by Conrad Black
The predicted has happened in Iran and more quickly than had been expected. On the evening of the day on which the Iranian authorities managed to bungle the funeral of their late terrorist chief, Qasem Soleimani, at least 50 people were trampled to death in their grief, and the crisis over the supposed escalation of hostilities subsided. (At least, unlike during the funeral of the Iranian theocracy’s founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the coffin did not fly open, spilling the corpse on the mourners.)
Nothing could be more obvious than the point made here and elsewhere, but particularly by President Trump, that Iran was in no position to do serious damage to the United States, and could not aspire to more than squalid and cowardly terrorist action against embassies and civilians and other relatively vulnerable targets, while the United States had already identified every significant military target in Iran and could obliterate them all within 30 minutes.
These are military facts that no one sought to deny or could deny; the president had made it clear in his remarks and demonstrated in his actions that any attack on Americans would elicit a severe and disproportionate response.
So the only possible scenario that justified the wails of alarm the floundering assortment of Democratic presidential candidates could muster to bring about the war they quickly foresaw was if the Iranian leadership were, like some of their operatives, on a suicide mission.
Obviously, defanged, psychopathic, and primitive though they are, the Iranians are not so filled with a supernatural inferno of misplaced piety and fervor that they wish to precipitate themselves into eternity prematurely. Tuesday night’s launch of 12 missiles from Iran into Iraq apparently at Iraqi targets and which did not injure any Americans and was styled by the Iranian government information service as the regime’s response to the death of Soleimani, does not require an American military response and evinces a desire to de-escalate.
President Trump checked all the right boxes on Wednesday morning: he welcomed de-escalation, repeated that the United States would not tolerate Tehran acquiring nuclear weapons (which under the Obama agreement could be done without contravening it in six years), said he would not tolerate attacks on Americans or American installations, and would at any time have substantive discussions toward a resolution of outstanding problems without preconditions. He repeated that the United States was not seeking regime change in Iran, and that the United States has nothing but goodwill for the Iranian people.
The killing of Soleimani, which all the Democrats described as an assassination despite the fact that an informal war on terror has been in progress since the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks of September 11, 2001, was denounced by all the prominent Democratic contenders as an impetuous escalation that Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said brought us to the “brink of war” with Iran—an expression charged with visions of the dispatch of another 200,000 ground soldiers to slog around in the desert for another decade in replication of past administrations.
Former Vice President Joe Biden saw Soleimani’s death as an opportunity to trot out his useful experience and attacked Trump for departing the Obama-Iran seven-power agreement for the 10-year progress of Iran toward deployment of nuclear-tipped long-range missiles, only a moderate delay on what was scientifically attainable for them.
Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), made the excellent point that the missiles launched in the retaliatory attack on Tuesday night were acquired with cash released to Iran as part of the $150 billion signing bonus Obama gave Iran for consenting to wait (without verification) a decade before deploying their nuclear missiles.
It is clear that the president has scored a triple victory: the world’s leading terrorist is dead (and in the circumstances, it hardly qualifies as an assassination), in the manner of Osama bin Laden and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in an act of condign and exemplary justice. Iran has signaled that it has received the message and will be more careful about the routine perpetration of terrorist acts involving Americans, and the Tehran regime has been humbled before its militant followers and that large swath of the Muslim world which utters formulaic demurrals from terrorist acts but is too fearful, cynical, and cautious to declare unreservedly its support of the forces of counterterrorism.
It is indicative of the creeping irresolution of the Democratic Party that almost all of its spokespeople have embraced the disgraceful Obama-Iran agreement and have tried to petrify the country with fear that if anything other than Carter-Obama style appeasement of evil were engaged in, America would be plunged into an inexorable, sanguinary, and hopeless war.
As has so often occurred before, the president’s enemies rang all the alarm bells and nothing happened.
Trump is not a warmonger. Peace through strength works. There isn’t a full-scale trade war with China. A recession is not happening. He doesn’t make racially charged statements. The Democrats can’t parlay the vagaries of Trump’s personality into a factor that negates the strength of his record. And whatever the liberties he takes with the truth in casual statements, he has done exactly what he promised as a candidate and generally, it has all worked. Hence there are declining rates of poverty, income taxes, illegal immigration, and violent crime, no energy imports or lengthy unemployment, and an increasing work force.
The emerging unpleasant secret is that a somewhat gauche, almost iconoclastic outsider has been an extremely effective president. The bipartisan political consensus of the 32 post-Reagan years has been unmasked, debunked, and overthrown. The political establishment will require a long time to reconstruct itself after this re-enactment of the fate of Humpty Dumpty.
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Conrad Black has been one of Canada’s most prominent financiers for 40 years, and was one of the leading newspaper publishers in the world as owner of the British telegraph newspapers, the Fairfax newspapers in Australia, the Jerusalem Post, Chicago Sun-Times and scores of smaller newspapers in the U.S., and most of the daily newspapers in Canada. He is the author of authoritative biographies of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Richard Nixon, one-volume histories of the United States and Canada, and most recently of Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other. He is a member of the British House of Lords as Lord Black of Crossharbour.
Photo “Donald Trump Ohio Rally” by Dan Scavino.