If ever there was a target any president was justified in taking out, Qasem Soleimani was it. Like many of my fellow citizens, I am baffled by the American left's rush to criticise the administration’s decision to eliminate a terrorist and their subsequent knee-jerk response to the Iranian takedown of a Ukrainian passenger jet.
Soleimani's Islamic Revolutionary Guard is a US-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization that has fomented unrest in the Middle East for decades, working with non-state proxy groups to promote a terrorist agenda. Through his efforts across the Middle East, the terror mastermind is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of coalition forces and for the wounding of thousands more.
He was sanctioned not just by the United States, but by the European Union and the United Nations. His international travel alone is a violation of a UN Security Council resolution. At the time of the strike, he was travelling from Lebanon to Iraq and was with a senior leader of Kata’ib Hezbollah, another US-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization. One would have to be pretty darn naive to assume Soleimani was in Iraq for any reason other than terrorism.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo revealed last week that Soleimani was planning, "a broad, large-scale attack" against US facilities in the Middle East and the president later specified that four embassies were targeted for attack. We should not hesitate to vaporize a terrorist under these circumstances.
One would have to be pretty darn naive to assume Soleimani was in Iraq for any reason other than terrorism.
The newest criticisms of President Trump are driven more by domestic politics than by principled positions. Note the change in Trump critics and Democrat Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy. After Soleimani's attack on the US embassy, Murphy Tweeted, "The attack on our embassy in Baghdad is horrifying but predictable. Trump has rendered America impotent in the Middle East. No one fears us, no one listens to us. America has been reduced to huddling in safe rooms, hoping the bad guys will go away. What a disgrace."
Then Trump demonstrated America's power and ensured Iran would fear us. Murphy had the audacity to tweet: ". . . did America just assassinate, without any congressional authorization, the second most powerful person in Iran, knowingly setting off a potential massive regional war?"
Democrats may have lost a major opportunity to show legitimacy for their impeachment proceedings. They could have sent a strong message demonstrating loyalty, unity, and a commitment to safety for the American people. Instead, they have sent a message to the world that politics, power and taking Trump out is the number one priority. All of this before the Iowa caucuses, a crucial state which in which recent CNN Iowa polls showed that 10 per cent of Democrats, 51 per cent of independents and 91 per cent of Republicans think that the President should not be removed from office.
Democrats may have lost a major opportunity to show legitimacy for their impeachment proceedings. They could have sent a strong message demonstrating loyalty, unity, and a commitment to safety for the American people.
Democrats should be careful not to allow the narrative that removing the President is their only driving message for 2020.
Stoking fears of a third World War are the same members of Congress who defended the previous President’s Middle East attacks. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, for example, accused Trump of violating the US Constitution by failing to seek approval from Congress to kill a terrorist in a war zone. “The Constitution of the United States calls that there be cooperation when initiating hostilities," she said in a House floor speech. But in 2011, under a president from her own party, she took the opposite position. On the House Floor, she claimed Barack Obama "did not need authorization" to wage war in Libya without Congressional approval.
Pelosi now calls the strike on Soleimani "provocative and disproportionate." Does the House Speaker believe the life of one terrorist is worth more than the lives of 600 Americans?
This is a man who cried out, “death to Israel and death to America," and who has followed through with his terrorist mission for decades. Our intelligence is clear he would have continued to kill more Americans and more coalition forces. Yet the House of Representatives is even now passing legislation that would prevent future presidents from duplicating Trump's decision.
I have found plenty to criticise in President Trump. But on this, the administration was absolutely correct. We make peace through strength. My colleague Rep. Lee Zeldin of New York summed it up in a tweet: "Peace through strength. The US should not be silent when facing Iran's threats, not bc we want war, but bc we want to prevent it. The mil option is the absolute last possible option, but Iran must understand it's on the table for the US & real if Iran tries to kill Americans.
For the United States to have let Soleimani continue to operate unchecked would have been irresponsible, weak and it would have been a slap in the face to our allies around the world.