Historical perspective on President Trump’s authorization of the drone attack that killed General Qasem Soleimani, head of the Iranian Quds force, is important. As left-leaning Democrats, Hollywood actors and actresses, erstwhile football players, and Trump detractors second-guess the president, Iran’s actions – and this general’s – offer a strong argument for Trump’s decisive act.
Key facts explain why the decision to strike Soleimani right now – like hitting terrorist leader Baghdadi earlier this year – was timely, defensive, preemptive and wise.
Seldom do geopolitical variables align neatly – with means, opportunity and a chance to hold bad actors accountable for past acts, while also preventing future bloodshed. That is, however, what happened in this case.
By public reporting, Soleimani led Quds force, the “unconventional warfare” arm of Iran’s terror-promoting Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC. In that role, over the past three decades, he has been a formative influence in killing thousands of people – promoting Islamic radical objectives.
Beginning in 1979, with the Islamic Revolution that overturned Iran’s government and installed “Supreme Leader” Ayatollah Khamenei, Quds Force has pursued violent activities, from unconventional warfare against Iraq to seeding an expansive, global, Iranian terror network.
Within that network, Quds Force has methodically trained, equipped, informed, and materially supported terrorist Hezbollah, Hamas and others in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, the former Yugoslavia, and countless nations within and beyond the Middle East.
Recently, Iran’s IRGC – including Quds, under Soleimani – has been responsible for advancing actual and nascent civil war in Yemen, Syria, and Iraq, bold attacks on foreign oil tankers in the Gulf, downing an unmanned US drone over international waters, and setting ablaze a Saudi oil refinery. IRGC is also responsible for IEDs that killed and maimed Americans in Iraq.
Internally, they turned terror on the Iranian people, with the Ayatollah authorizing “whatever means necessary” to suppress popular demonstrations in 100 cities inside Iran in recent months. Reports indicate more than 1500 innocent Iranians were killed in recent weeks by live fire.
More immediately, the IRGC has guided attacks on defensive US and allied posts in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere across the Middle East, aiming to foment unrest, expand anti-Sunni civil wars, provoke a major US reaction, and pressure the West to lift sanctions imposed for past terror, clandestine ballistic missile launches, and nuclear weapons development.
Objectively, the more desperate Iran has become in building ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons, destabilizing the region and pushing radical Islam through terror, the tighter the Trump Administration has made economic sanctions.
Notably, the Trump Administration has pressed for Iranian accountability, even without European support. Inexplicably, given appeasement’s failure, Europe continues to “feed the beast,” bypassing US sanctions to make money off the Islamic theocracy’s rogue ambitions.
In any event, the past week brought matters to a head. Not only has Iran been glibly ramping up terror in the region, but – even after multiple open warnings – the IRGC, Quds Force and Soleimani himself zeroed on US peacekeepers, diplomats and allies. Last week, they fired rockets into multiple locations in Iraq, killing a US contractor plus allied personnel, rocketed the US embassy, and reportedly assisted violent unrest surrounding the US embassy.
After holding fire, in the face of mounting Iranian surrogate attacks, President Trump finally learned two new facts. One was that the Iranian Quds general and malefactor Soleimani was planning a major attack on US and allied personnel. The second was that he was at the Baghdad airport, presumably to guide impending violence.
Under these circumstances, as when opportunity arose to rid the region of Baghdadi, head of ISIS – President Trump did not hesitate. Nor should he have. In the late 1990s, President Clinton had the opportunity to take out an ambitious, radical Islamic terrorist named bin Laden – and passed. America and the world paid a price for that hesitation.
Notably, while some argue the point, removing the Quds Force leader, an aggressive, seasoned, and malignant force across the Middle East, may prove more significant than removing either bin Laden or Baghdadi – both of whom were in retrograde at death. By contrast, Soleimani was in ascendance – with the goal of elevating violence against the US and allies ahead.
The measure of how significant this loss is to Iran’s terrorism push, will be the reaction Iran has to the event. President Trump has made clear he is pulling no punches. The US and our regional allies are tiring of increased radical Islamic terrorism. We are tiring of Iran’s push for ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons. Appeasement failed, as it always will. We do not want a war – and have not precipitated direct attacks on Iran, despite provocations.
That said, this president is not going to roll over. Ending the threat posed by Soleimani – and preventing near-term attacks – was necessary. Iran can now draw back from violence, find a way to the diplomatic table, and reenter the community of civilized nations. But if this violent theocracy continues a malignant course, expect America to respond directly. Historical perspective teaches that – on Iran – decisive action can be necessary.