Seems a little … what’s the word I’m looking for?
No, that’s not it. I don’t want to dog him for being cautious about escalation with Iran, particularly with superhawks like Bolton and Tom Cotton egging him on to flex some muscle. He’s straining here to give Iran an out by absolving them of blame for this morning’s incident. Surely it was a mistake, Trump insists, made by some rogue actor in the Iranian chain of command. And how fortunate that that mistake came at the expense of an unmanned drone, resulting in no loss of life!
JUST IN: President Trump says he is not sure, but “I think they made a mistake,” someone under the command in Iran, in shooting down the US drone. pic.twitter.com/kTKCzlVut1
— NBC News (@NBCNews) June 20, 2019
Before this photo op, he tweeted this:
Iran made a very big mistake!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 20, 2019
Maybe not so big, as it turned out. In reality, the fact that a drone was targeted instead of a U.S. ship is the best evidence that the attack was intentional and came from the top. It’s of a piece with placing mines safely above the water line on those two tankers that were bombed last week. Iran is trying to find a sweet spot in which it does a little damage to signal its growing desperation over U.S. sanctions but not so much damage that it forces an American military response. Destroying an unmanned U.S. craft pushes that envelope as far as it can be pushed. Any further escalation will force Trump’s hand.
In the meantime, though, he’s warning his aides to chill out. I think he’s still holding on to a dim hope that this brinksmanship will end with an unprecedented all-star Trump/Khamenei summit a la his first meeting with Kim Jong Un.
President Donald Trump has privately pushed his representatives to walk back their tough talk on Iran—and reiterate that the administration is not aiming to go to war with Tehran.
Two senior officials and three other individuals with direct knowledge of the administration’s strategy in the region tell The Daily Beast that the president has asked officials to tone down their heated rhetoric on Iran, despite the attacks on tanker ships in the Gulf of Oman that Washington has blamed on Tehran. The president has previously said he is less hawkish on Iran than some of his advisers and this week, in a Time magazine interview, said the attacks on the tankers were “very minor.”…
It’s a major change in tone from the Trump administration. As recently as a few days ago, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on CBS Face the Nation that everything was on the table when it came to Iran, including military action.
Trump doesn’t want war, but Iran gets a say too. And he detests looking “weak.”
Presumably he’d prefer a response to the drone shootdown in which the U.S. can maintain plausible deniability. A cyberattack, maybe? Wouldn’t be the first time we teed one of those up for Iran.