So here’s today’s lesson in realpolitik: Righting past wrongs is never as important as ensuring future gains.
So let’s apply this to the recent incident between the United States and Iran. One may discuss, for a very long time, the history of the United States and Iran. In fact I encourage everyone reading this, to educate yourself on the relationship between the two countries over the past century. One may also debate the morality of killing Gen. Soleimani.
But, from a realpolitik standpoint we must ask; What was gained and what was lost?
What did Iran lose? A general. Arguably their best, most able general. A man with a very long record of success. Soleimani has been a major player in the region for a very long time. He did a lot of things that the United States, Israel, and Saudi Arabia did not like. He was most definitely an enemy to the American people. He was also 63 years old, but he may have been past his prime.
What did Iran gain? Two things. First, it now has completely withdrawn from the JCPOA, or Iran Nuclear Deal. It is likely that it is proceeding with enriching uranium and will almost certainly continue to move toward developing a full nuclear weapons capacity. Short of further military action, there is little the U.S. or Europe can now do about this.
Second, influence. The Iraqi parliament is demanding the withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Iraq and the closing of all bases. While the U.S. is unlikely to comply with this demand, the fact that the demand was even made shows the reach of Tehran. Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon are now firmly within the Iranian sphere of influence.
What did the United States gain? If your answer is that we got away with killing Soleimani, then you need to reread today’s lesson. There will be others like him.
What did the U.S. lose? Influence. Iran’s gain is most definitely our loss.
It may not be too late. It is possible that, through diplomacy, economic pressure, and military strength the United States could rebuild its influence in the region. But, it is also possible that in one impulsive decision, the president just undid decades of US Middle East policy.
And so I ask again, what did we gain?
Matt Roberts, Cranberry Township