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{Posted by Gerard Strauss, esq., on Facebook, 6 January 2020.}

When Trump entered office, we had a nuclear non-proliferation agreement with Iran, and we had a relative if contentious peace. If the terms of our treaty with Iran were not satisfactory to our leaders, there was an opportunity, while we were still engaged diplomatically, to amend the terms of the treaty through dealing in good faith and patient diplomacy, by enlarging trade, by inviting Iran into the international community, and by hard-nosed negotiation. In fact, even without those incentives, there had recently been pro-secular demonstrations in the streets of Iran as the people tired of the hardship brought by sanctions and economic warfare and were drawn to the raised standards of living enjoyed by the West.

Suleimani was an attractive target politically because he was responsible, as Iran’s best known military leader, for waging Iran’s proxy war against the US. No member of our government, and certainly no individual Trump supporter, would mourn his passing.

But the object of U.S. policy has never been to assassinate Iran’s upper echelons or divert attention from Trump’s obvious violations of the Constitution and his oath of office. In fact, assassination was abandoned by the US as a tactic both for reasons of morality and because it often had unforeseen and damaging political consequences and provoked harsh criticism from within. It also raised the very real fear that by using assassination as a tool of statesmanship, we opened ourselves to reprisal in kind.

The object of our national policy towards Iran, and by that I mean the objectives of most if not all of our past presidents, and that of any intelligent national leadership, was to bring Iran to a point where its involvement and investments in international economic activity made it counterproductive to be seen as an outlaw nation, and so disincentivized development of nuclear weapons as to cause it to voluntarily cease or minimalize its efforts in that direction.

The consequences of Trump’s decision to assassinate Suleimani has not accomplished or furthered any legitimate goal of international statemanship. We can’t know at this stage whether Suleimani’s replacement will be more or less effective, but certainly Iran will not cease its efforts to exert control over Iraq and other Middle East states because one man has been killed. If anything, Iran’s imperative is to expand the authority and control it has over its neighbors and impose on them its own religious and social agendas. It could only be dissuaded from nuclear development through the activist dissatisfaction of its populace with theocratic government and an increasingly secular influence on its leadership.

However we view Suleimani and his efforts, he was a hero to many in Iraq. Still, some sort of rapprochement could eventually have been reached despite him, had we continued to pressure Iran with a balance of the carrot and the stick. In the final analysis soldiers like Suleiman are less relevant to the peace than to the war. Instead, Trump’s individual act of war has guaranteed we will face more generations of inspired terrorism from citizens of another country for whom he is now and will continue to be a martyr in the cause of anti-western Muslim extremism.