“Although both the United States and Iran now appear to be backing away from a larger military confrontation, the new intelligence suggests that the loss of life from the downing of the plane was a direct result of those heightened tensions between the countries.” New York Times, January 9, 2020
I been thinking, I know dangerous thought. No, I been thinking about the downing of the Ukrainian airliner over Tehran, resulting in the deaths of 176 people. The best information we have now is that this terrible incident was likely due to Iran firing a surface to air missile, mistakenly thinking the plane was a threat. The destruction of the plane came after Iran launched strikes on Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops. Those strikes were in retaliation to the U.S. killing Qasem Soleimani, a top Iranian general.
I think that pretty well describes the sequence of events. We kill Soleimani, they shoot missiles at us but don’t kill anyone (whew, lucky or they suck), then the tragedy occurs – the Iranian defense systems go on high alert after the dumbass Iranian authorities shoot their missiles at our troops, and voila, the Iranians fire a surface to air missile thinking that plane up in the sky, carrying innocent people, is a threat because, of course, the evil Americans are going to retaliate against Iran for firing its’ missiles at the Iraqi bases. You get the picture, I hope.
Yep, this is some disturbing shit. But, not just for the reasons one might immediately think. Besides the most important fact, that being, 176 innocent people died, what disturbs me is that so many people just kinda slough this shit off as a messy side effect of the craziness in the Middle East. Or, they see this as an unfortunate, tragic, albeit unintended, example of collateral damage that, while tragic, will hopefully save a lot more lives because, after all, the killing of Soleimani will force the Iranians to behave. I’m going to stay away from that deterrent argument for now, and just focus on the deaths of 176 innocent people. Hope that’s ok with you.
So, here is my question. Picture yourself as the President. You are presented with the opportunity to take out Soleimani and you have to decide pretty quickly. However, at the same time, you are informed that if you do that, there will likely be some unintended consequences; most specifically, that Iran will freak out, shoot its surface to air missiles at anything moving up there in the sky, and 176 innocent people will die. That’s right, you can kill Soleimani, but that also means 176 innocent people will die. Oh, and unlike our Prez not knowing what the unintended consequences could be, you actually do know this in advance. Yep, innocent people will die if you take out Soleimani. What do you do?
Just to be clear, let me repeat. You can kill Soleimani, but that means 176 innocent people will die. What do YOU do?
Would love to hear your replies. And yes, I know some repliers will complain that this is not a fair question, that the actual situation was much more complex, that the Iranian authorities should have alerted everyone that missiles were being fired and that no civilian planes should have been allowed to take off, etc etc. That’s all well and good, I understand all of that. But, my question stands.
If YOU knew in advance that your action against Soleimani would lead to a series of unfortunate events resulting in the deaths of 176 innocent people, would you still take Soleimani out? Personally, I wouldn’t, but then again … I might be wrong in thinking that the NYT is right … that indeed, “… the downing of the plane was a direct result of those heightened tensions between the countries.”
And gosh, I hope that Soleimani’s death and the deaths of so many innocent people on that plane will not be in vain. That, ultimately, the increasing tensions between Iran and the U.S. will dissipate and that cooler heads will prevail … But, I could be wrong …