The Donald’s Assassination Of General Soleimani—As Stupid As It Gets, by David Stockman - The Unz Review
During more than a half-century
of Washington watching we have seen stupidity rise from one height to yet
another. But nothing—just plain nothing—compares to the the blithering
stupidity of the Donald’s Iran “policy”, culminating in the mindless assassination
of its top military leader and hero of the so-called Islamic Revolution, Major
General Qassem Soleimani.
To be sure, we don’t give a
flying f*ck about the dead man himself. Like most generals of whatever army
(including the US army), he was a cold-blooded, professional killer.
And in this day and age of
urban and irregular warfare and drone-based annihilation delivered by remote
joy-stick, generals tend to kill more civilians than combatants. The dead
civilian victims in their millions of U.S. generals reaching back to the 1960s
surely attest to that.
Then again, even the outright
belligerents Soleimani did battle with over the decades were not exactly
alms-bearing devotees of Mother Theresa, either. In sequential order, they were
the lethally armed combatants mustered by Saddam Hussein, George W. Bush, the
Sunni jihadists of ISIS and the Israeli and Saudi air forces, which at this
very moment are raining high tech bombs and missiles on Iranian allies and
proxies in Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.
The only reason these years of
combat are described in the mainstream media as evidence of Iranian terrorism propagated by its Quds
forces is that the neocons have declared it so. That is, by Washington’s lights
Iran is not allowed to have a foreign policy and its alliances with mainly
Shiite co-religionists in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen are alleged per se to
be schemes of aggression and terror, warranting any and all retaliations
including assassination of its highest officials.
But that’s just colossal
nonsense and imperialistic arrogance. The Assad government in Syria, the
largest political party in Lebanon (Hezbollah), the dominant population of
northern Yemen (Houthis) and a significant portion of the Iraqi armed forces
represented by the Shiite militias (the PMF or Popular Mobilization Forces) are
no less civilized and no more prone to sectarian violence than anybody else in
this woebegone region. And the real head-choppers of ISIS and its imitators and
rivals have all been Sunni jihadist insurrectionists, not Shiite-based
governments and political parties.
The truth is, America has no
dog in the Shiite versus Sunni hunt, which has been going on for 1300 years in
the region. And when it comes to spillover of those benighted forces into
Europe or America, recent history is absolutely clear: 100% of all Islamic
terrorist incidents in the US since they began in the 1990s were perpetrated or
inspired by Sunni jihadists, not Iran or its Shiite allies and proxies in the
So we needs be direct. The
aggression in the Persian Gulf region during the last three decades has
originated in the Washington DC nest of neocon vipers and among Bibi
Netanyahu’s proxies, collaborators and assigns who rule the roost in the
Imperial City and among both political parties. And the motivating force has
all along been the malicious quest for regime change—first in Iraq and then in
Syria and Iran.
Needless to say, Washington
instigated “regime change” tends to provoke a determined self-defense and a
usually violent counter-reaction among the changees. So the truth is, the
so-called Shiite crescent is not an alliance of terrorists inflicting wanton
violence on the region; it’s a league of regime-change resisters and armed
combatants who have elected to say “no” to Washington’s imperial schemes for
remaking the middle eastern maps.
So in taking out Soleimani, the
usually befuddled and increasingly belligerent occupant of the Oval Office was
not striking a blow against “terrorism”. He was just dramatically escalating
Washington’s long-standing regime-change aggression in the region, thereby
risking an outbreak of even greater violence and possibly a catastrophic
conflagration in the Persian Gulf where one-fifth of the world’s oil traverses
And most certainly, the Donald
has now crushed his own oft-repeated intent to withdraw American forces from
the middle east and get out of the regime change business—the very platform
upon which he campaigned in 2016. There are now upwards of 50,000 US military
personnel in the immediate Persian Gulf region and tens of thousands of more
contractors, proxies and mercenaries. After Friday’s reckless maneuver, that
number can now only go up—and possibly dramatically.
In joy-sticking Soleimani while
lounging in his plush digs at Mar-a-Lago, the Donald was also not avenging the
innocent casualties of Iranian aggression—Americans or otherwise. He was just
jamming another regime-change stick in the hornets nest of anti-Americanism in
the region that Washington’s bloody interventions have spawned over the
decades, and which will now intensify by orders of magnitude.
Sometimes a picture does tell a
thousand words, and this one from the funeral procession in Tehran yesterday
surely makes a mockery of Secretary Pompeo’s idiotic claim that the middle east
is now safer than before. If there was ever a case that this neocon knucklehead
should be immediately dispatched to his hog and corn farm back in Kansas, this
is surely it.
Iranians carried the coffins of top general Qassem Soleimani and
his allies in Kerman, Iran
The larger point here is that
Imperial Washington and its mainstream media megaphones have so egregiously and
relentlessly vilified Iran and falsified the middle east narrative that the
Iranian side of the story has been completely lost—literally airbrushed right
off the pages of contemporary history in Stalineseque fashion.
Not that the benighted,
mullah-controlled Iranian regime is comprised of anything which resembles white
hats. One of the great misfortunes of the last four decades is that the
long-suffering people of Iran have not been able to throw-off the cultural and
religious shackles imposed by this theocratic regime or escape the economic
backwardness and incompetence of what is essentially rule by authoritarian
But that’s exactly the crime of
Washington’s neocon-inspired hostility and threats to the Iranian regime. It
merely rekindles Iranian nationalism and causes the public to rally to the
support of the regime, as is so evident at the current moment.
Worse still, the underlying
patriotic foundation of this pro-regime sentiment is completely lost on
Imperial Washington owing to its false narrative about post-1979 history. Yet
the fact is, in the eyes of the Iranian people the Quds forces and Soleimani
have plausible claims to having been valiant defenders of the nation.
In the original instance, of
course, Soleimani earned his chops on the battlefield contending with the
chemical weapons-dropping air force of Saddam Hussein during the 1980s. And
Saddam was the invader whose chemical bombs achieved especially deadly accuracy
against often barely armed teenage Iranian soldiers owing to spotting and
targeting assistance rendered by the U.S. air force—a Washington assisted
depredation that a whole generation of Iranians know all about, even if present
day Washington feints ignorance.
Then after Bush the Younger
visited uninvited and unrequested Shock & Awe upon Baghdad and much of the
Iraqi countryside, it transpired that the nation’s majority Shiite population
didn’t cotton much to being “liberated” by Washington. Indeed, the more radical
elements of the Iraqi Shiite community in Sadr City and other towns of central
and south Iraq took up arms during 2003-2011 against what they perceived to be
the American “occupiers” because, well, it was their country.
Needless to say, their Shiite
kinsman in Iran were more than ready to give aid and comfort to the Iraqi
Shiite in their struggle against what by then was perceived as Iran’s own
mortal enemy. After all, a full year before Bush the Younger launched the
utterly folly of the second gulf war in March 2003, his demented neocon
advisors and speechwriters, led by the insufferable David Frum, had concocted a
bogeyman called the Axis of Evil, which included Iran and marked it as next in
line for Shock & Awe.
But the idea that the Iraqi
people and especially its majority Shiite population would have been dancing in
the streets to welcome the US military save for the insidious interference of
Iran is just baseless War Party propaganda.
Stated differently, Washington
sent 158,000 lethally armed fighters into a country that had never threatened
America’s homeland security or harbored its enemies, and had no capacity to do
so in any event. But contrary to the glib assurances of Rumsfeld, Cheney and
the rest of the neocon jackals around Bush, these U.S. fighters soon came to be
widely viewed as “invaders”, not liberators, and met resistance from a wide
variety of Iraqi elements including remnants of Saddam’s government and
military, radicalized Sunni jihadists and a motley array of Shiite politicians,
clerics and militias.
Foremost among these was the
Sadr clan which emerged as the tribune of the the dispossessed Shiite
communities in the south and Baghdad. They rose to prominence after Bush the
Elder urged the Shiite to rise up against Saddam after the 1991 Gulf War, and
then left them dangling in the wind.
No U.S. support materialized as
the regime’s indiscriminate crackdown on the population systematically arrested
and killed tens of thousands of Shiites and destroyed Shiite shrines, centers
of learning, towns and villages. According to eyewitness accounts, Baathist
tanks were painted with messages like “No Shiites after today,” people were
hanged from electric poles, and tanks ran over women and children and towed
bodies through the streets.
From this horror and brutality
emerged Mohammad Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr, the founder of the
Sadrist movement that today, under the leadership of his son Muqtada,
constitutes Iraq’s most powerful political movement. After the collapse of the
Baathist regime in 2003, the Sadrist movement formally established its own
militia, known as the Jaysh al-Mahdi, or the Mahdi Army.
The vast Shiite underclass
needed protection, social services and leadership, and the Sadrist movement
stepped into these gaps by reactivating Sadeq al-Sadr’s network. In the course
of U.S. occupation, the Mahdi Army’s ranks of supporters, members and fighters
swelled, particularly as sectarian conflict intensified and discontent towards
the occupation grew out of frustration with the lack of security and basis
services.At one point the Mahdi Army numbered more than 60,000 fighters, and
especially as Iraq degenerated into total sectarian chaos after 2005, it became
a deadly thorn in the side of U.S. forces occupying a country where they were
But the Mahdi Army was
homegrown; it was Arab, not Persian, and it was fighting for its own homes and
communities, not the Iranians, the Quds or Soleimani. In fact, the Sadrists
strongly opposed the Iranian influence among other Shiite dissident groups
including the brutal Badr Brigade and the Iran-aligned Supreme Council for the
Islamic Revolution (SCIRI). As the above study further noted,
I raqis today refer to the
Sadrist Movement’s Peace Brigades as the “rebellious” militias, because
of their refusal to submit not only to Iran, but also to the federal
government and religious establishment. Muqtada al-Sadr has oriented his
organization around Iraqi nationalistic sentiments and derided the
Iran-aligned militias. In line with the true political outlook of his
father and his followers, Muqtada’s supporters chanted anti-Iranian
slogans and stormed the offices of the Dawa Party, ISCI and
the Badr Brigade when they protested against the government in May 2016.
As it happened, the
overwhelming share of the 603 US servicemen the Pentagon claims to have been killed
by Iranian proxies were actually victims of the Mahdi Army uprisings during
2003-2007. These attacks were led by the above mentioned Iraqi nationalist
firebrand and son of the movements founder, Muqtada al-Sadr.
In fact, however, the surge in
U.S. deaths at that time was the direct result of subsequently disgraced
General David Petraeus’ infamous “surge” campaign. Among others, it targeted
al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army in the hope of weakening it. Beginning in late April 2007,
the U.S. launched dozens of military operations aimed solely at capturing or
killing Mahdi Army officers, causing the Mahdi Army to strongly resist those
raids and impose mounting casualties on U.S. troops.
So amidst the fog of two
decades of DOD and neocon propaganda, how did Iran and Soleimani get tagged
over and over with the “killing Americans” charge, as if they were attacking
innocent bystanders in lower Manhattan on 9/11?
It’s just the hoary old canard
that Iran was the source of the powerful roadside bombs called Explosively
Formed Penetrators (EFPs) that were being used by many of the Shiite militias,
as well as the Sunni jihadists in Anbar province and the west. Yet that claim
was debunked more than a decade ago by evidence that the Mahdi Army and other
Shiite militias were getting their weapons not just from the Iranians but from
wherever they could, as well as manufacturing their own.
As the estimable Iran export,
Gareth Porter, recently noted:
The command’s effort to push
its line about Iran and EFPs encountered one embarrassing revelation after
another. In February 2007 a US command briefing asserted that the EFPs had
“characteristics unique to being manufactured in Iran.” However, after NBC
correspondent Jane Arraf confronted the deputy commander of coalition troops,
Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, with the fact that a senior military official had
acknowledged to her that US troops had been discovering many sites
manufacturing EFPs in Iraq, Odierno was forced to admit that it was true.
Then in late February 2007, US
troops found another cache of parts and explosives for EFPs near Baghdad, which
included shipments of PVC tubes for the canisters that contradicted its claims. They had come not
from factories in Iran, but from factories in the UAE and other Arab countries,
including Iraq itself. That evidence clearly suggested that the Shiites were
procuring EFP parts on the commercial market rather than getting them from
Although the military briefing
by the command in February 2007 pointed to cross-border weapons smuggling, it
actually confirmed in one of its slides that
it was being handled by “Iraqi extremist group members” rather than by Iran’s
Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). And as Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, the US
commander for southern Iraq, admitted in a July 6 press briefing, his troops had not
“captured anybody that we can directly tie back to Iran.”
On the other hand, what the
Iranian Quds forces have actually accomplished in Iraq and Syria has been
virtually expunged from the mainstream narrative. To wit, they have been the
veritable tip of the spear in the eradication of the Islamic State.
Indeed, in Iraq it was the
wobbly Iraqi national army that Washington stood up at a cost of billions,
which turned tail and ran when ISIS emerged in Anbar province in 2014. So
doing, they left behind thousands of US armored vehicles, mobile artillery and
even tanks, as well as massive troves of guns and ammo, which enabled the
Islamic State to briefly thrive and subjugate several million people across the
It was also Washington that
trained, equipped, armed and funded the so-called anti-Assad rebels in Syria,
which so weakened and distracted Damascus that that the Islamic State was
briefly able to fill the power vacuum and impose its barbaric rule on the
citizens of Raqqa and its environs. And again, it did so in large part with
weaponry captured from or sold to ISIS by the so-called moderate rebels.
To the contrary, the panic and
unraveling in Iraq during 2014-2015 was stopped and reversed when the Iranians
at the invitation of Baghdad’s Shiite government helped organize and mobilize
the Iraqi Shiite militias, which eventually chased ISIS out of Mosul and Anbar.
Likewise, outside of the
northern border areas liberated by the Syrian Kurds, it was the Shiite alliance
of Assad, Hezbollah and the Iranian Quds forces that rid Syria of the ISIS
Yes, the U.S. air force
literally incinerated two great cities temporarily occupied by the Islamic
State—Mosul and Raqqa. But it was the Shiite fighters who were literally
fighting for their lives, homes and hearth who cleared that land of a barbaric
infestation that had been spawned and enabled by the very Washington neocons
who are now dripping red in tooth and claw.
So we revert to the Donald’s
act of utter stupidity. On the one hand, it is now evident that the reason
Soleimani was in Baghdad was to deliver an official response from Tehran to a
recent Saudi de-escalation offer. And that’s by the word of the very prime
minister that Washington has stood up in the rump state of Iraq and who has now
joined a majority of the Iraqi parliament in demanding that Iraq’s putative
liberators—after expending trillions in treasure and blood—leave the country
Before the vote Prime Minister
Adil Abdul-Mahdi told the parliament that he was
scheduled to meet with Soleimani a day after his arrival to receive a letter
from Iran to Iraq in response to a de-escalation offer Saudi Arabia had made. The
U.S. assassinated Soleimani before the letter could be delivered by him. Abdul-Mahdi
also said that Trump had asked him to mediate between the U.S. and Iran. Did he
do that to trap Soleimani? It is no wonder then that Abdul-Mahdi is fuming.
At the same time, the positive
trends that were in motion in the region just days ago—-ISIS gone, Syria
closing in on the remaining jihadists, Saudi Arabia and Iran tentatively
exploring a more peaceful modus vivendi, the Yemen genocide winding to a
close—may now literally go up in smoke. As the always sagacious Pat Buchanan
What a difference a
presidential decision can make.
Two months ago, crowds were in
the streets of Iraq protesting Iran’s dominance of their politics. Crowds were
in the streets of Iran cursing that regime for squandering the nation’s
resources on imperial adventures in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen. Things were
going America’s way.
Now it is the Americans who are
the targets of protests.
Over three days, crowds
numbering in the hundreds of thousands and even millions have packed Iraqi and
Iranian streets and squares to pay tribute to Soleimani and to curse the
Americans who killed him.
We have long believed that
there is nothing stupider in Washington than the neocon policy mafia that has
wrecked such unspeakable havoc on the middle east as well as upon American
servicemen and taxpayers who have been marched time and again into the jaws of
But, now, the Donald has
single-handedly given even neocon stupidity a run for the money.
David Stockman served as a
Republican Congressman and Director of the Office of Management and Budget
under President Ronald Reagan, later having a twenty year career on Wall