The White House reportedly asked the Pentagon to chalk out military options to strike Iran, leaving people within the defense department “rattled” at the sudden request, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The request was made by national security advisor John Bolton last September after militants, believed to have been sponsored by Iran, fired missiles that fell just short of the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. Pentagon and State Department officials were left alarmed by the request, said one former White House official familiar with the developments.
“It definitely rattled people. People were shocked. It was mind-boggling how cavalier they were about hitting Iran.”
According to the report, what caught the Pentagon off-guard was that the request by the White House had come as a response to an “attack” that did no harm to U.S. personnel. Former U.S. officials told the Journal said it was “unnerving” that the National Security Council’s request for military operations in Iran — which would significantly alter the American position in the Middle East in the long-term — came after militant attacks that “caused little damage and no injuries.”
It is unclear if the request had been approved by Donald Trump, or if “concrete” plans to strike Iran were actually drawn up, but the Defense Department “did indeed comply with the National Security Council’s request to develop those options,” reports CNBC.
National Security Council, led by John Bolton, last year sought options for military strikes in Iran, alarming the Pentagon and State Department https://t.co/2oa4BfsEeU
— The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) January 13, 2019
Bolton has been a longtime advocate of war in the Middle East. Under the George W. Bush administration, he was one of the biggest proponents of the war in Iraq. In 2015, even as John Kerry and Barack Obama sought to make Iran sign a nuclear agreement, Bolton decried the move in an op-ed published in the New York Times, which was headlined: “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran.”
As Vanity Fair reports, just around the time that Bolton asked the Pentagon to draw up plans to attack Iran back in September, he had given a rabble-rousing speech at an event hosted by United Against Nuclear Iran — an organization which didn’t support the Obama-era nuclear agreement.
“According to the mullahs in Tehran, we are ‘the Great Satan,’ lord of the underworld, master of the raging inferno,” Bolton told the audience at the event.
If you cross us, our allies, or our partners; if you harm our citizens; if you continue to lie, cheat, and deceive, yes, there will indeed be hell to pay.
The murderous regime and its supporters will face significant consequences if they do not change their behavior. Let my message today be clear: we are watching, and we will come after you.”
Iran’s leadership has been critical of Donald Trump’s leadership, with its President Hassan Rouhani penning an op-ed in Washington Post also around the same time when Bolton is reported to have made the request to Pentagon. Rouhani decried the U.S. move to ditch a treaty which had the approval of U.S. allies in Europe. Writing that Iran would nonetheless respect the terms of the treaty, Rouhani claimed that it would not be “bullied” by Trump.
“I am confident that the U.S. government will have to change course once again,” he wrote, adding that it had become “crystal clear that most countries in the world oppose U.S. unilateralism and abhor being bullied.”