— Rana Abtar – رنا أبتر (@Ranaabtar) September 15, 2020
In yet another astonishing revelation, Donald Trump told his anti-Boswell, Bob Woodward, that U.S. intelligence was poised to assassinate Syrian president, Bashar al Assad in 2017. The account is featured in his new book, Rage:
“Let’s fucking kill him! Let’s go in. Let’s kill the fucking lot of them,” Trump said, according to Woodward.
Only the intervention of then-defense secretary, Jim Mattis, prevented the catastrophic operation from being executed. Trump saw the killing as retribution for Syrian use of chemical weapons in its war against anti-regime forces. Trump confirmed Woodward’s reporting on Fox & Friends today featured in the video above. He also railed against the general for not being able to “win,” falsely claiming that he, the president, defeated ISIS after he fired Mattis (actually Mattis quit).
Knowing all this, it becomes clear that once Mattis quit, Trump was given free rein to assassinate Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani, a few years later. This killing, perpetrated under false pretense that the Iranian military leader was planning terror attacks against U.S. targets, hasn’t changed anything in terms of the balance of power in the region. Nor has it changed Iranian behavior or degraded its own strategic capabilities. But it reportedly has set Iran on a path to plot revenge against U.S. officials. If that were to happen, the Soleimani assassination will have commenced a retaliatory spiral leading to war in the region.
However, killing Assad would have been a catastrophic blunder since he is the leader of a sovereign nation. It would have thrown U.S. relations with Russia into turmoil, as Assad is one of that country’s primary allies in the region. It shows the impetuous, unbridled confusion of Trump’s approach to foreign policy. There is no policy. There are a series of spontaneous eruptions which substitute for an ongoing strategic vision.
To be fair, Trump was not the only president to engage in a rash counter-terrorism approach: when Barack Obama murdered Osama bin Laden execution-style, he was pursuing essentially the same policy. The only difference was that Bin Laden was a leader of al Qaeda and Assad the leader of Syria, which makes Trump’s plan far more dangerous and destabilizing.