Bombing the way to peace is like spending one's way to riches. It doesn't work. Bombing is successful at killing, destroying, and making enemies, not peace. You would think that we learned that in Vietnam. We didn't.
The US would make short work of those "gooks" in black pajamas riding bicycles and living on fish-heads and rice. What did happen after a 21-year war was that the US pulled out of Nam with its tail between its legs. For this, we paid 58,000 KIAs and spent in today's dollars $1 trillion. No one bothered to keep records of Vietnamese deaths, but it approximates 880,000 combatants and civilians.
Iraq is another lesson unlearned.
Saddam Hussein was getting too big for his breaches; he needed to be taught a lesson. The war began in March, 2003 and ended in three weeks with a smashing victory for the US and allied forces. It was an impressive start but a dismal end. US boots are still in country after 17 years.
So far, the Iraqi war has cost 4,563 KIA plus another eight for last year. The number of dead Iraqis left in our wake is about one million, give or take 100 thousand or so. For this, we paid $1.7 trillion. If benefits to war vets are included, it's $6 trillion.
We could go on about how Afghanistan, Syria, and Pakistan cost in total an additional $4.3 trillion, but you get the idea – the Trump administration does not.
The current brouhaha with Iran started December 27 with the unintended death of an American civilian contractor during a rocket attack. No organization has claimed responsibility for the attack, and Iran has denied involvement.
Nevertheless, on January 3, Pres. Trump ordered a drone strike in Iraq that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Suleimani to prevent "imminent attacks against Americans." "We caught him in the act and terminated him," said Trump, adding, "We take comfort in knowing his reign of terror is over."
But Suleimani was not just a general. He was the leading political figure in Iraq as well as Iran, highly admired and respected in both nations.
Strangely, the Iranians do not greet his death quite as gleeful as the US; in fact, they're madder than a swarm of hornets whose nest was attacked. For some obscure reason, they do no consider Suleimani a "terrorist" or head of a terrorist organization or a "murderer" or, as one man interviewed on Fox News put it, "a truly bad son-of-a-bitch."
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei faced fierce opposition to his rule. In November, 2019 Khamenei initiated a crackdown on protesters that left 200 dead. But Trump's "peace" bombing was Allah's gift to the Supreme Leader. Protesters and supporters are unified by the "martyrdom" of one of the most revered military leaders in the Islamic Republic. Suleimani was second in power and prestige only to the Supreme Ruler.
The Prime Minister of Iraq condemned the attack as "an outrageous breach to Iraqi sovereignty."
Iran's Foreign Minister described the drone strike as an act of international terrorism: "The US' act of international terrorism, targeting and assassinating General Soleimani, is extremely dangerous and a foolish escalation. The US bears responsibility for all consequences of its rogue adventurism."
A senior military official in Iran threatened an attack on American targets, including US warships in the Strait of Hormuz in revenge for the killing of Soleimani. About 25 vessels carrying 20 million barrels of crude pass through the Strait daily.
If the Revolutionary Guard were successful in blocking the Strait, that would necessitate a significant US reaction and further escalation.
Iran is in a box. She must respond to Suleimani's killing. But how? Regardless of the degree, Pres. Trump promised an admittedly "disproportionate" response: "Let this serve as a warning that if Iran strikes any Americans or American assets, we have targeted 52 Iranian sites."
But the US is also in a quandary. No matter how Iraq responds to Soleimani's death, the US is committed to "target 52 Iranian sites." That means all-out war that will result in the deaths of thousands of Americans, cost at least a trillion dollars and necessitate another endless occupation.
Meanwhile, the US is ramping up its military presence in Iraq of 5,200 with 750 more troops. Additionally, 3,500 are on their way to Kuwait and thousands more on standby.
But enough ifs. What can be said is this, the Iranians must retaliate against what the US would consider an act of war if perpetrated by Iran against the US. The ball is in Iran's court. Will it be the beginning of another forever war, or will it fizzle out? That's the question.
The situation demands cooler heads, of which none can be found on either side.
Bob Scroggins, New Milford, PA