The U.S. mainstream media’s shoddy, dishonest reporting about the Iran Crisis continues. The media refuses to closely examine the Trump administration’s latest justification for killing Qasem Soleimani — that the Iranian general was responsible for the deaths of “thousands of U.S. troops.”
Trump’s original rationale — that Soleimani was planning “imminent” attacks on U.S. embassies and soldiers — has crumbled away. Trump himself in a Tweet dismissed the false “imminent” charge, saying “it really doesn’t matter because of his [Soleimani’s] horrible past!”
Some days ago, the Washington Post looked into the charge. It consulted a number of experts — all Americans — and ended by citing Brian Hook, the U.S. State Department’s Special Representative for Iran, who contended, (with suspicious precision), that Iran was “responsible for the death of at least 608 American service members.”
But neither this Post article, nor the rest of the mainstream reports, asked the larger, obvious question: Why was Iran targeting U.S. soldiers? Tehran’s allies did not attack our men and women on bases in the United States, or anywhere else outside of Iraq. Why couldn’t the U.S. media remind its audience that America invaded Iraq in 2003, that at its peak the U.S. stationed 165,000 of our soldiers there, and that 5,000 remain today? Why not explain that Iraqis started to resist that occupation, especially after the U.S. torture and abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison? And so then some of those Iraqi insurgents appealed to Iran for help.
There’s another element of the story that the U.S. mainstream ignores entirely; just a few years ago, General Soleimani was actually an American ally in the fight against the murderous Islamist group ISIS. The estimable Juan Cole reminds us that in 2014 ISIS suddenly took over 40 percent of Iraq after “the Iraqi army trained by the U.S. collapsed and ran away.” Soleimani helped train the Iraqi Shiite militias that blunted the ISIS offensive. And Cole points out that U.S. fighter jets directly supported those militias during part of the anti-ISIS military campaign.
Juan Cole has a mixed and nuanced assessment of Qasem Soleimani:
Soleimani was a complicated man, a man of the religious far right, authoritarian. Although I think it is nonsense to speak of him as committing terrorism, he did commit war crimes. I am not sure he is responsible for as many deaths as George W. Bush, though. . . . I’m not trying to defend Soleimani, I’m only trying to complicate the glib story being pushed at us by the Trump administration, which can’t speak two sentences without telling four lies.