BSA POV: U.S. Assassination

U.S. Assassinates Iranian general Qassem Suleimani

January 27, 2020

It was only the fourth day of 2020 when news about a potential World War Three began spreading through social media and a good majority of American teenagers began anticipating absolute disaster. This seemingly out-of-the-blue social media panic was sparked by the death of Qassem Soleimani, an Iranian major general targeted and killed in Iraq by a U.S. airstrike. After months of the U.S. military tracking Soleimani, an airstrike killed him on January 3rd and Iran promised revenge against the United States, which sent the nation and especially the internet into a frenzy.

Qassem Soleimani, a name few Americans recognized before this January, was an extremely influential Iranian general, arguably one of the most influential in Iranian politics. Donald Trump ordered an airstrike to kill Soleimani at the Baghdad International Airport in Iraq and justified it by saying that Soleimani, who had reportedly provided Iraq with bombs that could penetrate armor during the Iraq War, was an active threat to the United States. However, whether or not Soleimani provided Iraqis with weapons that could penetrate armor is unknown: the U.S. military believes he did, but the information is unconfirmed, as is the idea that Soleimani was a threat and plotting to attack United States embassies.

Before the airstrike, Trump had backed out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, an Iranian nuclear agreement limiting the development of nuclear weapons. While the strike that killed Soleimani was the main reason for the panic and the looming threat of war, the prior conflict sparked when the U.S. backed out of this agreement also worsened the situation and made the chances of war seem even higher.

The internet instantly reacted to the death of Soleimani. Social media platforms were flooded with World War Three memes, all suggesting that there would be a third world war. The plentiful World War Three humor is possibly “to cope with the unspoken fear of a war against Iran. Our generation seems to use humor to distract ourselves from what really may happen—let’s be honest, nobody will Renegade on the battlefield,” says eighth grader Campbell Helling, referring to a dance made popular on the social media platform TikTok.

Freshman Jason Meschke compares the situation in Iran to the recent fight at a KU basketball game, saying that “the U.S. administration is like Silvio De Sousa, as they aggravated Iran by abandoning their nuclear agreement they had with Iran. Iran is like K State in the sense that they escalated to violence by supposedly inciting protests at the U.S. embassy in Iraq.” Meschke acknowledges that both sides could be justified, but he thinks that Trump overreacted. The president “had the opportunity to play the bigger role,” says Meschke, but instead, he suggests, Trump was afraid of the public’s reaction if he allowed the protests to escalate. “Ultimately, I think the U.S. took advantage of its hegemony and bullied Iran to a position where they had to back down and didn’t respect their concerns as a superpower,” Meschke says.

Iran’s Prime Minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi, declared three days of mourning Soleimani and promised revenge. As promised, Iran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two U.S. military bases in Iraq. With no casualties suffered (Iraqi or American), Donald Trump followed the bombing with a speech declaring a sudden shift to a pacifist stance, saying that he did not want to unnecessarily start a war with Iran. In spite of the internet’s bleak predictions for World War Three, there seems to be no imminent threat from Iran, and even the threat of minor war has passed for the time being.

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