As I have earlier indicated (January 7th) under the headline “How Iran Can Checkmate Trump”, the way that Iran could easily have checkmated Trump would have been
Iran’s leaders have promised retaliation for what Trump did. But they haven’t said when it will be done, or what it will entail. If they just stand back and wait while the world-at-large (other than American billionaires’ core foreign allies the aristocracies of Saudi Arabia, Israel, and UK) gradually abandon their alliances with the U.S. regime, then not only Iran but also the U.S. regime’s other main targets — Russia and China — will naturally rise in the international order, and this could become the way that the world’s most dangerous imperialistic regime, the United States Government (since 1948 the serial perpetrator of coups and invasions), will finally be able to be defeated peacefully, and defanged gradually thereafter.
That would be Iran’s retaliation — none.
(I detailed there the follow-up, but that passage in the presentation is the core of the presentation.)
Iran has already violated it: on the night of January 7th, they rocket-attacked some U.S. facilities in Iraq.
One of the features of Soleimani’s greatness as a general was his understanding of the strategic uses of restraint, and of waiting-the-enemy-out, so as to enable the sheer evilness, of his opponent’s provocation, to become more publicly displayed, to which he was responding, by his retaliation against it. When he did retaliate, he did it only in ways which weren’t immediately clear and which therefore were deniable for long-enough a time so that if and when they did finally become clear, the evilness of what had provoked the response had already become vastly more clear to the entire world than what his response to the provocation was. Strategically, Soleimani was a master of this technique, and it couldn’t have been used, at all, if Iran’s Government had been in the wrong on the particular matter to which it was being applied. In order for this technique to be able to succeed, the enemy against which it is being targeted has to be really evil — that is, the ruler of the enemy (in this case, Trump) needs to be evil and widely known or suspected to be evil (and suspected even amongst the target’s — Trump’s — international allies: in this case, the EU), in order for this technique to succeed (by alienating the target’s allies away from the target — weakening the support that the target will be receiving from his allies).
The longer that Iran would have waited before responding, the more pressure would be upon Trump now, to terminate his sanctions against Iran, after Trump’s having illegally — not just in U.S. but in international law — assassinated Iran’s #2 leader.
Instead, Iran did quickly retaliate. A retaliation is a onetime event; even a small retaliation, such as Iran did here, is the only retaliation that the public will recognize as being a “response” to the attack to which it was responding. The retaliator doesn’t get a second chance to retaliate for Trump’s having assassinated Iran’s #2 leader. On January 8th, Iran launched, according to MarketWatch, “about a dozen” missiles at two U.S. military bases in Iraq, and no injuries or deaths were reported to result.
The extraordinarily reliable IntelliNews site (which is EU-based) had the real story on January 8th, “Analysis: Theory Iran’s strikes on US Iraq bases were ‘for show’ firming up”, and they opened:
The theory that Iran went out of its way to avoid causing US casualties during its late January 7 missile strikes on military bases in Iraq has been boosted by a statement from Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi’s spokesman that the PM received word from Tehran that its response to the US assassination of its top general was either imminent or under way.
Although Iranian officials have told the home audience via official and semi-official news agencies that 80 US personnel were killed and around 200 injured in the attack, no casualties have been reported by Washington or Baghdad despite 17 missiles fired from Iran raining down on Al-Asad airbase in Iraq’s Anbar province and five targeted at a base in the northern Iraqi city of Erbil around 01:30 local time. The bases house US troops. US President Donald Trump had warned Iran that a move to revenge the January 3 drone missile killing of Qasem Soleimani — who was Iran’s second most important official — might trigger a “disproportionate” US response.
“Shortly after midnight on Wednesday we received a verbal message from the Islamic Republic of Iran that the Iranian response to the assassination of the martyr Qasem Soleimani had started or was about to start,” Abdul Mahdi’s spokesman said.
It is unclear whether it was a tip-off from Abdul Mahdi that enabled the US and allies to get all military personnel out of harm’s way, such as by moving soldiers to shelters, or whether the commanders of the troops responded to early warning systems that detected the ballistic missiles. The latter scenario seems more likely, but the fact that Tehran contacted Abdul Mahdi in the way that it did shows that it was not counting with any big element of surprise. …
Clearly, then, Iran’s top leaders weren’t even thinking of not issuing a quick ‘retaliation’, but were instead solely focused on making it a ‘retaliation’ that would not provoke a full-scale and prompt destruction of Iran by the United States. Their strategic incompetency without Soleimani was simply stunning.
Soleimani was indispensable to Iran’s military success, and now he was gone — Trump had assassinated him, and (because Soleimani was gone) Trump was going to get away with having done so.
The ball then was, of course, in Trump’s court, and the international pressure upon him to terminate his anti-Iran sanctions was now gone, or nearly so, because the provocation (Trump’s assassination of Soleimani) was already responded to (by this paltry missile-attack). Iran blew its enormous international PR-opportunity, to weaken its self-declared enemy, which is Iran’s most powerful enemy (far more powerful than Saudi Arabia or Israel), the U.S. regime. The likelihood, now, of Europe’s separating itself from U.S. on Iran and of increasing its resistance against America’s anti-Iran sanctions, is vastly less than would have been the case if Iran had simply “waited” and not responded at all, but only continued threatening to respond, by saying that it will retaliate (so as to satisfy the Iranian public). If Iran had not retaliated, at all, then the growing pressure upon Trump (from Europeans) to capitulate on his sanctions would have been vastly greater, and strategically far more significant, than any growing pressure upon Iran’s Government (internally) to actually retaliate against the U.S. would have been.
Had Iran instead continued to wait, the real retaliation against Trump would then have come from Europeans, who would be becoming now increasingly anti-American on account of his blatantly evil and international-law-breaking assassination of Iran’s #2 leader. Now, they won’t abandon the U.S. regime. There will be little, if any, pressure upon Trump to relent and to end his sanctions against Iran.
Iranians would have been delighted to see Trump squirming against increasing condemnation from Europeans — strategically crucial U.S. allies. Thus, there would have been little to no disappointment among the Iranian public urging “Attack! Attack!” The world-at-large would be increasingly Trump’s opponent on the Iran-issue. Everyone would have come to recognize that Trump was the real loser in this encounter between U.S. v. Iran. It would have grown to become a humiliation of Trump, and of his aggressions. It would have done more to end U.S. sanctions against Iran than any living Soleimani — great a general though he was — would have been able to achieve. It would have been as if Soleimani’s successor had been of Soleimani’s stature.
But that was not to be.
On January 8th, Reuters headlined “After close brush with Iran, Trump finds an off-ramp – for now” and reported that, “Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had said overnight the strikes ‘concluded’ Tehran’s response to the Soleimani’s killing.” What did Tehran win, what did they achieve, by this “response” — this retaliation? Of course, Iran’s Government recognized that this paltry response was puny compared to what had precipitated it, but they were right that “the strikes concluded” their response. They knew that they had lost to Trump. And this failure was the result of disastrous incompetence at the very top of the Iranian Government. Trump had just made a grossly incompetent strategic decision, to murder Soleimani, but Soleimani’s successor, whomever it was, was strategically at least as incompetent as Trump here. Soleimani would never have done anything like this, responded this way, had he still been — as he had been — virtually Iran’s Commander-in-Chief (not the President, not the Supreme Leader, Khamenei, the cleric who is really the very top official there). Of course, if Khamenei took over the C-i-C role in Soleimani’s absence, then he is responsible for this enormous strategic blunder. But, in that case, the man whom he had just selected to be Soleimani’s successor should have simply refused the appointment, since it then would be merely a title without the power, a hollow shell.
The blunder — whomever did it — is exacerbated because even Republican U.S. Senators, behind closed doors with the President’s team on January 8th, were shocked that Trump’s team had no evidence they could offer that corroborated Trump’s alleged reason to justify assassinating Soleimani. Apparently, the atrocity had been based only on lies. Some of the Senators seem to have felt insulted by this — that they hadn’t even been consulted in advance, about an invasion (assassination of Iran’s #2 leader, on Iraqi soil) that was ‘justifiable’ only on the basis of dubious ‘evidence’.
As the Reuters article said:
“Five days into this and you still haven’t heard anything about ‘imminent danger,’” said a former senior administration official. “That means they’ve got a problem.”
CNN reported that, “Senate Democrats — and two key GOP senators — slammed a classified briefing Wednesday on the strike that killed Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani, charging that administration officials failed to provide evidence to show the attack [which Trump alleged that Soleimani was planning] was imminent and dismissed the role Congress should play in deciding to take military action.”
Trump was just another George W. Bush, another Barack Obama, another international aggressor on the basis of lies. And yet, Iran simply caved to him, immediately, no contest. They had been handed the golden opportunity which they had always dreamed of having (to drive the Europeans to reject Trump’s anti-Iran sanctions and then to counter-sanction against the United States), and simply blew it. Who did this enormous strategic blunder? How did it happen?
On January 3rd, Professor Narges Barjoghli, of Johns Hopkins’s prestigious School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) reported “Soleimani’s replacement announced by Khamenei: Brigadier General Ismail Ghani, a veteran of the Iran-Iraq war, active in the Quds Force for years, including in fighting against ISIS in Syria.” It’s already obvious that Soleimani’s successor is not nearly as skilled as was Soleimani. If Ghani is actually Soleimani’s successor, then Khamenei needs to select another. Otherwise, Khamenei needs to depart the Commander-in-Chief role immediately.
On January 9th, Russia’s RT bannered “‘Harsher revenge’: Revolutionary Guards commander vows it’s not over after Iranian missile strikes on US forces in Iraq” and reported that “A senior Iranian military commander has promised further action against the United States, a day after Tehran launched missiles at two bases housing US troops in Iraq.” Iran’s Foreign Minister, Zarif, having admitted that the missile-strikes had “concluded” the matter (which was tragically a truthful statement), outraged the Guards’ Commander: “Abdollah Araghi said that Iran would take ‘harsher revenge soon’.” Whether Araghi was correct or not about his prediction-threat, any such additional ‘retaliation’ would be labelled by the global public not as a retaliation, but instead as an aggression, by Iran, against the United States. The fact was beginning to sink in, to Iranians, that someone, at or near the very top, of Iran’s Government, was incompetent. Not only did Iran’s Government not checkmate Trump for his Soleimani-assassination move, but it weakened itself internally by its catastrophic counter-move. Increased unrest within Iran will result.
Unless Iran promptly replaces its new top general by one that has Soleimani’s stature, the world could now easily slide quickly into, first, much of the Middle East becoming a vast pool of blood (since Trump still retains the support of Europe’s leaders — even after that assassination), and then, as a likely result from that massive bloodshed, either a capitulation of all countries that the U.S. regime has been trying to take over (starting with Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Venezuela — the first resisting ones that might be taken now), or else an outright World War III if Russia (militarily the strongest holdout against the U.S. empire) were to resist such a finalization of the U.S. regime’s grab for total global power.
The worst-case scenario would be either a dictatorial and militarily imposed global U.S. empire, or else a nuclear war that pits the world’s two nuclear super-powers (U.S. and Russia) against each other.
By contrast, if the method that I had proposed on January 7th (no response — other than mere verbal threats to respond — as constituting Iran’s retaliation against that assassination) can, somehow, still be implemented (i.e., if it’s not already too late — as I think it is — for this situation to be able to be salvaged), then the sheer repulsiveness of today’s America’s cravenous and insatiable fascist imperialism will rise and break up and end the NATO alliance; and then Europe, instead of continuing to be allied westward across the Atlantic, with the United States, will fundamentally re-orient itself toward the east and unification with the rest of the EurAsian land-mass (which is by far the world’s largest), so that, instead of the EU, there will be a much larger, and globally dominant, EurAsian federation of nations, which would ultimately come to lead even at the U.N. The U.N. itself would then become freed from its present dictatorial host, the U.S. regime, which won’t even allow to enter the United States (to attend there) foreign leaders of whatever nations that the U.S. regime happens to be trying, at the time, to conquer. Consequently, the result would be that, instead of U.S. dictat constituting whatever ‘international law’ exists in actual practice, the international law that emanates from the U.N. itself might come ultimately to be applied as actually ruling and being applied over international relations. It certainly isn’t now — especially not after Iran’s blunder.
The world’s future will be either a global U.S. international dictatorship imposed by force (the U.S.), or else a global international democratic federation of nations that is ruled under the U.N.’s existing and evolving body of international law. In the latter instance, the question of whether or not any given nation is a democracy would be strictly a matter determined by and within that given nation; and, whereas international human-rights law will have a bearing in the global body (the U.N.), it will never bear in such a way as to override the primary sovereignty of any nation’s Government within that nation’s boundaries. This is ultimately the only way that global peace will be able to become established and maintained (if that still remains possible). It entails the handover, to the U.N., of all nuclear weapons, of all countries. This entire arrangement was Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s vision, and it ended when he did, but it conceivably could become established in the real world, if and when the U.S. Government gives up on its dream and intention (ever since 26 July 1945) of conquering and ruling the entire world. But who is there now who can bring that about?
Iran’s January 8th missiles fired into Iraq probably foreclosed any such optimistic outcome.
On January 9th, Reuters headlined “At U.N., U.S. justifies killing Iranian commander as self-defense”, and reported:
The United States told the United Nations on Wednesday that the killing of Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani last week was self-defense and vowed to take additional action “as necessary” in the Middle East to protect U.S. personnel and interests. …
The killing of Soleimani in Baghdad on Friday was justified under Article 51 of the U.N. Charter, wrote Craft in the letter seen by Reuters, adding “the United States is prepared to take additional actions in the region as necessary to continue to protect U.S. personnel and interests.”
Under Article 51, countries are required to “immediately report” to the 15-member Security Council any measures taken in exercising the right of self-defense. …
Also on January 9th, RT headlined “Trump confirms more sanctions against Iran” and reported his saying, with evident pride: “It’s already been done. … They were very severe, but now it’s increased substantially.” He was taking full advantage of his win, to increase it, and to increase the stakes for Iran, doing all he could to force an attack from Iran which would be destructive enough to ‘justify’ the U.S. (plus any of its attacked allies such as Israel) destroying Iran. Like Hitler, he’ll grab all he can get, and he’s happy to destroy whatever he labels an ‘enemy’.
The supplicant will get from Emperor Trump nothing but a swift, very hard and bloody, kick in the teeth. Obviously, at this stage, to resist in any way would be suicidal.
Has the U.S. regime now, already, conquered both Iran and the U.N. — and the EU? (Europe still holds the cards here. Otherwise put: the ball is still theirs to play, and what they do with it will determine the world’s future.)
In a subsequent report, I shall suggest a way for the Europeans to force the U.S. regime to accept peacefully the end of the trans-Atlantic alliance and the re-orientation of the European nations toward the east — toward ultimately a United States of EurAsia (by whatever name). The first step will be forcing Trump to end his secondary sanctions regarding Iran. European leaders still have the capacity to save the world, if they want to do so. Trump right now is not just exceedingly powerful; he is also exceedingly vulnerable, because this is America’s Presidential-election year. I don’t expect European leaders — or any leaders — to protect the world’s future (for example, the Paris Climate Agreement was just for show), but some might have a sincere interest in doing that. Things aren’t yet entirely hopeless.
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.