Phillipian Commentary: Another One Bites the Dust

On January 3rd, President Trump carried out possibly the most controversial and bold move of his presidency: the strike of Qassem Soleimani. Soleimani was the right-hand man of Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, and many believed that he would succeed Khamenei. 

I believe that the strike on Soleimani was completely justified, both legally and strategically. President Trump was in complete accordance with the law and he managed to set up a strong deterrence against the Iranian Regime. But still, many of Trump’s avid critics were quick to carp and find fault in the action. 2020 Presidential Candidate Elizabeth Warren even went so far as to refer to Soleimani as a “senior foreign military official,” completely disregarding the countless number of atrocities the man committed.

In my eyes, Soleimani was, put simply, a monster. He headed the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Forces, a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist group. He was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American soldiers, reportedly killing a whopping 17 percent of all troops in Iraq. He armed Hezbollah, a radical Islamist terrorist organization, with artillery to attack the State of Israel, a U.S. ally. And he was responsible for plotting a series of terror plots around the globe, including the latest attack on the US Embassy in Baghdad. He was not a nice guy—he was an enemy of America, our allies, and really anyone concerned about extremism and terrorism. 

Some concede that, although Soleimani was an evil man, his killing was inopportune or unjustified. Wrong, once again. Soleimani was a U.S.-designated terrorist commander who, at the time of his death, was reportedly planning future attacks on the U.S. Many have doubted this claim pushed by several members of the Trump Administration. But really, this is a minor detail. Even if Soleimani did not pose an imminent threat to the U.S., his death would still be justified. Parallels can be drawn to the strike on Osama bin Laden back in 2011. Both terrorists held massive power in their hands and were capable, whether they were planning to or not, of inflicting great damage onto the U.S. and our allies. Based on the fact that they were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans each, their deaths should come as triumphs. 

But shouldn’t Trump have alerted Congress, even if the killing of Soleimani was justified? No, not necessarily. The Authorizations for Use of Military Force passed by Congress in 2001 and 2002, which allow for US military action without congressional approval in certain cases, remain in effect and most certainly cover the grounds this strike. Some argue that the resolutions do not specifically authorize the use of military force in Iran. And, granted, that is true. However, the 2001 AUMF in particular exists to  “prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States…” And considering the terroristic endeavors Soleimani has authorized and conducted, the resolution should, in my opinion, definitely apply. 

I imagine that the opposition to the strike on Soleimani—particularly Democrats—will be shocked to learn that these very same resolutions allowed the Obama administration to carry out its hundreds of drone strikes. 

But what’s more surprising is how this issue falls almost perfectly among party lines. This shouldn’t be a partisan issue, especially between political opponents. The fact that it is is quite frankly horrifying. This should not be a Left versus Right issue. This is an American issue. As an American, one should be grateful and happy that Soleimani is dead. 

Of course, this doesn’t mean that the strike won’t come with consequences—it most definitely will. And anyone who isn’t thinking about the future of America’s relationship with Iran is not thinking straight. But Trump’s order was not just a spiteful or ill-calculated killing. More important than killing a terror leader, in my opinion, was the deterrence it set up. Trump showed Iran that there were lines, and when those lines were crossed (like having one of their top generals orchestrate an attack on a U.S. embassy) consequences inevitably follow. Trump understood that Obama’s past attempts to negotiate with Iran failed miserably and only increased the regime’s terrorist domination, and decided to go for what I believe to be a much more stable route. 

So now all that we can do is wait. No, not to be drafted for World War III. To watch the Iranian regime take in, for the first time in a long time, a large pushback to their continued actions of violence against the US and our allies. If they decide to back off, as they should, it will be good for all parties concerned. If not, they will most definitely suffer the consequences, as President Trump has made crystal clear.