In war, you know you’re winning when your enemy is retreating. In politics, you know you’re winning when your enemy’s talking points are limp, convoluted, and nitpicking.
Leading Democrats, and even Republicans who thought President Donald Trump was too swashbuckling in his slaying of Iran’s Quds Force commander Maj. Gen. Qassam Soleimani a week and a half ago, are grasping at straws in their complaints now that it’s clear the killing of the terrorist mastermind has tamed rather than unleashed Tehran’s Islamofascist regime.
The Trump administration officials who briefed the Gang of Eight in Congress on Soleimani’s planned attacks of Americans “didn’t have specificity,” charged one of the eight, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff on CBS on Sunday. Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are “fudging the intelligence,” according to Schiff – a term Schiff used three times.
Could the third article of impeachment House Speaker Nancy Pelosi comes up with end up being “fudging of Congress”?
Given the opportunity to flat out call Trump a liar on what Soleimani was scheming, Schiff declined. Then, oddly, when Schiff moved to theorizing about how killing the general in charge of organizing terrorism for the world’s preeminent terrorist state might backfire on America, he said, “those repercussions that we were briefed about were far more dangerous to this country than anything that Soleimani was plotting as far as I could tell.”
Were more dangerous. Not are more dangerous? Why past tense? Because in the aftermath of Tehran’s so-called Operation Martyr Soleimani, the face-saving missile attacks on the Ayn al-Asad U.S. airbase and another base in Erbil, which – apparently by design – killed zero Americans, it’s clear there are no repercussions for the U.S. in the foreseeable future. Trump’s taking out of Soleimani actually accomplished what Democratic administrations’ limp-wristed diplomacy absent force is supposed to do: de-escalate hostilities.
Schiff summed up his peeves this way: “The burden of showing imminence with very great specifics, I think, is very high.” Maybe we’ll see hats emblazoned with that maxim at the Democratic National Convention this year in Milwaukee.
And asked if members of the intelligence community objected to killing Soleimani, the chief of the House’s Intelligence Committee, so often in touch with them, replied, “they’re not gonna volunteer that” because they make it their practice not to criticize politicians. But that certainly didn’t seem to be the case regarding the plans for U.S. troop withdrawal from Syria announced in October.
In the meantime, Sen. Mike Lee, the Utah Republican who blew a socket after the Soleimani briefing for members of Congress and is co-sponsoring a Democrat resolution to rein in Trump’s war powers, was assuring the country on CBS Sunday, “I have great respect for President Trump for how he’s handled this situation,” and declared that Trump has shown restraint in exercising military power as commander in chief “more than any other president in my lifetime.” Great time to restrict a president’s military authority.
Terrorists Must Have ‘More Than A Plan’ To Be Killed
The best complaint Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton’s 2016 running mate, could offer was that “the administration says there was exquisite and detailed intelligence,” but to blow to smithereens an Iranian military leader, Kaine told CBS, it had to be “more than a plan” that Soleimani was up to.
Kaine and Lee both want “to rewrite and redo the 2001 authorization that authorized us to wage war against non-state terrorist groups that are connected to the perpetrators of the 9/11 attack,” as Kaine put it. And to “say no war against Iran unless Congress specifically votes to authorize it.”
Which begs the question: How many Americans would Tehran have to kill in a terrorist attack to get Congress to pass its first declaration of war since 1941? Hundreds? Thousands? And might that very act of terrorist carnage be the result of the Kaine-Lee resolution to tie the president’s hands?
Tehran’s admission over the weekend that it did indeed shoot down a civilian airliner, killing 176, has sparked anti-regime demonstrations that might conceivably lead to a real threat to the survival of the Ayatollah Khamenei’s regime. It’s still a long shot, but the elimination of Soleimani could ultimately mean a free Iran.
Other Democrats are responding to charges that President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran bankrolled the regime with money Soleimani used to kill Americans and others, and that Tehran used also it for the very missiles it just shot at U.S. forces, by splitting hairs. The negotiator of that deal as Obama’s secretary of state, John Kerry, now canvassing for Joe Biden, said, “We were trying to take the nuclear weapon off the table first and then negotiate Yemen, Hezbollah, threats against Israel, the regional question of trafficking of arms.” So much for good intentions.
But CBS’s Margaret Brennan – whom Kerry tried to ingratiate by repeatedly telling her “you’re an expert” – played video of Kerry in 2016 conceding that “some of it (the tens of billions of dollars of frozen Iranian assets) will end up in the hands of the IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, within which Soleimani’s Quds Force is contained) or of other entities, some of which are labeled terrorist … I’m sure at some point some of it will.”
Labeled terrorist. As if there is any dispute that blowing up U.S. troops in Iraq is a terrorist activity.
Add to this Fox’s in-house voice leaning left, Juan Williams, making pains on Sunday to say that the tens of billions Iran got from Obama “was their money.”
If these talking points are the best ammo Trump’s critics have against his audacious, often-unconventional foreign policy, they’ll find they’ve lost the electoral war long before November.
— Written by Thomas McArdle
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