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Civil war in Iraq? Quite possibly. World War III? Forget about it.

Niall Ferguson
 

By Niall Ferguson (original source Washington Post)

“My response to the news that US forces had assassinated Iran’s paramilitary foreign intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Qassim Soleimani on Thursday was, “Good riddance. Now what?”

No tears should be shed for Soleimani. As the mastermind of Iran’s multiple proxy wars beyond the Islamic Republic’s borders, he had the blood of countless people on his hands, including hundreds of American soldiers killed in Iraq and Syria by the Shia militias he helped to train and finance. Second only to the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in terms of his personal power, Soleimani had come to personify the ruthless, bloodthirsty spirit of the regime in Tehran.

But what will the consequences be of his assassination? Let us begin by dismissing that hardy perennial, “Oh no! Reckless Trump has lit the fuse for World War III.” At a time like this, commentators in need of a facile historical analogy inevitably reach for the murder of the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in June 1914, generally regarded as the catalyst for World War I.”

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