Fred Henneke, Attorney & Counselor-At-Law
“What I perceive is their strategy is to goad the United States into a military confrontation that compels the other nations to intervene and is opposed by a large percentage of Congress and the Americans, resulting in negotiations with the Iranians as equal participants. Kinda like a Hail Mary pass in the last minute of the fourth quarter. If my hypothesis is correct, since President Trump did not rise to the bait over the drone, what will the Iranians do next?”
This was part of my post in June of last year after the Iranians shot down one of our drones.. I stand by it with greater concern or even fear over the possibility of armed conflict.
A brief up-date: An Iranian attack resulted in the death of an American civilian contractor. We retaliated with missiles that killed several Iranian fighters and Iraqi civilians. Iran responded by promoting an assault on the American embassy in Baghdad. We, in turn, used drones to kill General Suleimani, the leader of the Scud division of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. That attack also killed, among others, the Iraqi general of an Iraq militia sponsored by the Iranians. Suleimani was universally condemned as a “bad dude”, even being officially labeled a “terrorist” by the United States. No one outside of Iran or Iraq mourns his demise; the world is safer,at least temporarily, without Suleimani. However, he was a very powerful figure in Iran, considered by some as the second most powerful man in Iran behind only the Ayatollah.
The Iranians are, of course, threatening retaliation. President Trump fired back, saying that any response by Iran would be met with swift and strong measures by the United States; he even has threatened to attack “cultural sites” in Iran , which would be a clear violation of international law. Most troubling, the Iraqi parliament voted, in a largely symbolic gesture, to expel all American troops from Iraq. And the US-led coalition fighting against the remnants of ISIS suspended military operations for an indefinite period.
If the United States is shut out of its bases in Iraq, our ability to respond rapidly and/or exert influence counter to Iran in the Middle East would be severely diminished. Our troops are there by agreement with the government of Iraq, as is our embassy and diplomats. We have no inherent right to be there. If we are not there, Iraq becomes a de facto Iranian province. We then have no military bases from which to protect American interests throughout the region.. Our ability to counter Iranian efforts to dominate the region become extremely difficult at best. Our allies in the region against Iran, such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, then must find ways to cooperate with Iran as the dominant regional power. Israel stands alone.
If, heaven forbid, we actually entered into armed conflict on a large scale with Iran I fear we would stand alone. In Desert Shield, Desert Storm and the Iraq War, we organized significant international coalitions in support of freedom. Which of those would stand with us against Iran – France, Germany, Great Britain, Russia, China? Our traditional friends in the Iran Nuclear Agreement oppose our withdrawal from that agreement; would they rally around us? The Russians, Chinese and Iranians have been conducting joint naval operations – would the Russians and Chinese back us or seize upon the opportunity to further diminish our influence? Would any country in the Middle east allow us to stage our armed forces from their territory? Without forward bases, imagine the logistical nightmare of trying to engage in full-scale warfare in the Middle East, halfway around the world, from America!
Suleimani was an evil man who orchestrated the death of countless Americans and other who opposed his murderous regime and brand of Islam. No tears are shed for his demise. My concern is that there does not appear to have been any careful, legitimate planning for the consequences of what was a relatively easy military action (based on excellent intelligence). Our allies were not consulted, or even notified ahead of time; the required notification to the “Gang of Eight” in Congress was not done. Yes. it was an option presented by the military leaders of our armed forces; however, the aftermath clearly was not studied and taken into consideration. Much like the decision to invade Iraq, the ramifications beyond the exploding bombs were not seriously presented or evaluated. Hopefully, the outcome in this case will be far better than in the invasion of Iraq.
This action fits nicely into President Trump’s belief that “I (the United States) alone can do this.” Don’t need any help from anyone else; asking for help is a sign of weakness. That may be true in building casinos; it does not hold true on the world stage.