The man who is forever characterized as an irrational hothead is playing Iran’s attack on Saudi Arabia cooler than everyone else.
He is talking to lots of people, getting advice, assembling information, and then he’ll make a decision – hoping to steer clear of war if possible.
It’s not just Lindsey Graham and the usual neocons who want us to hit Iran. It’s the Wall Street Journal:
If the message to Iran is that Mr. Trump has taken military force off the table, the Middle East becomes more dangerous and Mr. Trump may be backed into returning to Mr. Obama’s nuclear deal.
Mr. Trump wants to reduce every foreign controversy to a negotiation with some head of state, and the world’s bad actors are figuring that out. Tehran has a clear policy to become the dominant power in the Middle East, and its actions—including aggression to destabilize its Arab neighbors—support that policy. Mr. Trump had better prepare for more Iranian trouble.
Over at American Greatness, Joseph Duggan has a much smarter take:
We are in a protracted conflict, and the United States and our allies need to act strategically over the long term. Reagan won the Cold War by resisting the temptation to go to war when there were flashpoints such as what we’ve seen in the past week.
America is much stronger than Iran. We are much stronger than the terrorist organizations ISIS and al-Qaeda. We can outlast them.
The Trump Administration should refuse to take the bait of answering a spectacular attack with a showy gesture of rapid escalation that is not strategically sound. We need to play to our strengths and not dissipate them. The United States must operate steadily, and usually covertly, to degrade our adversaries’ ability to harm our allies and our interests.
Yes, at a certain point, we may need to deliver a military response. But the goal is to let Iran know this is unacceptable, not to show how tough we are. And there are many, quieter ways to make Iran pay without risking a large-scale war.