Trump threatens Iran with obliteration over further attacks after Rouhani calls White House "afflicted by mental retardation"

Listen, I don’t know how they do it in Iran, buddy, but in America we don’t use ugly, archaic terms like “mental retardation.”

The proper term for our White House is “developmentally disabled.”

In the post-Trump world, high-stakes international diplomacy is basically indistinguishable from a Twitter flame war.

“The useless sanctioning of Islamic Revolution Supreme Leader (Khamenei) and the commander of Iranian diplomacy means closing the doors of diplomacy by the U.S.′ desperate administration,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi tweeted. “Trump’s government is annihilating all the established international mechanisms for keeping peace and security in the world.”…

“You sanction the foreign minister simultaneously with a request for talks,” an exasperated Rouhani said, calling the sanctions “outrageous and idiotic.”

“The White House is afflicted by mental retardation and does not know what to do,” he added.

No one’s going to call POTUS a retard on the playground and get away with it:

He thought his show of magnanimity in declining to hit back after Iran downed our drone might produce a diplomatic breakthrough. He spared dozens of Iranian lives and took care to emphasize that those lives were on his mind when he gave the order to stand down. That was an olive branch. When Iran didn’t accept it, he tightened the screws with a few new sanctions. Now here’s Iran warning that those sanctions have closed the doors on diplomacy.

In other words, this has turned into a game of chicken to see which side wants talks more badly. Trump’s gambling that the economic pain from sanctions will cause Iran to capitulate and beg him for negotiations. Iran’s betting that Trump will agree to relax sanctions as a precondition — a new olive branch — to talks. The regime doesn’t want to lose face by transparently succumbing to America’s pressure campaign; they need Trump to give them a way to agree to talks that doesn’t look like a surrender. That means America needs to move first in suspending sanctions.

Is he willing to do that? If not, if he insists on an Iranian surrender under pressure, then the threat of an Iranian provocation that results in war will grow. Either they’ll attack Americans in the region or they’ll try to resume their nuclear program and Trump will feel compelled to act militarily. Which is a bad outcome for him: Because he’s not a hawk, because he got elected in 2016 on a platform of reducing America’s entanglements in the Middle East, he’s at least as wary of war as Iran is. He’s risking his presidency potentially by refusing to back off from sanctions if that’s Iran price for a summit. Bolton and Pompeo will urge him to stand firm and keep the pressure on, but Trump will want to be conciliatory. What does he do?

Here’s Bolton earlier today at a press conference in his surreal new role as America’s olive-branch-extender, urging Iran to walk through the open door of diplomacy that Trump has provided for them. Every media account of last week’s White House deliberations that I’ve read had Bolton in favor of attacking Iran over the downed U.S. drone. Now this. Speaking of which, according to Morning Consult, the public strongly approves of Trump’s decision to hold off on bombing Iran. Fully 65 percent agreed that calling off the strikes was the right thing to do, a level of bipartisan support rarely seen during Trump’s presidency.