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Assault on America, Day 370: If eliminating an enemy is bad, what do Democrats think is good?

Trump tweet Iran
The enemy of my enemy is my friend… or more aptly in contemporary Democrat party politics, the enemy of President Donald Trump is my friend.

The old proverb’s been cited numerous times by a variety of entities who defended siding with someone or something that’s less than reputable in hopes of achieving a desirable outcome. In World War II, for example, the United States and Great Britain allied with Joseph Stalin’s communist Soviet Union to defeat what most considered to be the far greater evil and biggest threat to humanity at the time, Adolf Hitler’s Germany. The U.S. continued the look-the-other-way philosophy -- in some respects -- in the post-war world, too, when President Richard Nixon normalized relations with China to help offset the perpetual Soviet menace in the early 70’s.

Along the same lines, political candidates often betray common sense and alliances within parties to forge friendships (or to make a greater point about their own candidacies) with rivals in the heat of battle. Members of the 2020 Democrat presidential field pulled a similar move when they universally condemned Trump’s drone strike that resulted in the death of a real enemy -- Iranian Revolutionary Guard Quds Force leader Gen. Qassem Soleimani -- in Iraq.

In so doing, the President of the United States did his job -- he eliminated a demonstrated peril to United States interests in the region, offing a man who was responsible for killing hundreds of our fighting personnel in the past couple decades. No one exactly rushed to defend Soleimani, but still some of the Democrats chastised Trump for giving the go-ahead for the mission without bringing them into the loop first.

Emily Larsen and Naomi Lim reported at The Washington Examiner, “The 14-person Democratic field is now grappling with how President Trump’s decision to order the strike on the top general for Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei will change the landscape of their campaigns.

“Depending on how Iran responds and how Trump handles the crisis, Soleimani’s assassination could either reframe the primary and general election around foreign policy or leave Democrats on the defensive as Trump claims the attack as one of his major victories.

“Initial reactions to the strike from White House hopefuls have ranged from cautious rebuttals from centrists condemning Soleimani, while lamenting the lack of congressional notification and questioning the Trump administration's overall strategy, to comparing the order to a declaration of war.”

Hmmm… a declaration of war? Constitutionally speaking, only Congress can issue such things. Presidents from both parties have taken generous license with the governing charter’s mandates, but even Democrats should know that a drone strike in a far off land doesn’t actually amount to a legal state of war. Iran’s not exactly a friend in the Middle East… and no one really likes them, except for maybe the Russians and any oil dependent nation that doesn’t pay much mind to harassment and covert terrorism.

The Obama administration was infamous for adhering to a “never let a good crisis go to waste” sense of timing and the same could be said for the major Democrat presidential candidates here, none of whom were eager to commend Trump for eliminating an evil man working for an evil regime in one of the most dangerous and unstable parts of the world. New Hampshire poll leader and avowed socialist Bernie Sanders said, “Trump promised to end endless wars, but this action puts us on the path to another one.”

Really, Bernie? Are you basically suggesting that making the Iranians hate us even more would drive them into a suicidal tailspin that inevitably leads to their own destruction? There’s a good argument that what Trump did would stave off largescale military clashes in the near and distant future. The Iranians received a major clue -- at the point of an explosive device -- that the American president isn’t a paper tiger hiding behind the most lethal army and navy on the planet.

What would Bernie have done differently? Offer to smoke a reefer peace pipe with the ayatollahs and hope for the best?

“I hope the administration has thought through the second- and third-order consequences of the path they have chosen,” said national polling leader and former Obama veep Joe Biden, a man who’s supposedly intimately familiar with top-level political and ethical challenges.

One wouldn’t necessarily expect Biden to affirm anything Trump does at this stage, but this is ridiculous. Joe’s statement implies Trump didn’t give proper consideration to the dangers involved with shooting at someone half a world away -- which anyone with a brain knows is nothing to ever take lightly. Put it this way -- Trump didn’t give his final permission between putts at a golf course on holiday. If anything, Trump’s demonstrated an extraordinary degree of restraint where Iran is concerned (along with other traditional adversaries such as North Korea, Russia and China).

Meanwhile, Democrats in Congress ripped Trump for failing to consult with them regarding the operation against the Iranian general. As though informing Speaker Nancy Pelosi or “Chucky” Schumer is necessary to conduct foreign policy or national security actions. Given the leaky and biased nature and history of the top Democrats on Capitol Hill, informing them could’ve compromised the entire operation. Who knows, maybe an anonymous “leak” would’ve tipped off the Iranians, or worse -- someone within the inner circle would’ve directly communicated the information through channels to make Trump look bad.

With impeachment articles already passed and soon to be transmitted to the Senate (assuming Pelosi will actually go through with the farce), it’s not exactly as though the respective partisans love each other at the upper echelons of Washington decision-making. Perhaps the Democrats would’ve foreseen the bump in popularity Trump’s experienced after ordering the killing and did something to counteract it.

Or it might just be the candidates see an “enemy” -- in this case the Iranians -- as a “friend” in the political realm because they’re opposed to Trump. Giving Bernie, Biden and company the benefit of the doubt, this is the least likely scenario. But it’s strange that the 2020 hopefuls didn’t come right out and say, “Good job, Mr. President” and move on to assail other parts of Trump’s agenda. They all appear to like illegal aliens, right? Why wouldn’t they change the subject and talk about how cruel ICE is or attack him for building a border wall or pick at Trump for insisting that NATO allies pay their fair share.

To some degree, every presidential election pivots on foreign policy. With the domestic economy humming along at healthy levels, unemployment down to historic lows, energy production increasing by the day and an American populace that believes Trump’s policies (not necessarily his job performance) are working like a charm, it’s to the Democrats’ benefit to try and shift focus to the international realm. The problem is, none of them can legitimately claim they’d do things differently… and better.

Sanders and Elizabeth “Pocahontas” Warren (and also-rans Amy Klobuchar and Cory Booker) are senators -- and therefore have some tangible connection to approving treaties and the like -- but none possess extensive experience with high-level decision-making and military operations. The same might be said for Trump in 2016, but he’d dealt with numerous foreign interests in the business sphere, which is a much tougher arena than sitting around in a senate committee room and pretending like you know the who’s who of a continent.

Biden has the resume but he’s been on the losing side of many controversies. Even former Obama people (including the president himself) dispute that Grampa Joe was all-in for the Osama bin Laden raid, for example. Obama Defense Secretary Bob Gates said of Biden, “I think he has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades,” which isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement of the polling leader’s foreign policy bona fides.

As for “Mayor Pete” Buttigieg, he claims his military service supplies adequate basis to pass judgment on Trump’s job as commander in chief. I’m guessing most Americans vehemently disagree with this assessment.

It’s natural in the heat of a political campaign for potential nominees to question decisions from opponents. To be fair, some Trump criticism came from the conservative side as well. Fox News’s Tucker Carlson said the strike was inspired by the eternally hawkish Washington establishment. Spencer Neale reported at The Washington Examiner, “Fox News host Tucker Carlson slammed President Trump's decision to kill top Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi militia leader Mahdi al Muhandis, saying that ‘Washington has wanted war with Iran for decades.’

“Carlson criticized Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's claim that the strikes were called for because of ‘threats in the region.’

“’Threats in the region? If you don't live in Washington, here's the translation: That would be in hostile Middle Eastern countries,’ Carlson said. ‘Places where American troops would never be in the first place, were it not for the insistent demands of non-geniuses like Max Boot and John Bolton. But never mind, no one in Washington is in the mood for big-picture questions right now. Questions, the obvious ones, like: 'Is Iran really the greatest threat we face,' and 'Who is actually benefiting from this?'”

These are legitimate concerns, something all presidents must weigh. And there’s room to surmise that Trump’s (and his advisors’) action was not the right one. But at least with Carlson and his mindset the worries are non-political and in the best interests of the country, not necessarily the up-and-down fortunes of an individual’s presidential candidacy.

It’s evident Carlson slants heavily to the non-interventionist side, perhaps best embodied by Senator Rand Paul and father Ron. And Tucker makes a lot of sense. But clearly in this instance, Trump felt it was necessary to send the Iranians a message that America wouldn’t remain passive in the face of constant provocations (the Iranians’ shooting down an American drone, harassing oil tanker traffic in the gulf and sending proxies to attack the American embassy in Iraq last week.)

Trump appears to take the middle ground between full-on Bush-ian intervention and Bernie Sanders’ version of stay out of it, period. The strike that eliminated Soleimani was limited in scope, achieved enormous aims with little risk and presents manageable consequences… hopefully.

It’s not always a good thing when political opponents take opposite sides of an issue, such as last week’s drone strike that killed an Iranian general. In times of war, serious matters should engender national unity and at least earn a nod towards a president’s important decisions. Partisans need to be on the same page.

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Failure to Recognize History

This business of consulting with Congress before conducting such an operation is pure nonsense and a failure to recognize history. When we were in Vietnam, an opportunity would surface and the intelligence people on scene would devise a plan to deal with it. Then the plan was forwarded to the SecDef and White House for approval. On average, it took four days from conception to execution due to this approval process. By that time, the opportunity had gone away. Fortunately, we have more immediate communications today that enable the President to see a situation in real time. However, if he had to consult with Congress, even if they could be trusted to keep the secret, it would take too much time and the opportunity to act would have passed. The current president and all other presidents must continue to have the authority to act when the time is right.

Killing a terrorist leader

You don't refuse to kill the man who is organizing attacks against Americans because it could lead to attacks against Americans. That just makes no sense.