It seems so very long ago. But it wasn’t. Just a scant three years ago, Americans were safe. And moreover, the world was geopolitically stable.
In that time, we have gone from peace to anarchy. Why? Simply put, because of one man, President Donald Trump. More specifically, because of something I call “Surgical Strength,” his judicious use of America’s overwhelming might only when strategically and geopolitically necessary.
If we want to be safe again in our homes, if we want to live in a world where World War III is not an everyday possibility because there are multiple new conflicts involving nuclear nations, we need President Trump and his surgical approach to power back in the White House.
A Simple Vision for America
For a moment, let us remove politics from the equation and compare like to like, one presidential administration to another, four years of President Trump, and the last 3 years of Joe Biden.
I know the days of an “America First” White House may seem like a distant mythical age already, but we all lived through them, and the empirical parameters are indisputable.
Keeping his campaign pledge, President Trump refused to engage America in any new “stupid wars.’ Instead, he drew down our overseas military presence and insisted our allies do more to shoulder the burden of their own defense, especially our very wealthy allies in NATO and our even richer partners in Asia.
At the same time, President Trump was clear about America’s role in the world. Our job as the strongest and freest nation on Earth does not translate for President Trump into our being some kind of crusading “Globocop.” At the same time, with his understanding gleaned from half a century as a titan of international business, he knows that the interconnectedness of the 21st century world negates the logic of neo-Buchananite isolationism. As a result, he used force when necessary, and he used it incredibly decisively, like a surgeon.
How did this Surgical Strength actually work, and how did it make us all safe? Let me illustrate with key moments from his presidency.
Cruise Missiles with Chocolate Cake
When we informed the President that the murderous regime of Bassar al Assad was preparing to again use chemical weapons against unarmed civilians, he acted decisively. The President wasn’t interested in invading Syria or effecting some idealistic and improbable “regime change” in Damascus. Instead, he ordered the Pentagon to obliterate the Syrian airbase preparing the chemical weapon attack. And we did, turning it to smoldering rubble with more than 50 cruise missiles. And it just so happened that he did this while the dictator of Communist China was eating chocolate cake at a state dinner at Mar a Lago.
Over dessert, the President leaned over Xi, and informed him through the interpreter what he had just done. Why? To send a message to all of his ilk, including “Little Kim” in Pyongyang, Putin in the Kremlin, and the mullahs in Iran, a simple message that red-lines under this Commander-in-Chief are actual red-lines and that killing civilians with the most heinous banned weapons of war it one of them. We won’t talk about being tough. We won’t tell bad actors not to be bad. Instead we will act forcefully when necessary before those who threaten our interests destabilize whole regions of the world. But the use of force wasn’t just about protecting innocents abroad.
Killing the most dangerous Terrorist the World
Non-state terrorists like Osama bin Laden are attention-seekers as much as they are murderous masterminds. But there are those who shirk the limelight and are in fact responsible for a far greater death toll than even the former head of al Qaeda, and there was none worse than Major General Qasem Soleimani.
Ostensibly head of the Quds Force branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Soleimani was in fact the second most powerful man in the Islamic theocratic state of Iran, behind only the Ayatollah. In practice, he was the covert master of all Iran’s proxy terror organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas, responsible for tens of thousands of deaths over the decades of his covert command, and as such, he was the most dangerous terrorist in the world.
When our intelligence briefers informed President Trump that Major General Soleimani was traveling to Iraq in preparation for a series of terror attacks across the region that would target more than 600 of our troops, the Commander-in-Chief again took decisive action instantly.
Not for him the idea of redeploying thousands of our troops back to Iraq or pie-in-the-sky plots to change the regime in Iran. Instead he ordered the eradication of just Soleimani. And so it was that on January 3rd 2020 one of our MQ-9 Reaper drones launched its payload soon after the Iranian mass-murderer climbed into his convoy at Baghdad airport. The strike was so surgical and complete that Soleimani had to be identified by the unique ring he always wore since there was nothing else recognizable left of him.
And so a man who had been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of our brave warfighters and the wounding of thousands more was gone. Again a crystal-clear message was sent no only to the barbarous regime in Iran, but also to their lackeys and corrupt co-conspirators, including the Prime Minster of Iraq who Soleimani was on his way to visit that very day.
Making the Kremlin think Twice
The policy of Surgical Strength was not reserved solely for malefactors from the Middle East. Anti-status quo actors like Vladimir Putin were also sent a message by President Trump to behave themselves lest they too attract the increased ire of the American President.
Long before the world’s media began to run stores about one former chef and Putin confidante called Yevgeny Progozhin, we in the Trump White House were very well acquainted with Progozhin and the “little green men” of his Wagner Group. This group of vicious fighters labeled mercenaries by the mainstream were in fact deniable assets of the Kremlin, used by Moscow to effect operations from Africa to Ukraine in ways that would destabilize those regions to the profit of Moscow.
Again, when the President was informed that hundreds of Putin’s bully-boys were running around the Middle East, killing civilians and otherwise causing chaos that would benefit local Kremlin lackeys, he took immediate and decisive action. He ordered the Pentagon to kill them, to kill them all. And so it was. In the space of just a few hours, more than 200 Russian killers were turned into a red mist by the most powerful military the world has ever seen.
The significance of this one act must be underlined. For all the talk of WWIII and the world teetering on the edge of destruction for the decades of the Cold War, no US President has ever done what President Trump did in 2018. Since the October Revolution of 1917, which established “modern” post-Tsarist Russia, never has an American Commander-in-Chief ordered the targeted killing of hundreds of Russian troops, not even the great Cold War winner Ronald Reagan.
And perhaps even more important than the order to strike Moscow’s Wagner Group operatives, was the response from the Kremlin. Or rather the lack of any response.
After the violent and historic interdiction, Vladimir Putin did nothing. No press conference, no diplomatic demarche of our ambassador in Moscow, no CIA “diplomats” expelled from Russia. Not even a press conference to complain. Why? Well, that’s the whole point. Because of who Donald Trump is and what he had already demonstrated about his understanding of power-politics and the surgical use of force.
Thugs like Putin – a former KGB colonel – are afraid of Donald Trump, and with good reason. When a man who is situated 24/7 within 40 feet of the nuclear football clearly loves his country and is not afraid, that garners respect. Remember, the politics of the Left has devolved since the late 1960s. Back then, the Left’s hatred was focused on politicians and policies, like Nixon and the war in Vietnam. With the rise of the New Left, the Chomsky-ite, Zinn-inspired detestation of America itself has grown like a cancer until Critical Theory dominates the social sciences and the politics of the Left, a creed of America being irredeemably guilty, the bigoted racist neocolonizing force arrayed against true “social justice.” How else does one explain a future President Obama vowing to “fundamentally change America” or his wife proclaiming that the first time she ever felt proud as an American was only after her husband took over the country? The first time ever.
Whatever speeches are made or national security strategies delivered, it matters not. When your enemy believes the leadership of America hates the nation they govern, they understand that America will not be a problem for them, America will not exercise its might to stop them or their vicious plans. How could they? If your whole career has been predicated on slamming America’s imperialist exercise of power, one is hardly in a credible position to employ that power once in office, especially not against those who have been using the same anti-American talking points you have been using for decades. Our enemies knew that. But President Trump was not Obama, nor was he Biden. He loves America and the values upon which it was built. There is one more story that illustrates this better than any other.
When America must do What’s Right
With war in the Middle East a horrific reality once again, it is crucial to understand that America’s place in the world has never been truly about clinically measured “national interest” or cynical Machiavellian calculation. Remember what the great Ronald Reagan taught us about our polar star position as the “shining city on the hill.” We haven’t attracted millions and millions of ragged and penniless refugees since our Founding simply because of our economy. Ask a legal immigrant whether the American Dream is a real thing. There are lots of places in the world that have great economies. There’s only one that has a dream attached to its name. Why?
Well that could be a whole separate article, or ten, but in essence, it has to do with the aspect of our Republic that sets us apart from all other nations on Earth. No other country was ever founded upon the principle that the people have rights derived from God, “unalienable” rights endowed by our “Creator.” These are phrases and words from our founding document and they imbue our very existence as Americans, and as America, with a moral aspect. We aren’t just a country with a geography, with a language, or even an ethnicity. Not at all. We are a moral entity informed in that reality by a link to the transcendental North Star. And without having to quote the Federalist Papers, or talk of God and the Bible, President Trump knows this.
A Broken Promise made Good
Bill Clinton promised Israel to recognize Jerusalem as the true capital of the state of Israel. He never did. Likewise – George W. Bush and Obama. For 23 years, America broke a Presidential promise, embarrassingly, due to diplomatic protocol, having to officially inform the government of Israel every six months that we weren’t in a position to make good on our pledge because we were afraid to so recognize our only true friend in the region. Then 63 million Americans elected a non-politician as their President, and everything changed.
One day, President Trump called the National Security Council at Principals level, meaning not the White House officials that man the NSC from day to day, but the actual cabinet members. At this meeting, he announced it was time to make good on our nation’s decades-old promise to Israel. Only 3 members of his team wholeheartedly agreed with the Commander-in-Chief and supported his decision. One, the then Secretary of Defense, a man who somehow, probably by assiduously building an artificial image, was known colloquially as “Mad Dog,” pleaded with the President not to make good on our nation’s promise, declaring that such a move would ignite World War III and that he didn’t have the requisite Marines to guard all our embassies in the Middle East which would be overrun.
What was President Trump’s response? He replied: “Well Jim, we’re doing it, and were doing it for three reasons. One: I promised the American people we were going to do it. Second, we promised our friends in Israel more than twenty years ago that we would do it. And, oh Jim, we’re doing it because it’s the right thing to do!” And so it was. The embassy was moved, Jerusalem was recognized as the capital, and there was no war.
For that, we had to wait until President Trump left the White House.
Why were we Safe Then?
There’s no neat taxonomy of International Relations theory President Trump can be forced into. He’s not a globalist or a neoconservative interventionist. Nor is he an isolationist. Just listen to any of his statements on the crisis in the Middle East. Unlike the blindly ideological neo-Buchanites on the Right, he understands that we are a Judeo-Christian civilization and that the slaughter of Jews by Jihadis is always accompanied by the slaughter of Christians. We have our 9/11, and now Israel has her 10/7, but they are both part of the same war and we have the same enemy.
The President’s approach to foreign policy, the security of her citizens, and our role in the world is novel. Not only in his use of social media as a replacement for expensive and pointless diplomatic conferences. When he tweets to the diminutive dictator of the Hermit Kingdom in Pyongyang that “my button is larger that yours,” or he promises the murderous mullahs of Iran that he will completely destroy them if they hurt America, or when he tells the leader of Taliban “I know where you live,” it actually works. They think twice. Why? That’s simple: those enemies of America are clear that this man loves the nation he leads, and when he speaks of retribution, he means it. How do they know this? Because he has amply demonstrated that when necessary, he will kill hundreds of Russian soldiers, flatten a chemical weapons facility, or drone the most dangerous terrorist in the world with surgical strength.
We were safe once. We can be safe again. If President Trump and his approach of Surgical Strength are back in the White House.
Sebastian Gorka Ph.D. is host of SALEM Radio’s AMERICA First and The Gorka Reality Check on NEWSMAX TV. A former Strategist to President Donald Trump, he is a member of the National Security Education Board of the Pentagon. His latest book is The War for America’s Soul. Follow him on his SubStack page and website.