Soleimani Assassination: Sowing the Wind, Reaping the Whirlwind


Richard Silverman

Our president is not a religious man.  But it’s suitable to quote a verse from what his Christian allies call “the Scriptures:”

For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind…
I will send a fire upon his cities,
And it will devour their castles.


soleimani killing

Wreckage after U.S. drone attacked Soleimani’s plane at Bagdad airport (HO/AP)

Pres. Trump has made the single most catastrophic decision in a presidency full of catastrophes.  His approval of the assassination of the most prominent military leader in Iran will have disastrous consequences not just for America, but for all our allies, especially Israel.  Every American anywhere, but especially outside the U.S., will become a target.  Within hours, if not days our embassies will be burning.  Iraq will become ungovernable.  Our service members there will be in the cross-hairs.

Not only will Iran fling down the entire JCPOA agreement in disgust, it will begin not just testing ballistic missiles, but perhaps even lobbing a few at Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. Its Hezbollah allies will assume a much more belligerent posture in Syria and Lebanon.

This single act has further displayed Trump’s contempt for our European “allies,” who sought a diplomatic solution to the conflict with Iran.  In a single act, he has flung decades worth of diplomacy and engagement into the trash heap.

Whether Trump realized it or not, this means war.  Even if he didn’t officially declare war, he has just done so by this unmitigated disaster of a decision.  The War Powers Act demands that a president consult Congress before commencing hostilities on a foreign power.  Trump not only didn’t consult Congress, he didn’t even consult his own Party.  No President in the history of this country would ever have done anything so reckless and abandoned the traditional ‘niceties’ of consultation with the legislative branch.

Sen. Blumenthal alluded to this when he said:

“The present authorizations for use of military force in no way cover starting a possible new war. This step could bring the most consequential military confrontation in decades,”

Bernie Sanders was typically clear and resolute:

“Trump promised to end endless wars, but this action puts us on the path to another one,”


IRG Supreme Commander Qasim Soleimani

In an otherwise mealy-mouthed statement, Joe Biden said:

“President Trump just tossed a stick of dynamite into a tinderbox.”

I predict that when Iranian blowback strikes us hard, that Americans will pay closer attention to the War Powers Act and note Trump violated it egregiously.  In normal circumstances, presidents aren’t called on the carpet for taking the country to war, as long as we win.  If we lose or are perceived as losing, the citizenry rapidly sours and looks to where it can cast blame.  It could further weaken Trump and even possibly bring a new article of impeachment.

For a comparable event in history, imagine that Hitler had assassinated both Field Marshall Montgomery and Eisenhower during WWII;  or that the British had captured and hung George Washington during the Revolutionary War; imagine that the British had arrested, tried and executed Ben Gurion in the pre-State era.  In other words, this is not just your average assassination.  This is a murder that will resonate for years, if not decades.  It will further poison U.S.-Iran relations for a generation.  It will set off a nuclear arms race such as you could not previously imagine.

The blows we will suffer will sorely tempt our leaders to not only attack Iran, but invade it to overthrow the regime.  We have gotten closer than at any time since 1979 to all-out war against Iran.  This is not a genie you can put back in the bottle.  This one is truly evil and will wreck thousands of lives for decades.

The Pentagon released an absolutely awful statement claiming this was a “decisive defensive action,” because Soleimani had supposedly planned the attack on the Bagdhad embassy and was planning other similar terror operations against our forces.  Secretary of Defense Esper said the attack was meant to deter Iran.  I can’t think of a more idiotic claim to make.  It will, of course, do just the opposite.  If we thought we were locked in a hostile relationship before this; the next phase will be closer to a boa constrictor’s fatal embrace.

Esper further says: “the game has changed.” First, this is NOT a game.  Not to Iran.  And we will find out how much it sees it as anything but a game in days to come.

clinton impeachment

NY Times headline, 1998. Deja vu all over again…

Trump thinks like Bibi. Whenever the Israeli PM faces a crisis or an election, he starts a war and knocks the s**t out of the poor suckers in Gaza.  A month and a few thousand innocent Palestinian lives later, he withdraws and pounds his chest like a silver-back Gorilla, telling Israel how he protected it from the Palestinian onslaught.

Trump is now facing the nadir of his presidency.  He is mired in an impeachment; and Democrats are in no mood to let him off the hook by transferring the articles to the Senate so it can dispose of them in 12 minutes on the floor.  Trump thought this would be like Obama assassinating Osama bin Laden or like the murder of ISIS leader, al-Baghdadi.  Americans would hold rallies and cheer as they did after Bin Laden was eliminated. But he has failed to take into account that Iran will be a far more formidable enemy than he gives it credit.  It will make him pay in blood.  When the bodies come home in flag-draped coffins, I hope one family has the guts to ship theirs to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to lie in state, as it were.  Let hundreds of thousands come to pay their respects to a life wasted on the altar of a president’s vanity.

And if Trump thinks Soleimani’s murder will not cost us, just as al-Baghdadi’s and Bin Laden’s didn’t, there are several differences: Soleimani was no leader of a ragtag bag of Islamist fanatics and terrorist-wannabes. He was the second-most powerful person in Iran. He founded the IRG, perhaps the most capable ground army in the region.  He was beloved by the Grand Ayatollah, who treated him as a son.  He was the hero of the nation.  He represented its pride, its steadfastness, its vigilance.  Half of Iran would step forward and offer their lives to avenge him.

You remember way back to last month when the Iranian regime was reeling from riots which spread like wildfire throughout the country?  The Ayatollah was on his knees.  The Islamic Republic teetered on the brink.  If our policy was to weaken the regime and provoke change through internal crisis, this was a perfect development.  Now, what have we done?  We’ve swept away all the divisions that existed last month.  We’ve united the country as it has not been united since 1979.

They will bring Soleimani’s remains from Iraq and emtomb them in a mausoleum next door to Ayatollah Khomeini himself.  The ring he wore which permitted rescuers to identify his remains amidst the wreckage will be on display there.  Schoolchildren will visit in the tens of thousands. His writings will be studied with reverence.  We’ve just created a martyr of enormous magnitude.

Has the murder damaged Iran?  No, these killings never do what the killers think they will.  They do not weaken, they do not divide.  The contrary: Israel killed Hezbollah leader Abbas al-Musawi and it brought a far more dangerous enemy in Hassan Nasrallah.  Israel killed Hamas leader, Sheik Ahmed al-Yassine and he was replaced by Khaled Mashal.  The U.S. killed Bin Laden and it did not degrade al Qaeda in the slightest.

There are hundreds of IRG commanders eager to replace the martyred Soleimani.  The one who is chosen will undoubtedly be even more cunning and capable than his predecessor.  This killing is yet another in a long line of U.S. disastrous counter-terror moves which do nothing to advance our real interests, to make the region more stable, to resolve long-festering disputes.

This post originally appeared on Richard’s Tikun Olam blog.

7 thoughts on “Soleimani Assassination: Sowing the Wind, Reaping the Whirlwind

  1. A few things I think need to be understood: Surveillance drones and Mossad agents are constantly tracking the locations of designated enemies. The Pentagon always has various options “on the table.” So why pull the trigger now, at this moment? This intentional firebomb tossed into the region provides a dandy diversion from impeachment, even though Trump knows there is zero chance the Senate will convict him or remove him from office. The US may soon find itself in a full-scale war, to hell with a formal declaration of same. We can bet this will bring flag-waving support here at home for Commander-in-Chief Bone Spurs. We’ve seen this movie so many times before! Further, Israel is bound to get involved. Bingo, a dandy diversion from the legal woes of huge Trump ally Netanyahu. Yes, we are dealing with incredibly cynical politicians here. Another aspect of this situation is that the so-called Evangelicals have been praying (literally) for Armageddon to break out in the Middle East, to hasten their own ascents to Heaven to dance joyously with Jesus. Personally. Yes, they actually believe such nonsense. Trump has zero respect for life. This is evidenced by his policies to intentionally accelerate the degradation of the planet’s environment. Probably the very first targets for US airstrikes on Iran proper will be their sites for nuclear experimentation. This will lessen Iran’s ability to pose an actual nuclear risk to the US. But I have no doubt that Iran will be a formidable foe for the US. They won’t field an army that can’t shoot straight, a la Saddam Hussein. Undoubtedly, this is a disaster in the making, a very intentional one. And Trump apparently believes he will emerge as an American Hero. He is literally a deranged individual and should have been removed from office long ago on that basis.

  2. I think Trump did exactly what he wanted to do–increase conflagration! The hubris of this man, as with Netanyau, is such they feel invincible. The heck with losing a few 1000 people, even Americans. Was this a contrived diversion? This most likely is part of the play. However, The biggest bully on the block feels safe and entitled to do as he will. He couldn’t care less about so-called allies. The ‘great’ American believes they are all subservient to him and American economy and, besides, we have the biggest army with the biggest military technology. Ethics? Morality? There never was any with Trump or the GOP as a total body. The Dems are no different. I really enjoyed listening to an episode of the Kaiser Report where an economist was being interviewd. He actually sounded like he was quoting me: The Dems play a public propaganda role pretending to certain beliefs while letting the GOP win so their mutual agenda can be enacted. The Dems keep putting up Centrists; ie, right wingers, who will lose the election: throw the election. This has happened too many times to count. So we get American hubris which seeks war. Remember war makes lots of money for the oligarchs. And if the US comes to control another countries resources, all the better. And that is the success aimed for. Killing a #2 man who is well respected is really worse than poking an angry tiger. This is all intention. Only the public gets drawn in to the hyperbole promoted thru the mass media which does its propaganda job very well. Hands wring, accusations are thrown, the press pretends to provide analysis which is nothing other than propaganda telling the public what to think/believe. And the oligarchy is planning its new riches and power growth behind closed doors.

    If you want to ‘throw the bums out’ vote for Bernie Sanders and every progressive you can find to run for office.

    • “Hubris” and “narcissism” are inadequate descriptions for what goes on inside Trump’s deranged mind. I have no doubt at all that he believes he’s “bigger than God Himself”!!

  3. It’s clear that Trump decision on the assasination of Soleimani is part and parcel of his obsession to “own the news cycle.” If his name is not in it, and particularly if the news is not heaping praise on him, then he will do what he can to change the topic.

    So why now? Because his impeachment is bugging him. He realizes that with his name associated with impeachment he is not going to stack up very well to his arch-nemesis, Barack Obama. With Soleimani he saw the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone: out-do Obama’s widely praised – and essentially consequence-free – murder of bin Laden, and put the Democrats on their back foot for attacking a president in time of a national security crisis.

    The blowback from the Soleimani assassination has only just begun, but in the short term, Trump has managed to wrestle back the narrative in his favor.

    • Indeed, at this point I smell a second Trump term lingering in the air (where’s my old gas mask?!). We know the Senate trial, if it even transpires, is guaranteed to rule “Not guilty.” Trump will be gloating for the rest of his life about how he slapped the Ayatollahs to the ground, how they wimped out in a flash. That said, it seems unlikely that this affair is really over with. The cycle of revenge can run a very long course, indeed.

      • “Ah, Kirk. My old friend. Do you know the Klingon proverb that says ‘Revenge is a dish best served cold’?” — Khan Noonian Singh in Start Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

        I suspect that the ancient Persians have an aphorism expressing a somewhat similar — and determined — resolution. And, at any rate, as the Persian astronomer/poet Omar Khayyam put it in his famous verse:

        “The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
        Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
        Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
        Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.

        Not a beginning. Neither an ending. Only an endless repetition of ruination and rancour. As I put it myself thirteen years ago:

        For Whom the Moving Finger Writes

        Omar Khayyam said something much, I think:
        Who from iambic couplets did not shrink
        To say in verse that each relates to all
        As all relates to those of us who crawl
        Beneath that huge inverted dome of sky
        Which rolls, indifferent to you and I;
        Which writes with moving finger and moves on
        From twilight through the dark until the dawn
        Regardless of what piety or wit
        We beg to live again a word of it
        Nor with our tears wash out a single line:
        The poem of our past we can’t refine

        John Donne wrote also of a clod of earth
        From off a continent defined at birth:
        An island in itself, as is no man
        Who yet connects to all the human clan
        So that which we of others would compel
        Ourselves must suffer and endure as well
        For we and they can not identify
        A reason why yet one more soul should die
        To mark with tolling bells its passage plus
        The knowledge that its passing lessens us
        So let us not ask what fate’s finger writes
        For it but chronicles our pointless fights

        Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright 2007

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