The Washington Post gave no quarter to President Trump following his decision to not launch a military strike against Iran in retaliation for shooting down an American drone.
The incident occurred last Wednesday, when Iranian forces used a missile to bring down a drone over the Strait of Hormuz. Iran claims the drone – a Navy RQ-4A Global Hawk – was over Iranian airspace, although the U.S. maintains it was in international airspace.
The drone was deployed as part of reinforcements approved by the president in the wake of escalating tensions in the region.
In the hours after the event, Trump mulled a response, including a potential retaliatory airstrike. At the last moment, the president opted against it, noting that any Iranian deaths – possibly up to 150 lives – would not be an appropriate response, since the drone was, after all, unmanned.
The president is right. It wasn’t an appropriate response, and it very well could have cost many more lives than the estimated 150 Iranians likely to have been killed as a direct result.
The president tweeted a statement shortly after the decision, saying “we were cocked and loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights when I asked, how many will die.”
Back to The Washington Post. The newspaper’s editorial in the days after the president’s decision began with a sneer: “It may have made the United States look wobbly, but President Donald Trump was right to hold back at the last minute from launching a military strike against Iran.”
News coverage from the Post was critical. In a news story, the Post wrote that Trump’s tweet was inconsistent with other information that came from administration officials, some of whom claim the president was told earlier in the day how many casualties would occur.
The news story concluded that “the confusion reinforced concerns about the Trump administration’s credibility at a time of military crisis.”
Some sort of response to Iran is warranted. Not only did Iran acknowledge shooting down the Navy drone, but it also is likely responsible for other overt acts, including damaging ships in the Persian Gulf. But it’s unfair for the president to be overly scrutinized for his decision Thursday. If he waffled on an airstrike or countermanded a previous decision, that’s his prerogative.
And to us, an exact account for how the decision came isn’t really necessary.
We believe a retaliatory strike against Iran eventually would have resulted in American deaths. Certainly, the president must have considered that as well as the loss of Iranian lives.
Killing Iranians will escalate an already delicate situation. Iran is well armed and apparently willing to take on the United States if provoked. The best response for now is to continue economic pressure, including ongoing sanctions on Iranian oil and commodities.
Had Iran shot down a manned aircraft, a retaliatory strike would be warranted. As it is, the president was right to show restraint – no matter the process he used leading up to the decision.