Conservative pundits, lawmakers herald Soleimani strike as major win against Iran

Republicans are praising Donald Trump’s approach to Iran as an example of  “peace through strength” not seen since Ronald Reagan’s presidency.

Donald Trump’s strike on Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, rather than starting a war as Democrats feared, put the Iranian regime in its place for the first time in 40 years, according to a number of Republican lawmakers and conservative pundits. But Democrats could not disagree more, insisting that Trump’s strike was reckless and unauthorized by Congress.

Republicans praise Trump strategy

The strike on Soleimani has become a political inkblot test of sorts: while Democrats see it as the epitome of Trump’s shoot-from-the-hip approach to foreign policy, Republicans have accused Democrats of wanting to continue a failed policy of appeasement toward a rogue regime. The president was well poised to claim victory when days of crisis came and went without war breaking out with no Americans having been killed amid the standoff.

In a speech Wednesday morning, Trump said that Iran appeared to “stand down” when it responded to Soleimani’s killing with missiles that did not result in any American deaths, according to NBC News. Many saw Iran’s response as a symbolic, face-saving maneuver that showed the regime’s fear of going to war with the United States, and Trump said that he would also seek de-escalation.

“Judging from Iran’s statement ‘not seeking escalation’ [and] Trump’s tactical patience after last night’s inconsequential missile attacks, it appears that a strategy of peace through strength is working,” Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) wrote in a tweet. “Doesn’t mean the road ahead is easy, but U.S. leverage is vastly improved.

Commentator Mark Levin was among conservative pundits lauding Trump’s decision, saying that Iran was dealt a loss for “the first time since the Reagan administration,” something which “no doubt this infuriates the Democrats and the Democrat Party-press, which has been trashing the president for days.” Republicans have meanwhile criticized the mainstream media for appearing to glamorize Soleimani, the leader of Iran’s Quds Force, while accusing Democrats of siding with an enemy regime out of blind hatred for the president.

Turning the page on Iran policy

Rather than starting a war, Trump’s strike showed strength against Iranian aggression for the first time since 1979, many Republicans have said. A handful of Republicans have crossed the aisle in disagreement, however — namely, Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Mike Lee (R-UT), who walked out of an intelligence briefing on the strike Wednesday complaining that the administration’s rationale for the strike was lacking, according to The Hill.

But most Republicans have praised Trump for showing strength — and then restraint, by not seeking further military action — against Iran that is unprecedented since the regime was first established when Jimmy Carter was president.

In his speech on the subject Wednesday, Trump extended the possibility of a peaceful and prosperous future for Iran — but insisted that he would impose more economic sanctions until leadership there changes its behavior, adding that he would ask NATO, which he has often bashed as obsolete, to get more involved in the Middle East. He said:

For far too long — all the way back to 1979, to be exact — nations have tolerated Iran’s destructive and destabilizing behavior in the Middle East and beyond. Those days are over. Iran has been the leading sponsor of terrorism, and their pursuit of nuclear weapons threatens the civilized world. We will never let that happen.

Trump also called on Western leaders to join America in leaving the nearly-defunct 2015 Iran nuclear deal and seek a new, better framework for limiting Iran’s proliferation aims. Supporters of Trump’s approach have said that he cowed Iran, maximizing leverage to strike a better deal.

Dems vote to limit Trump’s power

The Trump administration has argued that Soleimani was behind the deaths of hundreds of Americans and was planning more “imminent” threats when he died. But Democrats have questioned the intelligence justifying the strike, and the House on Thursday passed a War Powers Resolution limiting Trump’s authority to intervene against Iran, according to Fox.

Ahead of their vote, the president called on Republicans to oppose “Crazy Nancy Pelosi’s” resolution, which he called “just another Democrat fraud.” Trump tweeted approvingly of his former National Security adviser John Bolton’s assessment that the War Powers Resolution is unconstitutional, despite their public falling out last year.

It remains to be seen what happens next. But the worst has not come to pass, and according to many supporters of the president, Iran has never been weaker.

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