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After Soleimani

January 5, 2020

Aleppo – Bab al-Nasr

Despite having read a bunch of stuff about the assassination of Qaseem Soleimani, I’m still struggling to make sense of it.

Part of the problem is that as one of the 99.99% of onlookers not in the know about circumstances under which Trump made the decision to “eliminate” Soleimani, the events of the past three years – the history of disinformation, lies and erratic decisions coming out of the White House – give rise to all manner of interpretations about why the United States decided to kill a leading member of the Iranian government.

Was there really an imminent threat to American lives, more than the general threat Soleimani posed? Was Trump’s decision a calculated attempt to deflect attention from the forthcoming impeachment trial?

We just don’t know, although we may at some stage in the future.

What I do know is that there is no region in which the population is more manipulated, with more lethal consequences and over a longer time than the Middle East and North Africa. It’s easy to forget that the vast majority of people in those stricken countries want nothing more than to live in peace, raise their families and live productive lives. I know this because I’ve lived amongst some of them over the past few decades.

In virtually every country in the region those who in their hearts yearn for quiet lives have been manipulated by their political, spiritual and community leaders. They have been manipulated by foreign actors whose agendas extend way beyond the welfare of citizens. They have been manipulated through the social media. They have been manipulated by foreign media that propagate false expectations, false cultures and false information.

Thanks to that manipulation by people who care not a jot for the suffering, the deprivation and the killing they cause deliberately or through neglect, generations of innocents have had their lives destroyed through no fault of their own. Those who live in areas that have not been affected by armed conflict over the past few decades remain in fear that the contagion of violence will spread to them. They live in fear of their rulers. They are cowed into docility by draconian laws, pervasive surveillance and well-publicised punishment of dissenters.

We in the West are not free from covert or open manipulation. But at least our citizens are not encouraged to turn on each other and violently persecute minorities. We do not tolerate at home the armed militias that we encourage and fund in other countries. Not yet, anyway.

Autocrats, warlords and demagogues will come and go. Like Soleimani, they will leave legacies of broken bodies, shattered cities and fractured societies. My thoughts are not with them as they leave the stage, violently or otherwise. They are with the benighted people of the Middle East and North Africa who have been so ill-served by their own leaders and by other powers with vested interests in the region.

All I know is that they deserve better.

8 Comments
  1. deborah a moggio permalink

    “But at least our citizens are not encouraged to turn on each other and violently persecute minorities.”
    Oh, really?
    Here it’s been going on a long time. By the time of Reagan it was pretty blatant. Look back at his scapegoating of asians. Can’t believe Maggie didn’t indulge. Maybe she was subtler?
    At any rate, talked to any Pakistanis or Muslims or Sikhs lately?

    • Ha! I figured that statement might attract some comment. With the possible exception of Donald Trump, I’m not aware of any UK or US government – including those of Reagan and Thatcher, that made violent persecution official domestic policy, but I guess that depends on how you interpret the meaning of persecution. For example, did Thatcher “persecute” the miners? Depends who you speak to. What happened on the ground was sometimes different. Yes there was grassroots racism, but I don’t think even Thatcher’s harshest critics would accuse her of condoning it as a matter of government policy.

      Reagan? I’d be interested to hear more of your thoughts. S

      • deborah a moggio permalink

        according to washington at the time, the only thing wrong with the american economy was Japan’s unwillingness to buy american cars. Reps were sent out to sing that song all over the country. It led to attacks on anyone who looked “japanese” to americans. People of Chinese heritage several generations in this country were attacked by auto workers and it spread from there.
        when the rep we got made his pitch, it included the information that “all that was needed to fix this situation” was for Japanese to buy more american goods.

        I asked him what american goods our government would recommend they buy, pointing out that we made left hand drive cars, but they drove on the left side of the road and we were unwilling to make right hand drive cars.
        The response then was (making up the number after all this time) that if they would buy $1500 dollars of product each year (clarified upon questioning to mean each japanese person, man woman and child) that would solve the problem. Again, what american goods would he suggest? He started with cosmetics. I pointed out that the japanese preferred french cosmetics as did the americans. He finally latched on to baseball bats. Every japanese person should buy $1500 worth of american baseball bats every year.
        The next day, a man of Chinese heritage was beaten to death in Detroit.
        Please excuse typing. Having a problem.

      • Great story. Who were the “reps” in question? Were they government employees? Even if they were, surely that’s a long way from Reagan condoning violence against minorities, even that was a consequence… S

      • deborah a moggio permalink

        I don’t remember what department they fell under (or out of ) but they were sent by the central government. I was in a group call the League of Women Voters that this particular shill was sent to convince.
        Reagan made it clear. As did our local government a few years later when Massachusetts was first to allow same sex marriage.
        Even for people as slow as the average american, as you can see now, it need not be spelled out in capitals, but of course that doesn’t hurt.
        There were then, as now, no appropriate responses to the violence. Silence can speak as loudly as a bullhorn.

      • It can indeed. Thanks Debbie.

  2. Andrew Robinson permalink

    Comments just as interesting as the article… big thumbs-up.

    • Thanks Andrew. I love it when people are engaged enough to comment. Makes the writing worthwhile. S

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