Was Killing Soleimani A Mistake?

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"At the direction of the President, the US military has taken decisive defensive action to protect US personnel abroad by killing Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force," 

This was the statement issued by the Department of Defence on Friday.  

On the surface, it's hard to doubt the legitimacy of this military action.  Soleimani was a man who died with a great deal of American blood on his hands.  The cliche images most of us have of the evil Iranian warlord?  He was the personification of all of them.  


General Soleimani commanded the Quds force for more than 20 years;  He also provided military aid to militant terrorist organisations, such as Hezbollah and Hamas. In 2007, the US designated Soleimani as a terrorist and imposed sanctions against him for the $100-$200 million that was provided to Hezbollah, and the weapons that were provided to the Taliban.
"In addition, the [Quds] Force provides lethal support in the form of weapons, training, funding, and guidance to select groups of Iraqi Shi'a militants who target and kill Coalition and Iraqi forces and innocent Iraqi civilians," the US Treasury said  in 2007
To say that Soleimani was revered by the Iranian people would be something of an understatement.  They considered him a hero.  A man of legendary bravery.  And now, they most assuredly will consider him a martyr.  And therein may lie the problem.
General Soleimani was not a hard target.  Almost to the point of flamboyance.  Past United States military actions have intentionally avoided killing Soleimani for years for this reason.  The man was effectively a mythical figure to the Iranian people, the Iranian Military, and more importantly, the motley of militant terrorists groups in the middle east.  Make no mistake; the backlash from this will be massive.  And bear in mind that for these groups, this is a holy war.  As Americans, we fight under a set of rules.  They will not.  Americans will die.  American civilians will die.  This will be a bloodbath.
With the understanding that war is, at times, brutal, we have to ask two questions.  One... Why now?  As stated, Soleimani was not shy.  He did not hide.  He was aware of his near strategic untouchability.  In short, we had the ability to kill this man at almost any point in the last 20 years. The other question... Was this the right strategic move?  If you watch  the video of the storming of the American Embassy, it's painfully obvious something had to be done.  But was creating a martyr that something?
The problem here is far bigger than any one man.  Trump pulled us out of the Iran Nuclear deal in 2018, against the advice of virtually the entire world, and has initiated a campaign of maximum pressure against Iran.  Unlike the faux sanctions he claims to have initiated against Russia, the Iranian sanctions have been crippling.  But the scary truth here is that Trump really has no reasonable strategy.  He has taken a nation with a blood thirsty military... a nation with no qualms over committing the most heinous of terrorist attacks against both civilians and military alike, and with an underground anti American network that covers the globe.... and left them, in their eyes, with no choice but to ratchet up what they again see as a holy war.  
This is no longer the era of "America! Fuck Yeah!" Did General Soleimani deserve to die?  It's hard to argue that he did, indeed.  This was an evil man.  A man responsible for countless innocent deaths.  But did this action save American lives?  Sadly, probably not.  The thing about regimes like this is that there is always another bloodthirsty monster waiting in the wings to take over.  And when dealing with wars of this nature, Dick waving is not a policy.  All it does is appease a base for Trump that's already locked in.  In war, strategy matters.  And the lives the DOD claims this action will save don't compare to the lives that will be lost as a consequence.  I pray that I'm wrong.  I pray the adults left in the room have a plan.  Because a conflict is about to become a full scale war.

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