What Callimachi discovered after getting a chance to review some of the documents supposedly supporting Trump’s action at the Baghdad airport, was that the evidence requiring taking out Soleimani was “razor thin.” In fact, that evidence seemed to be only that Soleimani was doing what he always did, visiting with militia groups across the region, and that he was headed back to Tehran to discuss an operation of some sort. The nature of that operation, and the targets, is unknown. To get to an imminent threat to Americans requires making several logical leaps unsupported by the intelligence.
But then, military leaders who presented Trump with the options for how to react to the rocket attack at Kirkuk didn’t expect him to kill Soleimani. Trump was given a whole slate of possible reactions, one that included the air strikes that were made against multiple sites in Iraq and Syria on Dec. 29. The attack on Soleimani was on the list of options, but only as what Callimachi’s source described as the “far out” option. It should also be said that Trump had another option: neither of the above. He could have allowed the Iraqi military to deal with an attack that targeted one of their bases. That doesn’t appear to have been considered.
Instead, given multiple options, Trump took all of the above. In fact, it was when Trump saw how bad the reaction had been to the air strikes, that he decided to compound the potential for violence by ordering the assassination of Soleimani. Now there’s another series of options under study … by the generals in Iran. Which absolutely makes it seem that Trump was fishing for an opportunity for all out war.
If Trump isn’t desperately trying to force a war with Iran, he’s certainly doing an amazing simulation. He chose one of the most disruptive options available to him, and when the results of that option were not just disastrous, but demonstrated the ability of the Iran-aligned Shiite militias in Iraq to coordinate a rapid response involving thousands, Trump hit the button to make things infinitely worse.
There are currently 5,300 U.S. soldiers in Iraq and an unknown number of private contractors. Unfortunately, Trump is likely to get many more reasons to press more buttons.
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