The Iran Almost-Strike – Good News, Bad News, Non-News


This Story is a Many-Layered Cautionary Tale

This past week was, to put it mildly, quite the week for the Trump administration and foreign affairs. It is, in all candor, difficult to sort out. Let’s take a look at what we are hearing and see what we can make of it all.

First, it appears that a military strike was decided upon, then cancelled at the last minute. The Administration says it was cancelled because the president learned at the last moment that the strike would result in about 150 casualties. That seemed to him to be excessive as a retaliation for shooting down a drone. Thus, enters the good news/bad news part of this story.

If indeed the decision was made to cancel the strike for the stated reason, that is pretty much good news. This shows restraint and balance, two qualities rarely seen from this president. There are other options to extract a price; the now discussed increased sanctions are one. More interesting is the rumored IT attack on Iranian systems, in the model of the earlier Stuxnet strike.

Now the bad news; there is much to consider here

  • How is it that a President authorizes a strike and does not know until afterwards what the likely casualties would be? Was he not briefed? Did he not pay attention? This is National Security Decision 101 level stuff. One wonders what else was overlooked in the decision. Did the president even accept a full mission brief?
  • Is it really possible that ALL of his advisors urged a strike? Only Donald the Dove stood for a less violent alternative? I find that hard to imagine. This administration has worked diligently to ban all adults, so maybe this did happen. It is possible no one was present in the decision circle to caution for other options. Unanimous recommendations are usually a bad sign.
  •  The Speaker of the House – third person in line for the presidency – was not notified that this strike was being launched or even considered. That is likely without precedent. One assumes no one else in Congress was notified. Allies? Almost surly not. Words fail at just how wrong and how dangerous such omissions are, anytime.

What’s Next?

So, in the end, we avoided a worse outcome for this round, but how we got there is deeply disturbing. How we got there also denotes dangerous times ahead. The refusal of this president to follow deliberative or consultative process continues unabated.

This kind of approach fills our future with unintended consequences. It will further weaken our alliances and our domestic governmental structure. It will also get people killed.

   Bill Clontz

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