Killing Iran’s military mastermind was the right decision.
The decision to attack Iranian terrorist mastermind Qassim Soleimani was the right one. The fact that it succeeded killing him should be welcomed rather than second-guessed.
Not only was he responsible for Iranian military operations that have killed hundreds of U.S. soldiers and thousands of civilians in Iraq, he was actively orchestrating ongoing attacks on our troops there.
President Trump has demonstrated great patience and restraint in dealing with recent Iranian aggression. Recall Iran’s attacks last year on oil tankers in international waters of the Persian Gulf. Or Iran’s shooting down a U.S. reconnaissance drone flying in international air space.
Yet when he was told a planned U.S. retaliation strike against Iranian rocket launching sites might kill nearby civilians, Mr. Trump called it off.
Those are not the actions of a trigger-happy President. But after more recent attacks by Shiite militias in Iraq directed by Gen. Soleimani that killed Americans, and the storming of the U.S. Embassy in Bagdad by these same militias, President Trump was right to say "enough is enough."
It’s important to note that General Soleimani was killed in Iraq, not in his home country of Iran. For years he had ranged freely across Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, planning and executing acts of war against Americans.
His military operations were a threat to the entire Mideast region, especially Israel. Let’s remember Iran’s overarching purpose is destroying Israel and defeating the United States. When Iranian Ayatollahs’ rabid followers chant "Death to America," "Death to Israel," they mean it.
If past is prologue, all we must do is look back to the history of terrorist leaders in the Mideast, beginning with Osama Bin Laden. For years the U.S. knew he was fomenting acts of terrorism against the U.S. For years the U.S. tracked and hunted him, and even tried to kill him on several occasions.
In 1998 — at then-President Bill Clinton’s orders — cruise missiles were fired at Bin Laden’s Afghanistan camps, apparently just missing him. In 2000 a CIA-directed attack on a convoy carrying Bin Laden again narrowly missed him.
Imagine how differently Sept. 11, 2001 might have passed had the U.S. been successful in killing its mastermind.
Today, with the benefit of this hindsight, the U.S. has every right to kill terrorists and their leaders before they can kill us. When President Trump authorized the attack killing ISIS terrorist leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi last October, the Mideast region and the world were ridded of a violent menace.
The same goes for General Soleimani. Former CIA Director David Petraeus called Soleimani’s killing even more significant than the death of Bin Laden or Al-Baghdadi. "It's impossible to overstate the significance of the attack that takes out Soleimani. This is bigger than bin Laden. It's bigger than Baghdadi.”
For too many years Iran has sown discord and conflict in the Mideast.
It has stirred trouble in Lebanon with it’s support of Hezbollah, a terrorist organization which regularly fires missiles at Israel. It helped foment a brutal civil war in Yemen, backing an insurgency that relies on Iranian support. No corner of the Mideast has been free from Iranian aggression and interventions. And at every turn, the Iranian military leader calling the shots was General Soleimani.
But by far the worst threat Iran poses to the entire world is in its relentless pursuit of nuclear weapons. Consider the danger of a nuclear-armed Iran. Under the threat of nuclear war, it could take terrorism to even more violent heights. And it clearly intends to pursue nuclear weapons if the rest of the world tolerates its nuclear ambitions.
Experts warn that Iran is no more than a year or two away from a bomb, with or without the now defunct nuclear deal that aimed to prevent it. The only questions remaining are when will Iran have a bomb or when will the world stop it?
President Trump, in his measured response to Iran’s face-saving but relatively harmless "revenge attack" on U.S. airbases in Iraq, said to Iran’s people "We want you to have a great future, one that you deserve, one of prosperity at home in harmony with the nations of the world. The United States is ready to embrace peace with all who seek it."
Just the right words.
And just the right balance.
There’s a reason the proud eagle in the Great Seal of the United States brandishes arrows in one talon and offers olive branches in the other.
This column was originally published in the Long Island Herald Community Newspapers.
Former Senator D’Amato served a distinguished 18-year career in the U.S. Senate, where he chaired the Senate Banking Committee and was a member of the Senate Appropriations and Finance Committees. While in the Senate, Mr. D’Amato also Chaired of the U.S. Commission on Cooperation and Security in Europe (CSCE), and served on the Senate Intelligence Committee. The former Senator is considered an expert in the legislative and political process, who maintains close relationships with Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. He is regularly called upon for his advice and counsel, and is recognized for his incisive analysis of national and international political affairs. The former Senator will share insights gained from his years in Washington “with a clear-eyed view of the political forces that shape the world we live in today.” To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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