The killing of Qasem Soleimani, a critical figure in Iran’s military structure, has precipitated important questions about the future of U.S.-Iran relations as well as Iran’s position in the Middle East.
Barry Strauss, professor of history at Cornell University, is an expert on military strategy and is the former director of the Judith Reppy Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies. He says that Soleimani’s charisma and skill as a leader will be difficult for Iran to replace, thereby making Americans safer.
“The killing of Qasem Soleimani probably will be a game-changer for Iran. Although not beyond reproach as a military commander, Soleimani was a masterful leader overall, the single most important force behind Iranian expansion, empire, and repression. Violent, ambitious men are not rare, but commanders who combine cunning and vision, battlefield courage with strategic skill, and who project charisma to the point of legend – such men are unusual indeed. Soleimani will be replaced with difficulty, if at all. Removing him weakens Iran considerably.
“Don’t be distracted by the trash talk and posturing coming from both sides of this conflict. The long-running, asymmetric war between the United States and Iran will continue, mostly on a low boil, largely outside of public view, occasionally with flare-ups and bold headlines. The killing of Soleimani raises the stakes for the Iranians and makes their task more difficult, deprived as they are of their charismatic military mastermind. It also thereby makes Americans safer. Nonetheless, it is not decisive so, unfortunately, the conflict goes on.”