First, let’s be clear on something, Qassim Soleimani, the Iranian general in charge of Iran’s Qud force for the last 20 years, was a supremely evil man. This is the guy who oversaw the recent slaughter of hundreds of Iraqi protesters who demonstrated against Iranian influence in Iraq. It was Soleimani who helped Syrian president Bashar al Assad murder hundreds of thousands of his own people. Soleimani is routinely despised by people in Iran, especially the younger to middle-aged people, who Christopher Hitchens once termed the “baby boomerangs,” those folks who were raised in a country bereft of men who were of military-serving age because they died in the profitless 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war. Baby boomerangers hate Soleimani because he was a warmonger of the first order and they are heartily sick of the depredations of war. In short, the world is a better place without General Qassim Soleimani.
I can count on the fingers of my right hand the number of things that Donald Trump has done right in the course of his presidency — with fingers to spare, and taking out Qassim Soleimani in a drone strike on a convoy leaving Baghdad International Airport is one of them. Soleimani needed to go, and the evil he was up to in that convoy undoubtedly included the murder of American citizens and many others. It was a clean, competent kill, no doubt superbly assisted by the fact that Trump probably had nothing to do with it tactically.
That said, this is Donald Trump, and, to paraphrase Archimedes, give him a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and he will screw up the world. In short order, look to Trump to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. I’m not talking about the incessant bragging that’s going to come from this, boasting so artless and prolific that he will turn everybody off — except his drooling, low-information, mouth-breathing base of idolaters, of course. I’m sure you see that as I do, an inevitability. No, I’m referring to the diplomatic mess to come. Trump is going to do something supremely stupid with this, something that will both piss off America’s allies and place America at a disadvantage in the Middle East. I don’t know what he’s going to do exactly but I have come to expect it with a kind of weary fatalism.
Hysterical talk about World War III coming out of this is probably nonsense. For one thing, notwithstanding that Iran will rattle a lot of sabers, many in their elite power structure secretly hated Soleimani with the same private hatred many Republicans hate Donald Trump. He was becoming too powerful and he has always been a threat that could bring Iran to war with the United States. The mullahs and morons of the Iranian power elite like to talk loudly but they carry a very small stick. They have become used to the corrupt luxury they enjoy in Tehran and do not want to give it up in a war they are destined to lose.
For another thing, this is going to delight Vladimir Putin no end. He will, of course, have something darkly Slavic to say about the whole thing, but he will be chuckling with his Kremlin comrades about this new Middle East anthill all the way to one of his banks.
To what extent Republicans in the Senate awaiting Trump’s impeachment trial will allow this whole thing to wag the dog remains to be seen. Expect long, tiresome speeches by the likes of Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell. This new Iran imbroglio gives them a chance to hammer the table as if they were actual patriots, which will be a kind of righteous ecstasy for them. Hammering the table about how unfair the whole impeachment process was to Trump was probably beginning to ring hollow in their ears, too.
In any case, America has been in a Cold War with Iran since 1979, and that Cold War continues. The actual victim in all this may be the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, known commonly as the Iran nuclear deal. A future Democratic president is now going to have a harder time of it reinstating that treaty, ostensibly because of the death of General Qassim Soleimani, but in reality because of the stupid things Donald Trump is probably going to do next.