“President Trump was getting ready to declare the coronavirus a ‘national emergency’, but inside the White House last Thursday, a tense debate erupted among the president and his top advisers on a far different subject: whether the United States should escalate military action against Iran, a longtime American rival that has been devastated by the epidemic,” the NYT reported.
According to the NYT report, the U.S. Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and General Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, pushed back against U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser Robert C. O’Brien over the latter’s attempts to increase their aggressiveness towards Iran.
Esper and Milley reportedly warned that a large-scale response could draw the United States into a wider war with Iran and further strain the complicated relationship between the two nations.
Despite the aggressiveness of the U.S. administration towards Iran, it appears that not all American officials are on board for these confrontations.
Citing U.S. officials, the NYT said: “Some American officials now admit that the killing of General Suleimani has not – as some had hoped – led Iran and its proxies to think twice about fomenting violence inside Iraq and elsewhere.”
In fact, the U.S.’ assassination of the Quds Force commander Major-General Qassem Soleimani has further driven Iran from the negotiations table, as they have increased their hostility towards Washington.
The U.S. military, which was previously deployed across Iraq, has since withdrawn from several installations across the country and moved to three main bases.
Furthermore, the Iranian-backed groups have increased their attacks in Iraq, prompting the U.S. to increase their own security measures to protect their troops.