In an appearance on the morning show “Fox & Friends” on Friday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani served to put Iran on notice: No longer was the U.S. under the management of a pacifying, appeasing leader.
While noting that President Trump has shown tremendous “restraint” in the face of Iranian aggression in recent years, Pompeo said that there was only so far the commander in chief would be pushed.
“I think the Iranian leadership understands President Trump will take action,” Pompeo said. “We made very clear that these responses would be swift and decisive. We have now demonstrated that. I hope the Iranian leadership will see that and see American resolve and that their decision will be to de-escalate and take actions consistent with what normal nations do. In the event that they do not and they go in the other direction, I know that President Trump and the entire United States government is prepared to respond appropriately.”
So far, the rhetoric coming out of Iran has been fiery. President Hassan Rouhani warned Friday that he would “take revenge for this heinous crime” and defend “the country’s territorial integrity and the fight against terrorism and extremism in the region.”
In mentioning “territorial integrity,” we assume Rouhani forgot momentarily that both the earlier airstrike against Kataeb Hezbollah and the drone strike against Soleimani…were carried out on Iraqi soil.
Pompeo clarified that the strike against Soleimani was not mere retaliation, but a decisive attempt to defend against an “imminent attack” authorized by the general.
“He’s got hundreds of American lives and blood on his hands. What was sitting before us was his travels throughout the region, his efforts to make a significant strike against Americans. There would have been many Muslims killed as well, Iraqis and people in other countries. It was a strike that was aimed at disrupting that plot, disrupting further aggression and we hope, setting the conditions for de-escalation as well,” he said.
Perhaps mindful of all the criticism being thrown at Trump from the Democrats, Pompeo drew a distinction between how this administration handles Iran and the last one.
“We didn’t send pallets of cash to the Iranians,” he said. “We didn’t pay for hostages. We didn’t create a deal which would have given them a clear pathway to a nuclear weapon. We have taken a very different approach. We believe it’s the one that will ultimately lead to success and stability in the Middle East.”