Early this morning, President Donald Trump authorized a drone strike on Baghdad International Airport that killed Qassim Suleimani, the leader of Iran's elite military force. Political and national security analysts, critics of U.S. interference in the Middle East, Democratic politicians, and average people pretty much everywhere are saying the move was a bad idea, a serious escalation of tensions between the United States and Iran that could plunge America into another war in the Middle East, and an echo of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. They're asking: Was the strike worth the potential for major retaliation?
But Florida's Republican lawmakers are largely praising Trump for the strike.
Congressman Matt Gaetz tweeted that Trump "correctly responded" to violence and ongoing threats after showing "admirable restraint."
The President correctly *responded* to violence & ongoing threats against US personnel after repeated warnings and admirable restraint.— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) January 3, 2020
He did *not* start a regime change war.
Soleimani was trying to escalate violence & draw us into war. https://t.co/9Mv1s37BDz
Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Brian Mast — an Army veteran who represents part of Palm Beach County — tweeted a meme from the '80s TV series A-Team at Hassan Rouhani, president of Iran:
And the congressmen weren't the only Florida politicians championing Trump's decision. Both of the Sunshine State's U.S. senators took to Twitter this morning to praise the president for defending America. In a statement, Sen. Rick Scott called Suleimani "one of the world's worst monsters" and blasted "Democrats' preferred strategy with Iran... [of] asking them nicely to stop killing Americans."
"We should all be concerned about the potential for retaliatory strikes and escalating tensions with Iran," Scott wrote. "No one wants more war... But for today, let us remember the lives that were lost at the hands of this ghoul and the justice that was served."
Sen. Marco Rubio, for his part, has been tweeting about Iran pretty much every hour on the hour for the past 15 hours. He says he doesn't want a war but then posts tweets such as the following:
I don’t want & have not pushed for war with #Iran— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) January 3, 2020
But when an adversary decides to use force to attack our Armed Forces @potus has an affirmative duty to defend against & if possible prevent such attacks.
And Rubio purports to know a lot about what Suleimani was up to before he was killed:
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Miami New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Miami's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
4. At the direction of #Iran’s Supreme Leader,Soleimani was plotting a coup in #Iraq. He was corrupting/threatening politicians, exploiting Iraq’s resources & bringing a large military force loyal to him,in an effort to make Iraq a platform to attack the U.S. & our allies 2/2— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) January 3, 2020
The drone strike this morning follows a New Year's Eve attack by Iran-backed militias on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.
The Pentagon says the strike was "aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans," while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told CNN the strike disrupted "an imminent attack" Suleimani was "actively plotting" that would have killed Americans in the Middle East.
Suleimani, the former head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force, was reportedly viewed as a national hero and martyr in Iran and other Middle Eastern countries, especially for his role fighting ISIS. Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei promised "severe revenge" for Suleimani's killing, and the country's foreign minister called the assassination an "act of international terrorism."