Earlier this month, President Trump ordered a drone strike near the Baghdad International Airport in Iraq that killed Iranian General Qasem Soleimani. Gen. Soleimani was the second most powerful person in Iran behind Ayatollah Khamenei and was considered by many to be his right-hand man. In the wake of this, tensions escalated between Iran and the U.S., leading ScoutInsight to send out a flash poll via our social networks and the Veterans Research Network (VRN), a growing online research community founded by ScoutComms. A total of 208 military-connected individuals responded to the poll with nearly 80% of them identifying as veterans, over 13% selecting that they are currently on Active Duty, in the Reserves or the National Guard, and just under 7% identifying as military family members.
First, the poll asked whether the drone strike was justified. The responses were fairly evenly divided, with 31% of participants considering the strike “significantly justified,” 32% considering it “somewhat justified” and 31% considering it “not at all justified.” However, 62% of participants next responded that the death of Gen. Soleimani made the U.S. “not at all safer,” with only 35% of participants responding that the U.S. was “much safer” or “somewhat safer.” This raises questions about the relationship between perceptions of military actions’ justifications and their security implications. We already saw an initial retaliation in a barrage of missiles against U.S. occupied bases in Iraq and more could come from Iran’s many surrogates around the world.
Lastly, the poll asked participants about their opinions on the likelihood of a conflict between the U.S. and Iran. 35% of participants shared that they were “very concerned” about a U.S.-Iran war, with 42% “somewhat concerned” and 20% “not at all concerned.” Peter D. Feaver, a former National Security Council official under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, commented in a recent article published in The New York Times, “Vet experience, especially in Iraq, will make the individual sympathetic to the idea that Soleimani was a legitimate target and the world is better off without him. But it is a big leap from that to supporting sustained armed confrontation with Iran.” That sentiment seems to have been reflected in the poll results–a majority of participants considered the strike that killed Gen. Soleimani at least somewhat justified, but are simultaneously at least somewhat concerned about the possibility of a war with Iran. A recent article in The Washington Post cautioned that while “this crisis has higher stakes” than previous incidents and “blowback may be coming,” fears of a U.S.-Iran “conflict spiral through miscalculation” are probably overblown at this stage.
Recent reports suggest that military-connected communities aren’t especially excited about the prospects of another conflict in the Middle East. Sherman Gillums Jr., the chief advocacy officer of Amvets, commented to The New York Times, “We can already anticipate that those who deployed this week [to Iran] will likely suffer environmental exposure, grievous injury in some cases, mental health conditions, barriers to gainful employment, traumatic brain injuries and a host of other issues related to their military service.” Additionally, Naveed Shah, an Army veteran who served in Iraq in 2009 and left the service in 2015, reportedly stated, “we haven’t finished the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan yet. We need to bring our troops home before we engage in Iran.”
What are your opinions on the death of Gen. Soleimani and a potential U.S.-Iran conflict? Share your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter by tweeting @ScoutComms.
ScoutComms launched the Veterans Research Network (VRN) because we recognize the value of the military-connected communities’ experience and opinions and believe that their voice is an important one to be heard. Don’t miss out–we will continue to launch short surveys about current events in the coming months. Thank you to all who participated in the survey! If you’re interested in taking part in future ScoutInsight polls, sign up for the VRN here. The sign-up is quick and easy, and your participation helps ensure the needs of the military-connected community are being heard and represented.