Video footage of then-private citizen Donald Trump warning in 2011 that "our president will start a war with Iran because he has absolutely no ability to negotiate" resurfaced Thursday night after the U.S. assassinated Iran's top military leader and six others in a drone strike in Baghdad, sparking fears of a catastrophic regional and possibly global conflict.
Trump, of course, was referring to former President Barack Obama, who he called "weak and ineffective" and accused of attempting to start a war with Iran to boost his reelection chances.
"So the only way he figures that he's going to get reelected—and as sure as you're sitting there—is to start a war with Iran," Trump said at the time.
Obama went on to win reelection in 2012 without launching a war with Iran. In 2015, the U.S., Iran, and other major nations adopted the Iran nuclear agreement, which Trump effectively shredded last year.
Watch the clip, which Washington Post video editor J.M. Rieger tweeted Thursday night:
Trump on Nov. 16, 2011:
“Our president will start a war with Iran because he has absolutely no ability to negotiate. He's weak and he's ineffective. So the only way he figures that he's going to get reelected — and as sure as you're sitting there — is to start a war with Iran.” pic.twitter.com/usZFLiHnBw
— JM Rieger (@RiegerReport) January 3, 2020
In his second tweet since the U.S. assassination of Qassem Soleimani—the first was an image of the American flag—Trump wrote that "Iran never won a war, but never lost a negotiation!"
Critics voiced a mixture of alarm and confusion in response to the president's brief statement. "Trump is just dropping vague, wrong, unhelpful comments into a tense and volatile situation," said the Post's Josh Rogin.
Robert Maguire, research director with Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, added, "The guy who sold himself as the greatest negotiator in history is tweeting about how hard it is to negotiate with the country he might have started a war with instead."