What's Hopefully A Fairly Lukewarm, Not-Crazy Take On The Whole Iran Thing

Okay, so we've all had a weekend to take in the drone strike that killed Iranian General Qasem Soleimani and we're all nice, calm and rational. Things are good now, right? Right? I mean, as I'm typing this, World War Three has not broken out, the draft hasn't be reinstated and we're not invading or bombing Iran.

*checks Twitter just to be sure*

Yeah, no. We're all good. (At least for now.) The question now we must confront is how exactly to unpack this mess in a sensible way. After thinking, reading and stumbling across some interesting and not at all reported takes leaking through on Twitter over the weekend, I'm going to go with the following:

First, I don't want to go to war with Iran. Iran is not Iraq. I would have no idea what the point of a war with Iran would be- I don't think airstrikes alone would lead to regime change and a land invasion would be a massive undertaking which, given the fact that we're still fighting in Afghanistan and still have a presence in Iraq, I think the American public would have zero appetite for and with good reason. I'm not a military planner by any stretch of the imagination, but you'd have to think that we'd need to put levels of troops on the ground and in country at levels not seen since Vietnam to even have a shot. (I suspect, given the mountainous terrain that World War II might be closer to the mark.)

The American public, divided as well, have a certain level of tolerance and a land war of that size in an election year would, I think, be tantamount to political suicide. Which is why I don't think President Trump is going to go there.

You also have to throw into the mix this little notion: American troops on Iranian soil is precisely what this regime wants. We tried regime change once in 1953 and they've never forgotten over there and still blame us for (and rightfully so, as that was our lamentable 'let's overthrow governments for nakedly corrupt reasons that have little to do with Communism' *cough*Guatemala*cough* period.) We're 0-1 with them for the regime change thing. I don't think they're going to warm to a second attempt. An invasion gives them the propaganda victory they so badly need right now and pretty renews their lease on life for I'd say fifty more years.

Again: not a military planner, not a soldier, no military experience whatsoever on my end, but I think even the worst, most incompetent General you could possible find would agree that giving your enemies precisely what they want is a very bad idea.

(Plus, I think you shouldn't be allowed to advocate for a war unless you're willing go over there and fight in it, regardless of your age. And Spoiler Alert: I'm not. All these bloviated war hawks practically begging for our next foreign policy disaster should be the first ones in uniform if the shit jumps off. I don't care if the military can only use them as dishwashers and potato peelers. If you're gonna lobby for it, you should be required to have skin in the game.)

Second, I expect it's just bluster- but I am not at all about targeting Iranian cultural sites*. Fuck that. You can have a long list of issues with the Iranian government all you want, but cultural sites belong to the people- and some of them are old enough that they qualify as being part of world history and heritage itself. Blowing them up would make us little better than the Taliban, in my opinion while simultaneously lining up the Iranian population behind their government- which again, is precisely what their government would like to have happen. So, we shouldn't do it.

Third, no, there's not going to be a draft. Stop. I don't even know what kind of a situation would lead the military to ask Congress to reinstate the draft, but I know for damn sure it ain't gonna happen in an election year.

Fourth- and this is the big one, so buckle up: I hate to trot out the old iceberg metaphor, but when it comes to Iran, I feel like a lot of what you see projected in the news media and publically conceals a lot (and I do mean a lot) of discontent that bubbles underneath the surface. You think the American public aren't crazy about Iraq and Afghanistan and the prospect of another war? The Iranian public don't seem all that wild about it either.  The Green Revolution of 2009 was not an isolated incident-- the fuel protests late last year were the worst internal unrest since 1979. You can fall into quite the rabbit hole on Wikipedia when it comes to Iranian protests-- protests against compulsory hijab, 2017-2018 protests, 2018-2019 protests, water protests in 2018- hell you can go as far back as 2011-2012 protests and student protests in July of 1999.

The Iranians, they've got complaints. And they're not getting smaller in number, they're getting increasingly more vocal in number. But with all these complaints and protests against their own government, you can be damn sure they remember 1953. You can be damn sure they're a proud people that don't want outsiders meddling in their internal affairs. So again: why would we do such a monumentally stupid thing as invade them? By and large, I believe that people should have an inalienable right to self-determination and we should support the Iranians and their complaints however they'd like us too and otherwise leave them alone.

Finally, we've got to consider the fallout of all of this. The much bally-hooed Iranian nuclear deal seems to be finally dead-- but here's the kicker: you can argue that all the extra cash is what gave Iran the flexibility to project their power and fund proxy wars throughout the region. With the deal gone and economic sanctions squeezing them tighter and tighter, I think their ability to respond is somewhat constrained- but when you're bankrolling terrorists and non-state actors, an ability to respond doesn't have to cost you that much money to be effective and potentially devastating.

I wasn't all that crazy about the news that Iraq was voting to expel US troops, but (no surprise), it appears that there's more to the story than is being reported--  to be fair, I'm not sure how 'on the level' this Twitter thread is, but it seems credible enough to link to, so y'all can read and decide for yourselves.

I'm for sure not crazy about the amount of pearl clutching over a drone strike-- where the hell have y'all been? President Obama be droning folks all over the place and nary a peep was heard-- but President Trump drones one dude and everyone loses their damn mind! Pick one, people- either the drone striking thing is bad or it's not. Either it needs more Congressional oversight or it doesn't. Do I also think it's well past time for Congress to, you know, do it's job and rein in some of these war powers? Absolutely. Do I think it'll actually happen? No, because that would require Congress to be accountable and responsible for something, two things that we all know that they're super good at.

At the end of the day, does this assassination represent an escalation? Sure does. Does that mean that we're now entering a realm of uncertainty where a whole spectrum of things ranging from 'not that much of anything' to 'World War III' could happen? Sure does. But am I going to say that it was a unequivocally bad thing? No, because...  well, he was a fucker. And if you're going to orchestrate a storming of our Embassy and goodness knows what else, then call me crazy, I'd much prefer we drone you, architect of chaos, than invade a country and spend god knows how much money and blood trying to get it back into a good enough shape that we can leave.

Here's a hot take for y'all to consider: how much of this is bluster and how much of it is actually real life? Because the more I read, the more I gotta wonder...  if deterrance is our policy toward Iran these days, I think we just sent a pretty convincing message that we will no longer be fucked with.

Do I think we're going to get into an out and out war with Iran?

In general, I don't- at least not this week, anyway.

*To reiterate, I'm not about targeting cultural sites, but the symbolism of picking 52 of them to represent the Iranian hostages is the kind of symbolic rhetoric the Iranian government has trafficked in for years, so I can appreciate the rhetorical symbolism even if I heartily disapprove of it being said out loud.


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