Soleimani's lost utility-A lesson
Updated: Oct 25
There is an important lesson for strategists and political, military, and business leaders in the killing of General Soleimani: utility is not permanent and unchangeable. In the aftermath of the strike, Iranian leaders pointed to the general’s role in helping to defeat ISIS and other Sunni radical groups in Syria and Iraq. He was useful to the United States and others in that role until ISIS was defeated and the threat from other radical Sunni groups was diminished. Soleimani’s utility was then more than offset by his other role as a supporter and enabler of violent Shia groups aligned with Iran against the United States.
Strategic theaters are not stable things; at least not for long. There are always shifting forces and influences that affect the value and threats posed by different players. In some instances, the enemy of my adversary may become a friend of convenience or necessity. Then the strategic situation shifts and utility, threats, and values are recalculated. This is the point when one side or the other may overestimate the strength of their position, only to find that they’ve become a threat and liability. Such errors in judgment can ruin a business, bring down a politician, and cost a military leader his life.