By: Robert Scott
All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser.
I love newspapers and read as many as I can reach – on paper or on the internet. I’m less comfortable with social media, but there is insight to be found there, too; you just need to be careful to distinguish opinion from real news. There is much to ponder these days, both news and opinion. What are some of the insights of those who deserve our serious thoughts, about truly important issues of the day: working to control climate change; working to ensure that our nation remains a government of, by, and for the people; safeguarding our national interests overseas without overreach? When two of those three overlap, it rightly calls for our attention. We have a President whose judgment is so much in question that he has been impeached by half of Congress, who represent that half of America who think he has no business remaining in office. And then that President, without asking or even notifying Congress, authorizes our military to assassinate a powerful member of one country’s government – Iran – while he was visiting a neighboring country – Iraq. Long castigated as an overt supporter of terrorists beyond their borders, the government of Iran followed the lead of their Revolutionary Guard general, Gen. Qassem Soleimani; now, he has been killed – by us. What should we as American citizens who “own” our government, think about that?
Many of our leading newspapers ran opinion pieces this week about what that means for us, for our standing in assassinating a “known terrorist” who, unlike Bin Laden, was a figure in a recognized government of a nation-state. And social media is providing a forum for further discussion as to what that means. One of the most thoughtful pieces I’ve found was on Twitter: a thread posted this week by Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), herself a former Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense and a CIA analyst specializing in Shia Muslim / Iranian military matters. She served under both Presidents Bush and Obama, the first a Republican and the second a Democrat, and she had several tours of duty in Iraq. Here are her thoughts, which provide some light into what is still a very dark situation.
Soleimani, according to Rep. Slotkin, was instrumental in providing weapons and tactics that were used against American soldiers and their allies. His efforts strengthened Iranian-backed militia groups in Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen, and to smaller cells around the world, with devastating consequences. Our powerful military had opportunities to kill him in the past, but we chose not to. The reason was that we had no answer to this question, in Slotkin’s words: was the strike worth the likely retaliation, and the potential to pull us into protracted conflict? The two administrations that she worked for both determined, she said, that the ultimate ends did not justify the means. But now the Trump administration has apparently made the opposite determination. What the government of Iran and its Soleimani-armed proxies will do in response is not yet known. They have the ability to respond in several ways, including targeted assassinations of Americans both famous and otherwise.
It is critical, as Rep. Slotkin states on Twitter, “that the Administration has thought out the moves and counter-moves this attack will precipitate, and is prepared to protect our diplomats, service members, and citizens serving overseas.” Up to now, such well thought-out plans have not been characteristic of the Trump administration on just about any issue, from healthcare to North Korea.
Maybe this time, it will be different: that the administration knows what it is doing, and we will see a game plan unfold designed by an expert coach. For the sake of our nation, and in particular of our servicemen and women overseas, let us all hope so.