Trump just spoke to the American people, the world, and to Iran after Iran’s purely symbolic response to Soleimani’s liquidation. This is a yuge win for Trump. He just rewrote the world’s geopolitics. Democrats who took the side of Iran should find that a costly mistake.
My initial thoughts are that this speech marks an inflection point both in Trump’s Presidency and for the security of the world. Trump will benefit enormously from his handling of the Soleimani incident. The world will benefit because Iran is now much less likely to acquire nuclear weapons.
Trump looks like a decisive leader.
Give credit where credit is due. No President since 1979 has held the mullahs to account for their terrorism and proxy wars against America and its interests, with the limited exception of Ronald Reagan, and even that was for a direct provocation. Carter appeared emasculated during the Hostage Crisis. Reagan pulled troops from Lebanon after the bombing of the Marine Barracks. Clinton did not respond to the Khobar Towers bombing. Bush knew of Iran’s / Soleimani’s deadly targeting of American soldiers in Iraq but did nothing. Obama did nothing when Soleimani’s Quods force planned terrorist attacks in Washington D.C. For years, the theocrats in Iran believed themselves virtually unstoppable by the West.
Forty-one years of history informed Iran’s Supreme Leader when he tweeted out on January 2, 2020, that Trump couldn’t “do anything” in response to the murder of Americans or the attack on our Baghdad Embassy. On Jan. 3, Donald Trump changed all of those rules, taking an action that our former politicians and military leaders were afraid to take. Trump targeted and killed Qassem Soleimani, the second most powerful man in Iran, for his role in planning and executing terrorist and proxy attacks against the U.S.
As General David Petraeus said in a recent interview,
[Soleimani] was our most significant Iranian adversary during my four years in Iraq, [and] certainly when I was the Central Command commander, and very much so when I was the director of the CIA. He is unquestionably the most significant and important — or was the most significant and important — Iranian figure in the region, the most important architect of the effort by Iran to solidify control of the Shia crescent, and the operational commander of the various initiatives that were part of that effort.
[It is] impossible to overstate the significance of this action. This is much more substantial than the killing of Osama bin Laden. It’s even more substantial than the killing of Baghdadi.
Trump looked like a Statesman
Trump could have spiked the football during his speech, but he didn’t, or at least not to excess. Instead, he emphatically held out a hand to Iran to open negotiations to end their isolation by ending terrorism and their nuclear ambitions. That is precisely what one would expect of a mature politician who does not want war, but who refuses to accept peace on Iran’s terms.
Democrats look not merely weak, but as if they are embracing and protecting Iran
Democrats and the progressive media look like they’re defending Iran’s murdering of Americans and their march to a nuclear weapon. The advertise it in their embrace of the now dead Iran Deal, their calling Trump reckless for the Soleimani targeting, and in Nancy Pelosi’s leading the effort in Congress to take away Trump’s authority as Commander in Chief to respond to Iranian attacks. In all of that, Democrats are acting as if Trump, rather than Iran, is their biggest enemy.
Trump’s combination of decisive action and measured response, in light of Iran’s symbolic and pathetic response, puts the spot light on the validity of Trump’s actions in comparison to the Left’s endless calls for toothless dialog and reinstating the Iran Deal. This may well be the central issue of the 2020 campaign.
Iran’s utterly symbolic missile attack of last night exposed just how weak the Iranian theocracy actually is.
Iran responded to the liquidation of Soleimani with a missile attack that can only be explained as being deliberately targeted not to kill Americans or seriously harm American interests. It was an act of utter weakness.
Iran, with its extensive terrorist and proxy network, has a thousand ways to inflict damage on the U.S. and its interests. It is impossible to defend against that. But the U.S. can react to it — and that puts Iran’s theocracy is in a perilous position.
There was a time when Iran could make noise in the Persian Gulf and seriously impact the U.S. and world economies by driving up the price of oil. But, as Trump pointed out in his speech, the U.S. is now the world’s biggest producer of oil. What Trump did not say, but what he alluded to, was that Iran has lost its leverage on the U.S.
Importantly, over half of Iran’s economy is based on producing and refining oil. Those activities take place at fixed positions that the U.S. could destroy in an hour without endangering the any U.S. soldiers. — or the U.S. economy. And Donald Trump, over the past few days, has signaled his willingness to pull that trigger. Those realities are now out in the open. Thus Iran responded with sound and fury, signifying nothing.
It is not an overstatement to say that Iran fully recognizes that, in its bloody competition with the U.S., it is the U.S. that now holds the Trump card.
Iran’s drive to a nuclear weapon is now off the Iran Deal glide path and is at the top of our foreign agenda once again.
From 2006 through 2012, the single most important foreign policy issue was Iran’s drive to a nuclear arsenal. Obama lied to America about his intentions, and only after being elected did he turn around and make a deal, putting Iran on a glide path to a nuclear arsenal. Ben Rhodes, who bragged about manipulating the press corps, started an echo chamber effect to get this Deal signed. Thank God that deal is now dead — and not just mostly dead, but really most sincerely dead.
Future NATO Involvement
Trump is not going it alone against Iran. Trump stated that he will be bringing in NATO to take part in what amounts to a future military coalition aimed at ending Iran’s nuclear ambitions and terrorist actions. That is incredibly smart of him. One, it sets up Iran as a rogue nation operating against the joint interests of the West. Two, it forces all of Europe to take a share of responsibility in stopping Iran’s nuclear ambitions and terrorism. Three, from the standpoint of domestic politics, if Trump builds a coalition, it will completely short-circuit criticism of Trump’s position from the left.
Let me just finish by saying, well played, President Trump. Well played.
UPDATE: Scott Adams, the master of persuasion, agrees: