What we do know, for sure, is that:
- Qassem Soleimani is dead. That is, without a shadow of a doubt, a good thing. He was a monster and his demise makes the world an ever so slightly better place. We should not dance on anyone’s grave, not even those of Hitler, Stalin, Tojo and Mao, but no one, except his family, should mourn the loss of General Soleimani;
- Iran retaliated, in an apparently very, very measured way against US (allied) bases in Iraq; and
- Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 crashed.
What we don’t know is:
- Who, exactly, targetted Qassem Soleimani? Did President Trump, who is famously (infamously) weak on details and hates being briefed on complex issues, even know who he was? Did President Trump give the order or just acquiesce? How, if at all, was Israel involved?
- How is Iran trying to manage this crisis? Were the missile attacks meant to be just a taste of what’s to come or does Iran want to deescalate? Will there be another tanker war in the Persian Gulf? Will Iran threaten, even instigate, a wider regional war? What roles do Russia and China play?
- How did PS752 crash, in a ball of fire, just minutes after takeoff? Was it an engine explosion or is the intelligence that Prime Minister Trudeau says he has accurate? Did Iranians shoot it down with a surface-to-air missile?
Until we know more I am not going to speculate beyond saying that, in my opinion:
- This is not the prelude to World War III because none of the Americans, Iranians, Israelis or Russians wants to go that far;
- It may be the spark that ignites a big regional war, which, in my opinion, again –
- Israel will sit out, acting as the strategic fortress that Iran dare not attack because Israel has the power to destroy Iran … and Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, too, and
- May be another ‘good thing’ because it may provide some resolution to ancient (1000+-year-old) ethnoreligious conflicts in the region; and
- Iran did, likely, shoot down the Unkranian Boeing 737-800 … why is unclear. Many speculate that it was an “accident,” meaning that a poorly-trained, trigger happy soldier (it was likely an officer, actually who gave the order to fire in error) was excited by the nearly coincidental missile attacks on allied bases. That sort of thing is quite believable.
The Iranian people I know are modern and sophisticated, just look at the obituaries to see what kinds of Iranians came to Canada ~ so many were making very positive contributions. But the country is in the hands of political and military leaders who want to impose a medieval theocracy on much of the world. That Iranian leadership is, in my view, unstable and dangerous. But I might say the same thing about America ~ as the impeachment of Donald J Trump moves forward, and Isreal ~ which is locked in a political vice brought on by its proportional representation electoral system.
Canadians need to remember that:
- We have hundreds of Canadian military personnel in the region ~ some were targets in the recent Iranian strikes; and
- In Trudeau, Freeland, Champagne and Sajan we have an incredibly weak and inept national political leadership team.