It would be easy to call President Trump’s decision to assassinate Iranian general Qasem Soleimani a mistake but calling it such would imply that the current administration would have been better off with some other action. Those who call it a mistake do so assuming that the Trump administration has America’s best interests in mind, which it definitely does not. The decision was not a mistake for Trump—it will likely lead to war, and this is what Trump wants. This is why we should not call it a mistake. We should call it “Step One.” And a war, one that will cause unimaginable human suffering, is only a few steps away.
It is tempting to speculate as to why Trump wants war. It could easily be argued that it is a ploy for reelection – a president who will “win the war” is one who should be in power, right? It could easily be argued that the war would be used as another excuse to provide further military support to the state of Israel, which effectively functions as a U.S proxy in the Middle East. It could easily be argued that the war would simply make it easier for America to have more military installations in the region, to achieve various ends. But these are all answering the question of “why,” and we, the American people, need to be concerned with “what.” What could happen if we were to go to war with Iran?
If America goes to war with Iran, it will go to war with its people. In a perfect world, war would be fought between soldiers, but our country’s extremely liberal tolerance for civilian casualties makes our world far from perfect. Innocent parents and children, families and friends, who only want to go about their daily lives, will die at the hands of both Iran’s forces and America’s.
And the war would not just be in Iran. On Jan. 7, Iran attacked two bases in Iraq where U.S troops were stationed. Iraq is already suffering, and other nations will soon suffer, too. What this means is that we will see more refugees desperate to survive come to the west. We’ve seen Trump’s policies for immigrants from countries we are not even at war with, and we’re beginning to see how the government will react to Middle Easterners now that war is looming. On Twitter, the Los Angeles Police Department asked that their city monitor its Middle Eastern community. The governor of Washington, Jay Inslee, has released a statement concerning extended detentions of Iranian-Americans at the U.S/Canadian border. America has a long and ever-developing history of weaponizing police overreach. What will likely happen soon is increased instances of police brutality towards Middle Easterners and Muslims, as well as hate crimes committed by civilians. This is what happened following 9/11, and it will happen again.
Trump has many resources available with which to devastate the Middle East and oppress its citizens, but one of the most effective resources is our government’s uncanny ability to blatantly lie, and yet still cultivate sympathy. Many of us are asking, “what do we do?” There are many avenues to make progress and eliminate oppression, but the best thing that we can do right now is to keep our eyes open. We must watch the news, from multiple sources, and not just American ones. Watching and reading from Al Jazeera is a fantastic way to get updates on the Middle East. We must watch our communities, not only for specific instances of oppression, like what is going on in Los Angeles, but also specific opportunities to combat it, such as protests and rallies. And we must watch our government, watch as they tweet threats and promises of success in a war that will needlessly sacrifice servicemembers and kill and displace hundreds of thousands of people. We must watch as they use shallow posturing to convince us that their crimes are justifiable, or worse, ethical. We must watch as they try to trick us into seeing Iranians as the “Other,” as the enemy, when in fact the people of Iran, and the Middle East, so intensely want to avoid war.
We must keep our eyes open and show Trump that we’re watching.