A sampling of recent editorials on President Trump’s handling of the Iran crisis.
Getting it right in Iran
President Donald Trump got it right in his response to a flurry of missiles fired by Iran into a American military base in Iraq in retaliation for the assassination of a leading Iranian official/terrorist.
Rather than escalate the tit-for-tat violence by unleashing another round of missiles against Iranian targets, the president announced a tightening of economic sanctions against Iran. Trump is reading the signs, hopefully correctly, that Iran doesn’t want an all-out war with the United States anymore than the U.S. does.
Since the Iranian assassination of notorious terrorist Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s top general, in a U.S. launched missile strike in Baghdad, Iran has strutted and puffed, threatening to rain fiery vengeance on America. That sent Trump’s critics, particularly those Democrats who are running to replace him, into hysterics, warning that Trump had opened the door to World War III.
But Iran’s retaliation Tuesday was relatively tepid. Several rockets were fired into two heavily fortified U.S. military bases in Iraq, causing minimal damage and no reported American casualties. That seems intentional on Iran’s part.
Now, with the heightened economic sanctions, Trump is trying to force Iran back to the table to negotiate a nuclear disarmament deal. He urged the United States’ allies to withdraw from the flawed and unenforceable pact forged by former President Barack Obama, and demand Iran accept a new bargain that has real teeth.
Trump said Wednesday the United States will not tolerate a nuclear armed Iran. The killing of Soleimani should inform the Iranians that he is not bluffing.
America’s interests come out ahead — for now
After days of teetering brinkmanship following Iran’s killing of an American contractor and the U.S. elimination by drone of Iranian terror master Qassem Soleimani, the world breathes easier. If the relative calm holds, and that’s a sizable if, American interests come out decisively ahead.
Tuesday's apparently face-saving missile-firing by Iran caused no American casualties, seemingly on purpose, with Iran signaling no desire to escalate further, at least through conventional military means. In a late-morning address Wednesday, President Trump generally refrained from more incendiary rhetorical bombast, though he did essentially blame his predecessor, President Obama, for gifting the rockets Tehran fired.
Pressing a perceived advantage, Trump called for new economic sanctions on Iran, in an attempt to push the mullahs into ending their destabilizing behavior. Good luck with that; Tehran has been lashing out to date in large part because of punishing sanctions already on its economy, imposed despite what was documented compliance with the multi-nation nuclear deal.
It’s a relief that America and Iran avoided a hot war. But historically, Iran’s retaliation has come weeks or even months later in the form of bombs and other mayhem, often executed by proxies. Hold your breath. Victory over a brutal, terror-sponsoring regime is measured in years, not days.
—New York Daily News
Trump adds diplomacy to deterrence
After the United States killed Qassem Soleimani, and Iran responded by launching missiles at U.S. military bases in Iraq, what would President Donald Trump do? We were as unsettled as anyone at the prospect of Trump exacerbating dangers by letting his ego and emotions rule.
That didn’t happen. In a televised address Wednesday the president sensibly signaled that the current military confrontation could be over.
Trump sounded tough on Iran over its nuclear ambitions, but he replaced, or at least supplemented, threats of further U.S. military action with something we rarely hear from him: the steadying language of diplomacy. Trump said Iran appeared to be standing down, that he didn't want to order the U.S. back into battle and that he wanted Europe's help, and NATO's participation, in an effort to draw Iran back into negotiations over its nuke and ballistic missile programs. Trump said he wants a deal “that allows Iran to thrive and prosper and take advantage of its enormous untapped potential.”
Those would be prudent moves by any U.S. president who has the world’s most powerful armed forces at his disposal but is focused on giving an adversary the opportunity to de-escalate. “We do not want to use it,” Trump said. “American strength, both military and economic, is the best deterrent.”
This president is not temperamentally suited for the delicate art of diplomacy. On Wednesday, though, he delivered.