President Donald Trump’s order to take out Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force Commander General Qassem Soleimani in Iraq on Thursday is being criticized by Democrats as an “act of war.”
They fail to recognize that Iran has been the aggressor for months, most recently using proxies to attack Americans in Iraq and storm our embassy in Baghdad.
Moreover, Soleimani’s death actually improves the prospects for peace by encouraging the Iranian people to stand up against their rulers.
Recall that in June 2019, President Trump was prepared to attack Iran itself, after the Iranian military downed a U.S. Navy drone in international waters. “We were cocked & loaded,” Trump tweeted, until he asked how many Iranian civilians would die as a result.
When he was told that up to 150 could lose their lives, Trump called off the attack, saying it was not “proportionate,” and adding: “I am in no hurry.”
Iran has continued its provocations since then, firing missiles at Saudi Arabia, a key U.S. ally, in September. The U.S. called that an “act of war,” but did not respond, except by sending more American troops to the region.
Trump also boosted sanctions, and backed protests against the regime, but continued to reach out diplomatically, negotiating for the release of U.S. prisoners and tweeting: “See, we can make a deal together!”
What Trump made clear was that he was open to diplomatic solutions, and would not risk Iranian civilian lives in response to attacks on machines.
Where Iran crossed the line was in using its proxies to attack Americans, killing a civilian contractor and wounding several soldiers in rocket attacks last week. When the U.S. attacked the militias, Iran sent them to march on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. They also reportedly planned to attack U.S. consulates to kill diplomats.
The U.S. media called the violence Trump’s own “Benghazi,” a reference to the September 2012 attack by terrorists against the U.S. consulate in that Libyan city, which led to the murders of four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.
But Trump had already made clear that he would hold Iran responsible for attacks on Americans and the embassy. “They will pay a very BIG PRICE! This is not a Warning, it is a Threat,” he tweeted on Tuesday, adding jovially: “Happy New Year!”
Thursday’s air strike caught the overconfident Iranians by surprise and managed to shock the entire region. The same Democrats who mocked Trump on Tuesday were suddenly calling for restraint Thursday.
It is ironic to hear Democrats like Ben Rhodes, a former gopher for President Barack Obama, complain about the lack of congressional authorization for the attack, when he defended the unauthorized (and disastrous) Libya War. They are shrieking about the risk of war, while claiming that Trump is not qualified to command U.S. forces.
But Trump has done more than take out Iran’s top terrorist: he has also extended an olive branch to the Iranian people.
Six months ago, Trump called off airstrikes to save Iranian civilians. Now, he has taken out their “most revered” (really: most notorious) general on the battlefield.
The message to the Iranian people was clear: America is not against you, but against your oppressors.
As if to help Trump, Iranian state TV reportedly stopped all programming to broadcast tributes to Soleimani. The Iranian people know: Trump cares more about them than their leaders do.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.