January 07, 2020
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, spoke on the Senate floor today in support of President Donald Trump’s air strike against the leader of Iran’s Quds Force, Qasem Soleimani:
As Prepared for Delivery:
Five days ago, President Trump made the boldest defense policy decision of his presidency to date: he authorized an air strike against the leader of Iran’s Quds Force, Qasem Soleimani, in accordance with his authorities as Commander in Chief under Article II of the U.S. Constitution.
Now, let’s remember who Soleimani was. He was a terrorist. He was responsible for training and funding militias across the Middle East—the very militias that have targeted American personnel, facilities, and partners for decades.
He was behind the plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington in 2011. He was responsible for the brutal repression of democratic protests within Iran. The terrorist groups that he armed and trained attacked our partners, including Israel.
Some people out there are more focused on criticizing President Trump for taking out Soleimani than they are about protecting American diplomats and American troops. Conveniently forgetting that Soleimani is the architect of Iran’s terrorism and is responsible for over 600 American deaths during the Iraq war.
Their justification for criticizing the president for killing a terrorist who wanted to destroy America? They think it was reckless and represents a rush to war.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Let’s remember how we got here.
Remember the Obama apology tour? In less than 100 days, Obama apologized on three continents for American leadership and action around the world.
First, American credibility hit an all-time low under the Obama administration. President Obama set a red line in Syria and then didn’t follow through. This sent the message that rogue nations can act with impunity.
To make matters worse, Obama signed a deal with Iran that didn’t address Iran’s support for terrorism at all, and which gave Iran over $100 billion, as John Kerry admitted.
Remember - $1.7 billion of that was in cash. Non-US currency and untraceable.
So is it any wonder Iran’s regional aggression has only gotten bolder? In the past few months alone, we’ve seen many examples. In May, the Iranians attacked oil tankers with landmines. In June, they shot down a U.S. drone worth over $100 million. In September, they attacked Saudi oil fields, taking 50 percent of Saudi Arabia’s oil production offline.
President Trump showed incredible restraint after each of these provocations.
He responded by increasing the pressure on Iran – ramping up economic sanctions, increasing their diplomatic isolation.
But the president avoided military escalation, while setting a very clear redline: American lives. OB red line: Syria weapons of mass destruction – repeat.
On December 27, Iran crossed that red line. Soleimani directed the attack that killed an American and wounded four service members. President Trump made it clear that there were consequences for spilling American blood.
Iran never believed there would be consequences—after all, Obama never enforced his red line, and even President Trump was hesitant to use military force.
Only a day before the strike that killed Soleimani, Iran’s supreme leader tweeted at our president: “You can’t do anything.”
Well, President Trump could and did. His actions restored American credibility around the world. He showed that we mean what we say.
You tell me what is reckless – a President who means what he says and takes the protection of American lives seriously? Or the fringe Democrats who want to tie the President’s hands and deny him the tools to uphold his constitutional responsibility to defend our citizens?
The other thing that some Democrats are claiming is that President Trump is rushing to war with Iran. That’s absurd.
Again, we’ve had eight months of Iranian escalation – attacks on tankers, the downing of a U.S. drone, and the attack on the Saudi oil facilities, among many others by Iran’s terrorist proxies.
Yet President Trump did not use military force until they crossed his red line. That’s not a rush to war.
Listen to folks like former Democrat Sen. Joe Lieberman, who said, “President Trump’s order to take out Qasem Soleimani was morally, constitutionally and strategically correct. It deserves more bipartisan support than the begrudging or negative reactions it has received thus far from my fellow Democrats.”
Or listen to Obama’s Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, who said: “…he was a lawful military objective, and the president, under his constitutional authority as commander in chief, had ample domestic legal authority to take him out without an additional congressional authorization. Whether he was a terrorist or a general in a military force that was engaged in armed attacks against our people, he was a lawful military objective.”
Again – A lawful military objective. One that President Trump took out under Article II authority.
More to the point, nobody is talking about war. Nobody is calling for an invasion. Nobody is calling for a ramp up. We all know what that looks like here. And that is very plainly NOT what is happening.
An airstrike is not war. Defending American lives is not war. And the President has made it clear that he does not desire war, which is why he has continued to call for negotiations with Iran to end this standoff.
Nobody here wants war. But at the same time, nobody should want a policy that would leave Americans vulnerable to the whims of Iran’s terrorist-supporting regime.
If we do that – if we tie the President’s hands so that he cannot defend American lives – we leave ourselves more vulnerable, and therefore make war infinitely more likely.
Now that would be reckless.