Friday during his show’s opening monologue, Fox News Channel’s Tucker Carlson warned the U.S. airstrike that resulted in the killing of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani could lead the United States to a showdown against Iran.
According to the “Tucker Carlson Tonight” host, such a war would defy the will of most Americans and contradict statements President Donald Trump made during his successful 2016 campaign. However, some in Washington have been championing a war against Iran and may continue to push the country in that direction, he explained.
Transcript as follows:
CARLSON: Yesterday, as you know, an American airstrike killed an Iranian general called Qasem Soleimani. For the past 21 years, Soleimani commanded the Quds Force, which is responsible for paramilitary operations outside the national borders of Iran. In that role, Soleimani was believed to be a patron of the Shia militias that regularly attacked American troops during the Iraq war. He was also a major player in Syria during their civil war, as well as in the campaign against ISIS. Though he was little known to the American public, Soleimani was among the most famous living figures in Iran, and also among the most powerful — according to some accounts, second only to the supreme leader of that country.
The Iranian government has already vowed to extract what it has called “forceful revenge” against the United States, in response to his death. Now, whether that will happen, and what form it might take, remains to be seen. But it’s no exaggeration to say that by the next time this show airs, we could be engaged in a conflict — a real conflict — with Iran.
From Iran’s perspective, we’re already there. If Iranian forces killed the chairman of our joint chiefs of staff, for example, would you consider it an act of war? You would. So what happened yesterday wasn’t just another symbolic bombing sortie, of the kind we’ve seen in Syria. It was a pivot point. Neocons in Washington understood that immediately.
“Congratulations to all involved in eliminating Qasem Soleimani,” tweeted disgraced former National Security Advisor John Bolton. “Hope this is the first step to regime change in Tehran.” End quote.
That, of course, has been the neocon objective all along. The president though has for years has opposed that objective. In a statement, he saidthat regime change and war aren’t the point at all.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We took action last night to stop a war. We did not take action to start a war.
We do not seek regime change. However, the Iranian regime’s aggression in the region, including the use of proxy fighters to destabilize its neighbors, must end, and it must end now.
If Americans anywhere are threatened, we have all of those targets already fully identified, and I am ready and prepared to take whatever action is necessary.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: According to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, meanwhile, Soleimani was killed to forestall planned attacks on Americans. But as he later conceded, those attacks would have occurred in the Middle East, not here in America:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
POMPEO: President Trump’s decision to remove Qasem Soleimani from the battlefield saved American lives. There’s no doubt about that. He was actively plotting in the region to take actions, a big action as he described it, that would have put dozens if not hundreds of American lives at risk.
And last night was the time that we needed to strike to make sure that this imminent attack that he was working actively was disrupted.
BERMAN: Was there any imminent threat to the U.S. homeland?
POMPEO: These were threats that were located in the region.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: “Threats in the region.” If you don’t live in Washington, here’s a translation: That would be in hostile Middle Eastern countries, places where American troops would never be in the first place, were it not for the insistent demands of non-geniuses like Max Boot and John Bolton. But nevermind. No one in Washington is in the mood for big-picture questions right now, questions — the obvious ones like: Is Iran really the greatest threat we face? And, who’s actually benefiting from this? And, why are we continuing to ignore the decline of our own country, in favor of jumping into another quagmire, from which there’s no obvious exit? If we’re still in Afghanistan 19 sad years later, what makes us think there’s a quick way out of Iran? And so on. Nobody’s thinking like that right now.
Instead, chest-beaters like Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska make the usual warlike noises — the ones they always make. “This is very simple,” Sasse wrote in a statement last night. “General Soleimani is dead because he was an evil bastard who murdered Americans,” which is essentially true. Soleimani was a bad guy. But does that make killing him, quote, “very simple”? Of course not. Nothing about life, and certainly not about killing, is ever “very simple.” Any politician who tells you otherwise is dumb or lying.
Yes, Soleimani was linked to the deaths of Americans. But Mexico and China are also linked to deaths of Americans. Each has flooded our country with narcotics, from which tens of thousands of Americans die every single year. So does that mean we get to bomb Oaxaca? Can we start assassinating generals in the People’s Liberation Army? Maybe Ben Sasse will call for that too. Like a lot of former consultants, he’s a very tough character.
But before we enter into a single new war, a criterion that ought to be met. Our leaders should be required to explain how the conflict will make the United States richer and more secure. There are a lot of bad people in this world. We can’t kill them all. It isn’t our job. Our government exists to defend and promote the interests of American citizens. Period. That’s why we have a government. Has the killing of Soleimani done that? Maybe. No one’s in Washington is explaining how. Instead, like Ben Sasse, they’re telling us what an awful person he was. He clearly was. So? That’s irrelevant.
Meanwhile, it’s pretty clear that things could start to move in the wrong direction pretty quickly. We’re praying they don’t but they could. How do we know? Because we’ve seen it before.
We’ve fought quite a number of wars in and around the Middle East in recent decades. We attacked Saddam Hussein twice, as you know. In the end, we killed him. We invaded and occupied Afghanistan. We toppled Mommar Qaddafi in Libya. We fought ISIS in Syria and then stuck around afterward for some reason. We’ve joined humanitarian missions in Lebanon and Somalia. Our special forces have been quietly fighting in Yemen, Pakistan, Niger, who knows where else. Many other places.
In every single place, the conflicts have turned out to be longer, bloodier, and more expensive than we were promised. The benefits — often they been non-existent: A lot of lectures about how the people we’re killing deserve to die. I hope that makes you feel better.
What do the American people feel about all of this, no that anyone cares? It’s too soon to know what they think of killing Soleimani, but just five months ago, after months of supposed Iranian provocation, Americans didn’t seem to view Iran as a major concern. Not even close.
In a Gallup poll last August, just 18% of Americans said they backed military force to shut down Iran’s nuclear program. Seventy-eight percent said they preferred diplomacy and economic sanctions alone.
So in democracy you would think this would matter. But as is so often the case, the preferences of actual Americans don’t enter the equation. They’re immaterial. In 2016, Donald Trump ran on a promise of fewer foreign adventures considering the ones we embarked upon didn’t go very well. He vowed instead to focus on America’s problems here at home, which are growing. Against the odds, he won that election probably because of that promise. But ever since, Washington, including some around the president, have been committed to ignoring the results of that election and its implications. Washington has wanted war with Iran for decades. They have been working toward it. They may have finally gotten it.
Follow Jeff Poor on Twitter @jeff_poor