DUELING COLUMN: Trump’s Air Strike Was A Reckless Move

Raphael Alegbeleye/PantherNOW

Robert Crohan/Contributing Writer

Last week, the United States took part in a misguided action against longtime adversary Iran. On Friday, Jan. 3, an air strike executed Qassem Suleimani, the head of Iran’s top military force that has been active against American influence in the region.

President Trump has built much of his platform around opposing so-called “endless wars,” namely, the United States’ prolonged military involvement in stabilizing Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya, Syria and elsewhere. 

Public opinion overwhelmingly opposes these conflicts and I, too, would argue that they have not accomplished much. However, America’s killing of Suleimani has generated harsh criticism along with praise from Iran hawks in Washington. I am strongly opposed to this reckless action against an adversary despite the extreme tensions between our two countries.

Constantly proving himself to be one step removed from pure recklessness, this air strike is only the latest example of Trump carrying out foreign policy initiatives without even warning Congress. In 2019, he ordered a strike on Iranian soil, but quickly withdrew. 

Iran and the US have shared rocky relations since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, which saw the overthrow of the US-backed Shah. The US supported their rival in the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s, shot down an Iranian airliner and sanctioned the country due to its proxy operations. After President Trump withdrew from the Iran Nuclear Deal, tensions have escalated quickly. Iran pushes its regional hegemony through the funding of regional proxy forces, most of which were led by Suleimani. The country’s world view is very much from the perspective of a state that has been mistrusted for years, and has repeatedly been seen as the enemy by most of the outside world.

It should be noted that the Obama and Bush administrations specifically avoided going after Suleimani out of fear of a strong reaction we are now seeing the effects of. Currently, citizens are vowing revenge, which did not happen after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003. 

Unlike the assassinations of Osama Bin Laden or Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, Suleimani was affiliated with a government, making the escalation of international tensions inevitable. Iran could use its proxies, including Hezbollah, to attack US troops and citizens in the region. They have also demonstrated the ability to wage cyber warfare, as a government website was hacked last week with a threatening message from Iranian hackers. Last but not least, Iran maintains relatively positive relations with Russia and China, which represent severe military and influential threats to the West. It is widely believed that Iranians could target the US allies of Israel, Qatar, the UAE and Saudi Arabia with rockets.

What America should have done, in my eyes, is continued the Obama policy of diplomatic engagement alongside the lifting of sanctions and the applying of pressure on Iranian proxies. In addition, perhaps we should adopt a Bernie Sanders-style doctrine of constructivist diplomacy with as many regional players as possible whilst avoiding any unneeded military action. 

The last thing the world needs is another Iraq-style war with Iran, which is much larger, more influential and more powerful than pre-2003 Iraq. While World War 3 is unlikely given the nature of Iran’s conflicts with rivals being more proxy-focused, the strike on Suleimani puts innocent lives in serious risk, much more so than the president ever intended.



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