I want to believe my President — I really do. But the facts speak for themselves
The Independent Voices
President Trump made the right decision in not launching a military strike against Iran that could have quickly led to war, but he arrived at this decision showing all of the egotism, ignorance and disorganization that has characterized the last two and a half years. Now the stakes are higher and there is nothing about his made-for-television moment recalling bombers in the air that should provide any comfort for the future.
Because Trump lies all the time and says only what he thinks will help him in the moment, it is hard to know what actually happened. It is agreed that an unmanned drone was shot down by Iran. A companion aircraft with military personnel aboard was also nearby but was not shot down.
Trump claims that Iran shot down the drone in international waters .This made him angry enough to tweet in all caps: “NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE.”
Trump also suggested that he had learned some rogue Iranian commander had ordered the drone to be shot down and so perhaps the incident did not reflect a policy decision of the Iranian government, presumably mitigating the wrong that was done. Was the original fire and fury necessary? He wants to be seen as tough; he does not want a costly war. Maybe, there should be negotiations; maybe threats; maybe blame Obama. A barrage of contradictory impulses, all showcased in real time.
Iran for its part says that the drone was over Iranian airspace and so its destruction was permitted under international law as a legitimate defense of its territory. Representatives of the country also said the manned military aircraft was in Iranian airspace but it did not shoot it down because it did not want to escalate the situation.
Iran has released video footage from the moment of the strike and has produced footage of drone wreckage retrieved from territorial waters. It also made its usual aggressive noises about defending its security interests.
I want to believe my President — I really do. And the Iranians, in my opinion, would certainly not hesitate to create facts on the ground (or, in this case, in the air) to support their position.
Yet we still don’t know where the drone or the plane was at the critical time. The problem with Trump’s claim that the drone was over international waters is that nothing that he says can be accepted at face value. Wherever the drone was, it shouldn’t be a cause for a wider war — but it does matter where it was located. And responding to false facts with military action destroys what may be left of our credibility throughout the world.
Trump decided in a few hours that there should be a retaliatory attack. All of his civilian advisers urged him to do so; tellingly, the military did not. He gave the order. The planes were in the air. The prospect of a live, shooting war with a country of 85 million people with a chokehold on the global oil supply was more than just possible: it was significant, and it was 10 minutes away.