Ordering the airstrike of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' Quds Force general has helped "reestablish deterrence" of malign actions and influence in the Middle East, according to retired Gen. David Petraeus.
"This is a very significant effort to reestablish deterrence, which obviously had not been shored up by the relatively insignificant responses up until now," Petraeus told Foreign Policy in an exclusive Q&A.
Petraeus, the former commander of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, called the killing of Qassem Soleimani "more significant" than getting Osama bin Laden or ISIS founder Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
"It is impossible to overstate the importance of this particular action," Petraeus told FP. "It is more significant than the killing of Osama bin Laden or even the death of al-Baghdadi. Soleimani was the architect and operational commander of the Iranian effort to solidify control of the so-called Shia crescent, stretching from Iran to Iraq through Syria into southern Lebanon.
"He is responsible for providing explosives, projectiles, and arms and other munitions that killed well over 600 American soldiers and many more of our coalition and Iraqi partners just in Iraq, as well as in many other countries such as Syria. So his death is of enormous significance."
While some might have considered the risks to outweigh the rewards, Petraeus is convinced otherwise, saying this is a "clarifying moment" on the U.S. position against Iranian aggression.
"This is a very significant escalation, and [Iran does not] know where this goes any more than anyone else does," he told FP. "Yes, they can respond and they can retaliate, and that can lead to further retaliation – and that it is clear now that the administration is willing to take very substantial action. This is a pretty clarifying moment in that regard."
The state of the Iranian economy cripples its ability to take drastic retaliatory measures, according to Petraeus.
"Given the state of their economy, I think they have to be very leery, very concerned that that could actually result in the first real challenge to the regime, certainly, since the Iran-Iraq War," he concluded to FP.
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