Kirkwood High School student newspaper

Reckless and impulsive

January 30, 2020

I have a confession to make: before the morning of January 3, I had no idea who Qasem Soleimani was. So when I heard the news he was killed in a U.S. airstrike at the direction of President Donald Trump, I discovered what a terrible man the Iranian General was. A criminal and a terrorist, it is clear that Soleimani deserved to die. However, just because he deserved to die does not mean Trump made a wise decision to kill him. At first glance, it seems as though Trump made a rational decision when he chose to target Soleimani, but take a closer look and the recklessness of this choice is made clear. 

In the days leading to the airstrike, tensions were rising between the United States and Iran. An air base was attacked in Iraq, killing a United States civilian on Dec. 27 and the U.S. embassy in Baghdad was attacked by an Iran-backed militia on Dec. 31. Trump was presented with different options on how to respond, and he initially decided to strike at the militia. After seeing a video of the attack at the embassy, however, he changed his mind. He chose a different, more extreme option: kill Qasem Soleimani. 

The action brought the United States and Iran to the brink of war. Iran, vowing revenge, launched a missile attack on January 8, targeting American personnel. Luckily, no one was harmed, but showed how Trump’s decision put American lives at risk. 

The airstrike was not only a reckless decision, it was an illegal one. The Charter of the United Nations prohibits the use of force against other states, if a country does not consent to it on their territory, which Iraq did not. In addition, the airstrike did not have congressional approval. 

The Trump administration attempted to justify the attack by claiming it was necessary to prevent future attacks. However, no specific evidence has been presented to support their claims. A briefing by the Trump administration to lawmakers was criticized by those at the meeting, with Republican Senator Mike Lee calling it the worst briefing he’s ever seen in his nine years as Senator. The Trump administration is not producing evidence that justifies their actions, as if we will just take their word for it. I won’t. 

It could be said that Trump was simply doing what former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama failed to do, which is kill a well known terrorist and enemy of the United States. But Bush and Obama knew that decisions like this have consequences, something Trump did think about when he changed his mind so abruptly. Trump did not think the fact that the decision would escalate tensions and deeply strain relations between the two countries for years, risking war. He did not think about how the international view of the United States would change when he killed a popular Iranian figure, viewed as a hero by some. And he definitely did not think when he threatened to commit war crimes on Twitter. 

But then again, yet another dangerous foreign policy decision isn’t surprising. It’s pretty clear that “thinking” isn’t really his thing.

 

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