BANGOR – With #WorldWarThree trending on Twitter, it’s easy to see people are talking about the U.S. attack in Baghdad.
That attack killed a powerful general, Iran’s second in command, and now thousands of U.S. troops are set to be deployed to the region.
“The president and the supreme leader have both vowed that this killing of General Qassem Soleimani in Iraq is gonna have repercussions,” said Ret. Capt. James Settele, who served 27 years in the Navy, and was an assistant to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. “They will retaliate.”
Settele, who is the director of the University of Maine’s School of Policy & International Affairs, added, “The only thing we could have done that would have more significant is the supreme leader himself. And so this has opened a Pandora’s Box.”
The U.S. strike Thursday night killed Soleimani, leader of the elite Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard, as well as another top leader.
Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) issued a statement after the attack calling Soleimani a terrorist who “was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans and thousands of others in the region.”
Congressman Jared Golden (D-Maine) echoed King’s sentiment in a statement issued Friday afternoon.
Settele, who served in the Persian Gulf during his time in uniform, says the U.S. labeled Iran’s revolutionary guard a terrorist organization last year.
“It’s the first time that the U.S. had declared another country’s military, and this is a significant part of the Iranian military, as a terrorist organization,” Settele said.
He added later, “The other question is: Where does this stop? This was with a drone on another country’s territory.”
King, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, visited Iraq and Saudi Arabia last year. He said he expects to be briefed shortly about the “specific intelligence on imminent attacks on Americans, which has been put forward as the justification for this strike.”
Golden questioned whether the strike was “in the long-term national interests of our country.”
“This is going to result in some additional conflict issues, probably some American deaths,” Settele said. “It will be interesting to see what they do. It will be sad to see what they do and then our response to that will determine how far this does escalate.”
Trump announced Friday 3,000 military troops are heading to the Middle East. Maine military leaders said Friday the state has not been tapped, so far. Currently, around 70 Mainers with the 286th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion are deployed to Poland. They are scheduled to return in February.
Settele says Iran may also try to strike at pocketbooks by increasing the cost of crude oil, and he expects a drop in trading on the stock market.
“It may cost economic or other kinds of issues that U.S. folks, folks in Maine, are going to have to deal with,” he said.
Settele also served in the U.S. Naval Central Command in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, and the Bureau of Naval Personnel in Washington, D.C. before moving to Maine.
“Trump owns this,” Settele said. “He pulled out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan [of Action] on nuclear power, he increased sanctions, and now he’s killed the number two man in all of Iran on another country’s territory.
“This is more significant than most people realize.”