KEY POINTS

  • Pence and Pompeo reportedly pushed Trump to bomb Soleimani
  • Both men have long pushed for a firmer stance against Iran
  • Pompeo reportedly floated idea of killing Soleimani earlier in 2019

While the United States airstrike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani came as a shock to many, given some hindsight, it's really no surprise at all. War with Iran has been on the agenda for many in the current administration and this incident has been in the making for some time.

Last week, according to a White House official who spoke with the Washington Post, both Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo rallied around President Donald Trump to push for a major move against Iran. In response to the violent protest in Baghdad, the United States killed one of the most powerful men in Iran, Soleimani.

An insider told the Washington Post that Pompeo even brought up the possibility of killing Soleimani earlier last year.

Pompeo and Pence have both lobbied Trump to take a firm, hard stance against Iran for years. For both, pulling out of the nuclear deal was seen as a major victory. Pompeo, who once served as the director of the CIA, has made his belief that Iran is a danger to the world well known.

In April, Pompeo was behind the push to classify Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization; in many ways, this could be seen as the opening move that set into motion what’s currently unfolding between the United States and Iran.

Pence has done his part, most recently pushing a conspiracy that link Soleimani with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

In other words, under the Trump administration it was practically a matter of time before a major move to antagonize Iran was made. But why now? Given Trump’s previous inclination to avoid potentially disastrous acts of retaliation under much more serious circumstances in the past, what was different about the Baghdad embassy incident?

Before the holiday break, the House had voted to impeach Trump and the president is clearly feeling the heat. With every step of his impeachment, no matter how big or small, being reported on everywhere in great depth, little else has broken into the headlines as of late. Say what you will about Trump, he understands public perception and how to turn it to his advantage. By killing a major Iranian figure, the headlines are no longer dominated by impeachment talk – for Trump, this just might be something of a temporary respite.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (R) and US Vice President Mike Pence (L), pictured on September 20, 2019, were scheduled to hold talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but Erdogan has said he will not meet them
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (R) and US Vice President Mike Pence (L), pictured on September 20, 2019, were scheduled to hold talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but Erdogan has said he will not meet them AFP / Eric BARADAT
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