While we knew he would be great for the economy, the biggest gamble for many of Trump’s supporters in 2016 was “can we trust him with foreign policy, especially the military?”
We needn’t have worried.
In both cases, our high hopes for the former and our concerns for the latter have both been met with pleasant surprise.
President Trump’s most recent non-troversy — the targeted execution of Iranian terrorist commander Qassem Solemani — is the perfect illustration of this. Unlike President Obama, Trump is not bowing (or actively supporting) hostile foreign interests, nor is he, like President Bush, bogging us down in land wars with no apparent exit strategy.
Opinion is divided. Left-wing media share images of Iranian leaders burning American flags while Trump supporters share images of Iranian students refusing to step on Old Glory. Indeed, even Fox acknowledges voters are split on the matter, calling their response much “murkier” than glowing approval of the economy under Trump.
The most vitriolic among us have accused Trump of trying to start World War III, while ignoring that we’ve sort of always been at war with Iran, from the time they attacked our embassy in 1979. Iran’s attempted 2011 bombing in Washington, D.C., was an act of war, according to former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, as was Iran’s recent attack on our Saudi allies’ oil facilities last year.
So, Trump didn’t start a war with Iran — we’ve been in a cold war with them for decades.
Unlike Trump’s predecessor, the current president has decided to fight back rather than shrug his shoulders (or fuel their military goals with taxpayer dollars). The question now is, will Iran back down or will they lash out, either at the U.S. homeland or any of our Arab allies, particularly with biological weapons of mass destruction.
As far back as 1999, U.S. intelligence suspected Iran was acquiring stocks of smallpox. While Iran feigned interest in destroying all military stockpiles of the virus in 2011, they spent the next five years developing their own chemical warfare capabilities, which they used against Kurdish fighters in 2016. Iran was lying about its facilities to obtain banned toxic weapons in 2018, and by 2019 the State Department released a report arguing Iran was open defiance of international conventions on banned chemical weapons.
If Iran managed to deploy a smallpox attack on U.S. soil, however, its potential to cause harm would be very, very small. The U.S. has approved a first-of-its-kind smallpox treatment, TPOXX, with a supply of this vaccine on hand in the event of hostile agents deploying smallpox as a bioweapon. However, while the drug is approved, there probably isn't enough of it stockpiled in the event that Iran used smallpox on a major U.S. city. A small investment now in more of the treatment could save a lot in the future in terms of both life and cost.
There is still the long-term concern that Iran might develop nuclear capabilities, a possibility that jeopardizes not just the stability of the Middle East but the entire world. Thanks to the 2015 nuclear deal under the Obama Administration, the rogue state is that much closer to its goal. As National Review reported, “The Iran deal in 2015 was all that Iran could dream for. Tehran got a blank check to continue its nuclear research under the guise of ‘peaceful’ nuclear development. Sanctions were dropped, sending billions of dollars into the Iranian economy that dampened popular unrest, fueled Iranian terrorist appendages in Syria and Iran, and fed its missile and drone force aimed at Israel and the Arab Gulf states.”
With Obama out of office, the amount of damage he can do to world peace is limited now only to what he says. Should the Iranian regime continue to step out of line, we can be confident that President Trump will meet their behavior with some more pleasant surprises.
Jared Whitley is a long-time politico who has worked in the U.S. Congress, White House, and defense industry. He is an award-winning writer, having won best blogger in the state from the Utah Society of Professional Journalists (2018) and best columnist from Best of the West (2016). He earned his MBA from Hult International Business School in Dubai. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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