In the wake of the U.S. airstrike that took out top Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, a number of Democrats questioned the validity of President Donald Trump’s abrupt move, wondering aloud whether Soleimani actually posed such an “imminent” threat to the U.S. and the American people that he deserved to die.
But in a powerful moment in a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on U.S.–Iran relations on Tuesday, Republican Rep. Brian Mast (FL) — a U.S. Army combat veteran who lost both of his legs while deployed to Afghanistan in 2010 — settled that question for good. The congressman brought proceedings to a halt, according to the Daily Caller, when he challenged his colleagues to name one fallen U.S. service member whose death doesn’t justify Soleimani’s killing.
An enemy machine gun nest
The congressman began on Tuesday by comparing Soleimani to an enemy machine gun nest that poses a grave threat and must be dealt with.
“I think it probably always defies conventional wisdom to go out there and attack a machine gun nest. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have to be done,” Mast said. “And then you want to ask is it imminent? Well, just because this machine gun nest might be taking a moment to reload, that doesn’t mean that it’s not an imminent threat.”
He went on: “It just got done firing rounds over at our embassy. Over the last number of years, it’d been working to attack our service members time and time again.
“Just because it was taking a breather to reload, that didn’t mean it wasn’t an imminent threat because it wasn’t literally pushing the button on something,” Mast added.
A moment of silence
That’s when things got real: the veteran congressman referenced the hundreds of U.S. service members who died at the hands of Soleimani before challenging his own Democrat colleagues to provide just one name of a fallen soldier whose death, in and of itself, wouldn’t justify the killing of the Iran general.
“If you walk out this hallway and you take a right and another right and another right, you are going to come to several beautiful walls that have the names of our fallen service members from the War on Terror,” Mast explained. “I would ask, can any of you provide me one name on that wall that doesn’t justify killing Soleimani?
“I got two minutes and 30 seconds,” Mast continued. “I will be more than happy to sit here and wait. Somebody provide me with a name on that wall that does not justify his killing.”
After a brief pause, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-NY) urged Mast to continue, but the Republican insisted that he was continuing as he waited for an answer. Mast ultimately refused to yield back his remaining time, prompting a sharp back-and-forth between the two members.
The brief argument was eventually settled when Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN), who was next in line to question the committee’s witnesses, graciously yielded a minute of his own time so Mast could continue his reverential moment of silence.
Take a look at the incredible moment for yourself, courtesy of the Daily Caller: