Today, on his way to a Pennsylvania rally, President Trump told reporters that there’s “no indication” that Iran is threatening the U.S., according to the Washington Post. This directly contradicts the messaging about Iran by others in his administration in recent weeks, including White House national security advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
But Trump was also clear, in comments to reporters, that if Iran was to do “something,” the U.S. would respond dramatically.
“They’ve been very hostile. They’ve truly been the No. 1 provocateur of terror,” Trump told reporters Monday.
“We have no indication that anything’s happened or will happen, but if it does, it will be met, obviously, with great force. We will have no choice,” he said.
Ok, so, Iran is “very hostile” and “the No. 1 provocateur of terror” and yet there is “no indication that anything’s happened or will happen,” but if it DOES, it will be met with “great force.” Cool, makes sense.
Iran itself is seemingly just as confused and infuriated by the administration’s waffling as us.
“In his mind, Trump thinks he has a gun to Iran’s head with sanctions and he is trying to shut down our economy,” Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Iran’s director of foreign affairs told CNN. “This is all in his imagination. Now he wants us to call him? This is a crazy president!”
“Within the White House there is a lot of conflicting opinions,” Amir-Abdollahian added. “Also, Trump is not quite balanced and stable in his decision making, so we are dealing with a confused White House. Iran receives various signals which show that no one knows who owns the White House.”
Amir-Abdollahian also said Trump’s tweets about whether or not communication is open with Tehran are “self-contradictory.”
This all sounds pretty accurate and a lot more clear-headed than anything Trump and his team are saying!
Tracking the Trump administration’s position on Iran over the last few weeks has been mind-melting. After provoking the country for months with increasingly strict sanctions, Bolton announced earlier this month that the U.S. would send an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf in response to “number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings” from Iran. The administration then began to openly speculate about how many troops they might send to Iran in the case of a war, while foreign generals refuted the idea that there was any increased threat in the first place.
Trump, meanwhile, was reportedly telling people behind the scenes that he didn’t want war with Iran at all. At one point, he told reporters that he just wanted Tehran to call him, but later tweeted that the idea that his administration wanted to set up negotiations with Iran was “fake news.” Today, he tweeted that in a conflict he would “end” the country, while also telling reporters there was “no indication” Iran had done anything to provoke a U.S. response. Very normal!!!
Meanwhile, members of the foreign policy blob still maintain that the threat from Iran is increasing and may require military action.
“It is clear that over the last several weeks Iran has attacked pipelines and ships of other nations and created threat streams against American interests in Iraq,” Sen. Lindsay Graham said in a tweet on Monday.
A White House official told the Post that Bolton and his cronies are “just in a different place” than Trump on the question of what Iran is or isn’t up to. Trump “wants to talk to the Iranians; he wants a deal” the official said. You mean like the nuclear deal we pulled out of last year? That kind of deal?
“If they called, we would certainly negotiate, but that’s going to be up to them,” Trump told reporters Monday. He added that Iranian officials “don’t have to bother” to call if they’re not into it. You know, no big deal. We don’t really care either way.
Good thing there’s no way this nonsense will provoke a catastrophic conflict that could kill millions of people!