Jan 3, 2020

Trump in 2011: Obama will use war with Iran to get re-elected

Then-citizen Donald Trump predicted in November 2011 video that then-President Barack Obama would start a war with Iran in order to get re-elected in 2012.

"Our president will start a war with Iran because he has absolutely no ability to negotiate. He’s weak and he’s ineffective. So the only way he figures that he’s going to get re-elected, and as sure as you're sitting there, is to start a war with Iran."

The big picture: The idea of Obama potentially attacking Iran as a political tool was a prime topic for Trump around that time, as illustrated by his tweets:

  • Oct. 9, 2012: "Now that Obama’s poll numbers are in tailspin – watch for him to launch a strike in Libya or Iran. He is desperate."
  • Sept. 16, 2013: "I predict that President Obama will at some point attack Iran in order to save face!"
  • Sept. 25, 2013: "Remember what I previously said — Obama will someday attack Iran in order to show how tough he is."

The state of play: The video has resurfaced after President Trump — during his re-election year — ordered an airstrike that killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, one of the regime's most powerful figures, in a move that is widely expected to significantly escalate tensions in the Middle East.

Go deeper: Pompeo says Soleimani strike disrupted "imminent" attack

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America's war footing

This photo released by the Iraqi Prime Minister's Press Office shows a burning vehicle at Baghdad International Airport following an airstrike early today. Photo via AP

President Trump, after warning three days ago that Iran would pay "a very BIG PRICE," authorized a drone strike at Baghdad International Airport that killed Iran's top general and second most powerful official, Qasem Soleimani.

Why it matters: Soleimani had cost hundreds of American lives and was among the Middle East's most feared powers. But Iran seems certain to respond, potentially further destabilizing the world's most volatile region.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Jan 3, 2020

Trump says Soleimani "should have been taken out many years ago" in first tweets on strike

President Trump said Qasem Soleimani, the Iranian general killed in a U.S. airstrike in Iraq, "should have been taken out many years ago" in his first direct tweets on the strike on Friday.

"General Qassem Soleimani has killed or badly wounded thousands of Americans over an extended period of time, and was plotting to kill many more...but got caught! He was directly and indirectly responsible for the death of millions of people, including the recent large number of PROTESTERS killed in Iran itself. While Iran will never be able to properly admit it, Soleimani was both hated and feared within the country. They are not nearly as saddened as the leaders will let the outside world believe. He should have been taken out many years ago!"
Go deeperArrowJan 3, 2020

Trump responds to missile strikes: "Iran appears to be standing down"

President Trump said in a White House address Wednesday that Americans should be "extremely grateful and happy" because Iranian strikes hours earlier resulted in no casualties, and Iran now "appears to be standing down."

Why it matters: Iran's strikes came in retaliation for the killing of Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani, a stunning event that led to immediate fears of war. Trump defended that decision and announced new sanctions on Iran, but did not signal new military escalation.

Go deeperArrowJan 8, 2020