President Trump gave a thoughtful and measured address that put Iran on notice, allowed them to save face, and turned the tables on his leftist critics. President Trump’s speech was reminiscent of the actions President John F. Kennedy took during the days of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
In 1962, the Soviet Union placed nuclear missiles in Cuba and Kennedy drew a line in the sand in saying that Soviet nuclear missiles would not remain in Cuba. However, once announcing that course he gave the Soviet Union wiggle room to make this end happen. He put a blockade 800 miles off the coast of Cuba and later reduced it to 500 miles to give the Soviet Union more time to consider their course of action. Meanwhile, Kennedy gathered the support of NATO allies and the Organization of American States for any potential United States course of action.As we know, through diplomatic intrigue and the U.S. removing Jupiter missiles from Turkey that were set to be removed anyway, the Soviets folded.
Like Kennedy, President Trump’s speech reiterated the key component of U.S. policy. For President Trump it is not regime change but rather that Iran will not get a nuclear weapon under his watch. After that, under the emphasis that no American lives were lost in the Iranian missile raid, the president gave Iran room to decide what kind of nation they want to be. He put Iran on notice by adding additional sanctions, and is seeking to gather American allies by getting a strengthened NATO into the Middle East.It is worth remembering that an attack against one NATO member is considered an attack against all, giving the U.S. even more cover and allies in the case of any eventualities.
The Iranian regime distinctly signaled before President Trump’s speech that it did not want all-out war. U.S. troops were not hit in the recent Iranian missile attack and neither were bases that were solely the purview of the United States. The Iranian missile strike was a face saving operation and the president was perceptive enough to recognize this fact.Who would have doubted that if any American military members had died from the Iranian strike that the president would have retaliated? Thankfully, none did and Iran was aware of what President Trump would have done. Iran knows the president is fiercely devoted and protective of the U.S. military. Yet, President Trump exercised caution by not unduly using United States Armed Forces in what could be the biggest conflict in our lifetime.
Though I disagreed with him, especially in his later years, the words of Kennedy Press Secretary Pierre Salinger ring true regarding the Cuban Missile Crisis and can be applied to these past few days with Iran. Salinger said, “You don’t shove somebody up against a wall because when you do they gotta fight back. You give them some room for maneuver. You give them some room to reflect and that’s what he (JFK) did with Khrushchev.” President Trump has done the same with Iran.
Even the leftists who were arguing that Trump was itching to go to war with Iran had trouble finding ways to criticize the president though some, in their hatred, will blame him and not the murderous Iranian regime, for the recent crisis.
On the other side, there are those who want war with Iran. They genuinely believe the Iranian regime is destined to continue its ways forever. That may be. The leaders of the Soviet Union were officially atheistic while the leaders of Iran are led by militant Islam which is just as dangerous if not more so than atheism. It is no mistake that even before the fall of the Berlin Wall, Islamic fundamentalism replaced Communism as the force with the greatest hostility towards the United States.
Having served in Iraq and Afghanistan, I do not want war with Iran. All avenues for peace, short of appeasement, should be exhausted. Still, war with Iran may come but if it does, it will be Iran’s awful choice. If that day does happen, and the prayers of most Americans are that it does not, we can be confident that President Trump would spare no effort into ensuring the greatest chance for victory by the United States.
Some naysayers, many of whom were ready for appeasement, will now call this kicking the can to the curb. Yet in a situation where a war would be very destructive to both sides, even with America winning, President Trump has bought time and room for maneuver for whatever may come in the future whether it be regime change in Iran, a deal, status quo or even war. The great questions of war and peace will continue to define the foreign policy of the United States but today generations yet unborn can thank President Trump for his prudent leadership.
*Views in this article are those of the author and not any government agency.