President Trump’s decision not to go ahead with a retaliatory strike on Iran may have prevented a war by avoiding one of the reasons for unnecessary conflict: Leaders trapped into rigid thinking and plans under which they believe their hand has been forced.
Let’s be clear. Trump’s response was bungled. He’s managed to do this in a way that makes him look weak and indecisive. But he appears to have made the correct choice and ultimately decided it was more important to get it right than to worry about how things looked.
Trump had planned to strike Iran, but says he decided not to — ten minutes before launch — when he asked his commanders how many people would be killed and was informed that about 150 would die.
This does not ring true at all. In all likelihood, military planners would have told him how many people would die well before the attack. And if they didn’t and he didn’t ask, he was negligent.
What appears more likely is that Trump was responding to two pieces of intelligence, both of which may have emerged after his initial decision to hit Iran.
First, it seems that the Iranian leadership did not order the strike and was unhappy with a lower-ranking military commander who did.
Second, it now appears that the drone may, in fact, have been in Iranian airspace. Therefore, while a bad idea, Iran would have had some justification, at least legally, for shooting down the drone, and the United States would have been committing an act of war by responding.
All of this is preliminary information. It could change. A full picture has not emerged.
But if true, Trump made the right call not to respond and to change his mind. That actually shows strength in a leader. But calling off an attack ten minutes before it is to launch also shows weakness and indecision, and saying that it was because you suddenly asked about casualties is either a lie or a sign of incompetence.
So while there are good reasons to question how Trump handled this, overall we can be thankful that he took action that avoided what could have been a brutal and unnecessary war resulting from things leaders felt they “had” to do.
You know, think World War I.
Trump should have simply said the Iranians screwed up by hitting the drone but can’t admit it and that the aircraft may have been in Iranian territory instead of going on about casualties. Simple enough, and he would look like a strong leader by not acting.
I think Iran and other enemies would be mistaken to interpret Trump’s errors here as a sign he won’t take action when necessary. He also tweeted that Iran will “NEVER” have a nuclear weapon. I believe he means it, and he will take the steps necessary to ensure it.