Fox News host Sean Hannity's guests Thursday night to discuss President Trump's decision to assassinate Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the powerful leader of Iran's external paramilitary Quds Force, included two prime architects of former President George W. Bush's public case for invading Iraq in 2003, former Press Secretary Ari Fleischer and chief strategist Karl Rove.
There's a political argument raging in Washington over whether the assassination of Soleimani is more like former President Barack Obama's killing of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in his hideout in Pakistan — one-and-done retribution for a man who ordered the death of thousands of Americans — or Bush's region-destabilizing decision to topple Iraq's Saddam Hussein.
Fleischer made the case that Soleimani's killing should be welcomed like bin Laden's, but his argument was complicated by his role promoting the Iraq War, and his prediction that lots of Iranians would "celebrate this killing of Soleimani" had uncomfortable echoes of his pronouncement, just days after U.S. forces swept into Baghdad nearly 17 years ago, that "the celebrations in the streets of Baghdad are the sights of freedom."
Ari Fleischer: "I think it is entirely possible that this is going to be a catalyst inside Iran where the people celebrate this killing of Soleimani" pic.twitter.com/UfcTOkvqAw
— Jason Campbell (@JasonSCampbell) January 3, 2020
The substance of Fleischer's prediction is also not widely shared.
In death, if not life, Gen. Sulaimani has unified Iran's rivaling political factions, from hardliner to reformist, who are all rallying behind the regime & see this as an act of war by Trump.#Iraq #Iran
— Farnaz Fassihi (@farnazfassihi) January 3, 2020
In recent months we've seen Iraqis protest corruption and Iranian influence and brave Iranians in the streets protesting against their own gov't.
Trump just united basically everyone on the ground against the US.
Genius, very stable. https://t.co/MC8yviUC0v
— phillip anderson (@phillipanderson) January 3, 2020
It would be fascinating to know what Trump, who frequently watches Hannity but despises many Bush alumni and claims to have opposed the Iraq War, thought about Fleischer's praise.