Or is it part of a larger Trump strategy?
One way of looking at President Donald Trump’s reversal of striking at Iranian targets at the last minute is that it was Trump’s “red line” moment.
This was articulated by a Wall Street Journal editorial on Friday.
After Barack Obama failed to enforce his “red line” in Syria in 2013, adversaries soon took advantage. Vladimir Putin snatched Crimea from Ukraine and moved into Syria, China pushed further into the South China Sea, and Iran expanded its proxy wars in the Middle East. Will they draw similar license now from Mr. Trump’s stand-down?
Here’s Benham Ben Taleblu of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies speaking to CBS explaining that the failure to strike may give Iran the impression that the U.S. will not use military force and will be encouraged to continue its mischief.
Trump, however, did get support from some surprising sources.
Rep. Ted Lieu (D – Calif.), for example, tweeted:
Dear @realDonaldTrump: I agree with your decision to not use military force against Iran. In the future, you should ask questions about how many people will die before you order a strike in the first place.
To be sure, Lieu got in a dig at Trump about how he arrived at his decision. But his response was in line with other Democrats.
There was another approach to Trump’s abrupt reversal, one that has been put forth by former White House official Michael Doran.
Doran, in a series of tweets on Friday, argued that Trump’s decision not to launch attacks on Iranian targets was not at all comparable with Obama’s failure to enforce his red lines with regard to Syria’s chemical weapons usage.
“Tit-for-tat over a drone is minor by comparison,” Doran argued. But he added, “some military response is warranted.”
Overall he assessed that Trump was prudent not to attack right now, with the expectation that Iran will continue with its “outrageous” provocations, which will help build support for action—both domestically and internationally—in the future.
Doran summed up his views on CNN to Anderson Cooper.
“While we should be measured in our response, we should realize what this struggle is. This is not about a drone. This is about Iran trying to tell everyone in the region that they run the Middle East, not the US, and it’s this easy to kick the US out,” @Doranimated tells @CNN. pic.twitter.com/EkJj6oxy4c
— Hudson Institute (@HudsonInstitute) June 21, 2019
Former naval intelligence officer J.E. Dyer came to a parallel conclusion:
Could we have retained control by agreeing to Iran’s escalation with the drone shootdown? I think Trump judged correctly that we couldn’t.
That doesn’t mean Iran would have immediately leaped into concerted military action of some kind. That’s not the point.
The point is rather what a lot of people have been saying for the last 24 hours, but without it really registering. We have a strategic plan underway with the sanctions. They are having a serious and meaningful effect, which is why Iran is trying to knock us off course with provocations.
Having the desired effect with the sanctions requires holding other key factors in stasis for the time being. A strike against Iranian territory would have loosed at least one of those factors, and that’s Russia’s willingness to remain effectively on the sidelines, not actively, aggressively opposing the U.S. program. There are other conditions that would have been affected as well.
While the U.S. did not strike Iran militarily, over the weekend it was reported that it launched cyber attacks against Iranian assets. The Washington Post reported:
President Trump approved an offensive cyberstrike that disabled Iranian computer systems used to control rocket and missile launches, even as he backed away from a conventional military attack in response to its downing Thursday of an unmanned U.S. surveillance drone, according to people familiar with the matter.
The cyberstrikes, launched Thursday night by personnel with U.S. Cyber Command, were in the works for weeks if not months, according to two of these people, who said the Pentagon proposed launching them after Iran’s alleged attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman earlier this month.
Do we know for certain if Trump’s strategy will work?
Of course not.
But what was clear was that the appeasement of Iran by his predecessor only fed Iran’s aggression.
[Photo: CBS Evening News Screenshot ]DONATE
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