The somewhat disturbing news from last night involved Iran once again. Yesterday I was pondering what our response would be to Iran shooting down one of our drones. Surely some sort of meaningful action was called for, but what form would it take? Now we may (or may not) have found out what was on the agenda before allegedly being rejected at the last minute. Assuming the reporting of the New York Times can be taken at face value (a big assumption, which I’ll get to in a moment), we were set for air strikes against Iran until the President changed his mind at the last minute and canceled them. (NY Post)
President Trump reportedly gave the order to bomb Iran on Thursday night in response to its “unprovoked” downing of a US drone — even going so far as to put planes in the air and ships in position to strike — before eventually changing his mind, officials say.
The retaliation mission was ordered up earlier in the day, according to the New York Times, and was still in the progress of being carried out as of 7 p.m., the newspaper reports.
Multiple senior officials, speaking under the condition of anonymity, said the president was prepared to attack a number of Iranian targets, including radar and missile batteries. However, he eventually gave the word to stand down — with sources telling the Times that he chose to pull the US military forces he had positioned in the region back, though it’s unclear why.
There are two ways to read this news. One is to take the report at face value, in which case it’s highly disturbing. If “multiple senior officials” are leaking news like this, it comes off as some serious deep state antics aimed at undermining the President by making him seem erratic or indecisive. And that’s the sort of catnip that the New York Times could never resist. But it’s the sort of leak that exposes our hand to Iran when we’re perched on the precipice of military action against a formidable opponent. That sort of leaking (along with the willingness to report on it immediately) is unconscionable.
But there’s one other possibility that I wouldn’t rule out entirely. This leak may have been orchestrated by the White House. Why? Because the target audience isn’t the Democrats or the Republicans in the United States. The message was for Tehran. Not only have they shot down one of our drones, but they’re stonewalling us on a more acceptable nuclear deal. If this was a designed leak, it’s a reminder to the Iranian regime that they aren’t dealing with Barack Obama anymore. Trump isn’t going to respond to their provocations with a strongly worded letter.
Trump demonstrated his willingness to pull the trigger early in his administration with the strikes on Syria. It’s a message saying that he actually is erratic and unpredictable (or at least wants to be viewed that way). His unhappiness with Iran’s government could result in some bunker busters raining down on their radar installations, secret nuclear facilities and possibly Mehrabad International Airport for all we know. But this time they lucked out… for now. And the Iranians are left to stew in their own juices for a little while, wondering if the bombs are about to start falling and if just possibly they shouldn’t be working on being less aggressive and more accommodating before it’s too late.
We won’t know for sure unless the President decides to tell us, but I’d certainly rather think that was the underlying reality. The alternative is that multiple people were engaging in something that borders on treason, having revealed sensitive military planning details to our adversaries virtually in real time.