By John Krull
INDIANAPOLIS – President Donald Trump and his unquestioning defenders insist that killing Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani has made both the United States and the world safer.
They say the president ordered Soleimani’s death to eliminate the threat of “imminent attacks” on multiple U.S. embassies. They argue that killing Soleimani removed those threats and crippled Iran’s ability to endanger other nations, including the United States.
John Krull, publisher, TheStatehouseFile.com
It’s hard to see how that’s true.
In the first place, it’s difficult to take seriously the president’s contention that several U.S. embassies were in danger.
If that were the case, then why didn’t he order the embassies to be evacuated or take other security measures to protect the people there? One would think that would have been the first step for a president and his allies who never grew tired of accusing Hillary Clinton of negligence for not adequately protecting diplomatic personnel at Benghazi.
Then there’s the strange notion that Soleimani’s death somehow stopped these supposed attacks.
Soleimani wouldn’t have been carrying them out himself. He would not have strapped the suicide bomb to his own chest, piloted the drone, pressed the button on the missile launcher or attacked the embassy, weapon in hand, himself.
Given that, how did killing Soleimani stop the attack or attacks?
But, in some ways, that’s beside the point.
Expecting honesty from Donald Trump on even small matters is an exercise in perpetual frustration.
Hoping for him to tell the truth on big questions such as war and peace is nothing short of madness.
And there are larger questions involved here, ones that this president’s habit of distorting or denying the truth makes it difficult for us to consider, much less address.
There is, for instance, intense speculation about whether the missile attacks Iran launched at U.S. bases represent the end of that country’s response to Soleimani’s killing. Those attacks, Iran claims, weren’t designed to take American lives – and they didn’t.
But why would Iran engage in what then would amount to a merely symbolic gesture?
Maybe because the Iranian government already has gotten out of this exchange what it really has wanted all along – free rein to develop nuclear weapons.
This is where the duplicity surrounding our relations with Iran creates the greatest obstacle to understanding what is really at stake.
The mythology – actually, let’s call it what it is, a lie – that President Trump and his allies advance regarding the nuclear deal is that the United States “gave” Iran $150 billion to agree to stop developing atom bombs. In their telling, it was an act of appeasement.
The truth is quite different.
The $150 billion didn’t belong to the United States or any of the other nations trying to pressure Iran to stop developing nuclear weapons.
That money was Iran’s. It had been banked in western institutions. We froze their funds as a negotiating tactic.
In effect, we held their money hostage to force them to the bargaining table. We surrendered the funds only when they gave us what we wanted – which was a commitment to stop developing nuclear weapons, along with regular outside inspections to determine that they were upholding their end of the bargain.
President Trump, of course, cancelled that agreement. He now even is encouraging the other participants to walk away from it.
Our allies don’t want to do that, because they understand how colossally short-sighted, even stupid, the president’s actions have been.
They know what Donald Trump and his allies don’t seem to understand.
Iran now has a clear path to develop nuclear weapons. The Iranians also have their money back and will take steps to make sure we can’t use that form of pressure on them again.
Worse, they can make the argument that we, not they, were the ones who refused to honor the terms of the deal.
If we thought Iran presented a threat to peace before, wait until the Iranians have fully developed nuclear weapons. When they do, we’ll be facing an adversary with fresh reasons to hate us and much greater capacity to do harm to Americans and others.
All we received in return for giving Iran permission to become a nuclear power is a dead general who already has been replaced by his protégé.
That wasn’t smart.
And it sure as heck isn’t safe.
John Krull is director of Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism and publisher of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.