The Obama administration wasn’t presented with the opportunity to take out Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who was killed by a U.S. airstrike in Baghdad early Friday, former national security adviser Susan Rice said Friday night.
“Had we been presented such an opportunity, what we would have done is weigh very carefully and very deliberately the risks versus the potential rewards,” Rice told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow.
In a separate interview Friday, Rice told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that “during my tenure as national security advisor we didn’t have the opportunity to my knowledge.”
Soleimani, commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force, was killed by a targeted drone strike at the Baghdad International Airport in an operation ordered by President Trump. The strike came slightly more than two months after another U.S.-led strike resulted in the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
The operations have been described as "game changers" as the U.S. aims to quell aggressors in the Middle East.
After the attack against Soleimani, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed “harsh retaliation is waiting” for the United States.
Rice questioned whether Trump made the right decision.
“So, if in fact the administration can be believed that there was indeed strong intelligence of an imminent threat against the United States that’s being carried out by Soleimani and related militia then the question becomes [was] there more than one way to address that threat?” she told Maddow. “Was the only way to deal with it to kill Soleimani? Certainly, given his history and track record, he deserves his just rewards but the question is does that serve our interests? Does that make us more secure?”
She said she’s dubious about that.
“I do think the risk of direct conflict and sustained conflict with Iran – a war – has gone up immeasurably,” she added. “There’s no question in my mind that they will retaliate in a very serious way in a time and a place of their choosing -- maybe multiple times and multiple places."