After Iran attacked two tankers in the Strait of Hormuz and shot down a U.S. drone, many thought the President would retaliate in some fashion. On Thursday, an attack was apparently ready to go but ten minutes before it was set to go off, Trump pulled back and canceled the entire thing. The wisdom of that will become apparent down the road. We just don’t have enough information to know whether this leads to further lashing out by Iran or if they’ll back off.
While the media had their “omgz Trump wants war with Iran” hot takes already written and ready to go, they were thrown for a loop when the attack ended up not happening. That meant they needed another angle to push and everyone settled on accusing Trump of lying about when he got the 150 man casualty number that supposedly caused him to cancel the attack.
We got breathless tweets like this from certified crazy person George Conway (and some conservative writers retweeting him).
So, as usual, Trump lied.
“Administration officials said Trump was told earlier Thursday how many casualties could occur if a strike on Iran was carried out and that he had given the green light that morning to prepare the operation.” https://t.co/bsWU4bNub5
— George Conway (@gtconway3d) June 22, 2019
Then late Friday night, we found out he wasn’t in fact lying.
NEW: The 150 casualty number did not come from a general as the president told NBC, but came from Pentagon lawyers drafting a worst-case scenario figure hours after an earlier briefing of POTUS. The 150 figure was not cleared w Shanahan https://t.co/V8QLTOxOsY
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) June 22, 2019
But the scandal continues because we are now going to argue over whether Trump is lying because he said a General told him and not the Pentagon. Yes, that’s the new path this is headed down because admitting they got the story wrong for the first 24 hours would be too much for the media and other figures. It’s incredibly stupid and petty. He did in fact get a casualty count of 150 hours after the initial briefing, as he said, and he did in fact decide 10 minutes before to cease the operation.
Regardless, it wasn’t just George Conway and the media who didn’t know what to really do after the attack was called off. It was also Democrat politicians who were so confused that they started complaining that Trump was escalating matters with Iran by…not bombing them.
All of these comments came after it was reported that the attack was called off.
Donald Trump promised to bring our troops home. Instead he has pulled out of a deal that was working and instigated another unnecessary conflict. There is no justification for further escalating this crisis—we need to step back from the brink of war. https://t.co/roUHtzRlE8
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) June 21, 2019
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also attacked the president over his administration’s policies toward Iran.
“The place we have arrived at tonight on Iran is Donald Trump’s choice,” Murphy tweeted shortly after the Times story was published. “He chose escalation over diplomacy, without any idea how to get out of the downward spiral he set in motion.”
But the attack…didn’t happen. So where’s the escalation? In fact, Trump, for better or worse, is specifically choosing deescalation. No one made Iran go bomb those ships or shoot down a U.S. drone.
Politico even quoted Ben Rhodes, because he’s apparently an authority on this stuff.
Ben Rhodes, a former Obama foreign policy adviser, also criticized Trump, tweeting: “This is precisely why politics isn’t a game, diplomatic agreements should be honored, and temperament, intellect and judgement are what matters in who is President. It should never have come to this.”
Ben Rhodes was the architect of the Libya disaster, the Syria disaster, and the Iran deal, which even Obama admitted did nothing to stop the non-nuclear aggression Trump was attempting to respond to. If anyone should sit this one out, it’s Rhodes. But the media rush to get print his opinion anyway because the rules are just different. It doesn’t matter how big of a failure you were, as long as you are a Democrat, you still keep your seat at the table.
These critiques make zero sense and the reason they make no sense is because they were obviously prepared with the expectation that an attack would actually be carried out. When the bombs didn’t end up dropping, they had no idea what to do or say. So they just slightly tweaked their talking points and went with them anyway.
My personal opinion is that Trump should have not stopped the attack. Proportionality as a concern seems odd to me. I think aggression is better stopped by showing your enemies you will strike in non-proportionate ways. But, Trump made a decision and I’m not going to insist it’s a bad one (as some others are doing) until we see how this plays out. There are multiple paths to take with Iran and only one of them is “all out war.” Despite claims to contrary by Democrats, Trump clearly does not want a full scale war with Iran and if we do end up striking down the road, it still will not mean we are going to war.
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