I wasn’t going to write about this.
I don’t know enough about it to offer anything close to a properly informed opinion.
But after wading through the umpteenth piece excoriating U.S. President Donald Trump for eliminating Quassem Soileimani - the murderous Iranian general who was second-in command to dictator Ayatollah Ali Khameini - I can’t suppress my irritation.
There aren’t enough armchairs on the planet to accommodate all the Monday morning quarterbacks that sprung up in the aftermath of Soilemani’s death - all of them “experts” on the political, sectarian quagmire of the Middle East, a region almost impossible to decipher.
Rarely have so many people claimed to know so much about something they can’t possibly know anything about.
The loudest voices, predictably, screamed incessantly from the left.
“This doesn’t make America safer!” Elizabeth Warren, Democratic pretender to the Oval Office, declaimed shrilly from her perch on The View yesterday morning. (If that woman becomes President of the United States, God help America.)
Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasia-Cortez tweeted with her usual empty-headed hyperbole: “The President engaged in what is widely being recognized as an act of war against Iran, one that now risks the lives of millions of innocent people.”
Political activist Rania Khalek, the national director of CodePink, also took to Twitter, equating Soleimani’s erasure with “Iran taking out Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and Captain America all in one.”
Economist Paul Krugman weighed in with a New York Times opinion piece: “Trump’s latest attempt to bully another country has backfired – just like all his previous attempts… We don’t accept the right of foreign governments to kill our officials. Why imagine that other countries are different?”
Former NFL player Colin Kaepernick, once an actual quarterback but now consigned to an armchair along with everyone else: “There is nothing new about American terrorist attacks against Black and Brown people for the expansion of American imperialism.”
John Ibbotson of the Globe and Mail described Trump as a “rogue president” guilty of “rash actions against Iran” in a desperate attempt “to distract attention from his impending impeachment trial in the Senate.”
Anand Khan pronounced glumly and grandly in Maclean’s: “Thus begins the inexorable slide into chaos and war.”
The critiques of those last two journos, both of them writing for Canadian publications, are particularly rich, considering that Canada won’t even live up to its measly financial obligations to NATO, perfectly content for most of its existence to allow America to play global cop on Canada’s behalf.
The reason, plainly, for the widespread second guessing and condemnation of Soleimani’s execution is because the strike was authorized by Donald Trump, whose crass and unorthodox method of governing has earned him the deep-seated contempt of “progressives” around the globe and the incandescent hatred of the Democratic Party. The fires of hatred for the President burn so brightly that his enemies are blinded to the possibility that he may actually gotten this right.
General Soeimani, it is generally agreed, was a very bad dude, responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American soldiers and the mastermind behind untold numbers of terrorist crimes.
Faisal Abbas, writing in Arab News:
“In Syria, when Bashar Assad required assistance in butchering his own people, where did he turn? To Soleimani, of course, to his Quds Force, and to his trained Hezbollah thugs next door in Lebanon. The result is that Soleimani has the blood of half-a-million Syrians on his hands, not to mention the plight of millions who do not know if they will ever see their homes or families again.”
Those “brown” Syrians don’t fit into Colin Kaepernick’s “American imperialism” calculus, apparently.
Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama, by contrast to the current President suave, articulate, and diplomatic, invested heavily in appeasing the Iranians. Obama infamously drew a “red line” for Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, warning him of dire consequences if he continued to use chemical weapons against his people. That red line was “apparently written in disappearing ink”, as the late John McCain put it, given that al-Assad crossed it with impunity: desperate to close a nuclear deal with Iran, Obama wouldn’t stand up to Iran’s closest Arab ally.
Appeasement, as any student of history knows, inevitably ends badly. As Winston Churchill observed, “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.”
Canadian columnist Terry Glavin offered a rare voice of reason amidst all the hand-wringing over Soleimani’s execution: “There is another more pertinent and useful question that might be put to the Americans. What the hell took you so long?”
Imagine, for a moment, if Franklin D. Roosevelt, given the opportunity, had taken out Heinrich Himmler, Hitler’s right-hand man and the architect of Auschwitz, Dachau and the rest. Historians would be applauding loudly to this day.
It’s hard to predict the fallout from President Trump's move. As opening payback, the Iranians hurled more than a dozen ballistic missiles at American military bases in Iraq yesterday, taking out a bunch of sand but not much else. (One dearly hopes that Ukrainian Airlines Flight 752, which crashed after it took off from Tehran, killing all 176 on board, wasn’t caught by a stray missile. That tragedy struck pretty close to home: a grade 12 student at my eldest daughter's high school in Calgary was among those who perished.)
(January 10 update: Iran just acknowledged that it accidentally shot down the plane.)
Soleimani got what he deserved. But I don’t pretend to know whether killing him was the right move at this juncture. That would require knowledge and insight I don’t possess. I have the barest comprehension of the labyrinthine geopolitical forces at play in the Middle East. Nor am I privy to the classified intel used by American military brass to make the tough decision to take him out.
For me to offer an opinion on this would be like someone with zero knowledge of chess critiquing the wisdom of a grandmaster taking out an opponent’s rook. It’s hard, with a surname like mine, to get that big for my britches.
The same goes for the vast majority of you, regardless of your last name - even (especially) if it’s Warren or Krugman or Ocasia-Cortez.
Better to sit down, shut up, and occupy your armchairs in silence.