Protesters burn a U.S. flag in Tehran, Iran during a Jan. 3 demonstration following the U.S. airstrike in Iraq that killed Iranian Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani. (Vahid Salemi / AP)
Violence begets violence; revenge engenders cycles of vengeance. This is exactly why war, or acts of war, must not be taken lightly. It also explains why America’s recent adventurism in the Middle East has only increased Islamic terrorism, killedhundreds of thousands worldwide, and ultimately left the U.S. no better off than when it began its crusade after the 9/11 attacks. Instead, this cycle of violence and revenge has produced nothing but “blowback” in the form of global anti-Americanism.
Which brings me to President Donald Trump’s worst decision yet, one for which he actually should be impeached: the assassination of Iranian general, and head of the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds force, Qassem Soleimani. The weapon of choice in this genuine act of war, was, fittingly, the era’s ubiquitous armed drone. Soleimani, perhaps the second or third most powerful figure in Iran, was blown away in Baghdad, where he’d long led intelligence and military proxy operations for Tehran. And more than any of America’s many provocations of late, this killing might just lead to war—a war that would, even more than the disastrous invasion of Iraq in 2003, inflame, destabilize and perhaps destroy the region for good.
It doesn’t get any more illegal than a war with Iran or even the singular killing of Soleimani. The assassination of foreign leaders has long been prohibited under both national and international law, even if the U.S. hasn’t always followed such strictures. As has long been the case in the so-called war on terror, the President’s action was unilateral; Congress, it seems, wasn’t consulted, and it certainly didn’t provide sanction. And to be clear, while the assassination of a foreign general is an overt act of war, the U.S. is distinctly not at war with Iran, despite appearances to the contrary.