War With Iran Averted, For Now. US Out Of The Middle East
Trump Does Not Escalate In Response To Iran’s Attack On US Bases In Iraq
Last night, Iran responded to the assassination of Major General Qasem Soleimani by attacking the Ain al-Assad and Erbil U.S. military bases in Iraq. Iran bombed the base that the assassination came from. Iran did not target troops and may have even warned Iraq and the US the attack was coming so people could be removed. The Pentagon reports no casualties while Iran reported 260 casualties. Both governments were playing to domestic audiences. The ballistic missile attack occurred while Soleimani was being lowered into his grave after the largest funeral in world history involving tens of millions of mourners in Iran, Iraq and across the region. Iran let it be known that if the US did not respond, there would be no further response from Iran. However, if the US escalated they would attack Israel and destroy Dubai.
President Trump’s speech was filled with lies that Republicans, Democrats and the corporate media will pretend were true and will confuse the people of the United States with hatred for Iran and Soleimani based on falsehoods. He described Iran as committing terrorism and Soleimani as a terrorist who killed civilians and trained terrorists throughout the region. While the people in the region showed they viewed Soleimani as a hero when millions mourned for him, the people in the United States are being convinced by the bi-partisan political leadership that he was a terrorist. The media is pushing their guests hard to agree that Soleimani was a terrorist.
But, the only immediate threat made by Trump was more economic sanctions, which are devastating illegal unilateral coercive measures and should be considered an act of war, but he did not announce any other retaliation. He also began his comments by saying Iran will never have nuclear weapons, but Iran has always said it never wanted nuclear weapons.
Trump is playing primarily to a domestic audience that has been lied to about Iran by all presidents since 1979 and therefore is confused. He needs that audience to see this conflict as a US victory, and the assassination as justified. People in the region knowSoleimani was critical to defeating US imperialism against Iran, Syria and other nations, as well as defeating ISIS and other extremists that threatened many nations. There were even times when Soleimani worked with the United States and was described in the US media in positive terms.
The relationship between the US and Iran is still a tinderbox. And, members of the Axis of Resistance that Soleimani created across the Middle East may act on their on to avenge the murder of Soleimani. The world is still at risk for a major war, but as of today, one has been averted.
The push to get the US out of the Middle East is urgent. Trump bragging about the US being the number one oil and gas producer, taking credit for a climate crime committed by Obama, could be an opening to push him to leave — the US no longer needs to be spending hundreds of millions a year to have troops in the Middle East. It is in US interests to leave the area since we no longer need their oil.
There was also a tiny opening for diplomacy with Iran. How there is a breakthrough is hard to see. It may take Russia or China to play a mediator role. If the Democrats and Republicans had not so undermined the ability of Trump to talk to Putin and Xi about positive steps, it would be much easier. The key to Iran is the relief of sanctions. They will not come to the table without some action by the US. Sadly, I do not see that happening until after the 2020 election. So, this year we need to avert war and lay the groundwork for peace.
Call Congress: Call for the US out of Iran, an end to sanctions and no Middle East Wars. It is time for all US troops in the Middle East to return home. Here is a tool to make it easy to call your Senators and Member of Congress.
Eight common-sense reason for not going to war with Iran
In the wake of the assassination of Iranian military leader Major General Qasem Soleimani and nine other people by a U.S. drone strike in Iraq, tensions between the United States and Iran are at their height. The immediate threat of war is real. Real-time news and expert commentary across the nationwide spectrum of media outlets probably have the heads of American citizens spinning. When things are moving so fast, perhaps it is best to move away from the ever-changing and confusing real-time commentary about what should happen and what will happen. Let’s look for the obvious reasons for not going to war with Iran. Here are eight:
First, Iranians are not our enemies. We must start looking at Iran as a country with 80 million people who are not our enemies, instead of an entity reduced to “bad guys” who need to be “eliminated.” If war starts, civilians will bear the brunt of it and we must do everything in our power and in our respective spheres of influence to prevent that from happening.
Second, war is destructive. War means introducing weapons, conducting airstrikes, and sending combat troops. It is the use of deadly force on a massive scale. Wars are by nature destructive. There is violence, death, and suffering. In other words, we are talking about a complete oxymoron when declaring the intention to defend life and make us more secure, while actively taking lives.
Third, the human costs of war are too high. Approximately 800,000 people have been counted as direct war deaths in major war zones in the post 9/11 wars. That’s almost the population of Indianapolis, Charlotte, or San Francisco. According to Brown University’s Costs of War Project, “war deaths from malnutrition, and a damaged health system and environment likely far outnumber deaths from combat”. In addition, 21 million people are war refugees and displaced persons. That’s the population of Florida.
Fourth, the economic costs are too high. Through fiscal year 2019, the US has spent or obligated almost six trillion dollars on the wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq. The National Priorities Projects estimates that taxpayers in the United States are paying $32 million every hour for the total costs of war. These tax dollars could be used to pay elementary school teachers, create clean energy jobs, jobs supporting high poverty community, providing better VA medical car, providing low-income healthcare, and many other domestic trade-offs.
Fifth, the assassination and further acts or war against Iran are illegal. As Yale Law Professor Oona Hathaway argues, the attack on Soleimani was missing both domestic and international legal authorization. At home, Congress is the only branch of government authorized to declare war. The representatives of the American people were completely cut out and denied their authority by the Trump administration. Moreover, the United Nations Security Council would have had to approve the use of force. The Trump administration initiated and act of war without any approval.
Sixth, war makes us less secure. Or how would you explain Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell’s prayers with “all American diplomats, personnel, and brave servicemembers serving in Iraq and the Middle East”.
He certainly doesn’t display any confidence about their security. Or how would you explain the State Department’s urgent request for all Americans to immediately leave Iraq after the US drone attack? Retired Army Colonel and US diplomat Ann Wright lists 36 bases with US military forces in 14 countries that are neighbors with Iran as targets for retaliation. One thing is certain, the Iranian government will consider a calculated response proportionate to the killing of Soleimani. When it happens, and how it will happen is unclear, but it will be opposite to the positive developments toward common security that came with the so-called Iran Nuclear Deal.
Seventh, wars are often based on lies and provocation. The US has a history of both. The Gulf of Tonkin incident was used to falsely justify war against Vietnam. Iraq was invaded in 2003 under the false pretext of Saddam Hussein developing weapons of mass destruction. The Washington Post is tracking the President’s claims and has found more than 15,000 false or misleading claims since assuming office. Now we should believe and trust in President Trump and his claim that this assassination took place to prevent war? Even without considering the domestic pressure of an impeached President, it would be foolish believe someone who lies about everything as long as it is politically expedient.
Eight, going to war with Iran is immoral. The assassination of Soleimani and nine others was murder. War with Iran would be nothing other than murder on a large scale. Much of the debate right now revolves around General Soleimani being a “bad guy.” We don’t have to disagree with that assessment while still advocating for diplomacy and peaceful approaches and certainly rejecting his targeted assassination. If war starts, civilians more than combatants will die and suffer. Large-scale killing, wounding, impoverishing, making homeless, orphaning, and traumatizing of people is immoral.
This brings me back to point one: Iranians are not our enemies.
Patrick. T. Hiller, Ph.D., syndicated by PeaceVoice, is a Conflict Transformation scholar, professor, served on the Governing Council of the International Peace Research Association (2012-2016), member of the Peace and Security Funders Group, and Director of the War Prevention Initiative of the Jubitz Family Foundation.