Senior officials have reported insist that they were “stunned” when Trump decided to kill Soleimani. The New York Times reported that the attack was never considered a serious suggestion. It is learnt that the “most extreme” deed was intended to be a spoonful of sugar to nudge Trump towards better choices.
The “menu” of options was first presented to Trump at Mar-a-lago on one day after the Dec. 27 military base attack that killed an American contractor, and included “strikes on Iranian ships or missile facilities or against Iranian-backed militia groups in Iraq.” Pentagon officials “tacked on” the Suleimani hit, the Times reports, “mainly to make other options seem reasonable.”
At first, the long-used scheme worked: The president chose to go after militias, and five different locations were attacked on Sunday. It was only after the resulting violent protests at the U.S. embassy that Trump, “fuming,” decided that Soleimani had to go.
Even though there have been at least 1,570 private contractor deaths since the United States invaded Iraq, Donald Trump decided to make an example of this incident. The military presented him with multiple options ranging from “moderate” to “far out.” It appears Trump decided to go with all of the above.
There’s little doubt about why Trump, along with Mike Pompeo and Mike Pence, have continually referred to Soleimani as a terrorist—according to Trump, the “the number-one terrorist” in the world—rather than as a leader of the Iranian military. That’s because they know the action was on shaky grounds both in treading on Congress’ authority to levy war, and when it comes to long-standing executive orders forbidding U.S. involvement in the assassination of foreign leaders.