“I don’t care about Iranian cultural sites,” Hegseth said during a Monday segment on Fox News’ The Five. Hegseth was defending President Donald Trump, as he always does, while slamming Democrats after the president twice threatened Iran with what would amount to war crimes if Iran retaliated for last week’s drone-strike assassination of general Qasem Soleimani.
Hegseth started with an attack on Democrats who have taken issue with the strike on Soleimani, saying, “With friends like these Democrats, who needs the Iranians.”
Hegseth then addressed Trump’s threat by first asserting that the president was only referring to one cultural site. “Fifty-two sites, one which could be cultural,” Hegseth said of the president’s threat. Trump, however, did not make that qualification.
On Saturday, Trump tweeted a “warning” to Iran that said, in part, that the US military has “targeted 52 Iranian sites… some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD.”
Discussing the threat, Hegseth made it clear that he thinks targeting Iranian cultural sites would be fair game because they would do the same if given the opportunity. “By the way, I don’t care about Iranian cultural sites and I’ll tell you why. If Iran could, if you understand the Islamic Republic of Iran of Islamists, if they could, if they had the power, they would destroy every single one of our cultural sites and build a mosque on top of it,” he said. “If you don’t understand the nature of our enemy, you are foolish about who you are pointing out and whether or not you are happy that Soleimani is dead.”
Fox host defends America committing war crimes: "I don't care about Iranian cultural sites and I'll tell you why. If they could … they would destroy every single one of our cultural sites and build a mosque on top of it" pic.twitter.com/AJolDVtzJR
— Andrew Lawrence (@ndrew_lawrence) January 6, 2020
Hegseth is not a voice that can be ignored. He has the ear and the respect of the president. And he seems to be reveling in that status, telling the New York Times, “If I was part of shaping the narrative” regarding Soleimani’s assassination, “well, that’s a wonderful part of my day job.”
Hegseth, who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, also played a major role in another war crimes related issue. He defended Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher essentially getting away with murder after Trump reversed a decision to demote Gallagher, something Hegseth lobbied hard for both in private and on Fox News.
The Times goes on to quote William Kristol*, Hegseth’s former mentor and a conservative, who said he’s disappointed that Hegseth has turned into a “demagogue for Trump.”
“I respect his service. I knew him 10 years ago and hoped he would be one of many leaders of that generation for strong American policy. But he has now apologized for war crimes and is a demagogue for Trump,” Kristol said.
Kristol may be right about Hegseth, but he has his own foreign policy lunacy to answer for, such as his cheerleading for the Iraq War.