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War As a Political Temptation for Trump

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

The media attention on Middle East violence had the effect of goading President Trump to send American soldiers to the region.  But he should resist this temptation to become the world’s policeman.


The U.S. must not be drawn into another conflict in the Persian Gulf – regardless of any overhyped provocation.  President Reagan stood patiently by as Iraq and Iran had an all-out war against each other from 1980 to 1988.  

These conflicts halfway around the globe are never-ending.  Henry Kissinger famously said about the war between Iraq and Iran, “It’s a pity they both can’t lose.” 

We should protect our own soldiers by standing aside while Saudi Arabia and Iran fight each other, if they wish.  We have been staying out of an ongoing conflict in Yemen, and we should continue that successful approach. 

Thanks to tremendous American innovation, capital investment, risk taking, and a lot of hard work, the U.S. has achieved virtual energy independence.  We do not need Persian Gulf oil anymore.  

If European countries and Japan depend on oil tankers passing through the Strait of Hormuz, let those nations police that dangerous waterway.  They are wealthy nations who can defend their own interests against Iran.

The pressure on Trump to support a sharp increase in the federal gas tax could be compared to the first temptation of Christ, when Satan challenged Jesus to turn stones into bread.  Trump has properly resisted that first political temptation, which is a gimmick that would cause long-term harm.


Luring President Trump into a war with Iran is the second temptation.  It is akin to Satan challenging Jesus to jump off a lofty temple, and rely on angels to bear him up.

In other words, a leap of faith.  A leap into the unknown.

Fifty years ago, the U.S. government launched a rocket carrying three men to the moon and returned them safely to the earth.  That was not a leap of faith; it was precisely calculated by natural laws which guaranteed a predetermined successful outcome.

War is not rocket science.  Its consequences, political and otherwise, are not predictable.

A military maxim observes that no battle plan survives the first contact with the enemy.  Every war has unpredictable consequences.

World War II, which we recently honored on the 75th anniversary of D-Day, entailed enormous losses in American lives as commemorated every Memorial Day.  The invasion that General Eisenhower defined as a Great Crusade for “the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe” resulted in 45 years of Soviet tyranny over the oppressed peoples behind the Iron Curtain.

Winston Churchill, heralded in England for standing strong and prevailing for freedom, became a hero of the war.  But then he lost his next election in a landslide.           


Yes, we have grievances with the revolutionary government of Iran.  As we have with many other countries in the world, from Mexico to China.

Illegal aliens are pouring over our southern border, enticed by free medical care which California just enacted for them and by driver’s licenses which New York State just gave them.  These problems deserve President Trump’s undivided attention.

On November 4, 1979, Iran seized 52 American hostages and held them for 444 days until January 20, 1981.  That was an act of war under international law, but the Reagan administration wisely chose not to go to war over it. 

As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump strongly condemned the nuclear deal with Iran that John Kerry negotiated and Barack Obama implemented without the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate.  As president, Trump has continued to criticize the deal, officially known as the JCPOA, and has refused to certify Iran’s compliance with it.

Trump justifiably complains about how the Obama administration allowed $1.7 billion in actual cash to be flown to Iran on a cargo plane, supposedly to settle a debt that had been pending since the Shah was overthrown in 1979.  But that money is gone now, and there’s nothing Trump can do to get it back.


Running for president in 2015 and 2016, Donald Trump excoriated previous Republican presidents for intervening in the Middle East.  He has called the decision to invade Iraq “the single worst decision ever made.” 

Some Republicans were unsettled by Trump’s scathing remarks about George Bush and John McCain, but most came around to support the man who promised to “drain the swamp” in Washington.  Now the swamp, also known as the Deep State, is making a determined effort to tempt Trump into fighting a new World War against Iran.

For his final temptation, Satan took Jesus to the mountaintop and promised the whole world if Jesus would bow down and worship him.  

President Trump should heed Jesus’ terse response:  “Get thee behind me, Satan!”

John and Andy Schlafly are sons of Phyllis Schlafly (1924-2016) and lead the continuing Phyllis Schlafly Eagles organizations with writing and policy work.

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