Trump Says War With Iran 'Wouldn't Last Very Long.' History Says Otherwise.

If the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are any indication, the move would be a disaster.


President Donald Trump is mulling military action against Iran, though he says any intervention will be short-lived.

"I hope we don't but we're in a very strong position if something should happen," Trump told Fox Business on Wednesday. "I'm not talking boots on the ground. I'm just saying if something would happen, it wouldn't last very long."

The sentiment isn't supported by historical reference. Consequences from conflict in the Middle East—from the Bush-era invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan to Obama's drone strikes and involvement in the war in Yemen—still reverberate throughout the region to this day, most notably because each isolated instance stretched on for years. With the exception of Iraq, all are still ongoing, yet arguably none have produced long-lasting strategic benefits for the U.S. They have, however, killed innocent foreign civilians and ravaged communities, many of which are now without sufficient access to food and water.

When Trump took office, he vowed to reverse course in the post-9/11 era that has been defined almost exclusively by endless war. Instead, he has launched missiles into Syria and vetoed a resolution that would have ended U.S. involvement in the Yemeni conflict.

Now it seems that Iran is the next target. He also said on Tuesday that any attack by Iran would be "met with great and overwhelming force," including "obliteration."

Presidential war ambitions are unfortunately emboldened by the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF). Although the House voted to repeal it last week, it is unlikely to clear the Senate. Passed three days after the attacks on September 11, it allows the president "to use all necessary and appropriate force" against entities that aided the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

But according to Gene Healy, vice president of the Cato Institute, that was never meant to be an everlasting greenlight for a Forever War. "At the time, nobody described what they had just voted for as a perpetual generation-long or longer delegation of the whole of the congressional war power," Healy tells Reason.

The law, he says, was specifically put in place to target those who harbored Al Qaeda and the Taliban. In service of this, the Trump administration has unsuccessfully tried to link Iran to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, contradicting U.S. intelligence who says evidence points to the contrary. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has briefed Congress on alleged links between Iran and Al Qaeda, which was reportedly met with skepticism, as some lawmakers braced for what could be justification for more military intervention.

"Here we are, going on 18 years later, and they're talking about using [the AUMF] for military action against a country that is far more formidable than Iraq was in 2002, and had nothing whatsoever to do with the 9/11 attacks," says Healy. "It just underscores the need to get rid of what's become a blank check for perpetual war."

Sen. Ron Wyden (D–Ore.) agrees, and he says he sees the writing on the wall. "I think we have seen the consequences in the not too distant past about this rush to war," he tells Reason. "I was one of 23 in the United States who voted against the Iraq War, and I sure wish my side had prevailed."

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  1. “””I’m not talking boots on the ground. I’m just saying if something would happen, it wouldn’t last very long.””‘

    If boots are not on the ground then it’s not a comparison to Afghanistan or Iraq. It can be as short as a single coordinated strike. Perhaps that what Trump means. There is always the possibility of mission creep though.

    I don’t think we are moving towards regime change in Iran like we intended with Iraq and Afghanistan.

    1. It can be as short as a single coordinated strike.

      And then?

      1. Then if they fuck up again we bomb them again.
        Punitive, retaliatory strikes are a thing

      2. Nardz gave my answer.

        As long as we don’t jump on the regime change bandwagon we can do retaliatory strikes as long as we want without putting a single boot on the ground. It could be as simple as tit for tat.

    2. Hold on.

      There were no “boots on the ground” in Libya yet wingnuts here said Obama’s war there was every bit as bad as Iraq. In fact John the permanent GOP lickspittle told us it was “worse than Iraq”.

      Does not square up.

      1. There were boots on the ground in Libya.
        Boots in Libya

      2. Hey, why are you still posting here after Reason banned you?

    3. “There is always the possibility of mission creep though.”

      A nuclear strike against Iran’s major cities and oil fields should put an end to mission creep. Once Iran is obliterated as Trump says, the mission would be over.
      I’m not sure that Trump could pull it off though. There is probably a fair amount of skepticism about the nature and extent of Iran’s threat to USA. I’m not sure Trump could command the loyalty necessary to launch nukes against a country that poses no significant threat.

      1. “”A nuclear strike against Iran’s major cities and oil fields should put an end to mission creep.””

        Who is suggesting nuclear strikes? Other than you.

        1. “Who is suggesting nuclear strikes?”

          What would you use to quickly obliterate a piece of real estate as large as Iran? Using any other type of weapon might put a US service person at risk.

          1. Arguments like this are why you lack credibility

            1. But I understand you’re not going for credibility – just a particular style of trolling

            2. You have to learn to read politicians. They never say ‘nuclear attack’ explicitly. Rather they employ euphemisms like all options on the table and obliteration. Politicians from both parties make such threats as a matter of course during the campaign season.

              Arguments like this are why you lack credibility”

              My credibility is not the issue. A nuclear arsenal is of no value unless your opponent thinks you just might use it. That’s why these threats have to come out from time to time, to keep the deterrent credible. Problem is, what if your opponent, (or Chairman Kim) calls your bluff? You have to enter talks to negotiate a way down. I think Iran would be open to this, perhaps once some other gestures are taken, whether symbolic or concrete.

              Trump may be our man here, depending on the reaction he gets from his rallies and the talking heads. I’ve always been impressed by his anti-interventionist tendencies, which seem go back and are deeply held. He should get some help from the military too, at least those not fixated on settling old scores with the Iranians. The loss of the drone must have been quite an unpleasant surprise for them. I’m sure they don’t have a large stockpile of those things lying about ready to put into service.

              1. Actually,it has been demonstrated that just having a nuclear arsenal is usually enough. You don’t have to be willing to use it first, but only willing to use it in retaliation. You seem to be suggesting Trump is willing to use nuclear weapons as an escalatory step, however, the US strategy has long been if you use nuclear (or chemical or biological) weapons against us we will nuke you back and harder. This was enough to keep the Soviets in check during the cold war and arguably has kept China in check. I see nothing stating Trump is changing this tactic.

                1. Strategy not tactic.

                2. “You seem to be suggesting Trump is willing to use nuclear weapons as an escalatory step”

                  The threat of obliterating Iran is an obvious bluff. I’m surprised that you and so many here are taking it seriously.

                  1. “”The threat of obliterating Iran is an obvious bluff”‘

                    Then why are you talking about nuking them?

                    1. Because Trump threatened to obliterate Iran, quickly even. As I mentioned earlier, and you shouldn’t even really need me to tell you the first time, American politicians don’t explicitly use words like ‘nuclear attack.’ Instead they talk about ‘all options being on the table,’ and other euphemistic evasions.

          2. “”What would you use to quickly obliterate a piece of real estate as large as Iran? Using any other type of weapon might put a US service person at risk.””

            First, only you brought up obliterating Iran. That strawman can burn.

            We can use cruise missiles to hit military assets as a retaliatory strike. Iran strikes out, we hit a few of their assets, if they strike out more, we hit a few more. We can repeat as necessary.

            1. In their war with Iraq children volunteered to sacrifice themselves clearing mine fields. You might as well be fighting Russians. Tell me. When the Marines are shipped overseas, do they still go to sleep at night?

              1. You notice Trump stated no boots on the ground. Keep arguing straw men.

                1. There are plenty of boots on the ground at various bases in Iraq. Well within range of Iranian missiles.

              2. Also, Iraq invaded Iran without cause. We are talking air strikes or missile strikes. Not invading the country.

        2. “Who is suggesting nuclear strikes? Other than you.”

          Swalwell is, against Americans. Which make nuclear strikes against Iran seem reasonable.

          1. And it’s why he’s a strong sleeper candidate in the D primary.
            Progressives would like nothing more than nuking American gun owners

    4. The reason our military adventures in Afghanistan and Iraq took so long and ended up in a stalemate is because we did not fight to win. If we fight to win wars against 3rd world countries the wars would be much shorter, result in fewer deaths and injuries for our combatants and limit the need to resort to force in future engagements.

      If we commit U.S. troops to any fight, we should fight to win!

      1. But fighting to win might mean an injured or even killed US service person. That is unthinkable.

  2. Saber-rattling goes with the job. At least he seems more reluctant than most to actually draw his.

    1. It’s because he knows it won’t last very long.

    2. If you go around drawing red-lines and not retaliating when crossed, you won’t be taken seriously. I think there is merit to Trumps apparent strategy speaking loudly while carrying a big stick.

  3. Maybe Trump has the old fashioned view of war. You know the one… where you bomb them until they surrender on the deck of a ship and then you leave after putting your money on the dresser.

    1. and then you leave after putting your money on the dresser.

      Citation needed. When have we ever left the room (assuming that means country in your metaphor)?

      1. Grenada, Panama, arguably Vietnam;we had a treaty that they violated and Congress decided not to retaliate but when we left we had achieved our goals, Congress also voted to withhold ammunition we had promised to South Vietnam. They were holding their own until they ran out of ammunition. The Tripoli wars. The Banana Wars in the 1920s. The Mexican Incursion in 1916. Granted we have had to go back to some of these places more than once but we never permanently occupied them. The main difference (with the exception of Vietnam) is that (and I admit Vietnam is a tenuous example) we had a clear cut mission, that was limited in scope. Europe and Japan are slightly different, in that we went in as occupiers but when the occupation ended we were invited to stay as allies.

  4. Mission accomplished. So how many US forces are still in Iraq and Afghanistan again Mr Trump? Maybe you should talk to Mr Bush and Mr Obama instead of lobbing insults on Twitter.

    1. Hey, lobbing insults on Twitter is a full time job for the Con Man. He has a twitter feud going on today with the US Womens World Cup team.

      1. But why are you still posting here after Reason banned you?

        1. If there are any supposedly-conscious entities anywhere in existence or supposed existence, that deserve to be banned, they are “Tulpa” and “Mr. Satan”, and somehow you manage to embody both! You are more ban-able than entropy, the AIDS virus, halitosis, and rotted underarm odor combined! PLUS a seasick crocodile, with arsenic sauce!

          1. Fuck off Á àß äẞç ãþÇđ âÞ¢Đæ ǎB€Ðëf ảhf.

    2. No, don’t talk to Mr. Bush and Mr. Obama. Lobbing insults on twitter is much better than lobbing drones at wedding parties

  5. Depends on the goal. If the goal is to defeat them militarily, it would be short and not in their favor. If the goal is to nation-build, it would be another quagmire.

    1. He needs to ask Bibi the Rat what the goal is.

      1. So wait – is he controlled by the anti-semitic Russians or the Jews today? You guys keep jumping between the two so often its hard to keep track.

        1. Conservatives today have dual allegiance.

          To Israel because the fundie-nuts are anxiously awaiting the return of the dead-guy-on-a-stick and to Israel because Vlad is such a dreamy anti-gay fellow conservative strongman.

          1. oops – to “Russia” on the latter.

            Just read wingnut.com for the latest

            1. Why are you still posting here after Reason banned you?

          2. But why are you still posting here after Reason banned you?

      2. Bibi the Rat

        Interesting choice of terms…

        1. Buttplug isn’t just a pedophile – he’s also extremely racist

    2. We defeated the Iraqi military in short order. The armed citizen militias were the ones we could not quickly put down.

      For the anti-second amendment crowd that thinks armed citizens don’t have a chance should review our last couple of wars.

  6. No, he’s right. The *war* would be over in a matter of days.

    The occupation would go on forever though.

    1. No occupation necessary. Any survivors of Iran’s obliteration can be sent, as refugees, to join their muslim brothers and sisters in Britain and the rest of Europe.

  7. “”The occupation would go on forever though.””

    That’s were we screw it up.

  8. I’ve been reading a little about warfare recently. Stalingrad, Vietnam. Both defenders faced enemies with superior air power and artillery. Their answer was to ‘grab them by the belt.’ Get so close that the enemy could not deploy the weapons that were supposedly so advantageous. Iran will doubtless be following the same strategy if given the chance. ie unless America can stomach the use of nuclear weapons against Iran, boots on the ground will be inevitable.

    1. Actually neither of those examples are very useful. The US used our air advantage and artillery to good usefulness in Vietnam. We lost 50,000 troops, North Vietnam over a million and we completed obliterated the VC, they ceased being an effective fighting force after 1967. We also forced North Vietnam to sign a peace treaty that met our terms, however, Congress abandoned our South Vietnamese allies by stopping a shipment of ammunition they had purchased. The ARVN ran out of ammunition after North Vietnam broke the treaty. Stalingrad, the idea that Germany had air superiority is wrong. First, it was winter and the weather limited air strikes. The Soviet Air Force was also Fielding fighters and bombers by that point which were nearly equal to the Germans and in greater number. Additionally, Soviets had a huge concentration of air defense artillery surrounding Stalingrad and superior artillery and supply chains. The Nazis were under siege and only able to resupply by air. However, they lacked sufficient heavy lift capability. All Stalingrad points to is that Hitler overruled his Generals, none of whom wanted to invade Stalingrad in the first place (most were against invading the Soviet Union until England was defeated) and then had encouraged a withdrawal before the German Army was surrounded. Hitler ordered them to hold out despite the fact they were severely outnumbered and cut off from resupply. A better example might be Reagan’s bombing of Libya in 1986. Gaddafi straightened up his act, at least against us after that. Also, last time the Iranians began harassing shipping in the Persian Gulf, Reagan destroyed their Navy and placed a few attack helicopters on US flagged merchant vessels and Iran backed down pretty fucking quick. You need to study your history a bit more. You are buying into myths about Vietnam and Stalingrad. Neither are good examples of what we are discussing here.

      1. “Actually neither of those examples are very useful. ”

        Maybe not. I still believe that Iran would benefit from a strategy that minimizes US advantage in the air.

  9. “I’m not talking boots on the ground.”

    —-Donald Trump

    There is no reason to think that an engagement that didn’t involve a commitment of ground troops wouldn’t last as long as one that did.

    There is no reason to compare that to Iraq whatsoever.

    1. “There is no reason to think that an engagement that didn’t involve a commitment of ground troops wouldn’t last as long as one that did.”

      Sanctions. That’s your engagement without boots on the ground. They’ve been going on for decades with no end in sight, and now Iran is escalating the issue, Yet you stil swear by them.

  10. What could possibly go wrong?

    Bush III and John Bolton have this.

    1. Bush III

      I didn’t realize that Bolton was one of Barry’s advisers as well.

    2. Sure, now why are you still posting here after Reason banned you?

      1. Why are you still posting here after the vast majority of us puke our guts out at the sight of your posting-name?

        1. Fuck off Á àß äẞç ãþÇđ âÞ¢Đæ ǎB€Ðëf ảhf.

  11. We heard that about Afghanistan. Trump is just being himself. Really he has no clue how long it would last. It would go on until the opponent decides it is over. There is no way to get a decisive outcome from the air.

    Also do not forget that the Iranians have been preparing for this very thing for a long time and this is their home turf. For example their small navy is much better suited to operate in the gulf than our big blue water one. They have small fast boats, torpedos they can make themselves, mines, anti ship missiles, and mini subs. It would not be a cakewalk.

    1. Did you see the part about Trump saying he wouldn’t put boots on the ground?

      The suggestion that Yemen is an example of a war that lasted a long time despite us not putting boots on the ground isn’t persuasive at all.

      Maybe Binion is worried about the costs of the war to people on the ground in Yemen, but the rest of us are mostly worried about getting sucked into a quagmire that costs us thousands of American lives and trillions of dollars for years of occupation.

      You know why it was so easy to pull troops out of Libya? It’s the same reason the occupation of Libya didn’t cost us any American lives or much money. It’s because we never put ground troops in Libya–we let the Qataris take care of that. Hell, even when they went after our ambassador and few people we sent in the aftermath of the Libyan War, that was a mistake.

      Libya was nowhere near as big of a mistake as Iraq because we didn’t put troops on the ground. Yemen is hardly a major concern to most Americans because we didn’t put troops on the ground. If we ever take military action against Iran, our downside will be severely limited if we never put any troops on the ground.

      I appreciate the idea that a great way to not get sucked into a quagmire is to not get involved at all, but IF IF IF and when we do engage with them directly, not putting troops on the grounds is vastly superior–and likely to make exiting that much easier. Furthermore, when other people–not you but other people–try to pretend as though there’s no real difference between putting troops on the ground and not, they make it more likely that we’ll put boots on the ground if and when we engage.

      1. “Libya was nowhere near as big of a mistake as Iraq because we didn’t put troops on the ground.”

        Europeans, who have to accommodate the refugees from these adventures. would disagree. In recent years there’s been a rise in popular sentiment against refugees in Europe. I doubt they have as sunny an appraisal of Libya and its aftermath, boots or no boots.

      2. “Better than”and “not near as bad”.


        Iran just won this round. Trump thinks waging economic war will avoid shooting war. He is wrong. They proved it.

        Today he declared tariffs on Vietnam. Today the Europeans announced a plan to do business with Iran and avoid Trumps sanctions.

        Yeah I can see the crows circling.

  12. Is this where we take Trump literally or take Trump seriously? I find it hard to pay any attention to what he says when it’s quite obvious he’s not paying the slightest bit of attention to what he says. The man sure does love to hear himself talk but the Tourette’s means he himself has no idea what’s going to fall out of his face.

    1. Trump is always lying. Except when he says something I want to criticize, then he speaks the truth.

  13. And yet he still can’t get us out of Syria.

    “Not his fault!” I hear his buttclingers protest, “His advisors forced him to stay!”

  14. There are tons of engagements that don’t involve boots on the ground. Guided missiles, launched from ships. Naval bombardments (US destroyers and Cruisers still have deck guns which are extremely accurate at long range).;Air launched assaults (many of our newest GPS guided munitions can be launched at fixed targets from international air space and hit targets deep in Iran with no guidance after launch, others can be remotely guided by satellite). Drones. Apache helicopters firing hellfire missiles at fixed targets miles away (we’ve done it multiple times). A Virginia, Seawolf or 688 sinking a few Iranian flagged vessels (Naval) with a couple of mk 48 torpedoes. Sinking a few Iranian surface vessels with anti ship missiles, or surface gunfire. Etc.

    1. Well go team America. We got those Iranians exactly where we want them.

    2. “There are tons of engagements that don’t involve boots on the ground.”

      Which was the most successful? I know, a difficult question as it seems that none of these engagements led to capitulation, let alone regime change.

  15. “”Trump Says War With Iran ‘Wouldn’t Last Very Long.’ “”

    I would like to point something out. Billy’s headline is false. Trump never used the word “war”. To claim “Trump says war”, Billy is inserting his own language then framing it as something Trump said.

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