The Democrats must be incredibly frustrated. They’ve spent the past three years waiting for Donald Trump to commit a foreign policy misstep, but instead all they’ve had to criticize is victory after victory.
President Trump’s decision to take out the brutal Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani before he could orchestrate another attack on American interests demonstrates that this president is easily the most astute foreign policy tactician to occupy the White House since Ronald Reagan—who, perhaps not coincidentally, the Democrats also loved to falsely portray as a reckless warmonger.
In just three years, Trump has managed to restore America’s standing in the world while steering our country clear of the endless foreign wars and open-ended military entanglements favored by his predecessors.
Just moments after Iran-backed militants attacked the U.S. embassy Baghdad, President Trump made the call to ramp up our military presence in the region to protect American lives. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper warned that Washington was also prepared to take preemptive military action against the militants in order to prevent a follow-up attack—which is exactly what President Trump instructed them to do with the strike that killed Soleimani, a terrorist responsible for thousands of deaths, including hundreds of American soldiers.
“We took action last night to stop a war,” President Trump said after authorizing the strike. “We did not take action to start a war.”
The Least-Aggressive Response
The president’s political opponents nonetheless were quick to accuse him of courting a war with Iran, which is downright laughable in light of his consistent emphasis on military restraint.
In reality, the drone strike that eliminated one of Iran’s most dangerous generals represented a far less aggressive response to Iranian provocation than the one President Reagan ordered in 1988 after Iranian mines damaged an American warship. In retaliation for that incident, Reagan ordered the largest naval surface engagement since World War II, destroying about half of Iran’s fleet. Rather than escalating a conflict it could not hope to win, Iran actually curtailed its belligerence, agreeing to a cease-fire ending the Iran-Iraq War.
President Trump’s strike sent the same basic message about America’s might and resolve, but technological advances over the intervening decades meant he could do it with only a fraction of the cost and risk associated with a direct naval battle.
From a purely political perspective, the Left’s criticism is almost understandable. It must be infuriating to wait for a foreign policy blunder while watching America win time and again under President Trump’s leadership.
When it comes to patriotism, though, the Democrats’ cynicism is boundless.
Unfortunately, the Democrats have placed their hatred of Donald Trump above doing what’s best for this country, putting them in the awkward position of consistently condemning effective measures that enhance our national security.
Refreshing Foreign Policy Realism
The killing of Soleimani is hardly the only example of President Trump’s foreign policy brilliance. Last year, for instance, the president authorized a special forces raid against Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS. Not a single American died in an operation that dealt a crippling blow to the caliphate, which had already been stripped of its territory and much of its influence thanks to the determined efforts of the Trump Administration.
“Last night was a great night for the United States and for the world,” President Trump said at the time. “A brutal killer, one who has caused so much hardship and death has violently been eliminated.”
Similarly, the president’s enforcement of his predecessor’s “red line” in Syria—launching a devastating strike against Syrian air assets after the regime conducted a chemical weapons attack against civilians—demonstrated that large-scale troop deployments are a last resort for this administration, which prefers to accomplish foreign policy goals through more measured and targeted means.
President Trump’s handling of complicated geopolitical predicaments in Eastern Europe and Asia also deserves praise. The commander-in-chief has tamed Russia’s aggressive territorial aspirations by continuing to sanction Moscow for its aggression against Ukraine, and by providing Ukraine with the lethal military aid it needs to defend its territory. Likewise, the president has implemented strategic counter-tariffs on China, undercutting the Communist regime’s economy and, consequently, constraining its menacing fixation on military expansion and modernization.
Establishment politicians spent years, and in some cases decades, trying to accomplish each of these objectives, but ended up with little to show for America’s sacrifices in blood and treasure. President Trump had a very different plan, and his assertive restraint has proven incredibly effective.
The operation that killed Soleimani is a perfect illustration of how this president’s approach is able to achieve stunning victories without needlessly sacrificing American lives. Donald Trump has implemented the most visionary foreign policy strategy this country has had since Ronald Reagan won the Cold War without having to engage in a costly war against the Soviet Union.