Iran

Here Are 5 Times Donald Trump Warned Against Going to War With Iran

The president should scroll through his old tweets, rather than listening to John Bolton.

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Trump's 2016 campaign was defined largely by the scattershot and freelancing style of his rallies and debate performances, but one of his most consistent and specific positions was one of general skepticism about American military interventions in other countries. He wrecked the Republican primary field, and humiliated Jeb Bush specifically, by simply calling America's post-9/11 wars what they obviously are: a disaster. He took that same approach in dispatching Hillary Clinton, who was saddled with her own long history of supporting wars in Iraq, Libya, and elsewhere.

But Trump wasn't just Monday morning quarterbacking conflicts that were already going poorly. Even before running for president, he warned about the prospect of war with Iran—and about how his predecessor could stoke such a conflict for domestic political reasons.

On at least five occasions between October 2012 and November 2013—a period when tension with Iran was rising, as the Obama administration put pressure on the Iranian government to negotiate a nuclear deal—Trump issued warnings and predictions about the foolishness of war.

Thankfully, Trump's prediction that Obama would launch a war with Iran did not come to pass. But now that he occupies the White House, Trump might want to take a look back through his own Twitter history regarding Iran—particularly those last two tweets, regarding the president's "toughness" and "inability to negotiate."

Lately, Trump has been taking a very different approach. For example, on Sunday (potentially in response to a segment about Iran that ran on Fox News), Trump openly threatened Iran.

That message follows a week in which tensions between the U.S. and Iran reached new highs: A new aircraft carrier was deployed into the Persian Gulf. Nonessential personnel were evacuated from the U.S. embassy Baghdad in anticipation of possible military action. And Sen. Tom Cotton (R–Ark.), a key Trump ally in Congress, was on cable news promising war with Iran would be easy to win.

Despite the stepped-up rhetoric and other signals from the White House, it's not clear that Trump is determined to take America into war. He's reportedly been "frustrated" with advisors like John Bolton—who has been openly talking about his desire to bomb Iran for more than a decade—and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Bolton, of course, was one of the key architects of the war in Iraq, and he now seems determined to lead Trump down the same disastrous path. In the past, Trump has been susceptible to the influence of his top foreign policy advisors. In 2017, when he announced plans to increase the number of American troops in Afghanistan—after previously promising to end that war—Trump credited then-Defense Secretary James Mattis with changing his mind about withdrawing.

The danger now is that Trump could be lured into the same trap he once believed Barack Obama would stumble into—using war as a way to boost domestic political standing.

History suggests that's a mistake. As Jonathan Bernstein points out at Bloomberg, voters have very short memories even if wars go well—George H.B. Bush lost his bid for re-election just months after the conclusion of the First Gulf War, an intervention that had broad support from the American public. If the war goes poorly, it would likely end any hope of a second term for Trump, as Harry Truman's and Lyndon Johnson's political careers remind us.

That's doubly true in Trump's case because much of his appeal in 2016 was the result of voters' desire to scale back America's military involvement in the Middle East and Central Asia. Abandoning that principle should cost Trump dearly, says Ted Galen Carpenter, a senior fellow in foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute.

"Trump's supporters should exhibit no patience for such excuses. The president has nearly unfettered ability to choose his advisers. It was Trump's decision to surround himself with a mixture of stale, conventional thinkers and extreme hawks," writes Carpenter. "If he continues to betray his war-weary supporters, they may well abandon him in the 2020 presidential election, and they would be fully justified in doing so."

The American people elected a man who warned against using war for political leverage—but they might have gotten a president who is doing exactly that.

 

 

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77 responses to “Here Are 5 Times Donald Trump Warned Against Going to War With Iran

  1. You know what will cause a war with Iran? Iran thinking the US is weak and that it can get away with doing something it can’t. That will cause a war very quickly. In fact, one side miscalcuating and assuming that the other side is weaker and more willing to let something slide than it is, is often how wars start.

    So, Trump making it clear that the US isn’t going to allow Iran to attack US interests abroad without responding in kind, makes war less likely not more likely. The sort of fecklessness that reason advocates creates a real risk of war because there are some provations that no President can ignore.

    1. No, no, no… Warning Iran is wrong-think. The correct action for a President would be to call in drone-strikes. Worked for Obama.

      1. That and pallets and pallets of cash.

      2. If only Neville Chamberlain had given Herr Hitler pallets and pallets of cash, there would have never been a WWII.

        1. If only Lovescock1789’s mom had gone through with that abortion we wouldn’t have the local retard shitting up every thread while he gobbles Trump’s knob.
          Did you get banned at Brietard AND the Federalist? Those sites are more your brand of half-wit Republican stupidity.

          1. Poor troll.

            He knows that more and more Americans are ignoring Lefty bullshit propaganda and countering the Democratic Party.

          2. So whose sock is this? From the sounds of the butthurt about banning, I’m guessing it’s that pedo, Chipper.

      3. didn’t we just … give them a drone … let them claim they shot it down and stuff?

        1. Yes.
          Yes “we” did.
          The previous administration had a curious approach to Iran’s theocratic regime.

    2. Peace thru Superior Firepower!

      Worked with the USSR and many other large military powers who are aggressive toward the USA.

      1. The USSR collapsed because nobody wanted to buy Trabants.

        We came up with the Ford Mustang, Levi’s and Nirvana.

        They never had a chance.

    3. Let it go, Jake/ I mean John, it’s Reasontown….

    4. Don’t you think that at some point the rest of the world will realize that Trumps MO is to bluster and threaten? What happens if Iran forces Trump to show his cards? This especially worries me if Russia or China give them any indication of support if they choose to escalate.

      1. If they escalate, they risk aniliation. We risk spending money on bombing them. I don’t think they will.

        Beyond that, if they attack us, what choice do we have? Is it your position that we should not respond? If they are going to attack us, it will be because they think we are weak and nothing will happen not because they are worried that we would respond in kind.

        1. “Beyond that, if they attack us, what choice do we have? Is it your position that we should not respond?”

          I don’t believe that they would attack us. Certainly not overtly. Nobody in world thinks that we are weak…at least not militarily. And an overt attack on any American interest would spark a military retaliation at the least.
          My biggest fear is not Trump, who I do believe is not personally interested in starting a war. I’m more worried about those who would influence him, like Bolton, who’s been aching for a war with Iran for years. Same with the Saudi’s, who would be most happy if we could take care of their regional adversary. Even Putin, who is a master at projecting power way outside of Russia’s weight class might be willing to prod us into a war to further weaken our international clout and influence.

          1. A year or so ago, Syrian forces with Russian mercenaries crossed a river they weren’t supposed to cross trying to take an oil field.
            Our guys unleashed hell on them. Artillery, bombers, gunships annihilated them.
            That was a vivid demonstration of the difference between US red lines under Trump vs Obama.

            1. So what? I wasn’t talking about Obama.

              1. The point is: US forces were “prodded”
                The response was definitive and overwhelming

                1. Keep telling yourself that as you masterbate to picture of Trump.

                  1. That’s probably a lot closer to the truth than a lot of the Trumpistas around here would care to admit.

                    1. The masturbating to Chump’s photo, that is. I get the feeling Lovescock1789 has a drawer full of tube socks just for Chump’s tweet storms.

        2. If they escalate, they risk aniliation.

          +1 sea of glass.

          …bluster and threaten…What happens if Iran forces…to show his cards?

          Barry could not be reached for comment.

          1. I’m not certain why you’re talking about Obama. Is he POTUS?

      2. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard repeatedly that Russia was terrified Reagan was actually going to nuke them. They thought he was unstable and possibly crazy.

        You think Trump comes across as more stable?

    5. Well, let’s hope so. It would be extremely foolish for Iran to assume the US is weak in any circumstance. Even acting all conciliatory and accommodating, the US could turn and unleash hell on them at any time.
      But I can think of very few scenarios where war with Iran would be necessary (justified or not).

    6. The only thing I could have agreed with when Obama was President was I believed he would be less interventionist. Instead we upped the war in Afghanistan, started one in Libya and a few others and drone strikes all over the place. Actually more spent on foreign wars in his 8 years than Bush. Now we had Trump who seemed to be on the right track to lessen foreign military involvements and originally did not hire Bolton. Sad he brought the warmonger in to his administration. Will we ever get out of anywhere? Still in Germany since WWII, Korea since the Korean “police act” WTF?????

    7. Pretend it was Obama you stupid shit.

      We’re gonna attack Iran because Bolton just whispered in my ear!

      Oops, no, I hope we’re not gonna attack Iran because someone else whispered my ear! Maybe it was Ivanka?

      Where’s my steak and ketchup?

      The almighty American might at work folks.

      1. Tony has no idea how things work.

        Its another reason he needs big government to protect him from plastic straws.

        1. … and fetuses, Christmas, wrong opinions, breeders and all the other things Tony hates.

          1. While you think that someone uttering “happy holidays” is worse than the holocaust.

  2. Remember when reason went on and on about Jeff Sessions being Satan incarnate because he is a drug warrior and how Trump will let him lock up every pot head?

    If only reason would ask Trump why he picks the people he does when some of them are so different in strategy than Trump.

  3. anti-O tweets = warnings against warring w/Iran?

  4. “Nothing ever changes in international diplomacy”

  5. So, I keep looking at this–

    For example, on Sunday (potentially in response to a segment about Iran that ran on Fox News), Trump openly threatened Iran.

    If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!

    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 19, 2019

    And all I’m seeing is a response to a threat “never threaten the United States again”

    And a declaration that, if the US is attacked by Iran, that will be the last thing that Iran ever does.

    It’s a response to a threat.

    1. +1000

      1. The masturbating to Chump’s photo, that is. I get the feeling Lovescock1789 has a drawer full of tube socks just for Chump’s tweet storms.

        1. Poor troll sock. All that bouncing between socks must have you not knowing where to put all the lint.

        2. Fuck off Chipper.

    2. It’s a response to a threat.

      Yea, but Orange Man Bad.

      1. That said, fuck John Bolton. I am displeased with his appointment.

        1. Bolton is not in charge. He is there as a distraction. He is there so the Dems can point to him and say he is a war monger and will take America into another war.
          I can’t understand why the Dems keep falling for Trumps distractions. He has used them dozens of time already.
          Remember Omorosa? she was supposed to have a recording of Trump using the ‘N’ word yet never actually produced this recording. The partisan media ran with is for weeks and then the reporting suddenly stopped because there never was a recording. It was all a setup by Trump and Omorosa and it kept everything else Trump was doing for America out of the news cycle.
          Dems are absolutely dumb as rocks and they all bought it.
          Trump is indeed playing 5D chess while the press and the Dems still think they are playing checkers.

      2. Orange Man Idiot.

    3. An actual article on the situation
      In the complex game of wits being played between the Trump administration and the Iranian regime, it appears that the U.S. temporarily checked Iran’s usual behavior. Iran prefers bluster in rhetoric with a careful strategy of extending its influence in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen, knowing that any real battle with U.S. forces will result in Iranian defeat. Tehran can’t risk massive retaliation against its allies or the regime at home for fear that it will lead to instability and the destruction of all it has carefully built up in the last years. Iran is suffering from the effects of recent nationwide floods and from shortages due to sanctions, so it can’t afford a total war, and its allies in Iraq and Lebanon are in sensitive positions of power. In the past, Iran benefited from its opaque system of alliances and its ability to threaten western powers and attack U.S. forces with proxies, even seizing U.S. sailors, without fear of reprisal. It learned in the past that the U.S. preferred diplomacy, but the current administration appears to have put Tehran on notice.

      The question is what can be learned from the escalating tensions. If Iran thinks Washington isn’t serious, or if it senses that domestic opposition to Washington’s saber-rattling is building, Iran may call America’s bluff. But if Iran thinks that Trump’s team really will retaliate, it will tread carefully in all the areas of the Middle East where U.S. allies and Iran’s proxies rub up against one another.


      1. The U.S. sees Iran as inseparable from its cobweb of allied militia groups and proxies, many of which are supported by the IRGC. The U.S. designated the IRGC a terrorist organization in April and repeatedly has warned Iran that any attack by it or its proxies will be met with a response.

        Iran now wants to assure its own people that war isn’t likely through media stories about how the Trump administration isn’t serious. This is in contrast to the usual Tehran bluster and threats, even historic harassment of ships in the Persian Gulf and harassment of U.S. forces in Iraq. Iran’s sudden quiet could, of course, be the calm before the storm, but it is more likely a reflection of the regime’s sudden confusion about U.S. policy. This is a good thing for American interests. Iran needs to be kept guessing about U.S. intentions. It needs to tell its proxies to stop threatening U.S. forces in Iraq, as the Defense Department says they have done as recently as March. The U.S. gained the upper hand in its recent escalation against Iran by playing Iran’s game of bluster and support for allies on the ground. If Washington wants to continue to keep Iran in check, it needs to keep up the pressure.

  6. I seriously doubt he’s using it for “political leverage”. It’s much more likely that he’s just a loud mouthed blow hard.

    And most of the people that voted for him didn’t do so because of any perceived anti-war stance. They did it because he wasn’t Hillary.

    1. Your memory must be a little short about the reaction when he said during the debates that the Iraq and Afganistan wars were failures.

      You’re also ignoring how out of favor the neocons have rapidly become and the low support for starting crap in Venezuela, and the cheering for bringing troops home from the middle east.

      Oh. But Trump supporters are too stupid to actually have policy beliefs.

      1. “You’re also ignoring how out of favor the neocons have rapidly become”

        Ummm. You do know that John Bolton is the National Security Advisor, right?

      2. But Trump supporters are too stupid to actually have policy beliefs.

        Good thing that’s not what he claimed, then. Voting for the lesser of two evils seems to be a thing that plenty of non-stupid people do.

      3. Your memory must be a little short about the reaction when he said during the debates that the Iraq and Afganistan wars were failures.

        Personally, I’m fine with the ‘not Hillary’ position. If you think our relations with Russia, Iran, and Saudi Arabia would be better under another Clinton Administration, you’re an idiot. Just imagine if they had to internalize all the animosity about being hacked rather than unloading it on the Orange Nazi.

        Even saying that feels a bit like I’m saying we should feel lucky that the drunk, belligerent, overbearing parent decided to take their aggression out on their spouse rather than us.

        1. If you think our relations with Russia, Iran, and Saudi Arabia would be better under another Clinton Administration, you’re an idiot.

          Jamal Khashoggi’s death probably would’ve precipitated WWIII and 50 yrs. from now what’s left of humanity would be wondering ‘WTF?’ the way we, today, think ‘WTF?’ about Franz Ferdinand.

  7. The president should scroll through his old tweets, rather than listening to John Bolton.

    At least he’s not listening to Michael Bolton. That would be way worse.

    1. Time, Love & Tenderness was a warpig anthem of hate.

  8. Twitter saber rattling is what Trump does, but in practice he doesn’t seem ready as much as his aides to accept war as a favored solution.

  9. What a sec. How exactly did Iran threaten the US? I must have missed that.

    1. Israel == USA. If you don’t agree you’re an anti-semite.

      1. People who have this belief that what we do in the middle east is because of the Jews usually are anti semites.

        There are reasons other than evil Jews control the US government. They may not be good reasons, but that is besides the point when talking about anti semites such as yourself.

        1. That’s some fine point missing. People do get called anti-semites for criticizing Israel or US policy towards Israel all the time. Pointing to that fact does not imply a belief that the Joos are some nefarious force in the world.

          1. I think you missed my point.

            We’d being doing roughly the same shit if Israel didnt exist.

    2. I believe they caught satellite photos of Iranians supplying rockets to some group that attacked us soldiers or interests. Maybe the Yemenis. Not sure.

  10. So you’re saying you don’t want to bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran?

  11. Another poor outing by Boehm.

    Does anyone see a good reason to think that Trump wants to go to war with Iran now?

    Trump didn’t pick Sessions because he wanted to go after legal marijuana in the states–despite Reason’s absurd fears to the contrary. Trump picked Sessions because he though Sessions was loyal. He didn’t drop Sessions because he disagreed with Sessions on any particular policy position either. Trump fired Sessions because he no longer trusted him or his loyalty.

    Trump didn’t pick Larry Kudlow because he shared Kudlow’s ideologically rigid support for free trade. He picked Larry Kudlow because Kudlow supported Trump during the 2016 campaign when hardly any other Republican establishment figure would. Trump picked Kudlow because he trusted him to be loyal, and then Trump ignored pretty much everything Kudlow had to say.

    Guess who Trump didn’t pick because of shared views on Iran?

    Guess why he picked Bolton? That’s right. Bolton supported Trump for President back when hardly anyone else in the Republican party establishment would. Trump didn’t listen to Bolton on Iran back then, and he’s not listening to what Bolton has to say about Iran now. Anyone who thinks otherwise is wrong. Bolton would have opposed most every move Trump has made in the Middle East on neoconservative principles–especially Trump’s working with Putin in Syria. I’ve never seen any good evidence that Trump was neoconservative about anything.

    You’d think a journalist would learn from mistakes others have made here at Reason.

    Some of Trump’s picks are ideological, but Sessions, Kudlow, and Bolton clearly were not ideological picks. There’s nothing to learn from their presence about Trump’s preferred policies. And that’s been clear for all three of them for a very long time already.

    P.S. Trump’s show of force towards Iran was apparently in response to intelligence reports that the Iranians were up to something big. If Trump had done nothing, he might have risked being accused of another Benghazi. If nothing happened despite a show of force, that’s a good thing. If nothing happened because of a show of force, that’s a great thing. I can hardly imagine a better use of our military than to prevent wars.

    1. Trump didn’t fire Sessions. Sessions actually resigned.
      Sessions was another in a long line of distractions. Trump put Sessions there to create secret indictments which are to be opened later. I imagine there is one already in place for Comey, Brennan, Clinton and Clapper. The very public feud was a distraction. Trump could have fired Sessions any time he wanted and there is nothing the Dems could have done because Trump is head of the executive branch.
      It was really funny that the dems thought they could pass a law protecting Mueller since any such law would have been unconstitutional. The constitution provides for the separation of powers between the Executive and Legislative branches. The Legislative branch could have started impeachment proceedings if Trump had fired Mueller, but then it is likely that this would have passed in either Congress or the Senate since it would have come out the investigation was started because of an unverified document presented to the FISA court.

    2. “Does anyone see a good reason to think that Trump wants to go to war with Iran now?”

      Unfortunately, a president doesn’t need a good reason to go to war. If there are no good reasons, they simply lie and make up a pretext. Weapons of mass destruction in the hands of Saddam Hussein was a recent one you may remember.

      “Guess why he picked Bolton?”

      Isn’t that what Sheldon Adelson wanted? You may remember him for donating some $70,000,000 to Trump’s campaign.

  12. “ I can hardly imagine a better use of our military than to prevent wars”

    The purpose of the military, last I heard was to conduct wars.

    The purpose of politics is to prevent them.

    “If the Wars of civilised people are less cruel and destrucsive than those of savages, the difference arises from the social condition both of States in themselves and in their relations to each other. Out of this social condition and its relations War arises, and by it War is subjected to conditions, is controlled and modified. But these things do not belong to War itself; they are only given conditions; and to introduce into the philosophy of War itself a principle of moderation would be an absurdity.”

    von Clausewitz

    1. Part of politics is looking like you can smash heads if the need arises.

      What was it – Boston Legal? Lawyer gets his mouth running at big muscle guy and gets punched for it? So he pays a couple other guys to beat him up.

      If mr. Lawyer had looked like he could handle himself, muscle guy woulda thought twice.

      So yeah, show of force to back up your position of strength is as much a part of diplomacy as smooth talking is.

      1. What did Iran do again?

        Threaten to not abide by the nuclear agreement that the United States tore up?

        1. So having their auxiliary forces Hezbollah and the Houthi attacking shipping and well sites across the Middle East doesn’t qualify as doing shit, Tony?

          Not any of the West’s business mind, but I won’t shed a tear if Israel, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States wreck their shit.

      2. Oh these things happen all the time. Something with Russia over Alaska today.

        The problem is the political strategy or lack therof. What exactly do you want the Iranians to do? Gunboat diplomacy can backfire. The opponent can use it to unite the population against what is a perceived threat.

  13. If trump doesn’t listen to his staff it might be considered obstruction or collusion with Iran.

    1. Post-election 2020 special prosecutor investigation: Did President Trump conspire with Grand Ayatollah Khamenei to steal the election from Elizabeth Warren?

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