Former Mayor Pete Buttigieg said Friday that Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani “was not a good guy” but questioned President Donald Trump’s decision to eliminate him with a drone strike.
“He has blood on his hands from countless operations against American interests, American allies, and American citizens,” Buttigieg said about the Quds Force commander, noting that Soleimani “was not a good guy.”
Buttigieg spoke about the news during a campaign stop in New Hampshire.
But the former mayor questioned Trump’s decision, noting that both former President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush never attacked Soleimani.
“Taking out a bad guy is not a good idea unless you are ready for what comes next,” Buttigieg said, warning that Trump’s action was “extremely provocative.”
Buttigieg was one of the last 2020 candidates to weigh in on the president’s decision, calling for American leaders to act “wisely and deliberately” after the attack in a statement to reporters before taking the stage.
“We must act wisely and deliberately, not capriciously or through Twitter,” he wrote. “The consequences are grave, as anyone who has served in uniform understands all too well.”
Buttigieg’s Democrat rivals Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and former Vice President Joe Biden (D) almost immediately condemned Trump’s actions as foolish and haphazard after the successful strike was confirmed.
Buttigieg joined several Democrat leaders who admitted the Iranian general was a real threat to Americans, even though he questioned the president’s decision.
“There is no question that Qassim Suleimani was a threat to that safety and security, and that he masterminded threats and attacks on Americans and our allies, leading to hundreds of deaths,” he said in a lengthy statement. “But there are serious questions about how this decision was made and whether we are prepared for the consequences.”
Buttigieg used the opportunity to remind voters of his military experience in the Navy Reserves.
“As a former military intelligence officer on the ground in Afghanistan, I was trained to ask the hard questions before acting,” he said. “A Commander-in-Chief must do the same.”
Buttigieg said that he would have consulted more with members of Congress, officials in the Middle East, and American allies before acting to eliminate Soleimani.
“The American people deserve answers on how we arrived at this point, the national security infrastructure we have in place, and the basis for this decision,” he said.
The former South Bend, Indiana, mayor also warned that the Trump administration’s action should not provoke another war in the Middle East.
“As we learn more in the coming days and weeks, one thing is clear: This must not be the start of another endless war,” he wrote.