Officials put forth the option of killing him, viewed as the most extreme response to recent Iranian-led violence in Iran, but didn’t think he would take it. Post 2001 Pentagon officials have offered improbable options to presidents to make other possibilities appear more palatable.
Options were presented to Trump at Mar-a-lago a day after the Dec. 27 military base attack that killed an American contractor, and included “strikes on Iranian ships or missile facilities or against Iranian-backed militia groups in Iraq.” Pentagon officials “tacked on” the Suleimani hit, the NY Times reports, “mainly to make other options seem reasonable.”
At first, the long-used scheme worked: Trump chose to go after militias, and 5 different locations were attacked on Sunday. It was only after the resulting violent protests at the U.S. embassy that Trump, “fuming,” decided that Soleimani had to go.