President Donald Trumps order to kill Iranian General Qassem Soleimani was “a very significant effort to reestablish deterrence, which obviously had not been shored up by the relatively insignificant responses up until now,” former CIA director and retired Gen. David Petraeus has said.
“The reasoning seems to be to show in the most significant way possible that the U.S. is just not going to allow the continued violence—the rocketing of our bases, the killing of an American contractor, the attacks on shipping, on unarmed drones—without a very significant response,” Petraeus told Foreign Policy when asked why Trump acted to kill Soleimani where previous presidents did not.
“Many people had rightly questioned whether American deterrence had eroded somewhat because of the relatively insignificant responses to the earlier actions. This clearly was of vastly greater importance. Of course it also, per the Defense Department statement, was a defensive action given the reported planning and contingencies that Suleimani was going to Iraq to discuss and presumably approve,” he added.
“This was in response to the killing of an American contractor, the wounding of American forces, and just a sense of how this could go downhill from here if the Iranians dont realize that this cannot continue.”
Soleimani was killed overnight Jan. 2 by a drone strike near the Baghdad International Airport.
U.S. military leaders said the strike was ordered because they learned Soleimani was planning attacks on American interests, including U.S. troops.
“Soleimani was plotting imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and military personnel, but we caught him in the act and terminated him,” Trump told reporters in Florida on Jan. 3.
“For years, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its ruthless Quds Force—under Soleimanis leadership—has targeted, injured, and murdered hundreds of American civilians and servicemen,” he added.
The strike was carried out “to stop a war” not “to start a war,” Trump said.
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