollah and Iran’s nuclear program.

          1. You don’t get it.

            Appeasing and tolerating these people never works. This guy had it coming and got caught with his hand in the cookie jar. He had to go.

            Taking no action would telegraph weakness, and signal these people that they should step up their activities.

            I think you have a fundamental misunderstanding of how these types think.

            1. “Appeasing and tolerating these people never works.”

              As I wrote above, I appreciate the argument that Trump didn’t do what he did without cause, and I’m glad we won our bet–regardless of whether it was a bad idea.

              That being said, the question of whether what we’ve decided to do is in the best interests of the United States is always primary, and this action, like the invasion of Iraq itself, was by no means necessary–and wasn’t in the best interests of the United States. President Trump could have chosen to do otherwise, and if we find ourselves in that situation again (which seems likely), I hope he does choose to do otherwise.

              I can think of another way to keep Americans from being killed by Iranians in Iraq.

              1. Reality has shown your projections on the fallout of killing Soleimani to be wrong, Ken. Sometimes, principled opposition gives way to what reality actually is.

          2. What shitlord said, plus – and we’ll see if you can understand this – Trump (and those of us in comments here who said as much at the time) was confident that the response would not be your nuclear world war 3 worst case scenario.
            You determine what you want and what you want to avoid.
            Will you ever be willing to admit that taking out Suleimani might have been equally or less risky than not doing so?
            When a defense blitzes Tom Brady, they’re taking a risk that he might throw it over the top and beat them deep for a TD. But when a defense doesn’t blitz Tom Brady, not only is the above risk not eliminated but added to it is the risk that he’ll pick apart the coverage and methodically work down the field for a TD.
            All decisions/actions are risky.
            It’s not “historian’s fallacy” (go back and look at the threads in the immediate aftermath of the strike to see proof of what was said), it’s coming to a different conclusion than you.
            The dice analogy is woefully misapplied, because you reduce everything to deciding to roll a dice (as in, take an action based purely on random chance) or not, ignoring everything else. There is more to competition than deciding whether or not to compete.
            You can’t be a winning poker player if you never call a bluff. You can’t be a winning poker player if you never bet. You can’t be a winning poker player if you never play a hand. And you can’t even be a winning poker player over the long run if you never bluff.
            It’s not pure randomness. Checking, calling, betting, folding, bluffing, slow-playing, pot-sizing, raising, re-raising, squeezing, shoving, etc are all decisions you have to make. You make those decisions based on a multitude of factors and your analysis of what those factors are, what led to them, and the likely results of each possible decision.
            If you reduce international relations/conflict to isolated, random, independent rolls of the dice with no agency, you completely miss the point.
            We get it: you think taking out Suleimani was risky.
            Cool. Everyone agrees it was risky.
            But you think results are completely random, therefore not worth the risk (and, again, that is exactly what you’re saying with the “dice roll” analogy).
            That’s where we disagree. The results were not random and unforeseen, they were calculated and expected.
            I don’t even care if you disagree with the calculation, expectation, and conclusion – I care that you pretend that they don’t exist and/or are based on pure randomness.
            If you think shoving with pocket queens in response to a 3-bet is a poor decision, fine. But you’re going to have to show your work, because there are myriad factors involved in deciding whether to shove, re-raise, call, or fold.
            I’m curious: can you even tell me what any of those factors are?
            Because if you can’t, then wtf are you chiming in for?

  11. I recall a number of lefties wondering why we didn’t just take out Saddam Hussein and his top brass, instead of waging a full on war.

    Guess they are just chickenshit no matter what.

    1. Which lefties?

      1. You.

        1. Try again.

          1. Ok.

            Still you.

          2. Stop lying.

    2. The US certainly tried, in both Desert Storm and OIF. A lot of Iraqi real estate got uprooted trying to kill him.

      Heads of state can be surprisingly hard to find and kill when said head of state knows the US is looking for him. Ask Manuel Noriega.

  12. The best equivalent I’ve heard is that it would be as if someone killed both the head of U.S. Central Command and the head of the Central Intelligence Agency.

    You tease. Whisper in my ear that the head of the FBI and the NSA is included in the deal, you sexy beast.

  13. If you’re wearing military garb in a foreign country, you’re a legit target.

    1. is it our job to kill them all? Are you volunteering?

      1. It is when they are busy killing Americans.

      2. What a stupid question. It certainly is I’m Iraq.

    2. Does that mean all Americans wearing military garb in foreign countries are legitimate targets?

      1. Controversial opinion: yes it does.

      2. Caveat: as long as it’s a hot zone.

        1. Mongo’s statement didn’t have that qualifier. Was this guy in a hot zone? I thought open hostilities had ceased where that guy was killed. Honest question. I’m not a military guy and I try to ignore most of the news.

      3. False equivalence. Our troops are allowed to be there. Soleimani wasn’t. Do you understand the difference, or will this become an attempt at Pedo Jeffy levels of sophistry?

        1. I’m taking the question literally and asking a question.

        2. You calling chemjeff a pedo? How old are you? Thirteen? Grow the fuck up and try commenting on the subject instead of the person making the comment.

          1. Lol
            Pot, meet kettle.

            Yes, US soldiers in uniform are legitimate targets of those they are engaged in hostilities with

            1. You tried to be nice to me once so you say. I didn’t notice.

              Well with all this bullshit going on around the day I’ve done some self reevaluation and I’m trying to make peace with some of my enemies.

              I’d be happy to stop hostilities with you.

              Or we can continue to be dicks to each other.

              1. I’ve still been nice to you, just not as nice as previous attempts.
                Anyway, being nice doesn’t preclude being a dick or calling out bullshit, but I’ll refrain from doing so unnecessarily.
                Still – meet kettle

          2. Pedo Jeffy admitted his reverence for child rapists when he said it is just fine for child rapist illegal aliens to come here. And he said that right here int he Reason comments.

            And don’t ever try to chastise me. You’re one of the last people who should be doing that.

        3. Why wasn’t he allowed to be there? He was there to meet with Iraqi officials and politicians. Are you saying he was doing it without the approval of those Iraqi officials and politicians? Or are you saying that the US has the legal right to decide who gets to go to Iraq?

          1. The UN, for whatever you think that’s worth, had imposed travel restrictions on him

  14. Does Christopher Preble advance American safety and security? Does he make Americans freer and more prosperous?
    The answer is no

    1. That’s irrelevant. But A+ for logical fallacy Nardz.

      (You all need someone to stir this pot. The intellectual incest here is resulting in otherwise intelligent people posting unchallenged groupthink drivel like this shit. Christ…one of you should at least play devils advocate, at least so you all keep an edge)

      1. I suppose “OMG I’M SCARED MY KID WILL BE DRAFTED!!!!” is one way to stir the pot.

        1. God that kid must be begging for the draft after living with Eric.

          1. He said he’d go if called and it made me sad as shit and proud at the same time.

            1. Patriotism must be confusing to you.

              1. He’d prefer his son live off the government dole without having to see any action just like good old dad.

  15. The answer in No?

    Well, now you’ve convinced me completely

    This is embarrassing even by Reason 2020 standards

    1. There in a whole article after the headline that details the reasoning behind the headline. The article in all that text between the headline and the comments section. They put it before the comments section is hopes that people will read it before commenting. They’re trying to prevent you from embarrassing yourself like this.

  16. I fail to see how that made me any safer. It was just Trump waving his dick around. Nothing more. Want to make Americans safer? Get the fuck out of foreign entanglements.

    1. Could’a been done years ago, with less problems. Ask Biden, perhaps why we were still in the Middle East.

      1. Talk about non-sequitur.

      2. C’mon dude, that’s like blaming Bush for Obama’s failure to withdraw troops.

    2. Foreign Entanglements?

      This is the 21st Century, every single country has it

      1. No, no… only the bad old USA ever does bad things to other people.

        1. If your friends (and enemies) all jumped off a bridge would you do it too?

    3. Tell the contractors and soldiers who were attacked by Soleimani backed forces and attacks about their safety.

  17. Based on the title of Mr. Preble’s first book, I have my doubts about his impartiality when it comes to Trump.

    1. Like the loudest voices here are impartial. Or are you only impartial when you try to catch Trump’s swinging dick and put it in your mouth?

      1. That was a euphemistic you, not meant at you personally.

      2. The ones who I’m talking about know who they are.

        1. Nobody know what you’re talking about. You’re a shit for brains cuck.
          That was meant for you personally. Not a euphemistic you.
          You’re welcome.

          1. Lol. Cuck is so 2016.

            1. I’m sure you’re tired of being called it.

              But maybe stop pants shitting over nothing, like having your kid drafted because some سوسمارخور got smoked.

              1. “His” kid…

          2. Um, I mean, like, your mom and stuff, you know?

          3. And I like totally like the The Bangles too! Wanna like gag with rubber spoons together and stuff?

            1. Susanna Hoffs was hot.

              And “gag me with a spoon” was courtesy of Moon Unit Zappa.

            2. I knew you were a fag. You want a rubber spoon up your ass. Goddamn piece of fucking shit.

      3. You love dick, admit it

  18. I think Rand Paul had the correct view of this. His points:
    1) there was no authorization for this
    2) it meant no chance for diplomacy with Iran

    Whether Soleimani deserved to die or not is irrelevant given the two points above.

    1. Probably, all of this is true. However, was there ever a chance of diplomacy with Iran?

      1. Right or wrong Obama reached a deal with them. I’m not saying it was necessarily a good deal, but it was diplomacy.

        1. It was bad. It allowed them to fund their terrorist activities while still carrying out nuclear and ballistic missile research. It was fucking terrible.

        2. You know what, Leo? I give Obama props for trying. I am not being facetious. It was worth a try.

          However, in his desire for a deal, any deal, he traded away everything. That was what went wrong. His desire to make a mark on history failed.

          1. I agree on these points. Trump might have been right to impose sanctions against Iran and bring them back to the table for a better deal for America and Israel. This military strike has almost assured that they won’t be back during Trump’s administration. Why would they negotiate with him now?

        3. I guess we could look at it that way. It’s possible that killing Solemani was also diplomacy. Not saying it was a good deal, but it was diplomacy (in the Big Stick sense).

    2. “I think Rand Paul had the correct view of this. His points:
      1) there was no authorization for this
      2) it meant no chance for diplomacy with Iran”

      As much as I like Rand,
      1) debatable – without even getting into the AUMF passed by Congress. Suleimani commanded forces engaged in active hostilities against US personnel
      2) bullshit, unless you think the height of diplomacy was Obama’s utter capitulation dressed up as a false alternative to war

      1. Rand wasn’t making an endorsement of Obama’s deal. But nevertheless, Trump was on the path to forcing a diplomatic solution by reimplementing sanctions. He had the upper hand, then blew it (away) by killing one of their officials. It turns out foreign governments might not want to make deals when you kill their officials.

        1. Let me say it a different way. You can argue whether or not Obama’s deal slowed their nuclear program. Trump’s act of vengeance assuredly did not slow it.

          1. It didn’t slow their program. But it did fund more terrorism and regional engagements while giving them free reign to develop ballistic missiles.

            Did Trumps actions do that?

          2. Leo Kovalensky II
            March.29.2020 at 8:46 pm
            “…Trump’s act of vengeance assuredly did not slow it.”

            Your TDS ate your cites and you don’t have any anyhow.
            That statement it nothing other than an opinion of a TDS victim. Pathetic that you assume others would accept is as otherwise.
            Perhaps you should take some time off and reassess your disability.

            1. Why would Iran slow their weapons programs in the face of acts of war against them? What do you think America or Israel would do if one of our military leaders was droned to death? Just think about this rationally for a second.

        2. So Iran’s escalating attacks on international shipping, American allies, and US personnel and embassy were signs that the Iranian regime was advancing toward diplomacy?

          And you seem to believe hitting back can’t be a step toward diplomacy. You’re wrong about that

          1. Iran’s escalation happened after Trump imposed the sanctions again. They were lashing out against economic sanctions.

            Look, I’m not saying that Iran is a good actor. But I much prefer diplomacy to acts of war. This was nothing but a revenge strike. Why would you trust the President, any President, to wage acts of war unilaterally? You shouldn’t, and the founders knew that when they vested that power in the Congress, the people.

            1. They invaded our fucking embassy, you twit.

  19. Someone you never heard of says something that happened a long time ago didn’t produce a benefit it wasn’t intended to produce.

  20. It’s a really big deal. The best equivalent I’ve heard is that it would be as if someone killed both the head of U.S. Central Command and the head of the Central Intelligence Agency.

    More like the assassination of Isoroku Yamamoto. He was a military commander actively targeting U.S. troops. He was a legitimate target.

  21. One of the key differences between Soleimani and Osama bin Laden, for example, is that bin Laden was a terrorist leader, not a representative of a sovereign state.

    That’s a very important distinction for those who believe in the primacy of the state. There are certain myths they have to accept.

    One of them is that the majority of the existing states are ‘legitimate’ and didn’t come into existence through violence and repression.

    Another thing – if doing the sort of shit that this dude was doing was ok as long as it was for a sovereign state, then what space is there for an international court? How can there be crimes against humanity that any other nation can try someone for? Indeed, that would make most of the US’ ‘interventions’ *wrong* simply because most of these interventions were in conflicts between other sovereign nations.

    Or how could we indict a head of state for drug running – TWICE – if working inside a state government is sufficient shield?

    1. It is an important distinction for idiots who dont realize the Quds forces have been deemed a terrorist organization for nearly a decade.

    2. Welcome to freshman philosophy of nations 101

    3. “One of the key differences between Soleimani and Osama bin Laden, for example, is that bin Laden was a terrorist leader, not a representative of a sovereign state.”

      To add to Agammamon’s post, if such agent is a ‘representative’ of a ‘sovereign state’ actively involved in terrorism, it’s not a good idea to treat such state as amenable to normal diplomatic pressures.
      Simply, so far as we know, that agent is representing exactly that sort of ‘sovereign state’. He put himself in harm’s way by traveling to and meeting with those of similar description; the US exercised ‘non-normal’ diplomatic action.
      Under the most libertarian view of the issue, we could possibly have issued a letter of marque to have him assassinated, but we saved some money and got the same result.

      1. . . . but we saved some money and got the same result.

        I don’t think there is any time in history when you could say ‘the government doing it saved money’.

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  23. See well upthread where asshole bigot claims Obo was an econ genius and gets called on it and asked for his cites and more.

    Gee. I guess asking asshole bigot to support his lies regarding Obo’s pathetic economy is just too much for asshole bigot.
    Hey, asshole bigot, if we didn’t have your number before, we got it now; the source calling your economic lies regarding Obo is that noted RWC center so loved by that hag and asshole bigots like you:
    https://money.cnn.com/gallery/news/economy/2017/01/06/obama-economy-10-charts-final/3.html

    Next time you post lies like that, expect to get called on your bullshit by those who don’t bullshit, asshole bigot.

  24. Revenge for William Francis Buckley is a good enough reason.

    1. I wonder if he was involved in that horrific affair? He would have been a young gofer at the time. Certainly not out of the realm of possibility.

      Buckley died really badly. About as badly as it is possible to die, if the stories of his videotaped interviews are right. I hope those responsible were punished, severely.

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  28. Ya Right. Killing a mass murderer, letting Iran know that their terrorism is not going to be allowed to go completely unpunished, and if nothing else it was another way to put Iran under pressure. Yep Trump put teeth back in to the sanctions, pushed back against them blocking the Strait of Hormuz, pushed back against the terrorist groups Iran is supporting, now with this virus the regime killing it’s people and the fact it cannot sell it’s oil it is in a much weaker position. It is not just a choice of War or not War. It is an issue of containment and reduction of a threat, Lots of little things and not one big display or event.

  29. Some people really need to die. He was one of those.

  30. Well, it’s three months after Soleimni’s assassination and American troops are still in Iran, which fired a few rockets and hasn’t been heard from since.

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