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Congressman Tom Cole

Representing the 4th District of Oklahoma

The Rightful Fall of a Terrorist

January 13, 2020
Weekly Columns

Earlier this month, the Pentagon announced that the U.S. military and intelligence communities were successful in taking out terrorist leader General Qasem Soleimani during an airstrike in Baghdad, Iraq.

Soleimani was more than a bad actor. He was a designated terrorist for 13 years, but his terrible record encompassed decades. Well beyond the Middle East, he was actively seeking to do us harm by targeting our diplomats, service members and partners. At his direction, the Quds Force wreaked havoc and extreme terror in the region, causing the loss of hundreds of American lives and injuring thousands more. Most recently, he was the mastermind behind the December 31 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. To protect our personnel and partners against mounting threats and aggression, I believe President Trump was right to act in defense and with precision when he did.

To be clear, President Trump does not want war with Iran. And despite false claims to the contrary, he has not waged war with Iran. However, in accordance with Article II of the Constitution, the president appropriately exercised defensive action in response to the Iranian regime’s ever-increasing aggression against United States interests. He did so by killing a longtime terrorist responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans and who was undoubtedly plotting to kill even more. Certainly, protecting Americans in the face of danger – and from a longtime enemy and designated terrorist – doesn’t warrant the partisan response from Democrats thus far, including their passage of a premature resolution meant to limit the president from acting against Iran in the future.

Since the Trump Administration’s withdrawal from the ill-advised nuclear deal entered by the Obama Administration, Iranian aggression toward the United States has steadily worsened. However, throughout a series of provocations, President Trump has by and large acted with remarkable restraint. That has included restraint in response to Iranian connected attacks on ships in the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf, attacks on a Saudi Arabian oil refinery and attacks on American forces in Iraq – one such attack resulted in the death of an American contractor and the wounding of four American service members.

It wasn’t until the recent attack on our embassy that the president made it clear enough was enough, showing Iran that the United States will respond forcefully to defend and protect our personnel and partners. A few days later, Iran attempted to retaliate through a missile strike targeting facilities housing U.S. military personnel in Iraq. I am very grateful that none of our own service members were harmed in that attack, and I am hopeful Iran will stand down and abandon further escalation.

While the president’s decision to take out Soleimani is indeed consequential, I believe it was the right thing to do. In the days ahead, Congress and the Trump Administration must put politics aside and work together. Deterring Iran from future destabilizing actions and terrorist activities and moving toward peace in the region will require not only our collective resolve but working with our allies and partners. It is up to Congress to work with the president and put the safety of our brave men and women in uniform ahead of whatever partisan differences may exist on other issues.

One thing is certain though: As the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world, the Iranian regime must bear the consequences of its actions. And President Trump has rightfully made it clear that the regime will not be permitted to plan or commit acts of terror against American forces, facilities or partners with impunity.