Bravo, President Trump. And bravo to his core national security team of Vice President Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper, national security adviser Robert C. O’Brien and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley.

And shame on every member of Congress and talking head who could not bring themselves to call Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani what he was: a ruthless killer, a terrorist, a murderer of Americans and Bashar al-Assad’s right arm in the genocide of thousands of innocents in Syria. Gone is the mastermind of countless terrorist acts by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ elite Quds Force for the past four decades.

Soleimani was the right arm of an evil theocrat and the sword of a despotic, rogue regime that had murdered hundreds of its own citizens in the final weeks of 2019 and ordered its proxies to mow down hundreds of Iraqis in the weeks before the strike that ended Soleimani’s run. Soleimani was behind the death of an American working as a contractor in Iraq late last month. The leader of the Shia militia responsible for the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad was personally close to and operated alongside Soleimani, and was operating under his direction to step up attacks on Americans. It is inconceivable that the assault on our embassy occurred without Soleimani’s blessing. Then Trump acted.

Trump’s red line isn’t written in invisible ink the way President Barack Obama’s in Syria proved to be. Trump and his team do not believe in appeasement as did Team Obama; they believe in peace through strength, and the message delivered on a road near the Baghdad airport has been received in Tehran.

When Iran launched its missiles Tuesday, United States was prepared to launch a massive retaliation at Iran had another American been killed or wounded. The New York Times reports that the national security team had advance warning of Iran’s plans, which meant our troops and contractors were moved to highly secure, protected places. No one was wounded. No one was killed.

It seems likely to me that there are those within the Iranian government who might have assisted our intelligence agencies in making sure the wrath of the United States did not fall on Iran’s infrastructure and its many military targets. They might have believed that Trump was prepared to “move up the ladder of escalation,” as former senator James M. Talent (R-Mo.) put it, if more Americans had been killed or wounded. “They had immunity in the past when they attacked through proxies,” Talent said. “That is gone now. ”

Former military officials, including Adm. James Stavridis and Lt. Gen. David Deptula, praised the way the episode concluded. “The outcome probably could not have been much better,” Deptula said. The threat of massive retaliation by Trump doubtless played a role: A regime that reportedly had to murder a thousand or more of its own citizens in the past two months knew it could not have survived such a counterstrike. So, the mullahs backed down.

The attack on Soleimani is a reminder that we are at a crossroads on our conduct of foreign policy. Americans face a choice between the hardheaded line of Trump and the appeasement caucus of the Democratic Party that left Iran’s missile program completely unrestrained by the 2015 nuclear agreement (now abrogated by Trump) and forked $1.7 billion in cash to Iran that did, as Trump charged Wednesday, pay for the missiles that hit Iraqi bases hosting U.S. troops Tuesday. Such are the wages of appeasement.

Americans can and likely will choose their president based on the events of the first week of January, a choice between appeasement and peace through strength. Those trapped inside the blue bubble of the Manhattan-Beltway opinion elites might not know it, but Americans are cheering the president’s actions even if they don’t like him personally. My bet is that millions of Americans are disgusted with talking heads who couldn’t withhold their criticisms of Trump even while American troops were under fire or our embassy was under siege.

Kill Americans, and this president and his team will try to kill you back. That’s a message that has been sent and received. If we have allies within the Iranian regime, thank you for your help. We know we have allies within the Iranian people, and they know that their illegitimate, corrupt regime is weak and faltering and will not be bailed out by another American president. At least, not this one.

Read more: