Opinion - Politics

Op-Ed: Democrats, Europeans are getting the Soleimani takedown all wrong

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Key Points
  • It's been four days since the U.S. precision drone strike that killed Iran's Quds army commander Qasem Soleimani.
  • Thankfully, we have not seen the outbreak of World War III as of yet.
  • But we have learned three valuable lessons.
Iranian mourners gather during the final stage of funeral processions for slain top general Qasem Soleimani, in his hometown Kerman on January 7, 2020.
Atta Kenare | AFP | Getty Images

It's been four days since the U.S. precision drone strike that killed Iran's Quds army commander Qasem Soleimani. Thankfully, we have not seen the outbreak of World War III as of yet. But we have learned three valuable lessons.

1) The Democrats have no pause button

Democratic presidential candidates and Congressional leaders wasted no time in bashing President Donald Trump for ordering the Soleimani takedown. Some of the criticism was based on the complaint that the president did not consult with Congress before the drone strike. But the key argument from the Democrats is that the move is likely to provoke a direct war with Iran.

The irony of that position is that while the Democratic presidential candidates are going after Trump for allegedly being rash and impatient in the Soleimani move, they are demonstrating a great example of rash and impatient political strategy.

The Democrats' response shows just how much has changed when it comes to the way partisan rivals act in the face of our conflicts with Iran and other enemies. After President Jimmy Carter's failed attempt to rescue U.S. hostages in Iran in 1980, not only did his election opponents not attack him, but then-candidates Ronald Reagan, George Bush, and Edward Kennedy simply called for national unity and sympathy for the U.S. servicemen killed in the aborted mission. Bush even went out of his way to say he supported Carter's plan without reservation.

Again, this was after a failed rescue mission as opposed to this operation which was successful and did not cost one American life in its execution. It should be noted that despite not bashing Carter over this plan, the Republicans still swept to a major election victory about six months later. No political harm was done by laying off the president.

23 years later in the lead up to the second Iraq War, Democrats in Congress generally supported President George W. Bush's war efforts. The wiser Democrats waited years before launching their full-on bashing of the Iraq War.

Looking at this situation, it would have made more sense for the Democrats to wait just a bit before acting so indignantly about taking out Soleimani. If the situation with Iran does sadly descend into escalated hostilities, there will be plenty of opportunities to criticize President Trump then. But as it stands now, every day without a major Iranian response or a major deployment of new U.S. troops to the region makes the Democrats look hysterical in addition to appearing unsupportive in the longstanding conflict with Iran.

2) Europeans need to wake up

It was just last month that the anti-government protests heated up in Iran and reports began to surface that the regime was killing those protesters in the streets. One Reuters assessment pegs the number of Iranian demonstrators shot or otherwise killed by the government at more than 1,500. Yet even as that was happening, more European countries joined in a program to help Iran skirt new U.S. economic sanctions.

Now many of those same European countries are being critical of the U.S. decision to kill Soleimani as opposed to pursuing non-violent methods. That is, the same countries who are actively undermining the non-violent U.S. sanctions efforts are also now criticizing the U.S. military option of taking out the leader of Iran's international terrorist forces. If we all didn't know better, we might say the Europeans don't want Iran to be bothered at all. Or do we?

Whatever it is that the Europeans want, they need to decide whether it's still a good idea to be running interference for an Iranian regime that has increased its belligerence in the past year while also withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal. Right now, their position is contradictory and unhelpful.

3) This is an opportunity for peace, yes peace

When President Trump announced his intention to pull U.S. troops out of Syria last year, Democrat and Republican critics decried the move as destabilizing and an abandonment of our allies in the region. But with the operation against Soleimani, the idea that the U.S. is leaving the Middle East to its own devices should be thoroughly debunked.

With that in mind, this could be a good chance to advance some level of relative peace. Even the fiercest critics of the decision to kill Soleimani have had to acknowledge that he commanded militias and terror groups in many parts of the Middle East from Iraq to Syria, to Lebanon, to Yemen, and Gaza, etc.

Even before the Soleimani takedown, citizens in Lebanon and Iraq had begun angry protests against that Iranian intrusion into their countries. They should now be emboldened to push back even harder against Iranian proxies that don't care for the local people, but only use their territory as a staging area for attacks against Israel, Saudi Arabia, and U.S. troops. Iran's mayhem-making machine just got its head cut off by America, perhaps its body will be taken out now by countries that have previously been too afraid to expel it.

Of course, the common theme here is that a little patience would do everyone some good in light of the Soleimani operation. If war is truly what we want to avoid then ramping down the panic and doomsday predictions is the way to do it, not the other way around.

Jake Novak is a political and economic analyst at Jake Novak News and former CNBC TV producer. You can follow him on Twitter @jakejakeny.