Fighting Words: Was Trump justified in killing Soleimani?

YES: Troy Tooker–Senior Reporter

President Trump’s strike on Iranian General Qasem Soleimani is considered highly controversial, having sparked tension and outrage across both sides of the conflict. While to some this attack may not seem like the correct course of action from our president, it’s justified in its occurrence. Soleimani was the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force, a group of soldiers that handle Iran’s military operations overseas.

This organization was deemed to be a terrorist organization by the U.S., and Soleimani was said to have acted in multiple plots or actions involving extremism, the most recent attribution being the attacks on the U.S. coalition bases at the end of December. Soleimani was designated a terrorist during President Obama’s administration and was sanctioned against by the U.N.

This was due to his alleged support of the Syrian government in providing materials to suppress protests and for aiding militant and terrorist groups over the course of his military career. The attack that led to his death was a drone strike given approval by President Trump after meeting with aides when deciding how to retaliate to the attacks on U.S. Military bases. According to Consumer News and Business Channel’s article “How Trump Decided to Target Iran’s Top General” Trump was presented with multiple options for retaliation, all of which he turned down in favor of removing the general. While the attack on Soleimani was an attack on an Iranian general, it was also an attack on a deemed terrorist and the head of a terrorist organization.

The U.S. has been at war with terrorism and terrorist organizations since 2001, and for almost two decades, has fought terrorism at every turn. This attack on Soleimani was in retaliation to an attack already led by Iran on U.S. military assets, which he surely knew about before these attacks happened. The attack itself wasn’t directed on Iranian personnel or assets, but on a terrorist leader who used his position of power to protect him from retaliation of any kind for his actions and support.

While killing him inflamed passions on both sides of the conflict, it also removed military strategic value from Iran and sent a message that the U.S. is willing to defend itself from threats. Attacks on targets of lesser value or that do no damage wouldn’t be equivocal to the damage and losses our military assets suffered in the first set of attacks from Iran.

According to a release from the U.S. Department of Defense, Soleimani was developing plans to attack U.S. diplomats and service members in Iraq. He was also behind attacks that led to the deaths and wounding of thousands of American and Iraqi people. While other strikes have occurred since then, they haven’t taken any American lives in the bases launched upon.

Though things are tense between the U.S. and Iran, the choice of President Trump effectively sent the message that the U.S will hold its ground.

 

NO: Kathryn Scott–Managing Editor

Iranian General Qasem Soleimani was subject to a fatal, President Trump-authorized airstrike on Jan. 3. The action has caused upheaval and distress from all sides and has arguably been a massive, American mistake. The argument must be made. At what point should we as humans draw a line, when are we crossing a moral barrier? General Soleimani was, according to an interview with President Trump by radio host Rush Limbaugh, labeled as a terrorist by the Obama administration.

According to Vox, previous administrations have had the opportunity to act against the Iranian general, yet elected against due to the risky possibility of extreme reactions from both countries. This is now a real concern for those living with the current American President’s action. What’s done is done, but why was it done in the first place?

An examination of the facts shows that Trump believed American safety was in danger. Pentagon officials and President Trump himself assured the assassination was to prevent an imminent attack on Americans, according to CNN Politics. It shouldn’t be America’s job to police the world. Yes, our safety may have been in danger, but was it for certain? How’s this scenario different than the film Minority Report or Captain America: Winter Soldier? It shouldn’t be morally acceptable to punish someone before they even commit a crime. Will we stop at General Soleimani or will the Trump administration find another person they deem unsafe by the world?

The act of killing before the crime arguably places us in a predicament no greater than a society ruled by oppression. Consequences of a crime might not be as severe, but where will they stop, or begin? If it’s justifiable to kill a man before he’s attacked, is it justifiable to arrest someone because they might shoplift the next day? The backlash President Trump received from his choice alone was enough to tip some into agreeing that he should be impeached.

The assassination wasn’t worth the risk and could have led, or possibly still lead to much more serious situations. Another thing to be aware of is the power vacuums that open when leaders vanish. It can be argued that President Trump’s actions helped not only America but the rest of the world. But has the elimination of Soleimani really helped Iran? In a place with struggle, warfare and disorder, was it really a good thing to take away their most organized leader? In response to this assassination, Iran has promised a harsh retaliation. American flags are burning in international streets.

A Ukrainian passenger jet was supposedly shot down, killing 176, while Iran was aiming for Iraqi military bases housing American troops. There’s been plenty of upheaval and protests from multiple countries. Aside from any legal issues circulating around the situation, President Trump’s actions have appeared to be risky and uncalled for. In his seemingly power-hungry state of American leadership, President Trump may have caused exactly what he was trying to deter.

By killing one man to avoid conflict, he’s possibly been the catalyst for what some would say is World War III.

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Fighting Words: Was Trump justified in killing Soleimani?

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