- Top US military officials were reportedly stunned when they presented President Donald Trump with a number of options to respond to Iranian-backed violence in Iraq, and he chose the most radical solution.
- The officials reportedly put the option of killing Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani on the table, thinking he wouldn’t choose such an extreme response, according to The New York Times.
- Later, the Trump administration would defend the strikes by saying Soleimani had been plotting an “imminent” attack.
- But The Times reported that there were disagreements within the administration about whether that was the case.
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Top US military officials presented President Donald Trump with a number of potential responses to Iranian-backed violence in Iraq in recent days, but were stunned when he chose the most radical option, The New York Times reported Saturday evening.
The officials reportedly put the option of killing Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani on the table, thinking he wouldn’t choose such an extreme solution.
The newspaper reported that it’s commonplace for Pentagon officials to present president with extreme solutions so that other options appear more reasonable by comparison.
Though Trump initially rejected the option of assassinating Soleimani on December 28, he grew increasingly furious when Iranian-backed militiamen attacked the US Embassy in Iraq, The Times reported, citing Pentagon and Trump administration officials.
Eventually, on January 2, Trump shocked Pentagon officials by opting to kill Soleimani.
Later, the Trump administration would defend the strikes by saying Soleimani had been plotting an “imminent” attack. But The Times reported that there were disagreements within the administration about whether that was the case.
One US official told The Times there wasn’t evidence of an imminent attack, and that Soleimani appeared to be going about “business as usual.”
In the wake of Soleimani’s death, tension between the US and Iran has dramatically escalated. A top Iranian commander warned Friday that the nation has already prepared 35 potential targets for a counter-strike against the US, likely targeting American ships in the Strait of Hormuz, Sea of Oman, and the Persian Gulf.
On Saturday night, Trump took to Twitter to warn Iran not to retaliate, threatening that the US had assembled 52 targets for strikes — one representing each of the 52 Americans held for more than a year during the Iranian hostage crisis.
He also threatened that the targets were “at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture.”
He continued: “Those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD. The USA wants no more threats!”