Paul Pillar, a former intelligence analyst who worked at the CIA for 25 years, has written a scathing rebuke of President Donald Trump’s decision to kill Iranian general Qassim Suleimani, which he said was leading to dangerous escalation in the Middle East.
In an essay published on the website Responsible Statecraft, Pillar pegs the current tensions between the United States and Iran directly on Trump’s decision to pull out of the nuclear arms control deal that had been crafted between the Obama administration and Iran.
“It is clear what caused the whole spiral in the first place: the Trump administration’s reneging in 2018 on the multilateral agreement that restricted Iran’s nuclear program — despite Iran’s full compliance with that agreement — and the administration’s escalation into unrestricted economic warfare against Iran,” he writes. “Before that departure, Iran was not attacking tankers and Saudi oil facilities, militias in Iraq were not engaging in clashes with U.S. forces, and there was no spiral.”
Pillar also worries that Trump’s decision to assassinate a high-ranking government official will create an atmosphere of lawlessness in which countries target rival countries’ leadership for assassinations with reckless abandon.
“A great nation, as the United States has been throughout its history, sets and observes high standards of international behavior,” he concludes. “It does so confident that its strength and character will enable it to protect and advance its interests effectively without stooping to lower standards and doing the sorts of things that rogue states and terrorists do. By acting like a rogue, Trump has diminished America’s greatness.”