WASHINGTON – Experts in Washington are debating how the Trump administration should respond to the killing of US contractor in Kirkuk on Friday.Mark Dubowitz, CEO of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) think tank in Washington, told The Jerusalem Post that the regime in Iran has killed and injured Americans, “which is a flagrant violation of the redline President [Donald] Trump established.” “To not respond will be to invite further attacks and destroy American deterrence, which already has been significantly undermined by Trump’s unwillingness to respond to previous Iranian attacks against American assets and those of our allies,” he added.He emphasized, however, that no rule says Trump must respond directly to this attack in Iraq. “If the administration is confident that Iran-backed proxies are behind these attacks, the US can strike at regime assets anywhere,” said Dubowitz.“Indeed, the US should strike the regime where it least expects it,” he continued. “Beyond the element of surprise, it’s also critical that the response goes beyond sanctions or cyber and deploy precise but overwhelming military force.”Dubowitz also addressed the Israeli efforts to counter Iran. “Israel has shown the ability to strike hard at Iranian military assets without meaningful retaliation from Tehran,” he said. “US policy should be to reinforce Israeli military power and do nothing to restrict Israel’s freedom of action against Iran in Iraq, Syria, or elsewhere in the Middle East. US and Israeli military action, mutually reinforcing and coordinated where appropriate, can impose punitive costs on the Islamic Republic and increase deterrence against a regime that believes today it can challenge Washington with impunity.”Mike Pregent, a senior fellow at Hudson Institute, shares a similar perspective. “Israel has been able to attack IRGC Quds Force in Iraq with impunity,” he told The Jerusalem Post. “We have not. For some reason, the United States doesn’t want to [hit] these militias. But we said we would if they killed an American. My concern is that [the administration would] say, ‘Well, it was a contractor.’ Who cares if it was a contractor? It was an American, and it was on an Iraqi-US base,” he said.“This was an attack against the Iraqi security forces and the Americans knowing the Iraqi security forces cannot go after the militias because of the level of broader infiltration in these decision-making ranks,” Pregent continued. “The US needs to look at its problem in Iraq, reevaluated its relationship and use every economic tool to put pressure on Baghdad, like getting rid of our loan guarantees for that $30 billion; stop immediately the US training equip program. until Baghdad purges these people from the security forces, which they won’t.”Pregent told the Post that according to his knowledge, Kataeb Hezbollah is responsible for the attack. “This is an American red line,” he said. “Iranian-backed militia killed an American in Iraq. They’d been conducting these harassing attacks for about two months with impunity. You can’t leave it to Baghdad to tell us who did this because Baghdad is not going to tell us it was Kataeb Hezbollah. They’re going to say it’s ISIS or they’re going to say it was Ba’athists elements. That’s what they always do. So, we have to kind of take action on our own. And this will be the test whether or not the president is willing to address a red line that Iran just violated with this attack. And we need to reevaluate our relationship with Baghdad. We should sanction the MOI, the MOD we should designate and sanction Hadi al-Amiri. We should put pressure on Baghdad.“These are tough things that I’m recommending,” Pregent added. “What’s likely to happen is that we’re likely to let Baghdad tell us it was ISIS when we know ISIS didn’t do it. That’s the easy way out. It sends a message to Iran that they can continue to kill Americans, and then we will blame it on ISIS, and that’s a very bad position for the United States to be in.”Ned Price, a lecturer at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and former spokesperson for the National Security Council under the Obama administration, told The Jerusalem Post that the first task for the administration will be determining responsibility – whether this was the work of a Shi’ite faction or a Sunni terrorist group. “But, more broadly, the Trump administration’s approach to Iraq has been of two minds: On the one hand, there’s been an understandable desire to reduce the footprint in an effort to prevent the type of tragedy that struck yesterday. On the other, the administration has taken a stridently aggressive anti-Tehran approach, both in Iraq and throughout the region,” he said.“But the two are not always coherent, especially as the drawdown in diplomatic representation has allowed Iran to garner an even larger foothold in Iraqi politics. What this incident underscores is the need for a holistic evaluation of US objectives and strategies in Iraq. The piecemeal approach that we’ve seen in recent years is not sufficient, and places Americans in undoing the harm,” Price added.