For the past week I have been asked in almost every class about when World War III is going to start. I kind of have to laugh a little because the topic is very related to what my previous two articles were about; the US role on the international stage. I don’t know if my students (8th graders) are watching the news, doubt it, hearing about it from the parents, maybe, or just seeing memes on the internet, most likely, but their interest in world events is genuine and I like it. This week we have spent a few minutes, a couple of times, talking about what has been happening and possible future timelines as a result.
- For those who aren’t familiar, on January 3rd 2020, Qasem Soleimani, a top Iranian general and official, was assassinated by the United States military in a targeted drone strike approved by Donald Trump. On its own, without context, this sounds bad. In fact, when I heard about it, my initial thought was, “Oh .” But right after, my thought was, “Good!” I figured I would give you some of the context so that you can say “good” instead of worrying about whether or not we are going to have World War III (probably a moot point because the conflict is basically already over by the time you read this).
Soleimani was a hero to many Iranians, he was also a terror to many others. During his career which started back in the 1980s, he advanced through the Iranian military to become a Major General, the highest rank in the Iranian military. In Iran he could be compared to Lancelot next to King Arthur or Little John next to Robin Hood. He is known in the rest of the world essentially as a terrorist who led militants in combat against Americans and others over the past 16 years.
His death though needs a bit more context. Over the past few years Iran has become more and more belligerent in their actions against the United States. Yes, we have sanctions in place on them which I’m sure can be irritating, but Iran has supported terrorist actions against the US many times and let’s be honest, we aren’t friends. President Obama tried to negotiate and gave Iran a lot of leeway in action and aid, it didn’t improve anything. President Trump has tightened those restrictions leading to further aggressive actions by Iran including attacks on pipelines, drones, and missile strikes against military bases that housed US citizens and soldiers.
President Trump had previously warned Iran that any attack on US citizens or soldiers would be met with retribution. On Dec 27th an airstrike killed a US civilian contractor and wounded several others. We retaliated, as we should, with an airstrike against terrorists in Iraq and Syria that were allied to Iran. Iranians under the leadership of Soleimani stormed the US Embassy in Baghdad on Dec 31st, doing quite a bit of damage. Having repeatedly crossed the line, there was a definite need to give a message to Iran that their behavior was unacceptable. When we received word that Soleimani was traveling to the airport with terrorist leaders, President Trump didn’t hesitate to pull that trigger.
Gasp, oh no, World War III is going to happen. But really, its not. I told my students that Iran would never retaliate in any way that would have any meaning. On Tuesday Jan 7th Iran launched several missiles at US targets in the region. While some minor damage occurred, nobody was injured. This was not a mistake, Iran knew that if they killed anyone, President Trump had a list of 52 Iranian locations to bomb. They also knew that if they did nothing they would lose the respect of the Iranian people. So they flexed their muscles and called it a victory, we know it was a cop out; they didn’t want to escalate or look bad.
I fully support President Trump’s decision to escalate things and take out a really bad guy. I’m not sure that I support him allowing the cop out though. President Trump said, “Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned.” He is allowing the cop out which will only serve to make Iran feel like they can get away with attacking US power in the region. I feel that the missile strike that didn’t kill anyone was still a missile strike and should be escalated, or else they will never stop.
This however might have caused a war (a small one which would have never escalated to a World War III), which I can understand wanting to avoid. I can support wanting to avoid war. But like I said in my previous couple of articles, “our government… should protect our nation.” That includes retaliation for attacks on Americans anywhere. It should never be an option that you can attack an American or American property and get to walk away, a strong response to any attack is the best way to say, “Don’t mess with America!” and that is the only response that we should ever have.
Charles Horikami is a Social Studies Teacher at BLMS, and the Legislative District 32 Chair for the Idaho State Republican Party. The views expressed are not representative of the BLSD or of the Idaho State Republican Party. He can be contacted at email@example.com.