The President's Address
President Trump addressed the nation this morning from the White House Grand Foyer, flanked by Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and the top commanders of the U.S. Armed Forces. That imagery was an unmistakable message to the leadership in Tehran.
The president began his remarks by stating that "Iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon," and that there were no U.S. casualties as a result of last night's attack.
He noted that Iran has been a destructive and destabilizing force in the Middle East since 1979, and that the regime's belligerent behavior got worse, not better, after the terrible 2015 nuclear deal.
The president also repeated a statement I have often made, which is that U.S. taxpayers likely subsidized the very weapons Iran just fired at our troops.
President Trump reiterated the justification for taking out General Qassem Soleimani, saying his hands were "drenched in both American and Iranian blood," and he announced new sanctions against Iran.
He also urged NATO to become more involved in the Middle East, stressing that U.S. energy independence has significantly changed our options. Europe is far more dependent on Middle East energy than we are. It is time for our European allies to step up for their own good, instead of whining about what we are not doing for them.
The president concluded his statement by warning the tyrants of Tehran, "Your campaign of terror, murder and mayhem will not be tolerated any longer."
He also extended an invitation to the people of Iran, saying, "We want you to have a great future of prosperity at home and harmony with the nations of the world. The United States is ready to embrace peace with all who seek it."
If last night's ineffectual missile barrage is the extent of Iran's response, then the United States, under the leadership of President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, has accomplished a great victory. But don't hold your breath waiting for the media to tell you that.
We took out Iran's top general, a man many considered the second-most-important leader in Iran, even ahead of President Hassan Rouhani. Gen. Soleimani was certainly Iran's leading military strategist and the coordinator of the regime's multiple terrorist proxy forces throughout the Middle East.
In response, Iran created a few potholes at two Iraqi bases that house U.S. forces.
Don't get me wrong. Iran has an extremely capable and lethal missile inventory, as well as the knowledge to deploy it. We saw that from their impressive strike against Saudi oil facilities in September. So I must conclude that Iran chose to be ineffective last night.
Why would they do that? They likely made such a decision because they fear that President Trump, if provoked enough, will attack the Iranian homeland and perhaps target other regime leaders. After eight years of Obama's appeasement, Iran's mullahs are in the middle of an attitude adjustment.
Obviously, this is a very fluid situation, and events may prove my analysis wrong. There are mixed messages coming out of the regime today.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted "Iran took & concluded proportionate measures. . . We do not seek escalation or war." That's good.
But Iranian state TV is claiming that 80 U.S. soldiers were killed. Moreover, the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, declared that Iran's response was "a slap in the face" to America, adding, "Military action like this is not sufficient. What is important is ending the corrupting presence of America in the region."
We will see how the Iranian regime behaves in the weeks and months ahead.
Soleimani Was Bad, But . . .
The entire leadership of the progressive movement in the United States, and virtually every Democrat presidential contender and congressional leader has repeatedly said in the past 72 hours, "Soleimani was bad, but. . ." The word "but" should never follow the acknowledgement that Soleimani was a murderous thug.
Over the last several decades, Qassem Soleimani has been implicated in multiple events that have taken hundreds of American lives and thousands of lives of people in the Middle East who refused to be dominated by Iran.
A very quick online search I did last night found a curious lack of statements by left-wing politicians condemning Soleimani's evil deeds over the last decade. I'm left with the sad and disturbing conclusion that many progressives and leftists were willing to tolerate Soleimani's murderous actions because they lacked the will to do anything about it.
Sadly, I suspect that a more comprehensive search of quotes will find little if anything by Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders or Nancy Pelosi expressing as much anger at Soleimani as they are directing at Donald Trump because he ended Soleimani's reign of terror. It is almost as if Soleimani had a vote in the Iowa caucuses.
Here's a perfect example of what I mean. John Brennan, Obama's CIA director, was on MSNBC yesterday. When asked to explain why the Obama Administration did not take Soleimani out, Brennan said this:
"Because I don't see what the -- either U.S. or international legal basis would be to strike and assassinate a senior government official of a sovereign state. . . So again, we tracked him, we tried to frustrate his efforts, but there was never a discussion in my experience during the Obama Administration to target Soleimani for an assassination."
Just to be clear, no one is suggesting that we call in drone strikes against Iran's foreign minister or that we take out Iran's ambassador to Iraq. Describing Soleimani as merely a "senior government official" sanitizes his long record of war crimes, atrocities and terrorism.
Soleimani was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American soldiers. What additional legal basis did Obama and Brennan think they needed? And how many American soldiers died or were maimed because they refused to even have that discussion, much less act accordingly?
Ponder this question and tell me if it makes you as concerned as it does me: If all these so-called "leaders" of one of America's two great political parties are afraid of Iran now, what do you think they will do once Iran obtains nuclear weapons?
Even without nuclear weapons, Barack Obama and far too many U.S. politicians were willing to tolerate attacks on oil tankers, the harassment of ships in international waters, the capture and humiliation of American sailors, the shooting down of drones, Hezbollah sleeper cells positioned in the United States and around the world, and the murder and maiming of our soldiers.
Not one prominent figure on the left seems determined to do anything about it. If the American people decide that is the approach they prefer rather than what Donald Trump did, we are in deep trouble.