Proving his excellence once again at serving as an arsonist and the leader of the fire brigade at the same time, President Donald Trump, who has been publicly spoiling for a military scrap with Iran, took credit this morning for both ordering a military strike on three of the country’s military installations and then canceling the mission 10 minutes before go time. Crisis averted!
This is far from the first time Trump has run this play. As David A. Graham of the Atlantic and others have noted, he delights in conjuring and intensifying crises—a lawless border, a national crime wave, threats of a government shutdown, threats of new tariffs, threats to oust the special counsel, the North Korea situation in which he promised “fire and fury,” et al.—and then riding in on a white golf cart at the last moment to head off the approaching calamity.
Trump’s usual shtick is to paper over the problem of his creation and then declare victory, but this week he added a biblical dimension to the drama-making. First, he assumed the persona of the vengeful god, commanding an attack on Iran in retaliation for its shoot-down of a $200 million Navy surveillance drone. Then he ducked into the wardrobe for a costume change to emerge in the cloak of the Prince of Peace and called off the strike. Why the 180-degree mood change? Because as he told Chuck Todd of NBC News, he learned it would kill 150 Iranians and he didn’t think the death toll was “proportionate” to the Iranian action. Or perhaps Trump just enjoys the sensation of changing his mind. Citing a source close to the president, the New York Times reported Friday that Trump “was pleased with Thursday night’s events because he liked the ‘command’ of approving the strike, but also the decisiveness of calling it off.” [Continue reading…]