- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 5, 2020

Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg on Sunday said Iranian General Qassem Soleimani was a bad man with American blood on his hands but that President Trump must justify his decision to take him out, citing potential backlash in the volatile Middle East.

“Just because he deserved it, doesn’t mean it was the right strategic move,” Mr. Buttigieg, the former Democratic mayor of South Bend, Indiana, said on CNN’s State of the Union. “We need answers on how this decision was reached.”

Iranian leaders vowed to retaliate against the U.S. for the death of Soleimani, who was killed in an airstrike Thursday night at Baghdad’s airport in Iraq.

Mr. Trump said the U.S. had intelligence that Soleimani, a longtime mastermind of terror attacks against Western targets, was plotting more imminent attacks against Americans.

Mr. Buttigieg, who’s emerged as a top-tier candidate in Iowa ahead of the February caucuses, echoed members of Congress who took pains to characterize Soleimani as evil but are skeptical about the extent of intelligence suggesting an imminent attack on Americans.

They also worry Mr. Trump didn’t game out the consequences, saying he’s taken a helter-skelter approach to governing.

“You need to think about the next and next and next move. This is not checkers,” Mr. Buttigieg said.

Mr. Buttigieg, who served in Afghanistan as a naval intelligence officer, said he doesn’t know if he would have ordered the strike against Soleimani.

“No, not until we know whether this was a good decision and how this decision was made,” he said.

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