In the year leading up to the 2012 presidential election, Donald Trump tweeted frequently about his theory that President Barack Obama would start a war with Iran in order to help his re-election bid. Nearly a decade later, Trump finds himself guilty of the exact thing he accused his predecessor of doing.
On Jan. 2, the President ordered a drone strike on a Baghdad airport that killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani. Soleimani was one of the most influential figures in Iran, so American forces killing the general was an almost-certain way to escalate tensions with Iranians.
Keep in mind that on Jan. 2, Trump was about two weeks away from being the third president in United States history to be impeached, and the 2020 presidential election was just 10 months away.
The White House’s rationale for taking out Soleimani says the general is “the world’s top terrorist” and was “personally responsible for some of the absolutely worst atrocities.”
While there may be some truth to that statement, a deeper look into what led to the assassination’s order shows a common denominator in all of Trump’s decisions: helping himself above all other interests.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Trump told his associates that part of the reason for the assassination was to gain favor with Republican senators ahead of the Senate’s trial of the president.
If this is accurate, then this is a new low even for Trump, but it isn’t surprising considering the bulk of his scandals, including Stormy Daniels and Ukraine, surround Trump willing to do whatever it takes to advance his election prospect, even if it means abusing his power and breaking the law.
Ordering an airstrike during impeachment deliberations isn’t exclusive to Trump. In fact, it happened just two decades ago.
On Dec. 17, 1998, about a week before the House of Representatives voted on articles of impeachment against President Bill Clinton, the commander-in-chief launched an airstrike against Iraq.
Trump’s airstrike against Iran follows a similar pattern of a president trying to use military power to distract the American public from the impeachment process.
Now that America is close to the brink of war with Iran, it’s scary to see the President and his administration don’t seem to have an end game with the air strike.
Ellie Geranmayeh is an analyst at the European Council on Foreign Relations and she said that Trump’s Iran strategy is confusing at best.
“There’s not a single person that I’ve spoken to who can tell you what Trump is up to with Iran,” Geranmayeh said. “It just doesn’t add up.”
Until the White House provides concrete evidence that Soleimani was an imminent danger to the United States, it will seem like Trump’s airstrike on Iran’s top general was all smoke and mirrors in the middle of the President’s impeachment and his trial.