Elizabeth Warren has suggested Donald Trump ordered the drone assassination of Iranian general Qassem Suleimani to distract the American public from his own impeachment, taking the country “to the edge of war” for his own political purposes.
“We know Donald Trump is very upset about this upcoming impeachment trial,” the Massachusetts senator and candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination told NBC’s Meet the Press. “But look what he’s doing now. He is taking us to the edge of war.”
Observers were quick to say Warren was accusing Trump of “wag the dog” tactics, meaning an attempt to distract public attention by launching a military strike.
A 1997 film satire starring Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman used the phrase as its title and similar charges were levelled against Bill Clinton in 1998, when he ordered strikes in Afghanistan and Sudan while embroiled in the scandal which led to his own impeachment.
Trump ordered the strike against Suleimani, which happened in Baghdad on Friday. It followed a rocket strike in Iraq that killed an American contractor and wounded US troops, US airstrikes in response and a siege of the US embassy in Baghdad by Iranian-backed militias.
On Sunday Iran called Trump a “terrorist in a suit” and told US media outlets retaliation would hit US military targets.
Warren told CNN’s State of the Union it was “reasonable” to ask if the strike was meant to be a distraction, “particularly when the administration, immediately after having taken this decision, offers a bunch of contradictory explanations for what’s going on.