‘Averse to Using Military Force,’ Trump Calls Off Military Strike, Cites Potential Casualties
WASHINGTON – The escalation tensions between the United States and Iran nearly reached a tipping point Thursday after the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a branch of Iran’s armed forces, confirmed that it shot down an unmanned U.S. Navy drone.
President Donald Trump revealed in a series of tweets on Friday morning that U.S. military forces were ready to strike targets in Iran. But the president explained that he called off the attacks as the potential for casualties would have constituted a disproportionate response.
“We were cocked & loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights [sic] 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 said on Twitter.
Trump’s last-minute reversal was further proof of the president’s resistance to use military force, Garret Martin, professional lecturer at American University’s School of International Service, told The Well News.
“For all of the bluster, for all of the tough rhetoric that Trump has used as he took office two-and-a-half years ago, he’s been very reticent and reluctant to actually use military force. To my account, and I could be wrong, I believe he’s only really ordered two strikes against Syria, once in 2017 and once in 2018. It seems that he’s sort of averse to using military force,” he said. “And he did campaign or talked a lot about taking the U.S. out of foreign entanglements rather than starting new ones.”
Trump also tweeted that he is in “no hurry” to respond to Iran’s aggressions and that Washington’s crippling economic sanctions on Tehran are working. He further claimed that the U.S. added more sanctions against Iran, but the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, which is responsible for economic and trade sanctions, has not yet confirmed any new actions.
While Trump and other U.S. administration officials have repeatedly stated that the U.S. is open to talks with Iran, the leaders of the Islamic republic have thus far rebuffed any attempt of dialogue. Whether calling off a military strike changes Tehran’s attitude remains to be seen.
“I don’t think either side wants war, but it’s like a train that gets set in motion. It’s hard to stop once the tension has escalated,” Martin said. “If there are further incidents, such as the ones we witnessed lately, you may [find yourself] in a position where Trump or the leaders in Iran might have no other option but to initiate low-scale hostilities.”
The U.S. foreign policy expert believes that should the relationship between both countries further deteriorate, it will still not end in a full-on war.
“I think it would be targeted strikes on the part of the U.S. against Iranian facilities. And on the Iranian case, if they did respond, I think it would be asymmetrical, a tool that they’ve used so far, either putting pressure on tankers in the Strait of Hormuz or using some of their proxies, whether Hezbollah or Houthis, to attack U.S. allies in the region.”
On Capitol Hill, the response to Iran’s attack ran the gamut. Several House Republicans, including Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., called for a measured response, while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said it is “essential that we remain fully engaged with our allies” and do everything to “de-escalate” the situation.
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham was more direct in his remarks when he said that Iran’s actions increased the potential for an armed conflict.
“They made a big mistake by shooting [down] our drone,” Graham said on Thursday. “If they are itching for a fight, they are going to get one. … Iran’s fate is in their hands, and it’s up to them to decide how this ends.”
Meanwhile, a Revolutionary Guard Corp commander said Friday that Iran refrained from blowing up an American P-9 plane with 35 people on board that was accompanying the unmanned drone, according to unconfirmed media reports.
U.S. Central Command declined to comment on the reports.
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