In an apparent effort to change the channel from ongoing impeachment proceedings, U.S. President Donald Trump has created a diversion with potentially very dire consequences for the Middle East.
Trump ordered the assassination in Iraq of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s effective second-in-command, Gen. Qassem Soleimani after a week that saw attacks on U.S. personnel and the raiding of the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, bringing us closer than ever to the war his neoconservative allies have been thirsting for since their last misadventure.
The president is taking a page out of Bill Clinton’s playbook, who in the summer of 1998 – in the midst of his own impeachment hearings – decided to drop bombs on Afghanistan and Sudan, and then Iraq near the end of the year as proceedings progressed.
Canada ought not to play any role in this dangerous charade.
Soleimani, as the official presiding over Iranian-backed insurgencies across the region, came to prominence after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, where he was sent to take charge of the Popular Mobilization Forces formed to fight U.S. and British troops.
He wouldn’t have had such a stronghold in Iraq if it weren’t for the U.S.-led invasion, which totally destabilized the region and led directly to Iran asserting itself as a major regional power.
Of course, the West’s tensions with Iran go back well beyond 2003.
In 1953, Iran democratically elected secular reformer Mohammed Mossadeq.
However, he was intent on nationalizing the country’s vast petroleum reserves, so the U.S. and U.K. had him removed, bringing back to power Shah Reza Pahlavi, who presided over a brutal, albeit secular, dictatorship that would keep oil profits in the hands of British Petroleum.
In 1979, Iran had a revolution, which was supported by the masses who were fed up with subservience to foreign powers, but hijacked by the religious fundamentalists in power today.
An eight-year war sparked by Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Iran the next year allowed the theocrats to solidfy their grip on power by uniting the country against outside invaders.
On a microcosmic scale, Trump’s assassination of Soleimani will have the same effect.
He’s served the regime the martyr they crave on a silver platter.
Unsurprisingly, Canada’s Conservatives have fallen in line with the Trump administration’s justification that Soleimani was a grave and imminent threat to U.S. national security, for which we’ve yet to see a scintilla of evidence. Sound familiar?
In 2003, Canadian Alliance leader Stephen Harper and former leader Stockwell Day wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal expressing outrage that Canada’s government at the time, at least outwardly, opposed the war.
For his part, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hasn’t said much about the issue beyond a mealy-mouthed statement from our new foreign affairs minister, Francois-Phillippe Champagne, expressing a vague desire for calm and “restraint.”
A Canadian government willing to live up to our reputation, whether deserved or not, as a force for peace ought to express profound concern about the targeted assassination of a foreign leader and bring our troops home.
This is in no way a defence of Iran’s brutal, theocratic regime. But our allies in this fight, like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, are two of the world’s most medieval theocracies, with a far greater role in promoting international terrorism and regional instability than Iran.
Yemen is suffering one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises as a direct result of the Gulf states’ intervention. On the topic of unsavoury allies, the Iran-aligned Shia militias did much of the dirty work to combat the Sunni fundamentalists in ISIS on the ground in Iraq.
This just goes to show the dangers, futility and hypocrisy of endless war. John Quincy Adams famously warned his successors against going “abroad In search of monsters to destroy.”
If this U.S. won’t, Canada ought to take his advice.