The Slatest

White House Reportedly Asked for Military Options to Strike Iran

National Security Advisor John Bolton speaks at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. on December 13, 2018.
National Security Advisor John Bolton speaks at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. on December 13, 2018.
NICHOLAS KAMM/Getty Images

President Donald Trump’s National Security Council called on the Pentagon to provide military options to strike Iran last year, reports the Wall Street Journal. The report, which cites unnamed “current and former U.S. officials,” claims the request sparked concern among officials at both the Pentagon and the State department. “It definitely rattled people,” a former senior administration official told the paper. “People were shocked. It was mind-boggling how cavalier they were about hitting Iran.”

The request from the council, which is led by National Security Adviser John Bolton, came after a group of militants with ties to Iran fired mortars into the diplomatic section of Baghdad. That area includes the U.S. embassy but the mortars landed in a vacant lot and no one was injured. Even though no one was hurt, the mortars “triggered unusual alarm in Washington,” notes the Journal. There were meetings led by Bolton to discuss a possible response, and that’s when the request for military options were requested. Although the Pentagon moved forward with the request, it isn’t clear whether they were ever handed over to the White House or whether Trump even knew that the request had been made.

Many were surprised that the administration would even consider such a strong action for an attack that didn’t hurt anyone. But some officials at least saw it as very serious. Mira Ricardel, the former deputy national security adviser, described it at a meeting as “an act of war” and called on the United States to react accordingly. Ricardel was forced out in November.

Bolton, who took over the position of national security adviser in April is known as a hawk who has long advocated taking a stronger stance against Iran. Before joining the administration, Bolton often talked in favor of regime change in Iran, and wrote a 2015 New York Times op-ed that was titled “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran.”