In an unprecedented use of social media to explain a major policy decision, President Donald Trump on Friday confirmed published reports that he called off a retaliatory strike against Iran.
Trump’s early morning series of tweets began by summarizing his disgust with the Iran nuclear deal negotiated by his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, and his reaction to Iran’s aggressive actions after the deal took effect.
“President Obama made a desperate and terrible deal with Iran – Gave them 150 Billion Dollars plus I.8 Billion Dollars in CASH!” Trump tweeted. “Iran was in big trouble and he bailed them out. Gave them a free path to Nuclear Weapons, and SOON. Instead of saying thank you, Iran yelled Death to America.
“I terminated deal, which was not even ratified by Congress, and imposed strong sanctions. They are a much weakened nation today than at the beginning of my Presidency, when they were causing major problems throughout the Middle East. Now they are Bust!”
….Death to America. I terminated deal, which was not even ratified by Congress, and imposed strong sanctions. They are a much weakened nation today than at the beginning of my Presidency, when they were causing major problems throughout the Middle East. Now they are Bust!….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 21, 2019
Trump then turned to the events this week, when Iran shot down an American drone. Iran claimed the drone was flying over its territory; the U.S. has said it can prove the surveillance drone was in international airspace.
The downing of the drone followed weeks of escalating tensions that saw a massive U.S. buildup in the Persian Gulf region and attacks against shipping in the Gulf of Oman that the U.S. has blamed on Iran.
“On Monday they shot down an unmanned drone flying in International Waters,” the president tweeted. “We were cocked & loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights when I asked, how many will die. 150 people, sir, was the answer from a General. 10 minutes before the strike I stopped it, not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone.”
Trump then said he will play a waiting game against Iran.
“I am in no hurry, our Military is rebuilt, new, and ready to go, by far the best in the world. Sanctions are biting & more added last night. Iran can NEVER have Nuclear Weapons, not against the USA, and not against the WORLD!” he tweeted.
….proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone. I am in no hurry, our Military is rebuilt, new, and ready to go, by far the best in the world. Sanctions are biting & more added last night. Iran can NEVER have Nuclear Weapons, not against the USA, and not against the WORLD!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 21, 2019
In its report on the planned attack, The New York Times said radar and missile batteries were to be the targets.
The Times, quoting what it said was a senior administration official, said the attacks were in the “early stages” and that “(p)lanes were in the air and ships were in position, but no missiles had been fired when word came to stand down.”
News of the canceled attack provoked a fierce reaction. George Conway, a frequent Trump critic and the husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, lashed out at the president.
Trump didn’t realize UNTIL TEN MINUTES BEFOREHAND that a planned airstrike would kill over a hundred people and would therefore be grossly disproportionate to the loss of a UAV?
To say this is amateur hour would defame amateurs.
— George Conway (@gtconway3d) June 21, 2019
Charlie Kirk of Turning Point USA offered a different assessment.
Trump did the correct thing to call off a military strike against Iran
A strike that would have killed 150 people as a response to a drone being shot down is not a correct retaliation
Iran must be continually sanctioned and held accountable
Endless war is not the answer
— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) June 21, 2019
Reuters reported that Trump had warned Iran an attack was coming and appeared to be seeking talks with Iran. That report could not be confirmed.
In Iran, Revolutionary Guard officials claimed that a manned U.S. spy plane was near the downed drone but Iran chose not to target it. That report could not be confirmed.
The attack that was canceled came after Trump met Thursday with congressional leaders.
“We had a good briefing,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said, according to The Washington Post.
McConnell said there was no question that the U.S. drone “was fired on from Iranian soil and it was in international waters. And beyond that I think the administration is engaged in what I would call measured responses.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York emerged from the meeting talking caution, saying “these conflicts have a way of escalating.”
“The president may not intend to go to war here, but we’re worried that he and the administration may bumble into a war. One of the best ways to avoid bumbling into war, a war that nobody wants, is to have a robust open debate and for Congress to have a real say. We learned that lesson in the run-up to Iraq,” he said, referencing the 2003 invasion of that nation.
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