On November 21, 2019, Fiona Hill, former senior director for European and Russian affairs on the National Security Council, spoke of those working closely with Donald Trump having been focused on “domestic political errands” for him.
That phrase riveted the media and much of the general audience, and it’s a helpful lens for examining a lot in Trump’s foreign policy.
Donald Trump’s targeted assassination of Iranian Quds commander Qasem Soleimani may be considered a strategic domestic political move ahead of the US general elections in November 2020. Historically, when a US president engages the country in a major foreign policy crisis, he benefits from both the distraction and the nationalistic fervor it evokes.
Recalling the recent past, the patriotism of George HW Bush’s “rally around the flag” strengthened his position during the 1991 Gulf War. Bush’s approval reached an apex with the bombing of Afghanistan, right after 9/11. Now, Trump is likely trying to do the same, while distracting from any news on his impeachment.
Immediately after the killing of Soleimani, the president’s personal PR campaign began, spreading hundreds of ads that hailed Trump for having ordered the assassination. Having established the marketing ground on social, Trump then inaugurated the 2020 campaign year with a rally in Miami and one in Ohio.
At the Miami rally, Trump had the chance to reaffirm his support from evangelists, despite a recent strong critique from a prominent evangelical publisher. The killing of Soleimani has in fact boosted evangelical appreciation for Trump, especially in the swing state of Florida — expected again to be critical in the 2020 US general election.
In Miami, he also took the opportunity criticize the decision of the House to submit two articles for his impeachment — while he was busy in killing two monsters, he said, for the protection of the US.