Three days into 2020, President Trump sent orders to kill Iranian Major General Qassim Soleimani via a drone strike as his car was leaving Baghdad International Airport. Trump has received backlash because he made the decision without congressional approval. This action, taken while going over campaign plans in Mar-a-Lago, was a response to rising tension in Iran.
The escalating events began with the death of an American private military contractor killed by an Iranian-backed airstrike on December 27th. This was countered by American airstrikes on Iranian-backed militias on December 29th. In response, Iranians protested at the U.S. Embassy on January 3rd.
In the days after the Soleimani’s death, there was a sharp division over whether it was justified. The act has ignited a vengeful response by Iranian civilians, who revered Soleimani. Since the actions on the 3rd, tensions have remained high.
The House of Representatives reprimanded Trump on the 9th over his use of military power in the middle east and voted on the War Powers Act as a measure to restrict his authority over using military force in Iran without congressional approval. On the 11th, Iran’s revolutionary guard admitted that it mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet and killed 176 people onboard. The attack came after Iranian attacks on Iraqi bases holding American troops.
A “World War III” Iran has been the subject of widespread concern on the internet in the past few weeks. Conflicts in the Middle East are complex, so we are answering a few of the most pertinent questions about the situation in Iran:
Will this escalate into a “World War III”?
Thousands of memes posted on social media have created a panic over an impending war. If there were to be a large-scale war that involved allies, it could turn nuclear. Both Iran and the U.S. have shown that they would like to avoid a war. Both nations, however, seem willing to continue military escalation. A more escalated war depends on whether Iran decides to react to the loss of Soleimani in a more aggressive nature than the missile attacks we’ve seen in the past week, as well as on the decision-making of President Trump.
What is the chance of people getting drafted if there is an official war?
Concern about a possible draft was so high that the website for the Selective Service System crashed on the fourth of January. There has not been a draft since 1973, after the Vietnam War. Upon their 18th birthdays, eligible men are required to register for selective service. However, being registered does not mean that a draft can happen at any moment. After widespread opposition, the draft was abolished in 1973.
To reinstate the draft, Congress would have to approve of it. Considering the lack of support for a draft or the war, it is unlikely that the majority of Congress would approve of one. Additionally, the (all-volunteer) military is not struggling, with about 1.2 million active-duty troops. Thus, the chance of a draft is slim.
How is this going to affect the 2020 election?
All top three Democratic candidates have released statements on Iran and their stances on foreign policy. Senator Bernie Sanders, now Democratic frontrunner, has called the killing of Qassim Soleimani an “assassination.” He wants to remove American troops from Iraq and work with the country in a cooperative manner.
Former Vice President Joe Biden has attempted to use the situation to his advantage, touting his foreign policy experience in the Middle East. Bernie Sanders has criticized former Vice President Joe Biden for his vote for the Iraq war in 2003.
Senator Elizabeth Warren has criticized Trump for his decision in killing Soleimani and potentially starting a war, saying, “He has a problem with his impending impeachment and his use of foreign policy as a way to try to promote its own personal political agenda.”