Fdd's overnight brief

January 7, 2020

In The News


In the wake of the U.S. strike against one of Iran’s top military commanders last week, Iranian leaders have pledged to retaliate, seeding expectations that Tehran will launch tit-for-tat attacks on U.S. personnel or American allies. – Wall Street Journal

Hundreds of thousands of Iranian mourners marched through Tehran on Monday for the funeral of Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, a massive display of grief and solidarity after the country’s most powerful military commander was killed in a U.S. drone strike last week. – Washington Post

Days of touring the body of slain Iranian commander Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani around Iran’s cities came to a tragic end on Tuesday when a stampede erupted during the massive mourning marches through his hometown of Kerman. – Washington Post

In the tense hours following the American killing of a top Iranian military commander, the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, made a rare appearance at a meeting of the government’s National Security Council to lay down the parameters for any retaliation. It must be a direct and proportional attack on American interests, he said, openly carried out by Iranian forces themselves, three Iranians familiar with the meeting said Monday. – New York Times

Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper sought to douse an international outcry on Monday by ruling out military attacks on cultural sites in Iran if the conflict with Tehran escalates further, despite President Trump’s threat to destroy some of the country’s treasured icons. – New York Times

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei wept and offered prayers over the coffin of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani at the funeral in Tehran on Monday, as throngs of people filled the city’s streets to mourn. – New York Times

U.S. officials braced for Iran to respond to the killing of its most powerful general, noting heightened military readiness in the country and preparing for a possible “tit-for-tat” attempt on the life of an American military commander. – Associated Press

The killing of a top Iranian general has ratcheted up the anxiety of families of Americans held in Iran, one month after the release of a New Jersey student had given them hope. – Associated Press

World markets suffered through a tense session on Monday, with equities falling, oil rising and money piling into the safety of gold after the US assassination of a top Iranian general sparked fears of military escalation. – Agence France-Presse

The US killing of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani was meant to cripple Tehran’s  clout in the Middle East, but analysts see the allies of the Islamic Republic closing rank instead. – Agence France-Presse

The body of a top Iranian military commander killed in a U.S. drone strike in Iraq last week reached his hometown for burial on Tuesday as the U.S. defense secretary denied reports that the U.S. military was preparing to withdraw from Iraqi territory. – Reuters

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned on Monday that “geopolitical tensions are at their highest level this century” and called on world leaders to stop escalating tensions, exercise maximum restraint and re-start dialogue. – Reuters

The United States has denied a visa to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif that would have allowed him to attend a United Nations Security Council meeting in New York on Thursday, a U.S. official said. – Reuters

A senior adviser to the Iranian president took aim at President Trump, seeming to threaten him and his real estate empire. – Washington Examiner

President Barack Obama’s national security adviser Susan Rice claimed that terrorists embedded in the United States “could be activated” as Iran inches toward conflict with the U.S. – Washington Examiner

The U.N. atomic watchdog on Monday acknowledged Iran’s latest announcement on walking away, though reversibly, from its nuclear containment deal with major powers and said it would report any developments promptly to its member states. – Reuters

Iran has vowed to retaliate after its most powerful military commander was killed by a US drone strike at Baghdad airport. […]So what do we know about Iran’s military capabilities? – BBC

Iran is assessing 13 scenarios to respond to the U.S. killing of Qassem Soleimani, the influential general in charge of foreign operations, and even the weakest of those options would be a “historic nightmare” for the U.S., the head of Iran’s national security council said on Tuesday. – Bloomberg

It must be noted that for several years now, U.S. National Intelligence Worldwide Threat Assessments have noted the growing threat of Iranian elements inside the U.S. According to the National Intelligence 2018 assessment, “Iran will continue working to penetrate [the] U.S.” as it “cultivate a network of operatives across the globe as a contingency to enable potential terrorist attacks.” – Middle East Media Research Institute

Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency posted a video on Monday showing a fake “assassination” of US President Donald Trump. – Algemeiner

Masih Alinejad writes: I and others have been saying for years that the current repressive conditions in the country are not tenable and that more protests would break out. We were right. And I’ll say it again: Don’t be fooled. Iran will see more anti-regime protests. – Washington Post

Stephen Hadley writes: Trump, like Obama before him, has tried mightily to withdraw U.S. troops from the Middle East. Both failed. The United States remains engaged there because it continues to have vital interests in the region: forestalling terrorist threats; supporting and protecting friends and allies; checking Iran’s nuclear ambitions and malign influence. The killing of Soleimani may result in even deeper U.S. involvement, but it doesn’t have to if the parties choose diplomacy. – Washington Post

Seth J. Frantzman writes: The question for both Tehran and Washington is whether the U.S. strike on Soleimani is part of a larger game plan, or was simply a symbolic and deadly message that will not be repeated. – The Hill

James Stavridis writes: Based on what information has been made public and my own experience, I support the administration’s decision to take out Soleimani. But the consequences, especially the unintended ones, are going to set back U.S. efforts in the Middle East and around the world. You can’t escape the law of history. – Bloomberg

Bobby Ghosh writes: The rational way forward for Khamenei is to stay the hand of his proxies and allow time to defuse the hysteria whipped up by Soleimani’s death. In the meantime, he would be able to continue improving relations with the Arab states — which, having peered over the edge, should be even more eager for parley. After an appropriate interregnum, he might use one or more of his Arab interlocutors to discreetly open a channel to the White House. – Bloomberg

Pankaj Mishra writes: Iran, of course, will remain where and what it is: in its own region, as its major power. The death of a military commander is very unlikely to undermine its position. Indeed, as Iran’s leaders confront a morally diminished and self-isolating United States, they can continue to indulge the thought that with enemies such as these, who needs friends. – Bloomberg

A. Savyon and Yigal Carmon write: Likewise, the Iranian threats are aimed at obtaining, in secret diplomatic negotiations via Switzerland and other countries, a significant achievement such as a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq in exchange for no retribution by Iran. – Middle East Media Research Institute

Patrick Clawson writes: Accordingly, the United States is unlikely to face popular reprisals from the world’s Muslims in the wake of his death—not even from most Shia. And while the Iraqi parliament has quickly escalated its efforts to push U.S. forces out of the country, Washington should distinguish between heated resolutions put forth by Iranian-influenced political elites on the one hand, and the public’s relatively tepid anger about Soleimani’s death on the other. – Washington Institute

Seth G. Jones writes: This report highlights a range of weaknesses that make Iran vulnerable to containment and lays out the political, military, economic, and informational components of such a strategy. The United States needs to credibly demonstrate that its policy toward Iran is not a blueprint for an endless struggle, but instead an effort to encourage Iran to be more democratic and open, as political and economic change must be driven by Iranians themselves. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

Joseph Bosco writes: In response to the U.S. strike that killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s military described an “axis of resistance” among Iran’s terrorist proxies and partners in Lebanon, Iraq, and Syria. But the China-Russia-North Korea-Iran linkages may be even more ominous and will require the sustained attention of America’s military and political leaders. – The Hill


When Syrian President Bashar Assad made a rare visit to Tehran last year, the powerful Revolutionary Guard commander Qassem Soleimani was there to greet him, along with Iran’s supreme leader and president. Iran’s foreign minister wasn’t, and he resigned in protest at being excluded from talks with a crucial ally. – Associated Press

The assassination of Iranian commander Ghasem Soleimani took place on Iraqi soil, and was carried out by forces from the United States, so automatically, three countries were directly affected by the event. But there is a fourth country whose fate is also tied closely to the killing of Soleimani: Syria. – Iran Wire

Russia is crowing that it has recovered America’s Tomahawk cruise missiles that were launched in Syria but failed to explode. – The National Interest


When a U.S. strike killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani last week, it gave Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu three things he dearly wanted: a strong blow against Iran, relief from growing fears that President Trump was backing out of the Middle East and a change of subject from the corruption indictments dogging him two months before a national election. – Washington Post

Under a clear blue sky in Tel Aviv, Nisan Katz vowed Monday he was “not afraid” of a threat by an Iranian official to turn the Israeli city “to dust”. The warning followed a war of words between Washington and Tehran, after the US assassinated top Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani on Friday. – Agence France-Presse

Israel’s energy minister said on Tuesday it is too early to determine whether Iran is on the path towards building a nuclear weapon after it announced it would abandon limitations on enriching uranium. – Reuters

The United States warned its citizens in Israel and the Palestinian territories on Monday to be vigilant, citing the risk of rocket fire, three days after a U.S. drone strike killed an Iranian military commander in Iraq. – Reuters

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Security Cabinet ministers Monday that the killing of Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani was carried out solely by the U.S. and that Israel was not involved in any way and must not be dragged into the escalating conflict, two ministers who attended the meeting told me. – Axios

The Palestinian teenage terrorist who killed American-Israeli activist Ari Fuld in a stabbing attack in September 2018 was found guilty of murder on Monday, Israeli public broadcaster Kan reported. – Algemeiner

Prince Charles will commemorate the liberation of Auschwitz 75 years ago when he visits Jerusalem later this month, his office said on Monday. He will be the most senior British royal to pay an official visit to Israel and the Palestinian Territories. – Reuters

Alvite Singh Ningthoujam writes: Specifically regarding arms sales to Southeast Asia, however, Israel will likely have to contend with bigger competitors such as the United States and Russia, even in weapons system categories where it has made inroads as a niche supplier. In the longer term, advancing bilateral relations cannot be accomplished merely by promoting military relations, let alone arms sales. – Middle East Institute


Iraq’s prime minister met with the U.S. ambassador Monday to discuss relations that have been strained by U.S. airstrikes on Iraqi soil and a parliamentary call in Baghdad for thousands of American troops to leave. – Washington Post

The targeted killing of Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani has united Iraq’s fractious Shiite political groups in opposition to the U.S. – Wall Street Journal

Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said Monday that the United States has not made any decision to leave Iraq, shortly after the U.S. military said in a letter to Iraqi officials that U.S. forces would be relocating “to prepare for onward movement.” – Washington Post

An official letter from the Defense Department informing Iraq that the United States was “repositioning forces” for “movement out of Iraq” produced headlines around the world that an American withdrawal had begun. But the letter, drafted by the United States military command in Baghdad, was sent out by mistake. – New York Times

A deadly US drone strike in Baghdad has rocked America’s ties with allies on the ground, left diplomats scrambling to contain the fallout and Iraqi officials outraged at the airspace violation. – Agence France-Presse

US President Donald Trump’s threat to sanction Iraqis “like they’ve never seen before” if Baghdad kicks out American troops has brought back haunting memories of a decade under international embargo. – Agence France-Presse

Chevron Corp removed its expatriate staff operating in northern Iraq as a security precaution, a spokeswoman said on Monday, joining other oil companies pulling staff following the U.S. killing of an Iranian general in the country. – Reuters

No 10 has urged Iraq to allow UK troops to stay in the country following the US assassination of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, saying their work is vital. – BBC

US President Donald Trump says he’ll put heavy sanctions on Iraq after its president called for US troops to leave the country. […]But what are sanctions and how do they work? – BBC


Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar’s forces Monday seized the coastal city of Sirte from factions loyal to the Tripoli government, raising tensions as Turkey said it was deploying troops in the North African country. – Agence France-Presse

The United Nations Libya envoy said on Monday that a country supporting commander Khalifa Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) was likely responsible for a deadly drone attack on a military academy in the capital Tripoli. – Reuters

On December 21, Russia’s Ambassador to Turkey Aleksei Erkhov replied to Turkish expert Hakki Ocal’s article, published in the Turkish pro-government newspaper Daily Sabah titled “Hey Putin, what are you doing?” that voiced surprise at Russia’s support for Libyan National Army leader Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar. – Middle East Media Research Institute

Middle East & North Africa

Following the U.S. assassination of IRGC Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani and PMF deputy-commander ‘Abd Al-Mahdi Al-Muhandis, several Shi’ite factions in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia threatened to avenge their deaths by targeting U.S. interests. – Middle East Media Research Institute

The Egyptians are outraged that Hamas politburo head Ismail Haniyeh attended the funeral of former commander of Iran’s Quds Force Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani on Monday. Soleimani was killed in a US airstrike early Friday morning. – Israel Hayom

On January 6, 2020, the pro-Hizbullah Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar published threats of retaliation against the U.S. for its assassination of IRGC Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani. The daily’s front page featured the headline “Great War of Liberation,” which echoes statements made by Hizbullah Secretary Hassan Nasrallah in his recent speech in response to Soleimani’s killing. – Middle East Media Research Institute

Alex Walsh and Henry Peck write: The UK’s impending exit from the EU will present a new chapter for British interests in and posture toward the region. If the UK is to find a trade-off for loss of diplomatic and economic heft, it will need to re-prioritize its engagement efforts. Policy continuity toward Morocco and Tunisia appears inevitable; Algeria, in contrast, promises great opportunity for an evolving relationship. – Middle East Institute

Korean Peninsula

The prospect of a military confrontation between the United States and Iran has dominated global media coverage since the U.S. airstrike that killed Iran’s most powerful military commander. Not so in North Korea, where the elimination of Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani and the upheaval it unleashed have barely rated a mention in tightly controlled state organs. – Washington Post

President Trump has demanded that South Korea pay substantially more for the help it gets from America’s military, presenting a challenge to his own negotiators: To get the money, the U.S. must first show how it plans to spend it. – Wall Street Journal

The U.S. strike that killed Iran’s top military commander may have had an indirect casualty: a diplomatic solution to denuclearizing North Korea. – Associated Press

South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday called for better relations with the North so leader Kim Jong Un can visit Seoul, despite Pyongyang’s abandonment of its nuclear and missile test moratoriums. – Agence France-Presse

There is a “desperate need” for practical ways to improve ties with North Korea, the South’s President Moon Jae-in said on Tuesday, adding that he was ready to meet with the reclusive leader in Pyongyang repeatedly if necessary. – Reuters


Pakistan’s judiciary is stepping up to curb the country’s armed forces, an unexpected challenge for a military that has extended its power in recent years behind the scenes. – Wall Street Journal

Japan has asked Lebanon for help regarding Carlos Ghosn, a top Japanese official said on Tuesday, calling the former auto executive’s escape to Beirut “regrettable” but stopping short of spelling out what Tokyo was seeking from local authorities. – Reuters

Muslim countries should unite to protect themselves against external threats, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Tuesday after describing the U.S. killing of Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani as immoral. – Reuters

Beijing’s muted response to the U.S.’s killing of top Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani suggests China still isn’t ready to join Russia in taking a more direct role in the Middle East’s entrenched conflicts. – Bloomberg

Japanese prosecutors have obtained an arrest warrant for Carole Ghosn, the wife of Carlos Ghosn, the latest move by the country to contain the fallout from the former auto executive’s daring escape from trial a week ago. – Bloomberg

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has drawn parallels between the killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and the 2018 murder of Saudi dissident and columnist Jamal Khashoggi. – Bloomberg

Since Pakistan shares a 909-kilometer border with Iran, and its Shi’ite population is roughly 20 percent of its total population, Pakistan has always sought to tread a cautious path in its relations with Iran. – Middle East Media Research Institute

Nishank Motwani writes: Pakistan will up the ante diplomatically in response to developments in India, and try to exploit Modi’s missteps. Islamabad has far more to gain by delegitimizing New Delhi’s actions than by intervening militarily, which would backfire and serve to isolate Pakistan. But the conditions for military intervention will ripen if the situation in Kashmir worsens and the effects of the CAA and other Hindu majoritarian policies cause reputational damage to India. – War on the Rocks


Some of the loudest critics of President Trump’s order to kill a senior Iranian commander — other than Iranians — are Russian officials, who have denounced it as an illegal assassination and a politically motivated election-year decision. – Washington Post

On that very day, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov held a telephone conversation with his American counterpart, United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. In their conversation,“Lavrov stressed that targeted actions by a UN member state to eliminate officials of another UN member state, and on the territory of a third sovereign country without its knowledge grossly violate the principles of international law and deserve condemnation. – Middle East Media Research Institute

Leonid Bershidsky writes: That Erdogan is Putin’s only possible Plan B doesn’t augur well for Assad. The Turkish president would prefer him gone, and if Iranian support ceases, Putin is more likely to seek a compromise with Erdogan than to keep propping up Assad. The Syrian ruler, ironically, must be praying fervently that the Iranians do nothing rash. – Bloomberg

Jeffrey Mankoff writes: Even if Moscow would not take steps to prevent strikes against Iranian forces and proxies, the danger of an accidental U.S.-Russian clash is significant. That possibility is perhaps the most important reason for the United States to fully understand the Russian dimension to this crisis. – Center for Strategic and International Studies


In his first big foreign policy test since his landslide election victory, Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned Monday that Britain will not support President Trump’s threat to target cultural sites in Iran. – Washington Post

A political party supporting Irish unity through armed action lamented the death of Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani, who was killed by an American drone strike, and suggested he is now in heaven. – Washington Examiner

Germany is moving some of its military personnel from Iraq to neighboring countries over security concerns, the government told lawmakers, days after the killing of a top Iranian military commander in a U.S. drone strike. – Reuters

European parties to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal could launch a dispute resolution process this week that might lead to renewed U.N. sanctions on Tehran, European diplomats said. – Reuters

Spanish lawmakers are expected to vote by the narrowest of margins on Tuesday to confirm Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez as head of a left-wing coalition government. – Reuters

Britain has reduced staff at its embassies in Iran and Iraq to a minimum level following the U.S. killing of Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani, Sky News reported on Monday, citing diplomatic sources. – Reuters

All members of the Atlantic alliance stood behind the United States in the Middle East after it briefed NATO on its drone strike that killed Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Monday. – Reuters

Janusz Bugajski writes: The new U.S. envoy would need to concentrate on its implementation. Qualifying for NATO will underscore that the security of the Bosnian state guarantees the security of all ethnic groups and reduces the prospect of external conflict. At the same time, Washington must convince Zagreb that enabling Russia’s penetration weakens host governments, inflames regional tensions, and undermines NATO cohesion. – Center for European Policy Analysis


After Sunday’s attack by al-Shabab fighters on a military airstrip in which three Americans were killed, Kenya’s top security officials issued a raft of fervent refutations. They claimed no Kenyans died, no militants escaped, and the attack lasted no more than a few hours. – Washington Post

Five Malian soldiers were killed Monday in a roadside bomb attack, a government spokesperson said, in the latest violence to hit the West African country’s volatile central region. – Agence France-Presse

At least 30 people were killed in the northeastern Nigerian state of Borno after an improvised explosive device detonated on a bridge, sources told Reuters on Monday. – Reuters

The U.S. military deployed additional forces to Kenya on Monday to bolster security at a key airfield after an attack by al Shabaab militants on Sunday that killed three Americans, the military’s Africa Command said. – Reuters

United States

A series of anti-Semitic assaults and mass attacks in recent weeks has rattled New York’s Jewish communities. […]These events have renewed fears of growing hate and questions over the safety of visibly Jewish spaces — they’ve also sparked a debate about the tradeoffs involved in making the community more secure. – Huffington Post

Two resolutions targeting Israel failed to pass at the American Historical Association’s annual meeting in New York on Sunday, amid a years-long campaign encouraging the organization to take a stance in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. – Algemeiner

Many Iranian Americans in Los Angeles are not mourning the death of Gen. Qasem Soleimani, community members told USA TODAY, but they disagreed on the potential consequences for family here and abroad. Some feared war and restrictions on travel, while others hoped the assassination would dampen terrorism and spark another protest against the Iranian regime. – USA Today

Americans split narrowly in favor of President Donald Trump’s decision to order the airstrike that killed Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani, a new HuffPost-YouGov survey finds, but express qualms about the president’s decision-making process and the strike’s possible repercussions. Overall views of the administration’s foreign policy remain underwater. – Huffington Post

The Americas

Vice President Mike Pence spoke by phone with Venezuela’s Juan Guaidó and reiterated the U.S. position that Mr. Guaidó is the country’s “only legitimate” leader, a senior administration official said. – Wall Street Journal

The United States is looking at additional sanctions to step up pressure on the Venezuelan government, the U.S. special envoy for the country said on Monday, after Venezuela’s ruling Socialist party moved forcefully to install a new head of Congress. – Reuters

Argentina’s government boosted security at its airports, borders and the U.S. embassy in Buenos Aires as tensions simmer between the United States and Iran, the South American country’s defense minister told local media on Monday. – Reuters

A 13-year-old American girl was killed over the weekend after the vehicle she and her family were traveling in came under fire on a highway south of the Mexican border city of Nuevo Laredo, state security officials said on Monday. – Reuters

The Lima Group regional bloc said on Monday it backed the re-election of opposition leader Juan Guaido as head of Venezuela’s Congress after Nicolas Maduro’s socialist government forced a separate vote imposing a new leader of the legislative body. – Reuters

Argentina’s new leftist government is trying to walk a fine line on its policy toward Venezuela, distancing itself from the Lima Group that sees President Nicolas Maduro as a dictator while at the some time condemning his assault on the opposition-controlled National Assembly. – Bloomberg


A digital attack by the Iranian government is a terrifying concern for U.S. cybersecurity experts because there is no way to secure an endless array of government and private sector entities. – Washington Examiner

Facebook Inc. has shed more light on its efforts to eradicate doctored videos known as deepfakes, addressing an issue it’s identified as an emergent threat ahead of the U.S. election. – Bloomberg

The use of machine learning and AI to analyze satellite images could revolutionize the way governments, militaries, investors, and researchers track changes in the world around them. But if you’re a U.S. maker of such software, it’s about to become harder to export your products. – Defense One

A group of hackers claiming to be from Iran hijacked a US government website and posted a pro-Iranian message on it. – BBC


The Pentagon said it plans to send B-52 bombers and more troops to the Mideast as anger simmered Monday in Baghdad and Tehran over the U.S.’s targeted killing of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Iraq. – Wall Street Journal

SpaceX launched 60 more mini internet satellites late Monday, this time testing a dark coating to appease stargazers. – Associated Press

The Reaper, a $64 million long-endurance aircraft with a 20-meter (66-foot) wingspan, had Soleimani in its sights for about 10 minutes before firing on two cars carrying the Iranian commander and other senior leaders and aides, including the head of an Iraqi-based militia group that has been in conflict with U.S. forces. – Bloomberg

Wargaming is one means — perhaps the most effective means — of preparing for conflict. To get the most from the experience, budding wargamers should learn to deal with the shock of the unexpected, rethink their own lessons from contemporary combat operations, fight when disconnected and outnumbered, and never forget the danger of a freethinking enemy. – War on the Rocks

The Trump administration plans to submit its fiscal 2021 budget request to Congress Feb. 10, with defense spending expected to be essentially flat compared to the previous year. – Defense News

For decades, the Air Force’s tanker fleet have logged hours transferring fuel, transporting troops and serving as flying ambulances. Soon, the tankers could add another mission to the list: relaying communications data as part of the Air Force’s new mesh network. – C4ISRNET

Marine Corps Deputy Commandant for Information Lt. Gen. Lori Reynolds said modernizing the service’s network will be the first of her four priorities in 2020. – C4ISRNET

Elizabeth Cobbs and Kimberly C. Field write: America desperately needs a new grand strategy — a concise, high-level vision for our role in the world. Without one, we are just wasting lives and resources.[…] Every grand strategy carries risks, but risks can be measured against rewards. Ad hoc interventions not anchored in a coherent plan squander our resources, reputation and security. What will our plan be? – New York Times

Trump Administration

Former national security adviser John Bolton, described by witnesses who testified at President Trump’s impeachment hearings as alarmed at the pressure put on Ukraine, said he would testify in a Senate trial if subpoenaed by lawmakers. – Wall Street Journal

Top Senate Democrats called on President Trump to immediately declassify the White House notification to Congress of the drone strike last week that killed prominent Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani. – Wall Street Journal

President Trump’s decision to authorize the killing of a top Iranian general and his threats since are quickly reshaping the contours of the 2020 presidential race, with leaders in both parties evaluating advantages and risks as they attempt to position themselves for maximum gain. – Washington Post

Rising tensions between Washington and Tehran are testing whether Joe Biden can capitalize on his decades of foreign policy experience as he seeks to challenge a president he derides as “dangerous” and “erratic.” – Associated Press

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence will give a speech next Monday laying out the government’s policy on Iran, a White House official said, after the U.S. killing of a top Iranian general sparked protests across the Middle Eastern nation. – Reuters

Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar demanded President Trump fully divest from his company after Iran threatened his hotels. – Washington Examiner

As President Donald Trump prepared to kill a top Iranian general on Thursday, vastly escalating his conflict with Tehran, he sought the advice of a relatively new aide who has rapidly become indispensable to the president: National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien. – Bloomberg

Defense Secretary Mark Esper’s chief of staff will step down at the end of the month after a little more than two years at the Pentagon, adding to the string of high-profile civilians to leave the building or announce their departures in the past month. – The Hill

Trump’s top aides were met Monday with stark reminders of the new risks facing the administration in the new year: enhanced security measures across the White House including additional Secret Service agents, tighter security at entrances and greater scrutiny of visitors. – Politico

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said on Monday that he warned President Trump against targeting Iranian cultural sites — a step the president has repeatedly threatened if Iran retaliates over the death of a top general killed in a U.S. strike. – The Hill

Editorial: Targeting Soleimani was a bold act that other Presidents probably would not have attempted to restore a measure of deterrence against an enemy state. Most Americans appreciated its show of strength. But now Mr. Trump has to show he can manage the consequences in a way that proves it was a wise decision in America’s interests. – Wall Street Journal

Walter Russell Mead writes: Confrontation with Iran, competition with China, outreach to Russia—this is both a bold agenda internationally and a deeply controversial one at home. Undaunted by critics, unfazed by opponents, Messrs. Trump and Pompeo seem determined to go on reshaping American foreign policy right up through the November election and beyond. Whether their policies will be crowned with success cannot be predicted, but at the start of 2020 the Trump administration appears to have a clear course in mind. – Wall Street Journal

Tyler Cowen writes: And so on the spectrum of possible responses, assassinating military leaders emerges as the best idea, relatively speaking, with targeting cultural sites as the worst. But the deeper question is how America got itself into a situation where the best retaliatory idea is still pretty bad, especially in the longer run. The point of retaliation is to protect your long-term interests. If effective retaliation is now a short-term tool, then U.S. foreign policy is in very bad shape indeed. – Bloomberg

Dennis Ross writes: Clearly, everything starts with the Trump administration actively conveying a dual message: Don’t test us further, but we are willing to accept understandings. Is that what Trump was trying to say with his tweet: “Iran never won a war, but never lost a negotiation?” Iran may not be willing to listen to us, but it will not ignore others. It is time for the “America First” president to work with others. – The Hill