Trump Deploys 3,500 American Troops to the Middle East

On Friday afternoon, the Pentagon announced that it will deploy about 3,500 military troops to the Middle East in response to rising tensions with Iran. The announcement came just hours after the US used a drone strike to kill Qasem Soleimani, a high-profile commander of Iran’s Quds Force. The Quds Force is an internationally-sanctioned military group that works in Iraq, Lebanon and Syria. In the last decade, the group killed hundreds of American soldiers.

So, why did the US choose now to kill Soleimani?

According to the Pentagon, President Trump ordered the strike because Soleimani was "actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.” Additionally, the strike came right after recent attacks on the US Embassy in Baghdad. Earlier this week, the US used an airstrike to kill 25 members of an Iranian-backed Shiite militia group because the group had killed a US contractor the week prior. And this airstrike led to a siege on the US Embassy. On New Year’s Eve, with Soleimani’s approval, protestors in Baghdad broke into the US Embassy compound, smashing cameras and setting fire to a reception room. In response, Americans fired tear gas and locked down the embassy. Two days later, the protestors backed off, and after the end of the siege the US killed Soleimani. 

Due to Soleimani’s death, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has vowed “harsh retaliation.” And as American citizens panic about the prospect of a World War III, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) pointed out that Friday’s strike was conducted without Congress’ stamp of approval. In fact, in the past, Trump has spoken out against a US invasion in Iran. In 2009, Trump tweeted, “In order to get elected, @BarackObama will start a war with Iran” and “watch for [Obama] to launch a strike in Libya or Iran. He is desperate.” Furthermore, in 2016, Trump tweeted, “I predict that Obama will at some point attack Iran in order to save face!” and “Remember what I previously said--Obama will someday attack Iran in order to show how tough he is.” According to Trump’s executive orders to conduct an airstrike and deploy troops in Iran, however, it appears as though Trump has changed his mind and now supports US invasion. 

On the other hand, such presidential candidates as Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden have spoken out against US invasion. On Friday afternoon, Sanders tweeted:

“We must do more than just stop war with Iran. We must firmly commit to ending U.S. military presence in the Middle East in an orderly manner. We must end our involvement in the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen. We must bring our troops home from Afghanistan.”

And on Thursday, Biden said that Trump has “tossed a stick of dynamite into a tinderbox” with the killing of Soleimani. Perhaps the fate of our country and its relations with the Middle East will rely upon the 2020 election. Will America vote for peace? Or for military expansion and, potentially, WWIII?