“One day they may name a street after President Trump in Tehran. Why? Because Trump just ordered the assassination of possibly the dumbest man in Iran and the most overrated strategist in the Middle East: Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani,” wrote vaunted New York Times opinion columnist Thomas Friedman.
Friedman, a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner who was labeled a “Liberal Fascist” by the National Review and whose views are often said to fit a moderate Democrat perspective, went deeply against the grain Friday of other liberal viewpoints being expressed after the administration ordered a drone strike on Iranian terror potentate Soleimani (Suleimani, Soleimani … same guy, different elocution).
The Friedman editorial was entitled, “Trump Kills Iran’s Most Overrated Warrior,” the subtitle, “Suleimani pushed his country to build an empire, but drove it into the ground instead.”
The path taken by many, perhaps most journalists out there has been to cynically question the intelligence rationale used by the administration in claiming Soleimani was putting together a major attack on American diplomats, thus requiring explosive U.S. intervention.
Indeed, the Times’ Peter Baker outlined why the virulently anti-Trump crowd is skeptical. “For three years, President Trump’s critics have expressed concern over how he would handle a genuine international crisis, warning that a commander in chief known for impulsive action might overreach with dangerous consequences,” Baker wrote.
He went on to explain, “In the angry and frenzied aftermath of the American drone strike that killed Iran’s top general, with vows of revenge hanging in the air, Mr. Trump confronts a decisive moment that will test whether those critics were right or whether they misjudged him.”
Friedman however, who is Jewish, exposed the ill-advised decisions made by Soleimani and other top Iranian officials after inexplicably blowing the Islamic Republic’s chance for a fresh start when in 2015, as part of the notorious Iran Nuclear Deal, the U.S. and European powers agreed to lift longtime sanctions that had hamstrung the country for decades.
Experts have estimated the deal freed up Iranian assets with a value of perhaps more than $100 billion that had been frozen, while allowing the continuation of the development of Iranian nuclear capabilities. Limitations against enriching nuclear materials for military purposes were to last only 15 years.
“It was a great deal for Iran,” Friedman wrote. “Its economy grew by over 12 percent the next year. And what did Suleimani do with that windfall? He and Iran’s supreme leader launched an aggressive regional imperial project that made Iran and its proxies the de facto controlling power in Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad and Sana. This freaked out U.S. allies in the Sunni Arab world and Israel — and they pressed the Trump administration to respond.”
He pointed out that Trump tore up the treaty championed by President Obama, and went about reinstituting “oil sanctions on Iran that have now shrunk the Iranian economy by almost 10 percent and sent unemployment over 16 percent.”
Friedman explained that as a result, Iran has had to raise gas prices for its citizens, bringing about huge protest movements. A subsequent jackbooted crackdown by clerics against the people has increasingly weakened the regime’s standing.
Friedman went on to explore how Soleimani’s project of setting up Iran as the “imperial power in the Middle East” resulted in the Iran regime becoming the most hated government in the region among “young, rising pro-democracy forces — both Sunnis and Shiites — in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq.”
He also explained how Soleimani’s strategy of creating violent militias as contributing to the growing view that Iran is more to be despised even than the power projected in the Middle East by the U.S.
As for the most recent incident that preceded the drone strike on Soleimani, the noted Times columnist wrote:
The whole “protest” against the United States Embassy compound in Baghdad last week was almost certainly a Suleimani-staged operation to make it look as if Iraqis wanted America out when in fact it was the other way around. The protesters were paid pro-Iranian militiamen. No one in Baghdad was fooled by this.
In a way, it’s what got Suleimani killed. He so wanted to cover his failures in Iraq he decided to start provoking the Americans there by shelling their forces, hoping they would overreact, kill Iraqis and turn them against the United States. Trump, rather than taking the bait, killed Suleimani instead.
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