The President’s decision to target and kill General Soleimani does not represent “a new war” but rather a substantial counter punch to Iran’s undisputed support of terrorism.
Militarily, the President had earlier showed remarkable restraint when Iran violated UN sanctions and launched ballistic missiles, downed two U.S. drones, aided in the attack of Saudi oil facilities at Abqaiq and Khurais and disrupted oil tanker shipments in international waters. When Soleimani’s surrogates attacked U.S. assets in Iraq and killed a U.S. contractor, the gloves came off. Make no mistake, when U.S. intelligence concluded that further attacks directed against the United States by Soleimani and his thugs were imminent, the President had little choice other than to act. For any President, whether Republican or Democrat, to knowingly allow the U.S. to be harmed would be tantamount to treason.
The killing of the principal architect behind much of the targeted violence against the U.S., to include the deaths of some 600 U.S. soldiers, is perhaps the most lethal strike against terrorism in the last decade. I strongly agree with General Petraeus’ assessment that as important as the demise of Bin Laden or al-Bagdadi was, the end of Soleimani’s reign of terror saved more American lives and delivered a greater blow to terrorism.
The message to Iran is clear and unambiguous: The days of U.S. capitulation are over. We will no longer turn a blind eye to Iran’s support of terrorism, and those who plan and conduct acts of terrorism against the U.S. and our allies are subject to being targeted and killed. President Trump made it clear that America desires peace, but is prepared for war. The choice is Iran’s to make.
Economically, if the U.S. were to take such action even a decade ago, there is little doubt global oil markets would have soared well above $100 a barrel, and the U.S. consumer would have faced significantly higher energy costs, and the economy itself risked a recession. To a degree, America’s economy was being held at gunpoint by Middle Eastern and foreign energy. For reference, one just has to remember the effects of the Oil Embargo in the mid-1970s and President Carter’s limited options to effectively respond.
Today, the U.S. stands as the world’s largest producer of oil at 12.5 million barrels a day (bpd) and has the capacity to go higher. When I took office as Secretary of Interior, America’s production was around 8.3 million bpd and struggling. In just two short years, President Trump eliminated many of the regulatory penalties on domestic energy production and America was once again allowed to innovate and use advanced technology to wean ourselves from foreign influence – all while achieving record safety and reducing our overall carbon footprint. America’s energy is cleaner, more reliable, more abundant and more cost-effective than any time in our history.
The net result of America’s new energy revolution is that we are no longer held hostage by foreign interests and our National Security policy is no longer bound by foreign oil. Our energy abundance has emerged as perhaps one of Trump’s greatest weapons in his arsenal to fight terrorism.
Ryan Zinke served as U.S. Secretary of the Interior, U.S. Representative for Montana, and was a decorated U.S. Navy SEAL Commander serving in Iraq.