Following a tense evening in which Iranian forces launched up to 15 ballistic missiles at Iraqi military bases housing U.S. troops, President Donald Trump took to the podium at the White House to deliver his response to the attack.
“As long as I am president of the United States, Iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon,” were the first words out of his mouth as he began his speech.
“The American people should be extremely grateful and happy. No Americans were harmed in last night’s attack by the Iranian regime. We sustained no casualties… Our great American forces are prepared for anything… No American or Iraqi lives were lost, because of the precautions taken, the dispersal of forces, and an early-warning system that worked very well.”
Trump then pivoted to discuss Qassem Soleimani — the Iranian general eliminated by an American drone strike on January 3 — elaborating upon the general’s alleged involvement with several acts of terrorism, both international and domestic.
“Soleimani’s hands were drenched in both American and Iranian blood. He should have been terminated long ago.”
The president then pointed out that Iranian legislators had chanted “Death to America” on many occasions — both prior to and following the American action responsible for killing Soleimani — before indicating that many Iranian citizens were actively and openly protesting their existing government. The president then demanded that Iran relinquish their nuclear ambitions and support for terrorism.
He would go on to mention that the United States was now the No. 1 producer of oil and natural gas in the world, claiming that the country no longer needs oil from the Middle East. He then segued to a broad discussion concerning his administration’s rebuilding of the American military, pointing to a massive funding increase while calling U.S. forces “stronger than ever before.”
“Our missiles are big, powerful, accurate, lethal, and fast,” the president reiterated, after speaking more broadly of the U.S.’s military might. He concluded by adopting a perhaps more conciliatory tone and speaking of a hesitance to act rashly against Iran, saying “we do not want to use” military strength.
The president kept his remarks somewhat brief, delivering his whole speech in less than 30 minutes. Those in attendance remained silent and somber throughout the proceedings, and Trump did not remain to field any questions after he had concluded his statement.
The president is not the only U.S. politician to have made strong remarks regarding this latest attack. Republican Senator Ted Cruz recently weighed in on the subject. In comments delivered to Fox News pundit Sean Hannity on Tuesday evening, Cruz blamed what he termed an appeasement strategy enacted by former President Barack Obama for the poor relationship between the United States and Iran. The Republican senator then claimed that Obama had not only appeased Iran with financial support, he had essentially supported that country’s military strength. Cruz continued, saying the missiles that attacked the U.S. forces were paid for by the over $100 billion the Obama administration sent to the Iranian government. He then detailed the apparent contrast between Obama’s Iranian strategy and that employed by the current president.
Cruz would go on to remind the viewing audience that the previous administration had shipped nearly $2 billion in cash to Iran “on pallets, in the dead of night.”