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If you want to see how easily the Right in America can fracture, observe how various pundits who are usually in agreement on most things sharply disagree over the recent Trump-authorized assassination of Iranian military leader Qasem Soleimani.
The Civic Nationalists almost uniformly celebrated the act. They saw Soleimani as a high-ranking, anti-American terrorist who gave the go-ahead for the December 27th assault on the US Embassy in Baghdad. Soleimani was, in essence, an especially powerful and effective enemy actor and has been for years. For example, as the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, Soleimani oversaw the placement of “Explosively Formed Projectile” bombs (or EFPs) all over Iraq which killed hundreds of American soldiers during the Iraq War. So when the Pentagon announced after the assassination that Soleimani was “actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region,” how can anyone put it past him? For the civnats, offing Soleimani was a slam dunk.
Much of this had to do with President Trump not backing down to what the civnats consider to be America’s enemies. And after eight years of Barack Obama doing the opposite, I’m sure Trump’s actions were particularly gratifying to his more hawkish and patriotic supporters. Indeed, from an American perspective it is hard to support Obama’s incredibly weak nuclear deal with Iran in which the United States forked over $1.7 billion in order to help Iran develop nuclear power, not nuclear arms. Of course, the Iranians flouted the deal and then embarrassed the United States by capturing a couple of American patrol boats in 2016, forcing them to surrender.
According to Paul Mirengoff of Powerline:
Unfortunately, the U.S soon met with serious reversals in Iraq. Thus, Iran’s nuclear program soon was back in business (assuming it really had been halted).
Then came the Obama administration. Suddenly, it wasn’t just that America couldn’t do anything to stop Iran. Now, it no longer even wanted to. On the contrary, Obama was prepared to subsidize the regime — to pay it tribute. We had become truly pathetic in the eyes of Iran’s tough-minded rulers.
President Trump quickly reversed course. And now, by effectuating the killing of Gen. Soleimani, he has demonstrated, in a way he hadn’t previously, that the U.S. can some do some impressive military things to Iran, and is willing to do them.
Conservative politician and Iraq War veteran Jesse Kelly summed up the attitude of civnats pretty well in the following tweet:
If you’ve been to a VA hospital in recent years and seen a young man missing limbs, there’s a reasonable chance Qasem [sic] Soleimani is responsible for it. He’s unquestionably an enemy of America and I’m glad he’s dead and I’m bummed it was a quick death.
Others on the Right celebrating the assassination are the Israel-firsters who have long known about Soleimani’s involvement with terrorist organizations Hamas and Hezbollah. Not surprisingly, David Horowitz’s Front Page Magazine, Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation of Defense and Democracies, and J.J. Sefton at the Ace of Spades were giddy over the attack. They all played up the correctness of the President’s move and played down Iran’s will or ability to effectively respond. Behind it all, it seems, is the threat Soleimani had posed to America’s great ally in the Middle East: Israel. Apparently, Soleimani had recently been planning to place “killer drones” in the Golan Heights aimed at Israel. Couple this with his anti-Israel rhetoric and one can see how Israel wanted him gone as well. According to a Haaretz report at the time, Israel attempted to take him out in 2015, but Barack Obama’s White House tipped off Tehran in time. This past October, according to the Times of Israel, Israel had made another attempt on Soleimani and came up short. There is even speculation that it was Israel that provided the intel to the Americans to justify the assassination.
Opposing both of these groups within the overarching context of the Right are what I would call the Israel-lasters. Most of these folks are weary of Jewish influence at home and abroad. “The people of Iran are not our enemy,” writes Eric Striker who is a good example of this group. “They share the same abominable foe and deserve our solidarity.” Israel-lasters oppose the well-documented Jewish double standard of war against brown people when it suits Israel and alliances with brown people when it suits the Jewish diaspora. They also see Israel and its powerful lobby in the United States as pulling the strings so the gullible Americans do their dirty work for them. Such people are quick to attest the illegality of the assassination (that it took place within the borders of a sovereign Iraq without Iraqi approval). They are also quick to point out that the Israeli intel mentioned above may have been a bit shoddy.
In the American Conservative last May, Gareth Porter wrote:
The Washington Post reported on May 15 that Pentagon and intelligence officials had cited three “Iranian actions” that had supposedly “triggered alarms”:
- “Information suggesting an Iranian threat against U.S. diplomatic facilities in the Iraqi cities of Baghdad and Irbil.”
- “U.S. concerns that Iran may be preparing to mount rocket or missile launchers on small ships in the Persian Gulf.”
- “A directive from [Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and regular Iranian military units that some U.S. officials have interpreted as a potential threat to U.S. military and diplomatic personnel.”
None of those three claims describes actual evidence of a threatening Iranian “action”; all merely refer to an official U.S. “concern” about a possible Iranian threat.
Porter wrote further:
Reporting by the leading Israeli diplomatic correspondent Barak Ravid, now of Channel 13 but also filing for Axios, provides more detailed evidence that Israel was the original source of all three alleged Iranian threats.
Since the assassination, the Unz Review has produced numerous articles expressing this perspective, including one by Whitney Webb which casts doubt on the official narrative of the assassination. According to Webb, the assassination was
aimed at ‘deterring future Iranian attack plans’ as well as a response to a rocket attack at the K1 military base near Kirkuk, Iraq on December 27. That attack killed one US military contractor and lightly wounded several US soldiers and Iraqi military personnel.
Webb found it odd that the United States would take such drastic measures responding to such an inconsequential attack. In the short period between the Kirkuk attack and Soleimani’s assassination on January third, the United States had already retaliated five times in Iraq and Syria, killing twenty-five people. That the United States has yet to reveal the contractor’s name makes this issue even murkier. Could the Kirkuk attack and the Baghdad embassy attack (in which no American was killed) have justified the assassination?
What to make of all this?
Well, my first response is to feel dread to see my beloved Right fracture so quickly. I understand that people like Horowitz and Sefton have a pro-Israel agenda, but these two and others have proven to be anti-anti-white as well as passionately anti-Left, which I appreciate. I also find myself in general agreement with the Powerline guys when it comes to domestic issues, and I have a feeling that Jesse Kelly and I would get along like gangbusters when it comes to the Second Amendment. At the same time, there’s no bound to my appreciation towards people like Striker, Webb, Philip Giraldi, and others who speak candidly about the Jewish Question and Israel. To do so carries a high price, and these writers are brave enough to pay it. It really pains me to see all these people I admire having such polar opposite reactions to this one consequential event.
My second response is to get to the bottom of it. I try, yet I know it is impossible. There are so many sides to this story, and this story is such a slippery target, I am finding it hard to settle on one definitive response. The gloating of the civnats, I find objectionable. Kurt Schlichter’s was probably one of the more macho voices out there [emphasis his]:
The Iranians had been getting uppity for a while, but then their punks killed an American contractor in a rocket attack on a U.S. base – and let’s not get distracted about whether we should still be there. They killed an American. We are there, and you don’t get a pass on murdering U.S. citizens because we may or may not have a good reason for them still being there. You get dead.
By taking such a drastically disproportionate response (one unnamed contractor for twenty-five enemy fighters and the scalp of a popular and highly charismatic military leader), Trump is risking escalation that could prove deadly anywhere Iran has terrorist cells—which could be anywhere. Suppose one of these cells blows up an American shopping mall, forcing Trump to be a wartime president during an election year. What then? Would Schlichter care to walk back some of his smug rhetoric when President Warren gets inaugurated in 2021?
On the other hand, some on the Israel-last side of things (such as Striker and the Saker) have been calling the assassination a murder. It was not a murder. Murder implies the innocence of the victim, and Qassem Soleimani was anything but innocent. He was a military mastermind who not only fought and killed for his nation but was still actively engaged with his enemies. One can view his cause as righteous and still agree with this point. Had George Washington caught a bullet from a British spy during the Revolutionary War, would we have called that a murder? How would Soleimani’s demise be any different? Calling his assassination a murder also signals that one has greater sympathies for Iran (or perhaps Islam) than for Israel. If one wishes to oppose Israel, fine. But going to bat for an oppressive regime like Iran in this regional struggle is a little too much for me to bear. This is a country that cracks down on political dissidents and has laws calling for the death penalty for any male Iranian leaving Islam. This is a country known for its human rights violations against its own people. Vice President Pence may have gotten his numbers wrong in his tweet linking Iran to 9-11, but he was basically right about Iran giving safe passage to some of the 9-11 terrorists. Iran was also known back then for having a working relationship with al Qaeda.
And what about the anti-regime Iranians who hate the Mullahs and yearn for their nation to be less oppressive? Such folks actually celebrated Soleimani’s assassination and have generally pro-Western outlooks. When Eric Striker calls for solidarity with the Iranian people, is he including them or only those Iranians who share his negative attitude towards the Israelis? When Kurt Schlichter talks about supporting “Persian patriots” does he refer to Iranian ethno-nationalists who bristle at the American and Israeli presence in the Middle East or only those who agree with his low opinion the Mullahs? I don’t mean to put either guy on the spot here, because there is no right or wrong answer. I’m just trying to demonstrate how complicated and multifaceted this issue really is. The longer this tit-for-tat continues, the more autistic one would have to be to get to the bottom of it all. One can start with this 2013 New Yorker article on Soleimani if one wishes to try. Good luck. It’s ten thousand words long, but reads like twenty.
In the final analysis, it’s this complexity that makes feel like I belong to none of these groups. America is becoming more and more energy independent thanks to fracking, so why do we have to stay embroiled in these faraway desert disputes? Getting our hands dirty in geopolitical struggles may have made sense during the Cold War when the Soviet Union posed a real threat to the West. Whether Iran exerts control over Iraq matters a lot less in 2020 than whether the Soviets were calling the shots in Cuba in 1960. Yes, it seems the civnats are correct in their distrust of the Iranians. But the Israel-lasters are just as correct in their distrust of Israel. For a group of people who presumably can agree on a lot of things, why can’t they agree on this? Better yet, why can’t they just split the difference? Is it so hard to believe that both sides have bad actors that so thoroughly deserve each other—without us?
And who is ‘us’?
Well, that’s the first question we should answer. We’re white people. We’re the people who are struggling to maintain our own homelands while bad actors from both sides of this dispute threaten our demographic majorities. Iranians and other Muslims do it through immigration, and Jews do it through radical Left-wing politics. And rarely does either side concern itself with the problems of white people as much as whites concern themselves with theirs. The moment a critical mass of whites recognize this imbalance will be the moment we leave the Middle East for good.
I hope I live long enough to see that happy day.
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