In 2018 and 2019 I posted Roosevelt’s “Man in the Arena” speech as one of my quotes of the day. Here it is:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
I thought of this quote when all the usual suspects started criticizing the President for his courageous decision to eliminate General Soleimani. Chuck Schumer criticized the President for not consulting Congress. The stupidity of this argument being that Congress is a sieve of destructive leaks and passing along this information might have compromised the mission and even led to intelligence personnel being captured or killed.
Then you have that nitwit Pelosi claiming that Soleimani was such an important Iranian that killing him was unthinkable. So, the man who personally arranged for the killing and maiming of thousands of American servicemen and who was currently looking to increase that score shouldn’t be eliminated because his work was too important. I know of nothing more idiotic said by a top US political leader since Pelosi’s last blunder where she claimed that we had to institute Obamacare before we knew what it included. She is indeed a dope for all seasons.
And all the talking heads of the networks working overtime to frighten the American public with propaganda about American deaths from the missile barrage and declaring that killing Soleimani was an unthinkable tactical blunder that we would all rue.
All of these naysayers are the critics of Roosevelt’s speech. Bystanders sniping at the Man in the Arena. But President Trump is that man. In a situation like the current United States deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan there is no safe or easy choice. Every day is fraught with peril and every decision must be weighed.
With the Iranians looking to distract their citizens from their poverty the mullahs used Soleimani to generate good news by attacking their enemies through proxies in other places like Iraq and Syria. And with the knowledge that President Trump wants to withdraw US troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and place them in secure bases in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait it would be easy for the Iranians to claim a victory if they attacked our vacating troops. They would spin it that they chased us out.
If the President does intend to redeploy our troops away from Iraq and Afghanistan it would be preferable to accompany such a change with a show of strength to remind the hostile (and friendly) nations in the area that American military strength isn’t something to be despised.
To that end killing Soleimani just as he was ramping up attacks on Americans in Iraq was a high risk, high reward option. Killing him in such a situation demonstrated our operational intelligence capability, technological superiority and the high regard our President has for the safety of our troops. He would show that the death of an American contractor in Iraq needed to be avenged with the killing of the man who was ultimately responsible for that death. And no consideration was given to the rank of either man.
But of course, consideration was given to what the retaliation by the Iranians could have been. Getting into a major war with a regional power like Iran is a very serious situation. Such a war would be a horrible problem for an election effort and would throw the advantage to the Democrats in November.
And that risk means that ordering the attack on Soleimani was a very risky decision that called for the most careful exercise of judgement. None of the other men who served as President in the last thirty years, neither of the Bushes or Clinton or Obama would have taken that risk under the present circumstances. They would have hunkered down and endured the slow drip of casualties and then withdrawn our troops under fire. President Trump showed a fine sense of tactical judgement and he has been rewarded by circumstances that put him in a strong strategic position with respect to Iran. The Man in the Arena deserves praise and recognition for his wisdom and courage.