It has been about a month since the US killed Iranian leader Qasem Soleimani. This was a controversial move at the time and led to speculation about the beginning of World War III. In fact, so many Americans were worried about imminent war that they crashed the selective service site that registers for the military draft. However, several days later Iran launched a counterattack that was so impotent that it was virtually meaningless. They fired rockets at a US base, but warned Iraqi forces (and hence the entire base) that it was coming beforehand. A few American troops reportedly received concussion-like symptoms but US President Donald Trump rightly declared victory in the standoff and moved on.
Policy Experts: Trump’s Hit On Soleimani Was The Right Call
Policy experts have reluctantly agreed that Trump’s decision to kill Soleimani was a success. But the same elites seem incapable of acknowledging a Trump victory and have spent a great deal of time trying to explain it away.
Henry Kissinger said that Trump might be a figure that forces people to “give up old pretenses, [but] “it doesn’t necessarily mean that he knows this, or that he is considering any great alternative. It could just be an accident.” Even in bashing Trump the elites can’t help themselves and use too many words. Put simply, Kissinger said that Trump has success but is too dumb to know why or how he is succeeding in any case.
Another analyst called them, “Trumportunities.” This term describes a belief that Trump can sometimes solve problems but does so incredibly poorly or by mistake. Others said that Trump has the advantage of raw military power and not necessarily any foreign policy insight whatsoever.
These repsonses all have a common theme that I noticed years ago. In 2018 the National Interest published an interesting article that discussed how Trump is forcing China to reassess its geopolitical and economic strategy. The article was fascinating because I’ve never seen a piece that spent so much time undermining its own thesis statement. The result was a hilarious article that praised Trump’s China strategy while spending most of its time attacking him.
The Partisan’s Media’s Ignorant View Of Trump
In a multitude of areas ranging from Iran to China Trump is often criticized by elites for his capriciousness and unstable foreign policy. The partisan media hyper obsess over his tweets and label him an idiot. Analysts write verbose columns using fancy words and obscure phrases that describe the dangers Trump supposedly makes worse or ignores. They can’t understand how somebody who they claim is such an idiot succeeds in areas they’ve spent years researching and politely offering delicate plans to solve. But the is reality is that a factory worker with a high school education could plainly see in a single word what elites fail to realize. Trump is winning.
Trump Is Winning
Trump’s forceful and even obnoxious prodding of European allies has produced real changes. All the major naval powers, for example, such as Australia, Japan, Britain, France and South Korea have stepped up freedom of navigation patrols in the South China Sea. NATO allies snicker about Trump’s egotistical press conferences on a hot mic, but they have also increased their military spending as he has repeatedly demanded they do. This is something that numerous presidents have tried to do and failed.
All of the above observations also apply to the situation with Iran. The media and partisan foreign policy elites are good at talking and worrying. On a private email chained I read that this strike would cause an uprising like Muqtada Al Sadr’s in 2003 and essentially lose Iraq for the United States. Foreign policy thinkers in the e-mail chain worried Trump would ruin efforts against ISIS, start a regional war, encourage more attacks, and generally set the region on fire.
Elitist Worries Vs. Ground Realities
But the reality was far different. Trump offered restrained countermeasures during months of Iranian provocation ranging from attacks on oil tankers, oil fields, and the American embassy. Finally Trump had enough and ordered the stunning attack on Soleimani. Despite the concerns of the elites his instincts to kill a top Iranian leader properly cowed Iran. Generals like David Petraeus even praised this action for reestablishing America’s deterrence strategy in the region. The region is fraught with danger and there may be further negative consequences due to Trump’s strike. But his gut impulse and decisions regarding Iran, like the South China Sea and NATO have produced results that often eluded past presidents.
The elites have trouble accepting the idea that somebody as boorish as Donald Trump—and seemingly unschooled in foreign affairs—could produce tangible foreign policy results that have beguiled other, more “cerebral” presidents. But when it comes to Iranian relations, NATO, or restraining Chinese aggression in the South China Sea, Trump’s instincts to take decisive action are often better than the foreign policy elites and they must try and deny it any way they can to try to stay credible.