Several instances in which Mr. Trump indicated he believed former President Barack Obama would launch the country into a war with Iran to boost his own chances of reelection in 2012 surfaced Friday after a U.S. airstrike killed a top Iranian official, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, 10 months until American voters decide whether to elect Mr. Trump to another term.
“Our president will start a war with Iran because he has absolutely no ability to negotiate,” Mr. Trump said in a video uploaded to YouTube in November 2011. “I believe that he will attack Iran sometime prior to the election because he thinks that’s the only way he can get elected. Isn’t it pathetic?”
“I say that he starts a war in Iran before the election, which will make it very hard for the Republican to win,” Mr. Trump told conservative commentator Sen Hannity in January 2012, CNN reported. “I think it’s going to happen sometime prior to the election. There’ll be some kind of a war started.”
“I happen to think that the president is going to start a war with Iran,” Mr. Trump said on Fox News in April 2012. “I think it’ll be a short term popular thing to do. And I think he’s going to do that for political reasons.”
“In my opinion, Obama will start a war,” he said in a separate appearance on the cable network that month. “For about three weeks it’d be very popular about, by the way, six months later he’ll be very unpopular, but by that time it’s too late.”
The Department of Defense said Friday that Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds force, was killed near Baghdad’s international airport in Iraq by an airstrike carried out under the direction of Mr. Trump.
“This strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans,” the Pentagon said in a statement.
Mr. Trump said in a subsequent address that the airstrike was launched “to stop a war,” adding: “We did not take action to start a war.”
Several candidates seeking the Democratic nomination to run against Mr. Trump in November have criticized the airstrike, including current front-runners former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Sen. Bernard Sanders, Vermont Independent, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts Democrat, among others.
Majid Takht Ravanchi, Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, described the airstrike to CNN as “tantamount to opening a war,” meanwhile.
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