– In this Friday, March 27, 2015 file photo released by an official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, commander of Iran’s Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani, sits in a religious ceremony at a mosque in the residence of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in Tehran, Iran. The chief of an elite unit in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard has accused the U.S. of having “no will” to stop the Islamic State group after the fall of the Iraqi city of Ramadi, an Iranian newspaper reported Monday, May 25, 2015. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP, File)
As news unfolded Thursday evening regarding the US takedown of IRGC General/Quds Force Commander Qasem Soleimani, it was fascinating to watch the various takes roll in on Twitter. Not surprisingly, the takes largely hewed to their authors’ pre-dispositions. Pro-Trump? Right on! Anti-Trump? Terrible, awful, oh-my-God! With a smattering of perspectives somewhere in between.
It wasn’t long before those in the anti-Trump camp started asserting how ridiculous it was for others to be cheering the strike because they clearly had no idea who Qasem Soleimani was before last night. Take, for instance, progressive thought leader Michael Moore (no relation):
Hello fellow Americans. Do you know this man? Did you know he was your enemy? What? Never heard of him? By the end of today you will be trained to hate him. You will be glad Trump had him assassinated. You will do as you are told. Get ready to send your sons &daughters off 2 war pic.twitter.com/8CprNDMgTf
— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) January 3, 2020
While Moore rightly received solid pushback in response to the tweet, I’ll confess, as one of those who applauds the takedown, the name didn’t immediately click when I first saw this tweet:
Soleimani dead 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸
— Katie Pavlich (@KatiePavlich) January 3, 2020
It took a minute to register — I don’t follow Middle-East politics as closely as domestic (and I probably should), but as soon as I saw the Quds reference, the lightbulb went on.
And then I recalled he was the bad dude who Hugh Hewitt referenced in his interview with then-candidate Trump — the one where Trump appeared to conflate the Quds and the Kurds. Oh, it caused a stir at the time and set off all sorts of clucking tongues and wagging fingers over Trump’s apparent lack of knowledge regarding foreign policy.
Here was MSNBC’s snide report at the time:
Donald Trump fumbled his way through a lengthy foreign policy interview on Thursday, where it became clear that the presidential candidate’s understanding of the Middle East is limited.
In an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, the Republican frontrunner mixed up the Quds Force (an elite Iranian military unit that operates outside its borders and is accused of complicating U.S. efforts to fight ISIS) with the Kurds (the ethnic group fighting ISIS with U.S. help), and struggles to identify prominent figures in the Middle East.
After fumbling the identity of General Qasem Soleimani (the leader of the Quds), Trump balked when asked about other top leaders.
“On the front of Islamist terrorism, I’m looking for the next commander-in-chief to know who Hassan Nasrallah is, and Zawahiri, and al-Julani, and al-Baghdadi,” Hewitt asked. “Do you know the players without a scorecard, yet, Donald Trump?”
(To review: Nasrallah has run Hezbollah for more than two decades, Ayman al-Zawahiri has led al-Qaeda since Osama Bin Laden was killed, Abu Mohammad al-Julani leads the Nusra front in Syria, and Abu Bakr al Bagdadi leads ISIS.)
Trump responded with bluster and dodges.
“By the time we get to office, they’ll all be changed. They’ll be all gone. I knew you were going to ask me things like this,” Trump said. “But as far as the individual players, of course I don’t know them. I’ve never met them. I haven’t been, you know, in a position to meet them. If, if they’re still there, which is unlikely in many cases, but if they’re still there, I will know them better than I know you.”
Well, fancy that – small world!
“To review” the smart take at the time was that Trump was terribly uninformed (I mean, who didn’t know who Soleimani and Nasrallah and al-Zawahiri and al-Julani and al Bagdadi were?!) and would spell foreign policy disaster.
I speculated that it wouldn’t be but a blink before we’d see folks bringing up that 2016 interview. It wasn’t:
— Tommy X-TrumpIsARacist-opher (@tommyxtopher) January 3, 2020
At which point, I observed — he certainly knows now:
Guess he knows now 💁🏼♀️ https://t.co/18dJ6n1ZOI
— Susie Moore (@SmoosieQ) January 3, 2020
My, how times have changed….
2020 Hot take: The Soleimani takedown was not a big deal because most Americans didn't even know who he was.
2016 Hot take: Man, Trump is SUCH an idiot for not knowing who Soleimani and the Quds are!
— Susie Moore (@SmoosieQ) January 3, 2020