President Donald Trump decided to show restraint when discussing Iran’s shooting down of a U.S. drone, telling the press he believed the act had been a “mistake.”
While we cannot read the president’s mind, it’s clear he was attempting to play the instance down, perhaps precisely because U.S. military officials called this an “unprovoked attack,” and because his secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, had already told the press the U.S. wasn’t provoking Iran with harsher sanctions.
Despite his cautious approach in public, news outlets, as well as Trump critics, didn’t wait long to accuse the president of “chickening out” of a conflict with Iran.
The attack, which happened Wednesday night, involved a $130 million U.S. unmanned aircraft flying in what the United States said to be international airspace. Iranian officials, however, say the drone was flying in Iranian airspace.
Last year, Trump announced the U.S. would no longer take part in the Iran nuclear deal, which had been brokered by President Barack Obama. And just prior to this incident, the U.S. blamed Iranian forces for an attack on oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz, which prompted the Trump administration to announce it would be sending 1,000 troops to the Middle East.
While Iran admits it shot down the U.S. drone, adding that it doesn’t seek war but will do what it takes to protect itself, the country claims it had nothing to do with the oil tanker attack. But considering the U.S. escalated tensions in the first place by reinstating crippling sanctions, the choice to dismiss this attack as a mistake might indicate that Trump isn’t necessarily trying to start a war with the Persian nation after all. However, some in the media seem a bit troubled by that.
In the past, mainstream outlets cheered Trump when he decided to bomb a Syrian military base, proving that both left and right are ready to support the president if he’s waging a war. But when Trump announced it would no longer uphold the Iran deal, the same outlets warned — rightly so — that the move would be seen as a provocation.
As former congressman Ron Paul explained, sanctions are an act of war. Therefore, any conflict borne out of his actions shouldn’t come as a surprise. But now that the U.S. took a blow directly from Iranian forces, it seems that war-thirsty elements are ready to use humiliation to force Trump to act in a more radical fashion. Hopefully, he won’t take the bait.