January 28th, 2020
No one could have ever expected that the new year would start off the way it did, with ballistic missiles, dead spymasters, rising tensions, and a question that nobody had an answer to: what happens next?
On Friday, January 3rd, 2020, the U.S. killed Iran’s top general, Qassem Soleimani, and Iraqi militia leader, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, in a drone strike at an airport in Baghdad. Not more than five days passed before Iran retaliated, ordering missiles to strike two bases in Iraq that housed U.S. soldiers. Everywhere people were wondering: what does this mean for us? Could there be a war? How can this end well?
The tensions between the U.S. and Iran have a long history. As with all American politics, it can be hard to know what is real and what isn’t. The facts are never as black and white as anybody would like them to be and there are controversial statements everywhere.
Thankfully, the situation between the two countries de-escalated very fast. With Iran having protests at home over a shot-down Ukranian airplane on Wednesday, January 8th, and America being satisfied with President Donald Trump’s speech declaring peace and the forthcoming U.S. sanctions over Iran, the question of what happens next was answered: nothing. Nothing at all. The altercation between the two has been put to rest for now, and as long as neither country provokes the other, life will go on as normal.
However, while the question of ‘what happens’ has been put to rest, the whole confrontation opens up a new, slightly more upsetting, concern. That being, what actually happened? The answer? No one knows.
The first controversy centers around Iran’s retaliation to the U.S. After half a dozen Iranian ballistic missiles were launched at the U.S. bases, there were no casualties. No American or Iraqi troops were harmed by the attack, which seems rather strange. Isn’t the point of an attack to hurt people? The U.S. killed Soleimani, what was stopping Iran from killing a few dozen American troops?
Various news sources claimed that Iran was clever in the base they chose to strike. Some argue that Iran knew that if they killed any American troops or contractors at the Iraqi base, a war was without question. Iran knew that they had to retaliate to some extent after their top general was murdered, but if Iran harmed any U.S. soldiers, they could be drawn into a large-scale conflict with the U.S. and their allies. However, American officials like President Trump claimed that there were no casualties because of the U.S. base’s advanced alarm systems, which triggered an alarm and warned those at the base of the oncoming missiles. One or both of these accounts could be true, yet no one has an answer as to which is correct.
The second controversy centers on President Trump himself. Some news sources have people believing that the rising tensions between the U.S. and Iran and the ordering of the strike on Soleimani were supposedly a distraction for Americans to take the focus off of Trump’s ongoing impeachment, and to aim it at Iran. Rumors circulated that the conflict with Iran was a way to shine a light on Trump, and to make him out to be a hero that saved us from impending war. Yet, recent news reports say that Trump ordered the strike on Soleimani months in advance. If this is true, then it would have been impossible for the White House to know about the president’s impeachment, and the previous claims of creating a distraction for the American public are false.
The implication with Iran and the U.S. is this: with so many opposing sources, people, ideas, officials, countries, and whatever more, there is absolutely no way for anyone to know what’s real and what’s not. Discerning the truth is nearly impossible.