The United States’ second big problem is in Washington. Here it remains an open question: Are we seeing a new strategy to contain Iran or the random gyrations of the mad king?
Trump is hardly Klemens von Metternich with a Twitter account. He responds impulsively to praise and slights. He seems inordinately attracted to war crimes — such as killing civilians and attacking cultural treasures — that would harm the image of the United States for generations. The whole direction of his policy can be changed in reaction to something he hears on Fox News’s “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” His rhetoric of national disengagement and retreat has left the American public unprepared for exertions and sacrifices that may become necessary. His habit of deception taints any assertion of fact he makes, beginning with the possibility that he exaggerated evidence of an “imminent attack.” His relentless use of the presidency for private political gain raises disturbing questions about his motivations.
Given his lack of competence and character, this president is a horrible carrier of any new policy. But one of the worst outcomes would be for Trump to fail or blink. Whatever your view of his fateful action, that action has been taken. Even if it results in some difficult consequences, we should hope it succeeds.