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What does conflict with Iran mean for America?

Mohey Mowafy

David Ignatius, of The Washington Post began his recent column with this sentence “War with Iran has been coming at us in slow motion since 1979. Now, ominously, it’s really here, but we don’t seem any better at deflecting revolutionary Iran from its destructive course than we were at the beginning”

It is not an exaggeration to claim that the killing of Qassem Suleimani, is the most consequential act taken against the Iranian regime in 30 years–even if we don’t know what those consequences will be. He was even called Iran’s Patton. We have just entered a treacherous period, in which the conflict will certainly spread beyond the region and quite possibly out of control.

Suleimani was remarkably successful, some raise him to the level of “legendary.” He was involved in sponsoring terrorist attacks, propping up despots like Bashar al-Assad in Syria, helping to assassinate at least one foreign leader–the Prime Minister of Lebanon, Rafik Hariri–and killing hundreds of American soldiers along the way. He is the one credited with developing the E.F.P. which became a particularly bloody weapon against U.S. soldiers.

It is hardly outlandish to also be seriously calculating the “what if’s” concerning Iraq. Not only because of the proximity, but because of our relatively recent history in Iraq. More significant is the most recent history of “liberating” Iraqi Shiiet majority from the clutches of Saddam and his henchmen Sunnis. Look up Moqtada El Sadr and his militias during the days when most of our losses were inflicted by Iranian resources.

One of the potentially perplexing facts is that Iranian-supported Iraqi Shiites actually played a supportive role to us. Of course, they had their own motive which is grabbing real estate. But ISIS has already shifted its geographical inspirations to northwestern Africa and possibly Latin America.

We do know that Russia will be playing this round as well. What we do not know is whether they will continue being tied to Iranian interests. Russian Senate Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Konstantin Kosachev wrote “The killing of Gen. Soleimani in Baghdad in no way contributes to the improvement of the situation in Iraq and the entire Middle East. Its negative implications, however, are already obvious”

Mr. Trump has forecasted his views about the Middle East by selecting Saudi Arabia to be his foreign policy forecast. I recall writing several times about how ill-advised the signal was. Recently, however, when Iran destroyed some significant Saudi oil fields, our president did not say or do anything to lend American support. Incoherence?

It should not surprise us if the Saudi, also, began suspecting our words and actions. It is legitimate for a leader to call his nation to arms to defend it. Naturally, we are perplexed when we try to weigh in the cost and benefit of following a “leader” who has proven time and again that he cares nothing about truth.

A most significant element here is the complicated dynamics between Iran and Israel. Israel is not only as a govern country but also the strongest ally we have in the region. There is no love lost between the current Iranian regime and Israel. This should bring perhaps the darkest speculations because both Israel and the US are not exactly living calm problem-free political shenanigans. Iran’s use of “plausible deniability” by using proxy cells to do the damage. We know that with absolute certainty, and the lethality of such tactic cannot be more well known than to Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and quite possibly in other continents. This is not to say that they are invincible but to remind us all of the notion that “there are no winners in wars.” Simultaneously, in hostile activities there are unintended consequences. Yes, our military might is undisputable, but should it be used to accomplish political gain? Worse yet, personal ones.

Last but not least is the relationship we currently have with basically all of our traditional allies. I am actually more comforted by their “wisdom” in weighing both truth and consequences. No matter how mighty our military might is no country should take on the world all by itself.

Should you know a WWII veteran who fought that super bloody war as teenagers, I hope you can chat with them about what procreated wars are like. It is sadly true that wars seem to have been spun and tailored, perhaps many millions of years ago.

Editor’s note: Mohey Mowafy of Marquette is a retired Northern Michigan University professor.

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