If you’ve been on Reddit since President Donald Trump approved an airstrike that killed Iranian General Qasem Soleimani on Jan. 3, you’ll have seen an endless supply of World War III memes.
Since tensions between the U.S. and Iran have escalated due to our country’s attack on one of Iran’s most famous generals and the country’s vow to get revenge, a lot of young men — specifically aged 18-25 — are making jokes about getting drafted.
The likelihood of us formally going to war with Iran is up for debate, and the reinstatement of the draft is even less likely. But the U.S. and Iran have had a tense relationship since the early 1950s, and in the aftermath of Trump’s election, it’s only gotten more tense.
Trump kicked off his presidency by banning travel from seven Muslim-majority countries in 2017. Iran called the ban “an obvious insult to the Islamic world,” and conducted a ballistic missile test in protest, according to CNN.
Tensions went from zero to 100 real quick, as Drake would say. In 2018, Trump decided to drop out of the Iran Nuclear Deal negotiated during the Obama administration, explaining that the deal didn’t favor the U.S. enough.
The deal stipulated Iran would greatly limit its enrichment of weapons-grade uranium, and the United Nations would in turn lift sanctions on the country. I’m not really sure what more Trump was looking for, but somehow I don’t think he knows either.
In 2019, Trump formally recognized the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, the highest military institution in Iran, as a terrorist organization. This is the first time the U.S. ever calls an official branch of another country’s government a terrorist group.
The IRGC was founded after the Iranians overthrew their Shah in 1979 — a monarchical leader put in power by CIA meddling in 1953 — so calling the military group a terrorist group is kind of like calling George Washington’s Continental Army a terrorist group.
Iran responded to Trump’s statement by calling the U.S. a state sponser of terrorism, which references the U.S. labeling Iran the same thing back in 1984 during the Iran-Iraq War.
The war in which the U.S. supported Iraq’s invasion of Iran, in case you forgot.
In June 2019, attacks on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf and the downing of a U.S. drone were linked to Hezbollah, a Shia paramilitary group with ties to the IRGC. The attacks were blamed on Iran, according to CNN, though Trump took no action against the country at the time.
That same month, Iran also reduced its commitments to the nuclear deal Trump withdrew from, and the country started vamping up uranium enrichment. If you’ve ever played Sid Meyer’s Civilization video games, this is the type of stuff another civilization does right before they declare a surprise war on you.
Finally, a week before the attack that killed Soleimani, the U.S. conducted airstrikes on facilities in Iraq and Syria that were linked to Hezbollah, killing 25 people. Pro-Iranian demonstrators then tried to storm the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, mirroring a 1979 storming of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran that resulted in a 444-day hostage situation. This time, though, the demonstrators didn’t succeed.
I can’t say whether the U.S. and Iran will actually go to war, though I doubt highly that our conflict would trigger World War III, as many people are fearful of. I can only hope that our leaders consider this quote from Suzy Kassem’s 2011 book, “Rise Up and Salute the Sun.”
“An Iraqi or American mother cries the same as an Israeli or Afghan mother. The eyes of a mother who has suffered the loss of a child can destroy the soul of anyone who gazes upon them … War is a soul shattering experience for the innocent.”
Alysen Boston is a WSU grad, freelance journalist and podcaster. She’s from Baltimore but has called the Palouse home since 2014. To hear more about this topic, check out an episode of Ally’s new podcast, Off the Cuff, at this shortened link: bit.ly/2NqhgxV.