I talked to a few progressives and libertarians on the weekend. They seemed to think that Trump’s decision to sanction two Iranian generals would lead to war. Now, I asked the libertarians and progressives a bit about how World War 2 started. They didn’t know anything about how it started. Let’s see what Trump did in Iran, and then look at WW2 history to see if it is likely to stop or start a war.
Before I start, I just want to say that someone shared a post by far-left filmmaker Michael Moore claiming that Americans had ever heard of Soleimani or the Quds Force. Here are my previous 134 posts on Iran, my previous 9 posts on the Quds Force, and my previous post on Soleimani. Speak for yourself, Michael Moore.
First, who is Solemani, and what is the Quds Force? The New York Times explains:
More than any other American military operation since the invasion of Iraq, the assassination yesterday of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, the head of Iran’s Qods Force of its Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, is a seismic event. The killings of Osama bin Laden and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leaders of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, were certainly meaningful, but they were also largely symbolic, because their organizations had been mostly destroyed. Taking out the architect of the Islamic Republic’s decades-long active campaign of violence against the United States and its allies, especially Israel, represents a tectonic shift in Middle Eastern politics.
[…]In Lebanon, Mr. Suleimani built Lebanese Hezbollah into the powerful state within a state that we know today. A terrorist organization receiving its funds, arms and marching orders from Tehran, Hezbollah has a missile arsenal larger than that of most countries in the region. The group’s success has been astounding, helping to cement Iran’s influence not just in Lebanon but farther around the Arab world.
Building up on this successful experience, Mr. Suleimani spent the last decade replicating the Hezbollah model in Iraq, Syria and Yemen, propping up local militias with precision weapons and tactical know-how. In Syria, his forces have allied with Russia to prop up the regime of Bashar al-Assad, a project that, in practice, has meant driving over 10 million people from their homes and killing well over half a million. In Iraq, as we have seen in recent days, Mr. Suleimani’s militias ride roughshod over the legitimate state institutions. They rose to power, of course, after participating in an insurgency, of which he was the architect, against American and coalition forces. Hundreds of American soldiers lost their lives to the weapons that the Qods Force provided to its Iraqi proxies.
I think this part is worth emphasizing – Solemani was the aggressor in the Iraq embassy attack, and he has a record of attacking American armed forces:
Soleimani, who was designated and sanctioned by the U.N., E.U., and U.S. alike, directly approved Tuesday’s U.S. embassy storming in Baghdad by Iranian proxy militia Kataib Hezbollah, and was credibly assessed by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as actively planning more “imminent” attacks against hard American assets in the Middle East, has been directly active in the mass murder of Americans. He personally oversaw the mass arming of Shiite Iraqi insurgents and it is estimated that the IRGC-QF targeted and killed over 600 Americans in Iraq from 2003–2011. The State Department asserts that this personally amounts to a whopping 17% of all deaths of U.S. military personnel during the Iraq War.
So, far from Trump’s response being disproportionate, this was actually a long-overdue response. It was even overdue from Trump.
The message that Iran got after 8 years of Obama was clear: acts of aggression committed by Iran against the United States and her allies would be rewarded, including the $1.7 BILLION payoff from the Obama administration. The Obama administration’s policy was isolationism and appeasement. And this was fine with Democrat voters, because not a single Democrat voter (or libertarian ) knew anything about Iran, the Iran deal, Soleimani, or the Quds Force. They are low-information voters.
Now let’s see how World War 2 started.
Here is a helpful lecture by military historian Victor Davis Hanson.
Germany re-armed in 1936. Austria was annexed in 1938. The Rhineland was re-occupied in 1938. Czechoslovakia was invaded in 1939. And the allied democracies did nothing to stop Hitler. Similarly, Japan also re-armed, broke treaties and invaded neighbors. And the allied democracies did nothing to stop them, despite having superior planes, tanks, and ships. This allowed the Axis powers time to research better weapons, re-arm, and gain a strategic advantage. The Axis powers could have been stopped early on, at a much lower cost in blood and treasure. It was the libertarians and the progressives with their policies of isolationism and appeasement that made World War 2 much worse than it needed to be.
Hitler assumed the United States either could not or would not offer much military help to his intended European targets.
Why, then, did a relatively weak Nazi Germany between 1939 and 1941 believe that it could take on much of the world, and inspire Axis partners such as Italy and Japan to follow its suicidal lead?
The answer is obvious. British and French appeasement, Soviet collaboration and American isolation had together convinced Hitler and his Axis allies that the victors of World War I were more eager to grant concessions at any cost than were the defeated.
In the lecture, VDH explains that we know from the writings of the leaders of Germany and Japan that they interpreted the isolationist / appeasement policies of the libertarian progressives as weakness, and this is what caused them to re-arm and attack their neighbors. Prior to the historical start of WW2, the Western nations had better tanks, planes and ships than the Axis powers. But they refused to use them to deter the Axis powers. And that’s why World War 2 was much more costly and bloody than it needed to be.
Finally, I should quickly note that America pursued a different strategy in the Cold War, under Ronald Reagan. Reagan was villified by the libertarians and progressives for taking a strong stand against communism. Instead of appeasing and isolating, he put America on a war footing, making aggression costly to the Soviet Union. This approach worked to avoid an actual World War 3. Although his critics attacked him for being pro-war, his tough approach was exactly what was needed to cause the bully to back down.
Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum