Iran, the Latest Battle of World War Three
In the days following the US military’s war crime of assassinating Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani via drone missile strike on the orders Donald Trump, there’s been a mix in the media, on social media, and among real folks who actually matter, of making jokes, and making alarmed pleas cautioning against war with Iran, as well as predictions that this could be the beginning of World War Three.
First, this isn’t something to joke and make memes about. I get the impulse to cope with stress and fear with humor and deflection, so those in that category get some pass. But this is some literally deadly serious shit and there’s nothing funny about it.
Second, of course this means war with Iran. If we weren’t already in a war with Iran, and it can be argued that we have been since we aided Sadam Hussein’s Iraq in its war against Iran, or further back when we backed the overthrown Shah and last dictatorial monarch of the country during the Iranian revolution. Whatever form it takes, whether we actually attempt a boots-on-the-ground invasion or amp up missile and bombing assaults against them, and whether they take actions beyond proxy attacks against US bases within their domestic sphere, remains to be seen. That this was a targeted assassination of a foreign state official carried out in a sovereign nation is particularly egregious, and may have little precedent, but it’s not as though our military under successive presidential regimes hasn’t been starting wars without Congressional approval and an official declaration of war for every war following World War Two.
Third, World War Three is not some hypothetical future war that can be avoided. We make jokes about it, or drop mentions of it in speculative fiction, as though it’s not already been raging for about seventy years. World War Three began many decades ago, with the US as the primary, sometimes the sole, aggressor in the conflict. Five years after ending World War Two, the US, in the thrall of military supremacy, intent on financial dominance and world hegemony, began World War Three. It started in 1950 with war against Korea, then we rode that high into Lebanon, then Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, on to the Middle East with wars in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and side-wars in Bosnia and Lybia, as well as the many wars in which we may not have played direct roles but provided funds and military arms and intelligence in Central and South American countries, and many more unfortunate countries throughout the world.
Every interconnected war, or comprising battle, since the start of World War Three, has been illegal, undemocratic, a violation of both international and domestic law. We don’t treat it with the gravity it deserves in this country, because it does not affect us directly in the sense of invading armies marching our streets or enemy air forces bombing our cities. We can ignore reality, or make jokes, or offer under-informed speculations, because we have the privilege to do so.
We are incredibly privileged in the United States. Absurdly so. As fucked up as aspects within our nation might be -- our extreme wealth inequality, our history and the ongoing prevalence of racism and racial violence, the plague of mostly unaddressed mass-murders with readily available guns, willful environmental devastation, the persecution and/or abandonment of whole communities, a travesty of a healthcare system, a top-down economic structure designed to severely disproportionately reward and enrich the already wealthy while further victimizing and impoverishing the poor -- we have things pretty cushy here. In that, we don’t generally have to worry about whole swaths of our neighborhoods being razed by carpet bombing. We haven’t yet experienced a car or a home or a place of worship being obliterated by drone strike because of a single person inside or standing nearby whom a powerful foreign government has decided is unsavory and needs to be killed, civilian deaths and trauma be damned.
9/11 was the most horrible and deadly attack on American soil committed by foreign aggressors. We point to it as the impetus and the justification for the never-ending War on Terror. Yet while we have that one terrible event to point to, many other countries have dozens, if not hundreds, of attacks committed against them, by foreign aggressors, probably us. If it’s not directly our government and military dropping the bombs, squeezing the triggers, giving the orders, chances are very high that we sold the weapons and ammunition, that we gave the green light, and hell, there’s a good chance we were in fact the ones dropping bombs and squeezing triggers. We do a lot of that.
Imagine living in Afghanistan or Iraq today. Imagine living in Vietnam or Korea during our wars there. For we who’ve lived for generations with such great relative privilege, it is difficult to imagine such a thing. Or it must be, otherwise we’d all be doing everything we can to stop such wars, to prevent them before they break out. If we’re empathetic and endeavor to be good, we should be doing all in our power to stop our government and military from inexorably and unaccountably inflicting mass violence throughout the world in our names.
Imagine having to live with an active war in this country. Picture friends and family killed en masse because some douche put in the wrong coordinates, or because some asshole wanted to prove a point.
Imagine how our government and military would respond if what we did to Soleimani was done to one of their ranks. Envision the shitstorm that would be unleashed if Gina Haspel, while, say, arming paramilitary forces in Mexico, was atomized in a Chinese drone strike.
We see things, the world, war, from an insane perspective. It’s the perspective born of our removal from immediate tragedy and the random fortune of being born into the country with the most guns and the most unrestrained willingness to use them.
We cannot win a war with Iran. No more than we’ve been able to win any war after WW2, in the sense that winning a war should mean more than mass-murder of civilians, wasting the lives of American soldiers, squandering trillions of dollars, and razing the cities and villages of a far less rich and militarily bloated nation. We can lob missiles at all their generals and government officials, and bomb their whole country into rubble, and in so doing accomplish nothing other than making the world more horrible and less safe.
World War Three has been highly profitable for a handful of weapons manufacturers, but nothing but an absolutely horrible cost for everyone else, from the people with the misfortune of living in the wrong place under the wrong government to the American taxpayers. It has, somehow, proven advantageous, or at least endurable without consequence, for our political leaders. In a true democratic fashion that this country and the world has hardly, if ever, seen, the people need to be the ones to end this war. It’s not a matter merely of preventing a war with Iran, it’s the need to finally end World War Three.